Science Fiction Short Story Review: "The Undersea Tube" by L. Taylor Hansen

@msiduri (5750)
United States
December 4, 2016 9:00am CST
From the first paragraph, the reader knows the narrator is the only survivor of a disaster involving the Undersea Tube. His friend the engineer had warned him it was dangerous, but that made it all the more attractive and he went ahead anyway. Now the world knows of the Golden Cavern and the City of the Dead. The narrator, Bob, then goes on to tell of underground railways built at the end of the twentieth century under the English Channel and another linking Montreal and New York. A third links Chicago and New York. The trains are propelled by controlled wind power in circular tunnels along a monorail, rather like an overgrown pneumatic tube. Now society is ready for a transatlantic train tunnel, the Undersea Tube. The digging starts simultaneously at New York and Liverpool. They find a crack, but the leak is slight. It cannot be patched. It doesn’t seem to grow worse. Amid all the hoopla of the great work successfully completed, the leak is ignored. The water is simply pumped out. The trains have run routinely without incident for three years when Bob’s company decides to send him to France via Undersea Tube to take care of matters that couldn’t be resolved by “radio-vision.” He is packing when his old college roommate “Dutch” Higgins, one of the engineers of the Undersea Tube, calls him on the television phone. The rest of the story unfolds as foreordained in the first paragraph. Dutch the engineer supplies the lacking explanation. A couple of weird and dream-like things occur toward the end that make the story something out of usual for such stories. I found some of the technical explanations perhaps overwrought (not to mention unlikely), but nevertheless at least showing some thought. In other words, a cut above stories with human colonies on Mercury, for example. Just the same, it is, at its core, an adventure tale. I rather liked this this little yarn, but again, it has to be read for what it is. Author L. Taylor Hansen also wrote non-fiction works, particularly those having to do with anthropology. Concealing the fact that she was female, she wrote a non-fiction science column in Amazing titled “The Scientific Mysteries” from 1941 to 1948. Her 1963 book He Walked the Americas examines Native American myths for evidence that Jesus of Nazareth visited pre-Columbian American. The present story is available from Project Gutenberg: _____ Title: “The Undersea Tube” Author: L. Taylor Hansen (Lucile Taylor Hansen) (1897-1976) First published: Amazing Stories November 1929 Source: ISFDB
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27609
3 people like this
2 responses
@teamfreak16 (41181)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
5 Dec 16
Pretty cool story. When an Army buddy took a ferry from France to England, they were just starting work on the Chunnel.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
5 Dec 16
Glad you liked it. Hope this means you're feeling better, too.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41181)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
5 Dec 16
@msiduri - Oh, I feel much better. Thank you.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
5 Dec 16
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (57142)
• Los Angeles, California
4 Dec 16
Amazing this story is from 1929 and the narrator speaks of a tunnel beneath the English Channel and now there really is one.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
4 Dec 16
Yes. She was quite forward-thinking in that respect. Might have a bit of trouble digging a train tunnel between New York and Liverpool, though. And she foresaw at least part of the reason. I did like her "television phone" as well.