Voyage to the Center of the Earth
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VOYAGE TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
by Jacques Collin de Plancy
adapted by Brian Stableford
cover by Mike Hoffman
The planet that occupies the center of the Earth has a diameter of eight hundred leagues. Its soil is vegetal except at its two extremities, which are solidly magnetic over an extent of sixty leagues. The sky that covers it-our globe-is, on its interior surface, luminous...
Forty-three years before Jules Verne, and ninety-three years before Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jacques Collin de Plancy, remembered today for his Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology, penned Voyage to the Center of the Earth (1821), which is both an adventure story and a utopian fantasy in the Voltairean tradition.
An expedition is mounted to discover the hypothetical opening at the Earth's pole, the existence of which was popularized by Tyssot de Patot's Pierre de Mésange (1720), Ludwig Holberg's Nils Klim (1741) and Casanova's Icosameron (1788). There, they discover an alien world located inside the Earth populated by humans who only differ from us by size.
Although there are satirical elements, this world within is treated as another planet, with its own geography and history, a mildly exotic fauna and flora, and nations with different politics and religions.
Voyage to the Center of the Earth differs from its predecessors not merely because of its careful depiction of a society that has preserved happiness by rejecting progress, but because its heroes find it is too tedious to remain there.
Voyage au centre de la terre, ou Aventures diverses de Clairancy et de ses companions, au Spitzberg, au Pôle-Nord, et dans des pays inconnus, traduit de l'anglais de Hormidas Peath par M. Jacques Saint-Albin [Journey to the Center of the Earth; or, Various Adventures of Clairancy and His Com-panions in Spitzbergen, at the North Pole and in Unknown Lands, translated from the English of Hormidas Peath by Jacques Saint-Albin] (Caillot, 1821)
Introduction, Afterword and Notes by Brian Stableford.