The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Ruthven Todd’s novel The Lost Traveller is best summarized as a series of vivid scenes linked by a thin plot thread. A young Englishman, Christopher Aukland, is knocked unconscious in wartime London by a bomb blast. He wakes up in a strange desert, shaded by ancient ruins and surrounded by lizards, snakes, and scorpions.

The desert he travels through is abnormal at best and nightmarish at worst. Christopher’s perceptions of time and space are warped: The more he walks, the farther away are objects in the distance; the sun is perpetually overhead, yet he feels no intense heat, nor does he feel hunger or thirst; and time seems to stand still.

Eventually, Christopher reaches a strange city—with concrete blocks disguised as houses, their windows, doors, and doorknobs painted on—hoping to find someone who can make sense of his situation. After a series of strange experiences, Christopher meets Omar, an official in the city government, who promises to employ the young man in the city. Christopher, however, wants nothing more than to take the gemstones he found in the desert back home to England, and he refuses the offer.

Christopher is taken by force to the city but is given comfortable if bizarre lodgings; he is even provided with a “first-class female,” Mali, who works days in the records office and works nights ministering to Christopher’s sexual desires. The promise of a job and Mali’s company do not content...

(The entire section is 576 words.)