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THE SCOTTISH ORKNEYS, THE PRESENT
JODIE MICHAELSON was steaming with anger. Earlier in the evening, she and the three remaining contestants of the Outcasts TV show had had to walk in their heavy boots on a thick rope stretched out along a three-foot-high berm made of piled rocks. The stunt had been billed as the "Viking Trial by Fire." Rows of torches blazed away on either side of the rope, adding drama and risk, although the line of fire was actually six feet away. The cameras shot from a low side angle, making the walk seem much more dangerous than it was.
What wasn't phony was the way the producers had schemed to bring the contestants to near violence.
Outcasts was the latest offering in the "reality" shows that had popped up like mushrooms after the success of Survivor and Fear Factor. It was an accelerated combination of both formats, with the shouting matches of Jerry Springer thrown in.
The format was simple. Ten participants had to pass a gamut of tests over the course of three weeks. Those who failed, or were voted off by the others, had to leave the island.
The winner would make a million dollars, with bonus points, which seemed to be based on how nasty the contestants could be to one another.
The show was considered even more cutthroat than its predecessors, and the producers played tricks to ratchet up the tension. Where other shows were highly competitive, Outcasts was openly combative.
The show's format had been based in part on the Outward Bound survival course, where a participant must live off the land. Unlike the other survival shows, which tended to be set on tropical isles with turquoise waters and swaying palm trees, Outcasts was filmed in the Scottish Orkneys. The contestants had landed in a tacky replica of a Viking ship, to an audience of seabirds.
The island was two miles long and a mile wide. It was mostly rock that had been tortured into knobs and fissures aeons ago by some cataclysm, with a few stands of scraggly trees here and there and a beach of coarse sand where most of the action was filmed. The weather was mild, except at night, and the skin-covered huts were tolerable.
The speck of rock was so insignificant that the locals referred to it as the "Wee Island." This had prompted a hilarious exchange between the producer, Sy Paris, and his assistant, Randy Andleman.
Paris was in one of his typical raves. "We can't film an adventure show on a place called 'Wee Island,' for godsakes. We've got to call it something else." His face lit up. "We'll call it 'Skull Island.'_"
"It doesn't look like a skull," Andleman said. "It looks like an overdone fried egg."
"Close enough," Paris had said, before dashing off.
Jodie, who had witnessed the exchange, elicited a smile from Andleman when she said, "I think it rather resembles the skull of a dumb TV series producer."
The tests were basically the kind of gross-out stunts, such as ripping live crabs apart and eating them or diving into a tank full of eels, that were guaranteed to make the viewer gag and watch the next installment, to see how bad things would get. Some of the contestants seemed to have been chosen for their aggressiveness and general meanness.
The climax would come when the last two contestants spent the night hunting each other using nightscopes and paint-ball guns, a stunt that was based on the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." The survivor was awarded another million dollars.
Jodie was a physical fitness teacher from Orange County, California. She had a killer body in a bikini, although her curves were wasted under her down-filled clothes. She had long, blond hair and a quick intelligence that she had hid to get on the program. Every contestant was typecast, but Jodie refused to play the bimbo role the producers had assigned to her.
In the last quiz for points and demerits, she and the others had been asked whether a conch was a fish, a mollusk or a car. As the show's stereotype blonde, she was supposed to say "Car."
Jeezus, she'd never live something like that down when she got back to civilization.
Since the quiz debacle, the producers had been making strong hints that she should go. She'd given them their chance to oust her when a cinder got in her eye and she'd failed the fire walk. The remaining members of the tribe had gathered around the fire with grave looks on their faces, and Sy Paris had dramatically intoned the order to leave the clan and make her entry into Valhalla. Jeezus.
As she headed away from the campfire now, she fumed at herself for failing the test. But there was still a bounce to her step. After only a few weeks with these lunatics, she was glad to be off the island. It was a rugged, beautiful setting, but she had grown weary of the backbiting, the manipulation and general sneakiness in which a contestant had to indulge for the dubious honor of being hunted down like a rabid dog.
Beyond the "Gate to Valhalla," an arbor made of plastic whalebones, was a large house trailer that was the quarters for the production crew. While the clan members slept in skin tents and ate bugs, the crew enjoyed heat, comfortable cots and gourmet meals. Once a contestant was thrown out of the game, he or she spent the night in the trailer until a helicopter picked him or her up the next morning.
"Tough luck," said Andleman, who met her at the door. Andleman was a sweetheart, the complete opposite of his hard-driving boss.
"Yeah, real tough. Hot showers. Hot meals. Cell phones."
"Hell, we've got all that right here."
She glanced around at the comfortable accommodations. "So I noticed."
"That's your bunk over there," he said. "Make yourself a drink from the bar, and there's some terrific paté in the fridge that'll help you decompress. I've got to go give Sy a hand. Knock yourself out."
"Thanks, I will."
She went over to the bar and made herself a tall Beefeater martini, straight up. The paté was as delicious as advertised. She was looking forward to going home. The ex-contestants always made the rounds of the TV talk shows to rake over the people they'd left behind. Easy money. She stretched out in a comfortable chair. After a few minutes, the alcohol put her to sleep.
She awoke with a start. In her sleep, she had heard high-pitched screams like the sound of seabirds flocking or children in a playground, against a background of yells and shouts.
She got up, went to the door and listened. She wondered if Sy had come up with yet another means of humiliation. Maybe he had the others doing a wild savage dance around the fire.
She walked briskly along the path that led to the beach. The noise grew louder, more frantic. Something was dreadfully wrong. These were screams of fright and pain rather than excitement. She picked up her pace and burst through the Gate to Valhalla. What she saw looked like a scene from a Hieronymus Bosch depiction of Hell.
The cast and crew were under attack by hideous creatures that seemed half man, half animal. The savage attackers were snarling, pulling their victims down and tearing at them with claws and teeth.
She saw Sy fall, then Randy. She recognized several bodies that were lying bloody and mauled on the beach.
In the flickering light from the fire, Jodie saw that the attackers had long, filthy white hair down to their shoulders. The faces were like nothing she had ever seen. Ghastly, twisted masks.
One creature clutched a severed arm which he was raising to his mouth. Jodie couldn't help herself, she screamed . . . and the other creatures broke off their ungodly feast and looked at her with burning eyes that glowed a luminous red.
She wanted to vomit, but they were coming toward her in a crouching lope.
She ran for her life.
Her first thought was the trailer, but she had enough presence of mind to know she'd be trapped there.
She ran for the high rocky ground, the creatures snuffing behind her like bloodhounds. In the dark, she lost her footing and fell into a fissure, but unknown to her the accident saved her life. Her pursuers lost her scent.
Jodie had cracked her head in the fall. She regained consciousness once, and thought she heard harsh voices and gunshots. Then she passed out again.
She was still lying unconscious in the fissure the next morning when the helicopter arrived. By the time the crew had scoured the island and finally found Jodie, they had come to a startling discovery.
Everyone else had vanished.
--from Lost City by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos, Copyright © 2004 by Sandecker, RLLLP, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher
Posted June 5, 2012
Posted February 2, 2006
The Lost City is a novel of a mixture of suspense, hope, and treachery. This is a ¿Can¿t put down `til I¿m done¿ type of book. This story deals with the troubles and obstacles that the main character, Kurt Austin deals with as a part of the NUMA agency. Creating a tremendous theme, the author, Clive Cussler, also sets up the characters characteristics that all falls into place. The riveting and heart pounding action keeps you focused to every detail of the book. The need for wanting to know what happens next will keep your head in the book. Cussler¿s realism of events in the book will have you thinking that things in the novel can possibly be real. The theme of this novel is how good almost always triumphs over the seeds of evil and not to underestimate the desperation and the science if in the hands of evildoers. The novel not only tells us about these things but also gives us examples throughout the story of everyday advantages we have in life. The significance of the main character, Kurt Austin, is to be the protagonist in the novel and create trust in other characters to follow his actions. He also takes on the responsibility of protecting another character in the story possibly for his feelings or that character may be a burden. A major conflict in the novel is when the main character faces his nemesis for the second time face to face that end up in a dramatic turn of events and leaves the reader shocked. This conflict is the climax of the novel and ends up at the living quarters of the antagonist. In the novel, the author uses metaphors to announce the beauty of the antagonist as an eclipse because it¿s beautiful and ugly at the same time. He doesn¿t use a lot of verbal irony in this story. It uses a lot of dramatic irony. The significant quote in the novel is when Kurt Austin tells the adversary that the ¿bigger they are the harder they fall.¿ He talks about the family of the Fauchards
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Posted October 5, 2004
Lost City is the best of the Kurt Austin books published to date - but still not as good as the 'vintage' Cussler Dirk Pitt stories. Still, if you are looking for a quick, enjoyable read, you should find it with Lost City.
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Posted July 4, 2012
Posted December 8, 2008
this book followed the adventures of man named kurt who works for NUMA of the NAtional underwater marine agency. its starts with him investigateing a new speices of algea that had no natural enemies so it was spreading through out the worlds oceans unchallenged. there fear was that it would overun the worlds oceans and destroy all ocean life. also he is sent to investigate a discovery under a gleacier in the french alps which is sabotaged by a mysterious man. which is soon drawn back to the worlds largest arms dealers.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2008
This book is one in a series that retells the adventurous exploits of Cussler's dashing protagonist Kurt Austin. The plot of this book is a decidedly dynamic one. In fact, it is probably a little too dynamic for my tastes. The overall scheme of the chain of events is exceedingly busy and a little bit on the frantic side. The epic scale of the setting allows it to encompass a wide variety of locales, such as the Greek Peloponnese, the Scottish Orkneys, and even the French Alps. This is largely due to a sporadic branching of sub-plots in the exposition that links several seemingly isolated events to a single disturbing conspiracy involving a wealthy family named Fauchard and their sinister attempts to stage a cover-up of their unspeakable atrocities. Given there are multiple elements of this novel, such as genetically-engineered monsters and a secret quest for immortality, that keep it an interesting read, it becomes a trifle difficult to remember the plethora of names and places that compose the bulk of the story's content chapter by chapter. There are also several instances where the suspense can literally boil you down to a cold sweat, such as the pursuit and eventual kidnapping of Professor Maclean, but most of the thrills in this book aren't as subtle as sparse cat-and-mouse affairs like this one. An obstacle I found particularly disheartening was the necessity to have read previous Cussler novels to understand aspects of this segment of the greater story line. I couldn't help but feel like I was running smack into a variety of nuances that where meant to be detected by a veteran aficionado of the series. Some details, like the relationship between Austin and his female counterpart/colleague Skye were left almost exclusively to inference. On the other hand, though there was something to be desired in clarity for certain parts; I'd be lying if I said you don't get utterly hooked after the first ten pages. In summation, I wouldn't recommend this for anyone new to the series.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2012
Posted June 13, 2012
Posted October 6, 2011
If you're a lover of plot-twisting action, character ingenuity, and sly humor, you'll enjoy Clive Cussler's books. If you've never read one of his books before, read a sample chapter and I guarantee you'll be hooked.
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Posted January 10, 2008
Posted July 25, 2006
Posted July 31, 2004
If an audio book could receive ten stars, Lost City should get them simply because both editions are read by two who are tops in their field. Veteran Broadway, film and television actor Len Cariou does a stellar job of delivering vintage Cussler in the Abridged CD edition. As audio book listeners have come to know - if a book is read by Scott Brick it's in more than capable hands. Thus, whether you opt for the Unabridged cassettes read by Brick or the Abridged you're in for fast forward action, heart stopping chases, and all the Cussler trademarks fans have come to expect. As we've learned this author doesn't shirk when it comes to sub plots and imaginative scenarios. In Lost City listeners discover a mysterious body frozen in a glacier, an enzyme that will prolong life plus the random killing of those who would gather it, the disappearance of scientists in a Greek laboratory, and more. Clearly, hero Kurt Austin, leader of NUMA Special Assignments Team, has never faced anything like this before. Listeners haven't heard anything like this from Cussler before either. - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2004
Posted September 9, 2004
This book is very well written and is the first Clive Cussler book that I have read. The plot flows very well. The characters are very beleivable. A must for anyone that likes a good adventure.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2004
Posted August 16, 2004
I loved Serpent, but felt that both 'Blue Gold' and 'White Death' fell flat. 'Lost City' is a definite improvement. Kemprecos seems to be finding his pace as a storyteller. The plot moves faster, and has more depth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2004
As most fans of Clive Cussler, I was skeptical of his introducing a new hero in addition to his amazing Dirk Pitt. But I have found the Kurt Austin stories to be as good as pretty much the bulk of the 'average' Dirk Pitt tales, and the last 3 have been better than most of the more recent stories involving the man who Raised The Titanic. It pains me to say this, but Kurt has become more interesting. For the most part, the two adventure heros are virtually interchangeable. Just look at their history, family and hobbies and tell me they aren't similar in almost every way. Dirk collects vintage cars, Kurt has classic firearms. Dirk has a sidekick in Al Giordino, and Kurt has Joe Zavala (these two characters, aside from one being Mexican and the other Italian, are almost clones). Both have that hero quality and are a sucker for the ladies. I don't fault Clive for duplicating his own writing style which has proved to be rather successful over the past 3 decades, in fact I have found that more recently, the NUMA Files novels have been all out more entertaining than the last 2 or 3 with Dirk. With Lost City we have a mystery that involves the possibility of extending human life -- maybe to an unlimited state. Taking center stage is an evil empire based on an ancient family caught up in the arms race who just may have had a hand in creating a need for the use of their weapons in a particularly gruesome manner. Kurt once again happens to be in the right place at the right time and saves the day only to discover a more sinister plot to damage the worlds oceans for a nasty purpose. As with virtually all of Cusslers tales, it begins with a trip back in time with a nervous pilot who attempts to escape from rather shady people who desperately want him dead, and who succeeds in shooting him down over a European glacier only to be discovered years later, and the results unlock a deadly Pandora's Box of events which our hero finds himself stuck squarely in the middle of. This is vintage Cussler and Kemprecos, who has managed to take fine notes when continuing the Clive style which has served him so well over the years. Entertainment, chases and a few explosions and a downright fun story make this yet another fantastic read for fans of both the Dirk and Kurt series. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing particularly thought-provoking, but just a whole lot of thrills, which is quite simply why I read Cussler to begin with.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2009
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Posted October 14, 2011
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Posted March 27, 2009
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