What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

The Face in the Abyss
This topic is about The Face in the Abyss
SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. Science fiction about a lost world ruled by serpent women. [s]

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message 1: by Steven (new) - added it

Steven Sapir | 18 comments I’m trying to find the name of a science fiction book I read when I was a teenager. I read it in the late 70s or early 80s. I believe it was written in the sixties or seventies, possibly earlier. The plot of this first person narrative: the protagonist is an adventurer who discovers a lost ancient civilization in the jungles somewhere, falls in love with a native girl, runs into some trouble with the authorities, and the lovers try to escape. The civilization is so technologically advanced That it seems like magic to him. They have developed a technology of “reverse evolution” where they regress humans back to earlier and the evolve them in different directions, creating, for example, giant sentient spiders—one of whom befriends our hero and becomes his sidekick/means if transportation. The place is ruled by beautiful, ancient, immortal, immoral serpent-people who have all kinds of seemingly supernatural powers. The love interest is somehow related to the queen serpent-woman—maybe her protégée? It gets trippy and psychedelic—which is why I think it was written in the sixties. They engage in mass hallucinations as a form of public entertainment, like we would watch movies of go to a concert.
Spoiler Alert: in the end the serpent-woman-queen (voluntarily?) dies after revealing to the protagonist that there was nothing supernatural or magical about her powers, it was all just super advanced science. The moment she dies she reverts to her true ancient decrepit form, as her youthful appearance was just an illusion she somehow projected with her “powers”. I’ve read the plot of the book “She” and there are a lot of similarities.

message 3: by Steven (new) - added it

Steven Sapir | 18 comments Yes! The Face in the Abyss it is! Thank you Ayshe!
I clicked on the link and I instantly recognized the paperback cover. I can’t believe you identified it so quickly! I’ve been searching the internet for years! How did you find it? Had you read the book?
It made sense that the paperback edition I read was printed in 1978–that’s around the time I’d read it. But I was surprised to discover that it was originally published in 1923–it seemed so modern and trippy to my teenaged mind when I read it.
I quickly downloaded the Kindle edition to see how accurate my memory was after 40 years: pretty close! Only the ending was off—the serpent-woman didn't die and become old-looking, she chose a deep sleep to avoid that from happening.
Anyway, I’m so happy to be reunited with this book after 40 years—like an old friend I thought I’d never see again. It brings back so many happy memories. Thank you!

message 4: by Ayshe (new)

Ayshe | 4121 comments Yay! It kept coming up in searches for "science fiction" "serpent women" in google books, so I searched further on it, even though it was older, and it seemed to have most of the details.

message 5: by Steven (new) - added it

Steven Sapir | 18 comments Ah! *google books* I hadn’t been using that. I was just using general google searches.Thank you for the tip!

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