Synopses & Reviews
Beliefs in mysterious underworlds are as old as humanity. But the idea that the earth has a hollow interior was first proposed as a scientific theory in 1691 by Sir Edmond Halley (of comet fame), who also suggested that there might be life down there as well. Hollow Earth traces the many surprising, marvelous, and just plain weird permutations his ideas have taken over the centuries. Both Edgar Allan Poe and (more famously) Jules Verne picked up the torch in the nineteenth century, the latter with his science fiction epic A Journey to the Center of the Earth. The notion of a hollow earth even inspired a religion at the turn of the twentieth century-Koreshanity, which held not only that the earth was hollow, but also that we’re all living on the inside. Utopian novels and adventures abounded at this same time, including L. Frank Baum’s hollow earth addition to the Oz series and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Pellucidar books chronicling a stone-age hollow earth. In the 1940s an enterprising science-fiction magazine editor convinced people that the true origins of flying saucers lay within the hollow earth, relics of an advanced alien civilization. And there are still devout hollow earthers today, some of whom claim there is a New Age utopia lurking beneath the earth’s surface, with at least one entrance near Mt. Shasta in California. Hollow Earth travels through centuries and cultures, exploring how each era’s relationship to the idea of a hollow earth mirrored its hopes, fears, and values. Illustrated with everything from seventeenth-century maps to 1950s pulp art to movie posters and more, Hollow Earth is for anyone interested in the history of strange ideas that just won’t go away.
"The idea that another world exists below the surface of the Earth has captivated science fiction and fantasy writers since the days of Edgar Allan Poe's 'Ms. Found in a Bottle' and Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. As Standish reveals, the theory has also been promoted by serious (if sometimes slightly off-kilter) scientists, beginning with the eminent Edmond Halley, who theorized that smaller concentric spheres were nested inside the Earth. Standish's approach relies heavily on plot summaries of novels by the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, with frequent sarcastic interjections. 'Stop him before he describes more!' he cries after one particularly lush passage. Scientists are dealt with in similarly detailed and skeptical fashion. Beneath all the wisecracks, however, Standish seems to have a genuine affection for his assorted crackpots and dreamers, and he provides an amusing tour of their various underground utopias. Unfortunately, the story fizzles at the end, failing to develop the all too sketchy hints that some people out there are still hollow-earth believers but it's a fun romp while it lasts. 65 b&w illus. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Beliefs in mysterious Underworlds are as old as humanity. From the ancient Sumerians to Incas to modern Christians, nearly every culture has had its special version. However, the idea that the earth has a hollow interior where strange lands, creatures, and civilizations may exist was first proposed as a scientific theory in 1692 by Sir Edmund Halley (of Halley's comet fame). Since then, it has been used as a popular literary motif by writers as various as Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, to name a few.
Hollow Earth traces this notion through the centuries and cultures, exploring how each era's relationship to the notion of a hollow earth reflected its particular hopes, fears, and values. Lavishly illustrated (including Bosch's inspired surreal nightmares of Hell, seventeenth-century maps and diagrams of the interior, illustrations from early Jules Verne editions and other novels, pulp art from World War I through the 1940s, plus movie posters and much more) this unique book will appeal to readers of many sorts: those interested in the history of science, religion, utopian fiction, and real-life experiments; science fiction fans, film buffs, and those intrigued by the remarkable evolution of ideas over centuries.
A remarkable cultural history of what might exist under the Earth’s surface-as reflected in mythology, religion, science, literature, and good old crackpottery
About the Author
David Standish is the author of The Art of Money and has written for Smithsonian, Audubon, Esquire, Outside, Travel & Leisure, Playboy, and Chicago magazine. He lives in Chicago.