JF Ptak Science Books Post 1782
There should or could be an enjoyable history written on the internal living history of the Earth, or Earths-within-the-Earth, because the idea is quite old, and latches itself like a good idea on top of a bad idea inside a decent idea. The end result though is not so great, but, given the longevity of the interior Earth idea and the people who perpetuated it over time, I would like to read a history of the thing, even if it went nowhere. I guess the history could be fiction and come out with almost the same result, but well, some of the happened-history is stranger than fiction.
I was brought to think about this by a patent granted to Herbet Francis Williams-Lyouns (British, 1863-1933). Lyouns was a painter but for some reason cooked up this idea for an international exhibition just before the year 1900. The patented idea was for a free-standing globe/sphere with a series of stairways that would get paying folks to a lighthouse at the top. From what I can tell the thing was to be 150 feet high or thereabouts–it is difficult to tell since there are no technical specifications in the patent itself. There was nothing really to suggest dimension and without physical specifications I'm not sure exactly what Lyouns was patenting, except for a big globe with a lighthouse on top that could be populated with a paying crowd.
It seems that Lyouns was patenting the idea for being able to ascend a hollow globe to a what would seem to be a redundant lighthouse (certainly there could have been some other structure a little more appropriate or crown-y) at the top, though I know I have seen several earlier visionary drawings about such a beast. One of these ideas belonged to Etienne Boullee (1728-1799), who designed a great hollow sphere for a cenotaph for Newton—Boullee however did not muck up the interior of his space with a massive stair structure, and kept it simple, with his folks milling about on the ground enjoying what was supposed to be an internal night sky. Some of the others are pre-patent era, though I do recall one of a hollowed-globe interior for viewing a moving diorama that was definitely of the patent era–perhaps that inventor simply didn't patent the apparatus.
The Lyoun bit also reminds me of the Crystal Palace of 1851–rather, of a cartoon for the Crystal Palace, featuring the Palace at the top of a globe that was fully and completely, falling-off-the-sides inhabited. Which makes it a bit different from the globe of Lyoun, which seems as though it could've been inhabited on the inside, only, and which steers us exactly to the opposite (?) of the Earth's-Interior-Earth business. After all, I started talking about other stuff and civilizations living underground, inside the Earth, possibly inside a massive hollowed out section of the Earth.
(Finding the top of the world was easier in 1851–at least to this illustration, showing the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851 sitting firmly in place above all. I can imagine that if you were sitting in Hyde Park along with the 1851-foot long building, it would be easy to think that you were indeed at the top of the food chain. The structure was the crowning achievement of the Exhibition: it was almost one million feet under iron and wood and glass, and could hold tens of thousands of people who could view the enormous gardens housed there.)
I'm talking about Jules Verne and his journey to the center of the Earth, and H.G. Well's Morlocks, and a dim memory of Superman's Mole Men, and E.R. Burrough's Pellucidar sitting at some great depth below the Earth, and on and on, back into the misty past, past hollow Earth theories of even some great men like Edmond Halley, and back into mythological and anthropological stories of great antiquity. But those stories will have to wait for a later tell.
[Boullee's cenotaph for Newton.]
One bit I'd like to point out is this extraordinary leap of imagination, an actual map of the interior civilization of the Earth provided by William R. Bradshaw to the readers of his Goddess of Atvatabar, which was published in 1892. The story itself seems terribly purple and looks like a very difficult read–but the pictures are interesting in their own rippling ways. And then there's the case of the map–one of the very few I can think of that depict a civilization inside our own homey Earth. (I'd mention others but I can't think of any straight away.)
[Map of the Interior World, William Bradshaw.]
Another example of a map of interior Earths was brought to my attention by Rebekah Higgitt (of the excellent Teleskopos blog ), who sent me to the Petri Dish blog (of Katherine Pandora, and her post "Hollow Heads, Science, Fantasy, and What's as Plain as the Earth Beneath our Feet") and the internal Earth of WIlliam Reed (in 1906, illustrating his Phantom of the Poles):
And yet a third example, making my way through the Petri Dish article and found at the website of Engines of our Ingenuity by John Lienhard (from his post 2180, "Hollow Earth"):
[Symmes' Hollow Earth published long after his death by his son, Americus Symmes.]
And then another example, this from Marshall B. Gardiner, A Journey to Earth's Center. 1920, which also shows the interior "central sun":
And a cross-section of the Earth from Gardiner:
The literature of this hollow Earth business is very wide and long and not very deep, and includes a fair amount of scientific-y whoo whoo. The sci-fi part of it looks mor eintereting, though from the little that I have read now most of it is very tight-fisted in the good-writing department.
This maps talk excludes Inferno maps like the following, for example–obviously–as there are many:
The classic sort of image may be something like this fantastic depiction of the Inferno of Dante (shown here in the Comedia published in Venice by Gregorio de Gregoriis in 1515.
I should guess that there's ample room for a collection of inner-Earth civilizations, and perhaps that will come to pass.
A few more of the patent images for the Lyouns patent: