A Study of the Hollow Earth

Exploring forgotten realms of literature

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

“The Planetary Center”,or, The Funniest Letter Ever Written

The following has nothing to do with the hollow earth. However, in my defense, I am presently at the University of California Riverside’s Eaton Archives, looking for dissertation materials. one of the Eaton Archivists’ great resources is its SF fanzine collection. Now, not knowing were to look, I simply did a keyword search for things like “hollow”, “earth”, “underground”, “underworld”, “center”, etc. One of the titles I uncovered was “The Planetary Center”, and as there are no descriptions given, all I can do is take out the material and look it over.

What I found was the most unintentionally hilarious thing ever. Not a fanzine, but a letter from 1959. Enjoy



24720 Carlysle St.,

U.S.A. – Earth!

God’s Universe…

Est. 1954

Dear Enquirer:

The Planetary Center is a public information bureau concerned with the appearance of interplanetary craft from other planets in our atmosphere at this time..called flying saucers by the public, UFO by the military, Unidentified Flying Objects. Its purpose is to gather books, pamphlets, photographs, concerning the physical facts pertaining to such visitors, to make them available to those who are interested..for each individual to evaluate for himself. Having sent our material to the heads of governmental and policing departments, local and national, we feel we are operating, with the government’s knowledge. Having contacted the US Air Force at Wright Patterson Airfield, Dayton, Ohio, as well, in 1954, as to our activities and being told they also had a serious program investigating flying saucers and to please cooperate reporting to them anything of importance that we might come upon in our research, we consider we are NOT violating any security risk. The local Detroit papers and many libraries have come to refer enquiries of them concerning flying saucers to us. We are registered with Wayne County, Michigan, as a non-profit organization.

While not discounting intuitive processes, for themselves (hunches, mental telepathy, etc.), we do NOT go into literature pertaining to existing psychic saucer research in connection with “messages” purportedly received from such Visitors. We have our own proof that these are physical, more advanced, friendly human beings, coming in space-craft and there is enough evidence to support our conclusions to consider, without going into the unknown and, as yet, undependable areas of the mind, or the theories concerned with mental or spirit beings. Our Open Letter, a monthly newsletter, is concerned with saucer sightings, face-to-face contact and the activities of saucer groups in many countries, including this one. It also contains information concerning changes to come to this planet given out by the Visitors directly to individuals, as well as articles concerned with the developing consciousness or abilities to understand of man, better enabling him today to understand the advanced physical-spiritual stage of growth of the Visitors than ancient Earthman was able to do, when the Visitors came openly to them, speaking to them, face-to-face. Knowin our stage of intuitive growth better than we do, we feel the Visitors would come to us on OUR level of growth, not theirs, or they would only encourage our obviously still distorted human-mind thinking.

The Planetary Center does NOT have a membership and we do NOT hold regular meetings. A nucleus group answers phone and mail enquiries from all over, presently without remuneration, although some have been giving full-time to the work for some time; spending their personal savings to keep the Center going (known also as a saucer study group in the past). They also prepare the Open Letter to the point where a voluntary working committee can be called in, once a month, at least, to help get it into the mail. When the occasion warrants it, we present lectures concerned only with the objective saucer research and face-to-face contacts. You would be notified concerning such a program is you request to be put on our Open Letter mailing list by writing the the above address. It is on a free-will basis, which you might consider after reading it, if you wish, as little or as much as you wish, as often as you wish (or not at all if you cannot afford to do so, or do not care to do so), towards helping to defray expenses. We feel it will all balance up, somewhere. We hope, eventually, also, to give those giving full-time a commensurate wage..for how else can one exist in this economical system, even though the work one is engaged in may mean the salvation of the planet? And whether they wanted to support themselves, elsewise, or not.

The Planetary Center is not concerned with any religious or political organization, each co-worker being a free individual. We feel the Visitors’ coming at such a crucial time in our history, however, and at a time when WE are trying to get into outer space, ourselves, is more than co-incidental; knowing, as we have discovered in our research, that the sacred scriptures of all people of the past contain information concerned advanced human beings coming in craft to help humanity to help itself, at times of need, setting an example of their on higher way of life on their planets, as well, apparently leaving us to work out our own problems, otherwise. This came to be forgotten, in time..or considered to be only “angels”, or “spirit phenomena”. The possibility that other people, like ourselves, however, only more advanced, because they have LIVED God’s Laws..not just professing to believe in them, as we have done, are living on other planets, without war deprivation, starvation, and without a money system like ours that limits the distribution of the good things of life that keep a planet growing and united to those able to acquire money, even though GOD has made them available to ALL, for nothing, is worth considering. AND MUST NOT BECOME CONFUSED WITH PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.

This could be the inspiration for our leaders and people to keep in mind, in trying to solve our own planetary problems; a goal to work towards. As perilous as times are, it is nothing to ridicule or toss out without a second thought. And thus, some of us at the Planetary Center have felt it worthwhile to minimize our personal lives, for the time being, despite such ridicule, and financial hardships, to devote all the time we can to getting this information to the people of this planet, in a way they will consider as to its possibilities, whether they believe it right away or not. In order that the Visitors may come further into our skies and visit openly, teaching us how to live as they do, with open more advanced guidance coming to them, also. They can come in none too soon.. as war looms more possible and planetary changes (the shifting of its poles, accelerating, effecting the climate, the weather, the tides, man’s tensions, etc.), also, nears, through which the Visitors will help us. Even is this shift should not occur for many years to come, one can readily see wherein lies the responsibility of those of us with understanding.

Towards that end, the Planetary Center has a speaking team, concerned with the saucer research that has been done through civilian channels, both scientific and philosophical (not only concerned with the Visitors’ space-craft, that is..but why they are so much more advanced than us in all ways, including spiritual), that goes out only upon invitation to speak, asking nothing for its individual members in payment for its services; accepting a lecture fee for only  a contribution directly to the Planetary Center, in order for its activities to continue. But, lecturing whether a group can contribute or not. The writings of its co-workers are also donated to the Center, which puts them also on a free-will offering basis.

The following is a list of some of the objective flying saucer books which we recommend for you to start investigating the situation for yourself, as we all have had to do, since there is no official body to turn to that will even consider the possibilities of flying causers from other planets, as yet. There are many books now available in public libraries as well as book stores; donating such books to the public and school libraries, and church libraries, as well, is a project which you might consider, yourself, as the Planetary Center continues to do, as it can, also. We also include a list of saucer magazines concerned with objective saucer research that are available only by subscription as a means of keeping up with the sightings that continue all over the world, even behind the Iron Curtain. This will, as well, put you in touch with many other of the countless civilian groups organizing in many countries, and in the country, to investigate the situation.

SAUCER BOOKS: Flying Saucers Are Real, Flying Saucers from Outer Space, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, by Major Donald Keyhoe (retired).

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects by Captain Edward Ruppelt, former Investigator of UFO for the US Air Force.

Flying Saucers Have Landed; Geo. Adamsk & Desmond Leslie.

Inside The Space Ships; Geo. Adamski.

The Case for the UFO, the UFO and the Bible; M.K. Jessup, Astronomer.

Space, Gravity & the Flying Saucer; Leonard Cramp, British Mathematician.

The Truth About Flying Saucers, Aime Michel, French scientist.

SAUCER PAMPHLETS: BY Laura Mundo (Marxer), co-founder Planetary Center, on a free-will offering basis, after reading, to the Center;

The ABD of Saucers, mimeographed.

Let’s Keep Psychism Out of Saucers, mimeographed.

A Summation of Civilian Flying Saucer Research, mimeographed.

“Time of the End”, printed.

SAUCER TAPES: (lectures). Rob’ Johnson, 30702 MacKenzie Bl, Garden City, Mich.

SAUCER MAGAZINES: (Only a few of them may be available).

The Open Letter, monthly, The Planetary Center, free-will offering.

The Flying Saucer Review, quarterly, 1 Doughty St., London WC 1, Eng. $3.75.

Saucers, Max Miller, editor, PO Box 35034, LA 35, Calif. $3.00. Quarterly.

The Saucerian, Gray Barker, Box 2228 Clarksburg, W. Va. $2.00

[And more, but my neck really hurts form typing this up for the last hour, so I’m not going to list them.]

Sincerely yours in the vital project that must become the concern of each individual on this planet, bringing permanent peace and plenty to all..and thusly returning us to the universal family of planets from which we have so long unconsciously isolated ourselves, quarantined as we have been, as well, unbeknownst to ourselves, until we learn to get along with each other, although allowed to think in terms of getting into outerspace. Let’s hope that day is fast approaching when we will be welcomed! For further information contact Connie Grzych, co-founder.

August 1959,                                                                      The Planetary Center


“Swallowed by an Earthquake”

What makes E.D. Fawcett’s “Swallowed by an Earthquake” interesting in the realm of hollow earth literature is that it is *not* by an American, which leads to several aspects of it being different from the traditional Symmes-based tale, while at the same time embracing many of the same tropes of the British lost world novel.

Beginning with a quartet of travelers in Italy, Charlie (our narrator), his friend Jack, his uncle Professor Morton (a prominent scientist), and family friend Dr. Ruggieri (Director of the Vesuvius Observatory and the only non-Brit), al of whom, by page 15, are dropped into a chasm by an earthquake that swallows the entire Italian village they were visiting. In the midst of this the author offers a footnote about geology from no less an eminent source that Alexander Humboldt: ‘Where an earth-wave proceeds in a regular course along a coast, or at the foot of and parallel to the direction of a mountain-chain, interruptions at certain points have sometimes been remarked and continue for centuries. The undulations passes onward in the depth below, but is never felt a those points on the surface. The Peruvians say of these upper strata that they form a bridge’ (Humboldt) (p. 12-3). Science is still to be confirmed even in the course of adventurous storytelling.

What follows from here is a series of very familiar Nineteenth century tropes.

1) We have the imitation of Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the casting of a young protagonist and his scientist-Uncle exploring the underground.

2) Like Journey this is not a Symmesian hollow world with holes-at-the-Poles, but a series of large caverns, the semi-porous earth.

3) This is a journey backwards in evolutionary time, replete with long (and excoriating) details about the plant and animals of the ‘Carboniferous Age’:

It was clearly nothing other than a forest of the Carboniferous Period that shot up from the march. Gigantic jointed reeds of the height and bulk of elms fringed the streams, club-mosses over forty feet high, colossal ‘horse-tails,’ tree ferns, with might palm-like fronds, towering conifers, cast a black gloom over masses of rotting trunks, and vegetation steaming up through the undergrowth. One recognized at a glance the strangely ‘eyes’ trunk of Sigillaria oculata, the graceful Lepidodendron, the clusters of knotted Calamites, and various kinds of coniferous trees and arborescent ferns familiar to geologists… Some snails, spiders, large May-flies, and a large scorpion caught our eye, but there were no other signs of animal life on land… We had been transported into the reality, of which geologists know only the echoes! (p. 52-3)

4) Dinosaurs. Lots of them.

5) Savages. And this is an important distinction from most American hollow earth stories, which usually find an advanced race inside the earth. Here, instead, the author takes the opportunity to regale readers with a multitude of racist statements about non-white races.

Now, there are also several parts that take on unique features, perhaps drawn from other hollow earth stories, or simply Fawcett’s imagination.

1) Because there are no holes-in-the-poles to let in light, the interior of the earth is illuminated by a variant on the aurora borealis: ‘We were evidently confronted with a brilliant subterranean phase of what is popularly known as the ‘northern light,’ the aurora borealis of geographers…
owing, no doubt, to some magnetic conditions peculiar to this recess, the glow here was unexampled, being no mean substitute for sunshine itself, and revealing a noble picture’ (p. 51)

2) This was not a naturally occurring underground realm: ‘Probably by some frightful cataclysm which hurled a huge fragment of the archaic surface of the earth into a cavity over which the crust closed immediately.’ (p. 58)

3) Whereas other hollow earth novels only imply their imperial ambitions, usually in terms of trade, Fawcett’s characters are a little more blatant: ‘Look ahead, Charlie: our savage co-heirs of this underworld at last!… Now’s the opportunity for founding our empire. I shall take the raft right into the first creek I see on that island, and we will then step out of cover and beard the
primæval savage – a terribly superstitious fellow at any time. Cheek, revolvers, and our strange coming and looks will possibly win us divine honours in an hour or two.’ (p. 77)

It is this empire-building ambition that allows for the bulk of the narrative from here, with Charlie and company interacting with the natives, while at the same time rescuing a pair of sisters of their father who were also swallowed by the earthquake. (I will go ahead and ruin the ending here: Yes, Charlie and Jack each marry one of the sisters. How could it be anything but thus?)

Escaping from the savages, Charlie and Company continue to raft down the river that stretches through this entire underground world, looking for a way to return to the surface. Instead, they are saved by a subsequent second earthquake, one which opens a fissure near the coast, and at the same time destroys the underground civilization.

Besides the Professor and the Doctor returning to the world to win scientific acclaim, Charlie and Jack also stole the diamonds that belonged to the natives, making them rich men as they set about starting their families. Because exploration is never disinterested, and there must be reward, both in reputation and in riches, for undertaking such a venture (whether it was intentional or otherwise).


Exploring the World with Roy Rockwood

Five Thousand Miles Underground

Starting with Through the Air to the North Pole in 1906 (New York: Cupples & Leon) Roy Rockwood (a pseudonym used by the publishing house) introduced the eccentric inventor Professor Amos Henderson and his two young apprentices Jack and Mark, whom he rescued from a train crash and took under his wing. The author’s approach to this is far from politically correct by today’s standards: ‘The professor watched their faces with delight. He loved boys and mechanical apparatus.’ (32) NAMBLA would sure find these to be a wonderful series of books. (And yes, that is sarcasm.)

The purpose of these novels is to encourage in young men a spirit of adventure, mechanical invention, and clean leaving. So running off to the North Pole with a strange older man in his flying machine is of course the proper action: “Do you boys want to go along in the Monarch to a place where never mortal man has been?” (36) At this point in history, no one had reached the Poles yet, making this sort of tale an easy one to craft, mirrored on previous tropes of the genre, including a mixture of machinery and science magic.

‘There were electric motors, storage batteries, two gasoline engines similar to those used in automobiles, pumps, large and small tanks, instruments for measuring electric current, for telling the temperature, the amount of moisture in the air, the speed of the wind, the speed of the ship, the height of which is went, besides compasses, barometers, telescopes, and other instruments.

‘There were levers and wheels on every side, switches, valves, electric pugs and handles. Lockers arranged close to the wall and long the floor help supplies and materials. Everything was new and shining, and the professor smiled with pride as he touched piece after piece of machinery, and looked at the different instruments.’ (33)

That is the machine-porn part. Now we get to the science fiction that makes the Monarch possible, thanks to the professor’s miraculous discovery:  “All I have to do is fill the big bag of oiled silk with a new gas I have discovered and up we go. This is really the most important part of the invention. Without this powerful gas the airship would not rise above the earth. / But I have found this gas, which can be made in unlimited quantities from simple materials that we can carry with us. The gas has enormous lifting power, and if it was not for that I could not dare make such a large and comfortable airship. As it is, we can sail through the air as easily as if we were on an ocean liner on the sea…” (34).

Of course we have our usual adventurous parts, of the ship nearly crashing (multiple times) and being attacked by polar bears, sea lions, and Eskimos. They also stumble across a pile of bones and a copper cylinder (see Poe and DeMille for previous examples of this) containing a letter of warning:

Whoever may find this, take warning and do not seek to find the north pole. Danger lurks there. My name is Andre Christiansen, and I am a Dane, educated in America, who set out to find the pole I discovered it but was taken into captivity by the fierce people who dwell around it. They determined to get rid of me. With a party I was sent away. I was to be killed and buried (106) in the ice. Before they could kill me we were all attacked by polar bears. All the other men were killed and I was wounded. As I write this I am dying. I write it with my blood and a piece of bone. Send word to Denmark of my death, kind friend whoever you may be that finds this. If you reach this far in your search for the pole, be warned and go no farther. This is all I can write. I am nearly dead. I put the message in this copper cylinder which I brought along. I hope it will be found. Good-bye.” (107)

Of course they are found by these killer Eskimos, captured, ad just before their sacrifice, rescued by female Eskimo captured from another tribe, who learned English from André. Oh, and good news, she happens to be queen of her tribe, so she is able to stop our heroes from once more being sacrificed by savage Eskimos. In the midst of all this they do manage to reach the North Pole, sort of. A massive whirlwind stops them from being able to set down, and the Professor explains, “l think that the whirlwind is always there. It did not come at us, we ran into it. It may be caused by the magnetic currents at the pole eternally revolving.” (167-8) So hurrah, Professor Henderson, Jack and Mark manage to do what no other explorer has.

Up next, the South Pole!

Under the Ocean to the South Pole (New York: Cupples & Leon Co., 1907) sees the trio and their loyal companions take the Professor’s submarine, the Porpoise, to geographic south, again with the traditional series of ‘exciting’ adventures, running into shipwrecked survivors, murderous whales, pirates, etc. And when they do finally reach geographic south, something interesting awaits them: a boiling ocean. We are never given an adequate explanation as to why the ocean over the South Pole is boiling hot. We certainly weren’t confronted with such circumstance in the North Pole. This use of two different conditions allows for the hope that one of them may be right once explorers actually get there. Reaching the ‘open polar sea’ of the South Pole is not actually the most intriguing part of the narrative; it’s this little scene setting up the third book.

“Look out Professor! Don’t go any nearer or we’ll be sucked into the whirlpool!”

The inventor looked where the hunter pointed. Then he beheld the strangest sight he had ever seen. The island was low toward where Andy pointed and they beheld the waters of the ocean pouring over the edge of it, and falling down into an immense hole with a roar like that of Niagara Falls.

“Do you suppose this hole leads to the centre of the earth?” asked Mark. “I’ve read somewhere that the earth is hollow.”

“Some scientists believe it,” commented the professor. “This looks like a big enough hole to lead clear through to China. Hark, you can hear the road of the water now.” (123-5)

This hole found off the coast of South America is our point of return for the next adventure, Five Thousand Miles Underground, or, The Mystery of the Centre of the Earth (New York: Cupples & Leon Company, 1908). With the aid of Professor Henderson’s latest invention, the Flying Mermaid, they fly to this and into a new world, which the Professor hypothesis to be a second concentric sphere.

“I will tell you what I believe,” he said at length. “ I have never spoken of it before, but now that we are fairly started and may eventually have a chance to prove my theory, I will say that I think the centre of this earth on which we live is hollow. Inside of it, forming a core, so to speak, I believe there is another earth, similar to ours in some respects which revolves inside this larger sphere.” (39)

The Professor decides, upon their arrival that he is indeed correct. “I believe we are on a sort of small earth that is inside the larger one we live on. This sphere floats in space, just as our earth does, and we have passed through the void that lies between our globe and the interior one. I think this new earth is about a quarter the side of ours and in some respects the same. In others it is vastly different.” (143)

Via the discovery of both the North and South Poles to be physical geographic locations – thus negating the idea of Symmes’s Holes – it requires a modification of what’s been proposed in the preceding century. With out openings to provide sunlight, it comes instead from volcanic fires releasing multi-hued gases. Everything in this world is giant, like so many other descriptions of the interior world, except instead of trees, fruits grow on vines, and the native inhabitants are fifteen feet tall. The locals, according to the Professor, based on “Their houses, and the manner in which they live, show them to be allied to the Aztecs, though of course they are much larger than that race.” (185) Not that we are ever given the reason or evidence for this assertion.

Fortuitously, there was a stowaway on board the Flying Mermaid, who happens to be king of these people, accidentally trapped on the surface years before. As a reward, he points the explorers toward a treasure cave full of gold and diamonds. The king fails to mention the gigantic bats protecting the place, though. Fortunately the plucky travelers use lots of guns to win the day and  carry away the ransom of many kings. Too bad they don’t get to keep most of it due to weight restrictions on the rescue vessel that returns them to the surface. There is still enough of the jewels remaining for everyone to be well off and Jack and Mark save it to buy themselves fine educations.

So, what have we learned from all of this?

1) There is only one way to the interior of the earth, which has now accidentally closed.

2) There are riches galore to be had on the inside of the earth.

3) There are no holes in the Poles.

4) Everything inside the earth is gigantic.

5) Plucky young boys willing to go on grand adventures with older men will be richly rewarded. 

6) Only with the aid of technology can we get to any of these unexplored places.

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