Thursday, November 1, 2012

YA Sci-Fi: The Hollow Earth by Rudy Rucker

Publisher: William Morrow
Date: 1990
Format: hardback
Source: library sale
Read: because I love books dealing with hollow earths
Pages: 308
Reading time: four days

From GoodReads: In 1836, Mason Algiers Reynolds leaves his family's Virginia farm with his father's slave, a dog, and a mule. Branded a murderer, he finds sanctuary with his hero, Edgar Allan Poe, and together they embark on an extraordinary expedition to the South Pole, and the entrance to the Hollow Earth. It is there, at the center of the world, where strange physics, strange people, and stranger creatures abound, that their bizarre adventures truly begin.

My review: Having read Rucker's Postsingular about a month ago, I can say that this book really surprised me. It's difficult to see that the same author wrote both books. The Hollow Earth is so much more cohesive, and some of the science behind the ideas presented is actually explained in the accompanying "Editor's Note." The writing style is completely different.

I really enjoyed The Hollow Earth, and not just because I love anything dealing with the theory of Symmes' Hole. The premise of the novel - Edgar Allan Poe and friends travel through the South Pole into the hollow earth, an idea explored in several of Poe's works, but with some twists - is fascinating. Some of the characterizations are almost purposefully poor, to the point where they're hilarious. Poe is one of the flattest characters; he seems to have been made as wacky and unbalanced as possible. The number of people who die gruesome deaths, soon thereafter treated rather nonchalantly, also adds an odd surrealism to a book that otherwise successfully mimics the style of classic sci-fi adventure stories. It's a strange book, but much in keeping with the ideas and novels from which it draws its inspiration.

Note on the cover: Isn't it hilariously awful with its rabbit-pig-bug thing?! I'm not sure that such a scene even exists in the book, but it wins for one of the corniest-looking sci-fi covers ever.

For other rather odd treatments of matters connected to Symmes' Hole and Edgar Allan Poe, see The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (2007) and Pym by Mat Johnson (2011).

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that really is quite a bad cover. This book doesn't really sound like a book for me. Thanks for the review.