POD 49 Cover

Okay, so I was making some comments in POD 49 about listening to old books on "tape" from LibriVox and got to commenting on Swiss Family Robinson - at which point I said "The island is so amazingly packed with all the world's species that I bet you could write a story where someone discovers that said island was really the last remnant of "The Lost Continent of Mu." Certainly it's the only explanation that could even possibly make any sense!"

And since we can always use covers - and certainly no one else was going to write something that silly - I did a quicky cover based on that idea. It's in the form of a Tour Agency information one-sheet. Were this in anyway real, it would probably be included in your tour packet, right after all the pamplets on "The Beautiful Beaches of New Switzerland" and "Nightlife in Zermatt..."

Initially, I had everything on one page - but this was thought "too busy," so I split it into two. That gave us our first ever POD cover with a front and back!

I decided to go at it from as bland and ordinary a standpoint as possible, to help balance the fact this may be the least reality-connected "What If" I've ever done. Compared to this, sinking several hundred miles of California to make my "Island of California" timeline is actually reasonable. Only my "Battle at the Center of the Earth" scenario (which I really should post some day...hey, wait a minute, I have!) comes close to ignoring the same amount of reality - and that's just because of Verne's rather weak grasp on anything besides the "Gee-Wiz" of science.

I mean, first of all the whole basis for this island is the book(s) Swiss Family Robinson, where Wyss (and others - There are so many revisions and additions and rewrites of this book out there that saying "Johann David Wyss wrote the book" is at best incomplete. It's basically like describing all the scripts and books and comics and fanfic on Star Wars as "written by George Lucas...") describe an island that - literally - had plants and animals on it from every single continent on Earth. And he didn't seem to have a problem with that!

If you're going to make the assumption that the island existed, though, that's a hell of a big problem for people with more biological knowledge than a pastor who apparently got his from the 18th Century equivalent of The Big Book of The World's Animals - and Faith that God could put them anywhere he chose.

Not being a pastor, I had to reason "Well, since all these creatures can't be there naturally, someone must have brought them. And done so a good bit of time before the 'Robinsons' show up too."

(Which isn't really their name. Wyss never gave them one and "Robinson" isn't even a Swiss name to begin with! I suspect he didn't name them as some sort of attempt to give them an "every family" appeal. Meanwhile, the family name "Zermatt" that I used above I got from Jules Verne. Yes, even Verne did some SFR "fanfic"; Second Fatherland, written in 1900. I also swiped his map of the island since - honestly - it made more sense than the one that's often an illustration in the books. And, if nothing else, it had a scale. Mind you, it was in leagues...but this is Jules Verne...)

But that concept requires a fairly advanced group mucking about the whole world, picking up various (and often large) species without anyone noticing. Then it requires them someone pointlessly dumping them on a fairly small island.

Which doesn't make any sense. You could probably use the "Zheng He" expedition as a way to do the collecting - but then why leave them all on that island? And, honestly, any civilization capable of this is going to be noticed and thus already a large part of history - and the "why the island" snag catches them all. The guys doing this, therefore are completely unknown.

However, if we start talking about "advanced civilizations" and "unknown," that always brings up the specter of "Lost Civilizations," usually Atlantis and - if you're a Churchward "fan" - Mu.

Atlantis is in the wrong ocean of course - so again you'd have the "but why that island" problem - but Mu, OTOH is just in the right place (for definitions of "in" that include "in someone's fantasy..."). And since a lot of islands in the Pacific were said to be "the Mountain Tops of Sunken Mu" by the Churchward-Wingnut-Brigade, adding in one more island wouldn't be any trouble at all. Sure, it was a fictional island - but this made it different from Mu how, exactly?

Anywho, sense-wise, an advanced civilization on Mu - which would then include this island - importing animals and plants from all over the world works...at least, for the purposes of this scenario. And some of those surviving on "New Switzerland" after the sinking of the rest of the "continent" is also workable for our purposes.

Now we have a "logical" (try not to scream...) reason for this shipwrecked family to find so many non-native (to the South Pacific) organisms on this one small island - it was once part of a much bigger landmass that had those creatures brought to it!

The rest - as they say - is faux-history...

Said history here is basically just stuff I made up on the fly - possibly influenced by long-ago readings of various books on "lost continents" (I was a lot more gullible as a youngster...) - that I tried to make sound "good" and not be so at odds with reality (since the basic foundations of this scenario are already so wacko) that it destroyed any sense of "this could be" at all.

I do like my shoehorning in an extra tectonic plate to put Mu on - and then naming it "the shattered plate..." I mean, how could I resist that name?

In order not to screw up geological reality too much, my "Murian Continent" can be thought of as a land form stretching from Easter Island at its eastern tip (Easter Island is always connected with Mu stories, so it's traditional...) to a spot a few hundred miles north and slightly east of the top of New Zealand - where I'm declaring by fiat is where "New Switzerland" is located (which makes their ship way, way off course for a trip to Port Jackson, Australia...but then, they were supposed to be really lost). A roughly banana-shaped land mass between those two points and comfortably below most Southern Pacific islands. Think New Zealand turned on its side and writ really, really large...

Anthropologists on this world seem to know a lot about Murian history - and even can translate Murian (how else explain the fact they know some Murian names for things?). Which is odd given I'm supposing the existence of Mu had exactly the same impact on this ATL as it not existing had on reality - at least, up until the Zermatt shipwreck. But I can postulate that some Murian evidences have survived, both on the remnant islands (like the "Sacred City" mentioned) and in spots around the world that aren't identified until after the 18th century.

I divided Murian history into six "eras" simply...because. I thought it sounded good. And also, so many seem to populate their lost continents with a rather monolithic "Instant Advanced Civilization" that seems to spring forth fully formed and then lasts (usually for thousands of years) until the sinking. This seemed a bit...realer. So, basically, just go with me on this one.

For extra fun (and to thank him for the name and map), you can stick the site of Verne's "Lincoln Island" (from The Mysterious Island) within the body of the former Murian continent as well (he had it about halfway between New Zealand and Easter Island). Which makes its sinking in the 1860s as "The Last Submergence of Mu..."

POD 49 Cover backside

Addendum: I wrote the above while listening to the beginning of Verne's Mysterious Island (downloaded from LibriVox.org). Had I listened a little more first, I would have come upon this bit:
"It is singular enough," remarked Spilett, "that this comparatively small island should present such varied ground. This diversity of aspect, logically only belongs to continents of a certain extent. One would really say, that the western part of Lincoln Island, so rich and so fertile, is washed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and that its shores to the north and the southeast extend over a sort of Arctic sea." "You are right, my dear Spilett," replied Cyrus Harding, "I have also observed this. I think the form and also the nature of this island strange. It is a summary of all the aspects which a continent presents, and I should not be surprised if it was a continent formerly." "What! a continent in the middle of the Pacific?" cried Pencroft. "Why not?" replied Cyrus Harding. "Why should not Australia, New Ireland, Australasia, united to the archipelagoes of the Pacific, have once formed a sixth part of the world, as important as Europe or Asia, as Africa or the two Americas? To my mind, it is quite possible that all these islands, emerging from this vast ocean, are but the summits of a continent, now submerged, but which was above the waters at a prehistoric period." "As the Atlantis was formerly," replied Herbert. "Yes, my boy... if, however, it existed." "And would Lincoln Island have been a part of that continent?" asked Pencroft. "It is probable," replied Cyrus Harding, "and that would sufficiently, explain the variety of productions which are seen on its surface." "And the great number of animals which still inhabit it," added Herbert. "Yes, my boy," replied the engineer, "and you furnish me with an argument to support my theory. It is certain, after what we have seen, that animals are numerous in this island, and what is more strange, that the species are extremely varied. There is a reason for that, and to me it is that Lincoln Island may have formerly been a part of some vast continent which had gradually sunk below the Pacific."

So it looks like Verne came up with this idea first...abet, for his "New Switzerland" knockoff, "Lincoln Island", rather than the original. You know, it's hard to do anything really new...

BTW, while I know it's certainly an Alternate History - Boy! Is it alternate! - it's more of a "secret history" than anything else in real alternate history (as the term is commonly used) where we "just" change some historical events and see what happens - rather than as here change all of geology, physics and probably a bunch of stuff I haven't thought of so that a badly thought out fictional island can be "real..."

...actually, it's more "fairy-tale-class fantasy" than anything else, but what the heck...;)