Notes from my personal journal this evening, copied here unedited to preserve the original spontaneity:
Want to get on paper something I was thinking about earlier today, flowing from thoughts this past weekend and of course earlier on subterranean and "Hollow Earth" themes. Most strongly reinforced by the dioramas at the LEGO show, those ¾-view cross sections showing what's going on both above and below ground level, and how that's always excited my interest and curiosity ever since I was a kid, almost to the point of obsessive fixation. Today I was thinking about it in ever more abstract and esoteric terms, like the idea of a subterranean marine environment, for example, and the unique organisms that would live in such a setting (model for Europa?). But then conflated with the other stereotypically subterranean aspects, so that you have all the geological elements, the magma and giant crystals; and this kind of leading into the idea of an increasing distortion or conflation of first biological and eventually physical laws as one works their way progressively deeper into the earth. So you might start out with a bizarre subterranean ecosystem of megafauna extremophiles, terrestrial or marine, in some vast underground cavern network; but as you go deeper you see progressively more profound and integrated symbiotic relationships between phyletic categories--first between zoological clades, but then betwixt animals and fungi, for example. And deeper than that, you start to encounter completely alien domains of life, like silicon-based creatures; and this is not a clear-cut delineation but rather a gradual progression across a continuum, so that you see varying degrees of hybridization and segregation in different lineages at different depths. Symbiotic, parasitic, and virally infectious trans-domain "dark life" vectors play a role in the evolution and development even of mundane organisms at these depths. Of course factors like heat, pressure, changing gravity and chemical composition all come into play as you go deeper and deeper, and closer to the planet's core you might be dealing with something more like the magnetohydrodynamic plasma-based entities you often see posited in science fiction as denizens of the sun and other stars. Exotic physical conditions, plus the potential activities of sapient beings at these depths, might lead to bizarre physical phenomena not observed on the earth's surface, so you might end up encountering dimensional portals or odd energetic properties (incidental deposits of super-heavy radioactive minerals, naturally occurring lasers and masers, gravitational lensing, neutrino traps, tachyon resonators) that have their own odd mutagenic effects on the resident ecosystem and perhaps eventually on the fabric of reality itself, possibly even leading to altered physical laws and habitats (including organisms and societies displaying biological and cultural conflation and synthesis) born of temporal and quantum-tunnelling memetic/probabilistic "evolution," the result of trans-continuum information leakage.
This gets even crazier if you accept Halley's original premise of the Hollow Earth as consisting of multiple nested concentric spheres, and imagine that each of these spheres is a complete "earth" (albeit progressively smaller as you work your way down towards the planet's core). Then those odd physical properties, gravitational and other environmental conditions, exotic domains of life and "alien" civilizations, could each be uniquely resident to their native "sphere(s)." Kind of like the Ptolemaic epicycles turned inward...
And here's where it gets really fun--imagine taking this scenario and applying it uniquely, individually, to every planet in our solar system, and to all the worlds beyond...
Edmond Halley originally posited the idea of a world composed of nested, concentric hollow spheres to account for the disparity in the earth's magnetic field observed in compass readings, at that time inexplicable due to ignorance of the planet's fluid mantle and the varying rates of rotation of the geological strata relative to this unknown medium.
Reifying the above model to create the unique, individuated "inner earths" is an idea I stumbled across in a steampunk story about Dr. Frankenstein and his creation's ongoing vendetta...This story--or rather, this particular aspect--was hugely inspirational to me, but unfortunately I can't remember the title or author. I will cite it here if I ever stumble across it again, and if you have any insight to its origins, please do tell!
My childhood and adult imagination (in regards to subterranean topics) was fired by any number of titles in the Choose Your Own Adventure series, including R.A. Montgomery's Prisoner of the Ant People
and (oddly enough) Edward Packard's Through the Black Hole
Mutagenic effects or exotic elements and "rays"--this was almost certainly a semi-conscious nod to Shaver's "Deros" and to all the other crazy pop-culture and pseudo-science references all the way back to Agartha, the Theosophists' Shambhala, and Symmes.
Dimensional portals--I was heavily influenced by this awesome description of a fire elemental from one of the Pathfinder bestiaries:
While Magmins populate the Plane of Fire, they sometimes slip through elemental rifts into the Material Plane. These rifts usually occur in places of searing heat, such as volcanoes or underground rivers of magma, or in places of strong, unpredictable magic.
Magnetohydrodynamic organisms--best example I can think of is David Brin's Sundiver
, but I don't think anything really had more of an impact on me in this regard than the "enemy bio-weapon" from Star Fox 64's "Solar" level! : p
Also, The Onion:
The idea of a god-like geological sentience at the earth's core was mesmerizingly explored in Tony Daniel's Earthling
Please also see
Cartoon I watched briefly in my pre-adolescence, never had any of the toys! : (
Graphic novel I wish was around when I was a kid!
Scroll ALL the way down for lots of creepy subterranean goodness!
GIANT GYPSUM CRYSTALS FTW
Ladies and gentlemen, Paul Chadwick! (Thanks, Ben!)