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A question about a Science Fiction story… December 29, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Uncategorized.

For all you SF fans out there, a question. Years and years ago I read a story set in a universe which is filled with rock where ‘worlds’ are like bubbles inside of the rock with miniature suns at their centre. Humans live on the inside surface of these enormous bubbles. In the story someone finds a ‘corridor’ from one ‘world’ to another. I’m wondering does anyone know what that story might be? I’ve an idea that it was written in the 1950s or thereabouts.

Stories like that are catnip to me, and it’s a great idea which I’m surprised has never been recycled subsequently, at least as far as I know. It reminds me in a way of another story which I think came a bit later about a rift in the side of a planet which just descended mile upon mile into the centre of it – again I can’t recall the title or author. I seem to remember a VTOL expedition being sent out at one point.

If these are reminiscent (or precursors) of more recent authors one name that comes to mind is perhaps Charles Stross whose excellent Missile Gap which has a very different Cold War (and some nifty Soviet technology as well as a cameo by Carl Sagan) and can be read in large part online here.

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1. Martin - December 29, 2012

It sounds like Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville books.

WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2012

In a way yes, though it long predates it. But definitely set in a universe of rock/stone as distinct from Dyson Spheres. A great writer Bob Shaw and from the North as well.

2. Starkadder - December 29, 2012

It’s not Ray Cummings “The Girl in The Golden Atom”, is it?

WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2012

Nah, definitely not, though that looks like an interesting one.

3. transrealfiction - December 29, 2012

Sounds a little like Kay Kenyon’s recent series, although the dates don’t fit at all http://www.kaykenyon.com/novels/
G.C.Edmundson had a short story called The Third Bubble in his 1965 Stranger Than You Think collection, but it doesn’t really fit – his Mad Friend uses the bubble theory to explain something or other he’s come across. Sorry to be a bit vague, it’s ages since I read it.

WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2012

That Kay Kenyon series sounds fun, and yes, it’s definitely in that sort of an approach. But nope, it’s much earlier. Don’t think it’s the Edmondson story, but thanks a million for the suggestions. Even if it’s not found there’s some interesting reading tips from you all.

4. greengoddess2 - December 29, 2012

I wish I could remember the name. My father was a SF fan and I think he had it. Must look. Will read missile gap ASAP.

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

It’s great fun Missile Gap, and for anyone with even a passing interest in Marxism it has some neat injokes.

5. Séamas Ó Sionnaigh (An Sionnach Fionn) - December 29, 2012

Sounds like a Dyson Sphere? There are a list of dyson-set stories here. Have you read Iain M. Banks’ Matter? Fairly similar in theme.

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

Matter is great. I’m trying to read the Hydrogen Sonata at the moment, but Christmas is proving to be a strangely difficult time to actually get anything done! It’s sort of like a Dyson sphere but with an infinity of rock extending beyond it in all directions.

6. Joe - December 29, 2012

There must be an SF blog for this kind of stuff WBS! This is a politics blog … please do not distract us with queries about a genre, 80% of which is crud. Happy New Year.

smiffy - December 29, 2012

80% of everything … etc.

Joe - December 29, 2012

Absolutely… everything including Joe’s comments.

ejh - December 30, 2012

Personally I find the distractions are among the most important elements of any good blog.

Joe - December 30, 2012

I will accept the football distractions but the SF must be banished … to another dimension. Surely everyone knows by now that SF is not left.

Starkadder - December 30, 2012

H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Philip K. DIck, Ursula
Le Guin, Norman Spinrad, Naomi Mitchison, Michael Moorcock, Octavia Butler, M. John Harrison, Kim Stanley Robinson, China Mieville….all SF, All Politically Left.

ejh - December 30, 2012

Also, at least one contemporary SF writer and reader of this blog.

Starkadder - December 30, 2012

Is this writer not beyond our Ken, is he, EJH? ;)

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

That’s very true. And a bloody good writer too. Iain Banks as well is left wing. Mack Reynolds was. And Stephen Baxter strikes me as left/humanist. Joanna Russ. Richard K. Morgan (big time).

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

Though perhaps politically the libertarian strand is as strong if not a bit stronger.

Starkadder - December 30, 2012

Although with the exception of William Morris, the
big names in fantasy (Dunsany, Cabell, Eddison,
Tolkien, Machen, Lovecraft) were all conservatives-
at least until the 1960s, when Ursula Le Guin and
Fritz Leiber came along.

Joe - December 30, 2012

Ah come on lads. “Surely everyone knows by now that SF is not left.” Did yis not see what I did there?

7. Richard Smith - December 30, 2012

Rings no bells, but the genre for this sort of thing is known as “Subterranean Fiction”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subterranean_fiction

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

Yes it’s sort of in that line, but as I was noting below, an even closer fix is ‘concave hollow earth’ but not set on earth! Mind you some great links in that link you provide, thanks Richard.

8. Passing through - December 30, 2012

Me and My Antronoscope by Barrington J. Bailey is set in a universe made of rock but dates from the 1970s. The collection in which it appears – The Knights of the Limits, can be found on Google Books. The story about rift in the side of a planet is probably Mouth of Hell by David I. Masson, anthologised in Perilous Planets (edited by Brian W. Aldiss)

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

I’m a bit of a fan of Bailey, Passing through, so I should have remembered that one already (I love the stories in that collection, and there’s a writer who seems to have dropped out of the canon to some extent, if he was ever in it), but it’s not that one either!!! Actually that’s a sneaky story because it’s only in the last two pages where it definitely goes in that direction, before that – well I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it. But thanks for both the reference and the suggestion on the Masson story which I’ll have to find.

It’s sort of a rif of concave hollow earth stories of which there are a few.

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

That story was Mouth of Hell, the one I mentioned above about a giant rift in the side of a planet. Thanks a million for that. Really appreciated. Now if we can find the concave world one!

Passing through - January 9, 2013

You’re welcome. I saw this via teh Twitter this morning and thought of you

Once, Feng Fan was a mountaineer, but when he let others plummet to their deaths to save himself, he was faced with the full weight of media condemnation and his own conscience. But now aliens have arrived, and on death’s door he is given the unexpected opportunity to speak to them. Soon he learns that they were once much like him, having come into existence sealed deep within mountain-like layers of rock. They are possessed with a single dream and mission: To ascend, to climb out.

Welcome to the Bubble World of alien mountaineers

Another suggestion for your original story is ‘The Hollow Planet’ by Don Wilcox

The world was a bubble in a universe of solid rock; and it was a crime to try to tunnel through it.

originally published sometime in the 1940s

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