Buy F&SF • Read F&SF • Contact F&SF • Advertise In F&SF • Blog • Forum

February 2006
Current Issue • Departments • Bibliography


The Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1926)

AFTER visiting The Lost World (1912) and traversing The Poison Belt (1913), Professor George Challenger has mellowed into old age. His wife Jessie and his rival Professor Summerlee have died. Challenger's daughter, Enid (never mentioned in the previous novels), has acquired an interest in spiritualism. Several real-life advocates of occultism (including Aleister Crowley) are thinly disguised in these pages, as the skeptical Challenger enlists his colleagues Edward Malone and Lord John Roxton to infiltrate séances and expose the mediums as frauds

…but mounting evidence for life after death compels Malone and Roxton to become believers. Eventually, Enid Challenger displays mediumistic abilities…and she brings her father a personal message from the beyond, containing information that no living person can have known. At last the bitter skeptic sees the truth.

Although Sherlock Holmes famously disbelieved in vampires and spooks, his creator was more credulous. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was interested in spiritualism long before his son and brother-in-law were killed in World War I, but their deaths intensified his efforts to pierce the veil. He first published on the subject in 1918, and by 1922 Doyle's credulity had reached its zenith (or nadir) with his pamphlet The Coming of the Fairies, asserting that a Yorkshire glade was inhabited by pixies and sprites. While Doyle's first two Challenger novels are told from Edward Malone's viewpoint, in The Land of Mist, Doyle openly harangues the reader in his own voice: praising those who accept spiritualism, and condemning skeptics.

—F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

To contact us, send an email to Fantasy & Science Fiction.
If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to

Copyright © 1998–2020 Fantasy & Science Fiction All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted by:
SF Site spot art