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

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Overview

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 suggested that there might be life down there as well. Hollow Earth traces the surprising, marvelous, and just plain weird permutations his ideas have taken over the centuries. From science fiction to utopian societies and even religions, Hollow Earth travels through centuries and cultures, exploring how each era?s ...

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Hollow Earth: The Long and Curious History of Imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical Creatures, Advanced Civilizatio

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Overview

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 suggested that there might be life down there as well. Hollow Earth traces the surprising, marvelous, and just plain weird permutations his ideas have taken over the centuries. From science fiction to utopian societies and even religions, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Isis, June 2009
“[A] breezily written, well-illustrated journalistic survey…A popular history of ‘esoteric’ science…Mine it for nuggets to spice up undergraduate lectures.”
New York Times Book Review
"[An] entertaining new book...Standish's research is impressive." -- Editor's Choice, 1/28/07
Giant September 2005
"[A] trippy history of the concept that bizarre creatures and civilizations may exist under the earth's surface, covering ancient mythology, scientific theories and fictional fantasies."
Publishers Weekly
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 believersbut it's a fun romp while it lasts. 65 b&w illus. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306815331
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 7/2/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,053,635
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet 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.

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Table of Contents

1 Hollow science 15
2 Symmes' holes 39
3 Polar gothic : Reynolds and Poe 87
4 Jules Verne : a journey to the center of geology 109
5 Cyrus Teed and Koreshanity 143
6 Hollow utopias, romances, and a little kiddie lit 187
7 Edgar Rice Burroughs at the earth's core 241
8 The hollow earth lives : evil Nazis, flying saucers, supermen, new age utopias 267
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