Save the Adventure (Intro)

By: Joshua Glenn
September 27, 2013


Singularity & Co., the Brooklyn science fiction bookstore that runs the book club Save the Sci-Fi, is preparing to launch a second book club, this one dedicated to rescuing out-of-print adventure stories from copyright limbo.

The new book club will be called SAVE THE ADVENTURE, and I’ve been asked to select some of the club’s first titles! Please back our Kickstarter campaign. To find out more about the club, read on.

Also! At the end of this post, you’ll find introductory notes to a series of 20 posts — forthcoming in October — on the Adventure genre’s most enduring themes and memes.


household rogue

The folks at Singularity & Co. like what I’ve done with HiLobooks’s Radium Age Science Fiction Series, and they’re fans of the HiLobrow posts in which I’ve begun to list my 450 favorite adventures of the 19th and 20th Centuries. So they’ve asked me to be SAVE THE ADVENTURE’s founding editor. Each month (assuming we kickstart sufficient funding), I’ll choose an out-of-print but amazing adventure novel — at which point Singularity & Co. will track down the rights-holder, clear the electronic publishing rights, scan the text, and make the novel available as an e-book.

Note that with a handful of exceptions, we won’t be reissuing works that are in the public domain; the goal is to rescue books that have never before been made available in digital form.

SAVE THE ADVENTURE club members will get the first look at each title. Later, the books will be made available for general sale… and who knows, perhaps HiLoBooks will reissue them in print?

We can’t pull this off without start-up funds! Please back SAVE THE ADVENTURE’s Kickstarter campaign. Singularity & Co. aims to raise at least $12,000.00 — for covering costs associated with clearing electronic publishing rights, covering costs for legal and research work, buying adventure novels and scanning them, and so forth. Rewards include: a year-long (12-book) subscription to the SAVE THE ADVENTURE book club, vintage print adventure novels mailed to you, a vintage adventure cover art poster and t-shirt, a subscription to the Save the Sci Fi book club, and more.

The campaign deadline is November 9th. Rewards ship in December — a subscription to SAVE THE ADVENTURE would make a terrific holiday gift for e-book-reading loved ones!

Adventure fans, please support this cause. Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign, and spread the word about this project far and wide — via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and so forth. Let’s save the adventure!

To recap: Each month, SAVE THE ADVENTURE will re-issue one adventure novel that I consider a classic of the genre — but which is no longer in print, and isn’t available online (or — in a few cases, is in public domain… but is only available online in a badly scanned, error-riddled format). We’ll track down rights-holders and clear the copyright as necessary (thanks to Singularity & Co.’s team of attorneys, who generously do this work pro bono); we’ll use Singularity & Co.’s custom-built scanner to digitize the text; I’ll personally do quality control to ensure that the text is error-free. And then we’ll publish the title both online and as an e-book. SAVE THE ADVENTURE members will get the books before they go on sale.



Here at HiLobrow, between now and November 9th, in addition to the ongoing series of HiLobrow posts listing my favorite adventures, I’ll publish a series of 20 posts looking at the adventure genre’s enduring themes and memes.

Each and every adventure novel — from Kidnapped to The Thirty-Nine Steps to Ice Station Zebra) — begins from the premise that the forms and norms of contemporary life are not liberating, but instead alienating; they form the invisible bars of a prison from which we must escape. The enduring themes and memes of the Adventure genre (e.g., the treasure hunt, the atavastic romance, the hunted-man thriller) offer insights into both the nature of the invisible prison in which we’re trapped… and also the means of escape!

If you’re interested in reading re-discovered science fiction adventures, check out the 10 titles from HiLoBooks — available online and in gorgeous paperback form. And please help us kickstart the SAVE THE ADVENTURE Book Club.


TOP 450 ADVENTURES — BY SUBGENRE: 101 Science Fiction Adventures | 70 Crime Adventures | 65 Fantasy Adventures | 61 Espionage Adventures | 40 Atavistic & Historical Adventures | 25 Frontier & Western Adventures | 20 Avenger & Artful Dodger Adventures | 20 Apophenic & Treasure Hunt Adventures | 20 War & Ruritanian Adventures | 18 Picaresque Adventures | 10 Robinsonade & Survival Adventures |

20 ADVENTURE THEMES AND MEMES: Index to All Adventure Lists | Introduction to Adventure Themes & Memes Series | Index to Entire Series | The Robinsonade (theme: DIY) | The Robinsonade (theme: Un-Alienated Work) | The Robinsonade (theme: Cozy Catastrophe) | The Argonautica (theme: All for One, One for All) | The Argonautica (theme: Crackerjacks) | The Argonautica (theme: Argonaut Folly) | The Argonautica (theme: Beautiful Losers) | The Treasure Hunt | The Frontier Epic | The Picaresque | The Avenger Drama (theme: Secret Identity) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Self-Liberation) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Reluctant Bad-Ass) | The Atavistic Epic | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Artful Dodger) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Conspiracy Theory) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Apophenia) | The Survival Epic | The Ruritanian Fantasy | The Escapade

MORE LIT LISTS FROM THIS AUTHOR: 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 100 Best Radium Age Sci-Fi Novels (1904–1933) | 75 Best Golden Age Sci-Fi Novels (1934–1963) | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi Novels (1964–1983) | 55 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Best 19th Century Adventure (1805–1903) | Best Nineteen-Oughts Adventure (1904–13) | Best Nineteen-Teens Adventure (1914–23) | Best Twenties Adventure (1924–33) | Best Thirties Adventure (1934–43) | Best Forties Adventure (1944–53) | Best Fifties Adventure (1954–63) | Best Sixties Adventure (1964–73) | Best Seventies Adventure (1974–83) | 101 Science Fiction Adventures | 70 Crime Adventures | 65 Fantasy Adventures | 61 Espionage Adventures | 40 Atavistic & Historical Adventures | 25 Frontier & Western Adventures | 20 Avenger & Artful Dodger Adventures | 20 Apophenic & Treasure Hunt Adventures | 20 War & Ruritanian Adventures | 18 Picaresque Adventures | 10 Robinsonade & Survival Adventures. ALSO: Best YYA Lit 1963 | Best YYA Lit 1964 | Best YYA Lit 1965 | Best YYA Lit 1966 | Best YYA Lit 1967 | THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. | Best Scottish Fabulists | Radium-Age Telepath Lit | Radium Age Superman Lit | Radium Age Robot Lit | Radium Age Apocalypse Lit | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Cold War “X” Fic | Best YA Sci-Fi | Hooker Lit | No-Fault Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Scrabble Lit |

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What do you think?

  1. You may also be interested in books by the following, which I don’t remember seeing on your lists:
    Karl May 1842-1912 Possibly the most popular German adventure writer.

    Henryk Sienkiewicz 1846-1916
    Ditto for Poland. His best known books are the Trilogy, which are historical novels based on various uprisings in Polish history in the 17th and 18th centuries. The most recent translation titles are With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, and Fire in the Steppe. The older Curtin translations are a bit tough to slog through unless you know a lot of eastern European history.

    Emilio Salgado 1862-1911
    Ditto for Italy, I think.
    very prolific Check out the Tigers of Malaysia (Sandokan) series.

    Geza Gardonyi 1863-1922 Hungarian
    Eclipse of the Crescent Moon, Slave of the Huns

    Harold Lamb 1892-1962
    Mostly short stories In the pulps from 1918 to the 30’s. Unusual in that he wrote about central Asia, and knew the languages and history.

    B. Traven fl. 20s-30s
    Treasure of the Sierra Madre et al. I don’t know if anybody’s figured out who B.Traven actually was.

    Avram Davidson 1923-1993 Has been called the best Magical Realist not to write in Spanish. Some spaceopera, a couple of adventure novels about Vergil, an amazing set of stories about Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Eszterhazy, in a forgotten empire bordering Ruritania and Graustark.

  2. Thank you! I do have two B. Traven books on my lists, but not these others. Is Karl May actually good? One hears about him all the time, but… I don’t know. David Hasselhoff is a popular singer in Germany.

  3. A friend of mine who graduated summa in German from Harvard loved him as a kid. He kept urging me to read May, but I really didn’t have time then to read 500 page novels in a language I’m not fluent in that were out of my period anyway. Since May is hard to find in English translation, I never did read him. I understand that May tends to go a little Theosophish from time to time.

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