Hollow Earth: The Long and Curious History of Imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical Creatures, Advanced Civilizations, and Marvelous Machines Below the Earth's Surface

David Standish, Author . Da Capo $24.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-306-81373-3

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)

Reviewed on: 05/15/2006
Release date: 07/01/2006
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-0-306-81533-1
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-306-81638-3
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