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Lost Worlds Science Fiction

What is Lost Worlds Science Fiction?

Lost Worlds Science Fiction are stories of adventure with voyages to lost worlds (islands, continents, jungles, and even races). The voyage results in discovery of wonders like dinosaurs or ancient/advanced technologies.

Atlantis is a lost world, Middle-earth is an imaginary world. A lost world exists in an inaccessible place and usually contains a population that has long been isolated from our world. Lost worlds are different than imaginary worlds, which do not have a connection to history or geography.

The Lost Worlds sub-genre is a successor to the Fantastic Voyages sub-genre that was popular in the 18th century. Fantastic Voyages were written in a world that was still being explored, stories of Lost Worlds are written when geographical unknowns are few. In addition, new sciences of geology, anthropology, and archaeology influence the stories of Lost Worlds. As such, Lost Worlds has greater scientific content. The natural successor to the Lost Worlds genre is the Planetary Romance genre, which is what happens when you run out of reasonable "lost worlds" on planet earth and move to the vastness of space.

Hollow Earth is a notable branch of the Lost Worlds sub-genre that postulate isolated places in hollow interior spaces within the Earth, where life can thrive. These Lost World stories are based on a pseudo-geology rather than real science. A Lost Worlds story is one of the exploration and discovery of a lost world--a story of wish fulfillment.

This is a genre that often ties closely to the Fantasy genre, the fantasy equivalent being a lost landscape that lies across the ocean or beyond some impassible landscape feature (jungles, mountains, icelands) and feature strange peoples, races, and magic that's not present on the "known world." The science fiction equivalent is similar, just take out the magic and replace it with advanced technology or remove it entirely and create a per-historic untouched civilization.


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Other Features of Lost Worlds Science Fiction

  • Level of Real Science

    Low. While science may be key to discovering a lost world or while the science and technology found in a lost world may be superior to our own, it is not realistic.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    Moderate. Encountering a world that has evolved in isolation from our own is a possibility that opens the door for exploring great social and philosophical ideas. Not all Lost World stories take full advantage of the opportunity and offer only cursory commentary on the differences between the lost world and our own.

  • Level of Characterization

    Moderate. There are stock characters in Lost Worlds Sci Fi--the hero, the beautiful princess.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Moderate. Plot is of great importance to Lost Worlds Sci Fi because stories of discovery require a strong sequence of events. However, these plots are not inventive and are relatively predictable.

  • Level of Violence

    PG. There is violence in Lost World stories such as encounters with monsters or the hero defending a beautiful princess. Violence, however, is not graphic and tends to be a plot device rather than a focus.

Related Science Fiction subgenres




    Utopian. A pervasive model of lost worlds is that of paradise, that the lost world is a utopia of sorts.

  • Social Science Fiction. Lost Worlds Sci Fi, like Social Sci Fi, works primarily with the soft sciences like anthropology and archaeology.

Lost Worlds isn't for you if...

If you don't like dinosaurs in your Sci Fi. If you prefer Sci Fi that incorporates more hard sciences and less wish fulfillment.

Popular Lost Worlds Books