or A Voyage to the Inner World
The Smoky God, or A Voyage Journey to the Inner Earth is an Edwardian era ‘hollow earth’ fantasy novel, presented as a true account written by Willis George Emerson in 1908. The story describes the adventures of Olaf Jansen, a Norwegian sailor who sailed with his father through an entrance to the Earth’s interior at the North Pole. For two years Jansen lived with the inhabitants of an underground network of colonies who, Emerson writes, were 12 feet tall and whose world was lit by a ‘smoky’ central sun. Their capital city was said to be the original Garden of Eden.
This inner Earth is lit by its own sun, and here underground civilization has diverged from the ways of the surface. Here are giants, monsters, omnipotent High Priests, and lost races that speak Sanskrit -- a world of wonders, which Olaf will be lucky to survive!
The Smoky God sits alongside other popular ‘hollow earth’ or subterranean fiction. This subgenre is a blend of adventure, science fiction, or fantasy. Willis George Emerson’s now classic book ranks with other subterranean classics from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, John Uri Lloyd and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
This Azafran edition of The Smoky God, or A Voyage Journey to the Inner Earth includes the original illustrations.
Willis George Emerson was an American novelist, Chicago newspaperman, lawyer, politician, and promoter, who formed the North American Copper Company in Wyoming.
I FEAR the seemingly incredible story which I am about to relate will be regarded as the result of a distorted intellect superinduced, possibly, by the glamour of unveiling a marvellous mystery, rather than a truthful record of the unparalleled experiences related by one Olaf Jansen, whose eloquent madness so appealed to my imagination that all thought of an analytical criticism has been effectually dispelled.
Marco Polo will doubtless shift uneasily in his grave at the strange story I am called upon to chronicle; a story as strange as a Munchausen tale. It is also incongruous that I, a disbeliever, should be the one to edit the story of Olaf Jansen, whose name is now for the first time given to the world, yet who must hereafter rank as one of the notables of earth.READ MORE
I freely confess his statements admit of no rational analysis, but have to do with the profound mystery concerning the frozen North that for centuries has claimed the attention of scientists and laymen alike. However much they are at variance with the cosmographical manuscripts of the past, these plain statements may be relied upon as a record of the things Olaf Jansen claims to have seen with his own eyes.
A hundred times I have asked myself whether it is possible that the world’s geography is incomplete, and that the startling narrative of Olaf Jansen is predicated upon demonstrable facts. The reader may be able to answer these queries to his own satisfaction, however far the chronicler of this narrative may be from having reached a conviction. Yet sometimes even I am at a loss to know whether I have been led away from an abstract truth by the ignes fatui of a clever superstition, or whether heretofore accepted facts are, after all, founded upon falsity.
It may be that the true home of Apollo was not at Delphi, but in that older earth-centre of which Plato speaks, where he says: ‘Apollo’s real home is among the Hyperboreans, in a land of perpetual life, where mythology tells us two doves flying from the two opposite ends of the world met in this fair region, the home of Apollo. Indeed, according to Hecataeus, Leto, the mother of Apollo, was born on an island in the Arctic Ocean far beyond the North Wind.’
It is not my intention to attempt a discussion of the theogony of the deities nor the cosmogony of the world. My simple duty is to enlighten the world concerning a heretofore unknown portion of the universe, as it was seen and described by the old Norseman, Olaf Jansen.
Interest in northern research is international. Eleven nations are engaged in or have contributed to, the perilous work of trying to solve Earth’s one remaining cosmological mystery.
There is a saying, ancient as the hills, that ‘truth is stranger than fiction,’ and in a most startling manner has this axiom been brought home to me within the last fortnight.
It was just two o’clock in the morning when I was aroused from a restful sleep by the vigorous ringing of my door-bell. The untimely disturber proved to be a messenger bearing a note, scrawled almost to the point of illegibility, from an old Norseman by the name of Olaf Jansen. After much deciphering, I made out the writing, which simply said: ‘Am ill unto death. Come.’ The call was imperative, and I lost no time in making ready to comply.
Perhaps I may as well explain here that Olaf Jansen, a man who quite recently celebrated his ninety-fifth birthday, has for the last half-dozen years been living alone in an unpretentious bungalow out Glendale way, a short distance from the business district of Los Angeles, California.
It was less than two years ago, while out walking one afternoon, that I was attracted by Olaf Jansen’s house and its homelike surroundings, toward its owner and occupant, whom I afterwards came to know as a believer in the ancient worship of Odin and Thor.
There was a gentleness in his face, and a kindly expression in the keenly alert grey eyes of this man who had lived more than four-score years and ten; and, withal, a sense of loneliness that appealed to my sympathy. Slightly stooped, and with his hands clasped behind him, he walked back and forth with slow and measured tread, that day when first we met. I can hardly say what particular motive impelled me to pause in my walk and engage him in conversation. He seemed pleased when I complimented him on the attractiveness of his bungalow, and on the well-tended vines and flowers clustering in profusion over its windows, roof and wide piazza.
I soon discovered that my new acquaintance was no ordinary person, but one profound and learned to a remarkable degree; a man who, in the later years of his long life, had dug deeply into books and become strong in the power of meditative silence.
I encouraged him to talk and soon gathered that he had resided only six or seven years in Southern California, but had passed the dozen years prior in one of the Middle Eastern states. Before that, he had been a fisherman off the coast of Norway, in the region of the Lofoden Islands, from whence he had made trips still farther north to Spitzbergen and even to Franz Josef Land.
When I started to take my leave, he seemed reluctant to have me go, and asked me to come again. Although at the time I thought nothing of it, I remember now that he made a peculiar remark as I extended my hand in leave-taking. ‘You will come again?’ he asked. ‘Yes, you will come again someday. I am sure you will, and I shall show you my library and tell you many things of which you have never dreamed, things so wonderful that it maybe you will not believe me.’
I laughingly assured him that I would not only come again but would be ready to believe whatever he might choose to tell me of his travels and adventures.
In the days that followed I became well acquainted with Olaf Jansen, and, little by little, he told me his story, so marvellous, that it's very daring challenges reason and belief. The old Norseman always expressed himself with so much earnestness and sincerity that I became enthralled by his strange narrations.
Then came the messenger’s call that night, and within the hour I was at Olaf Jansen’s bungalow.
He was very impatient at the long wait, although after being summoned I had come immediately to his bedside.
‘I must hasten,’ he exclaimed, while yet he held my hand in greeting. ‘I have much to tell you that you know not, and I will trust no one but you. I fully realize,’ he went on hurriedly, ‘that I shall not survive the night. The time has come to join my fathers in the great sleep.’
I adjusted the pillows to make him more comfortable and assured him I was glad to be able to serve him in any way possible, for I was beginning to realize the seriousness of his condition.
The lateness of the hour, the stillness of the surroundings, the uncanny feeling of being alone with the dying man, together with his weird story, all combined to make my heart beat fast and loud with a feeling for which I have no name. Indeed, there were many times that night by the old Norseman’s couch, and there have been many times since when a sensation rather than a conviction took possession of my very soul, and I seemed not only to believe in, but actually see, the strange lands, the strange people and the strange world of which he told, and to hear the mighty orchestral chorus of a thousand lusty voices.
For over two hours he seemed endowed with almost superhuman strength, talking rapidly, and to all appearances, rationally. Finally, he gave into my hands' certain data, drawings and crude maps. ‘These,’ said he in conclusion, ‘I leave in your hands. If I can have your promise to give them to the world, I shall die happy, because I desire that people may know the truth, for then all mystery concerning the frozen Northland will be explained. There is no chance of your suffering the fate I suffered. They will not put you in irons, nor confine you in a mad-house, because you are not telling your own story, but mine, and I, thanks to the gods, Odin and Thor, will be in my grave, and so beyond the reach of disbelievers who would persecute.’
Without a thought of the far-reaching results the promise entailed, or foreseeing the many sleepless nights which the obligation has since brought me, I gave my hand and with it a pledge to discharge faithfully his dying wish.
As the sun rose over the peaks of the San Jacinto, far to the eastward, the spirit of Olaf Jansen, the navigator, the explorer and worshiper of Odin and Thor, the man whose experiences and travels, as related, are without a parallel in all the world’s history, passed away, and I was left alone with the dead.
And now, after having paid the last sad rites to this strange man from the Lofoden Islands, and the still farther ‘Northward Ho!’, the courageous explorer of frozen regions, who in his declining years (after he had passed the four-score mark) had sought an asylum of restful peace in sun-favoured California, I will undertake to make public his story.
But, first of all, let me indulge in one or two reflections:
Generation follows generation, and the traditions from the misty past are handed down from sire to son, but for some strange reason interest in the ice-locked unknown does not abate with the receding years, either in the minds of the ignorant or the tutored.
With each new generation, a restless impulse stirs the hearts of men to capture the veiled citadel of the Arctic, the circle of silence, the land of glaciers, cold wastes of waters and winds that are strangely warm. Increasing interest is manifested in the mountainous icebergs, and marvellous speculations are indulged in concerning the earth’s centre of gravity, the cradle of the tides, where the whales have their nurseries, where the magnetic needle goes mad, where the Aurora Borealis illumines the night, and where brave and courageous spirits of every generation dare to venture and explore, defying the dangers of the ‘Farthest North.’
One of the ablest works of recent years is ‘Paradise Found, or the Cradle of The Human Race at the North Pole,’ by William F. Warren. In his carefully prepared volume, Mr. Warren almost stubbed his toe against the real truth, but missed it seemingly by only a hair’s breadth, if the old Norseman’s revelation be true.
Dr. Orville Livingston Leech, scientist, in a recent article, says:
‘The possibilities of a land inside the earth were first brought to my attention when I picked up a geode on the shores of the Great Lakes. The geode is a spherical and apparently solid stone, but when broken is found to be hollow and coated with crystals. The earth is only a larger form of a geode, and the law that created the geode in its hollow form undoubtedly fashioned the earth in the same way.’
In presenting the theme of this almost incredible story, as told by Olaf Jansen, and supplemented by manuscript, maps and crude drawings entrusted to me, a fitting introduction is found in the following quotation:
‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void.’ And also, ‘God created man in his own image.’ Therefore, even in things material, man must be God-like, because he is created in the likeness of the Father.
A man builds a house for himself and his family. The porches or verandas are all without and are secondary. The building is really constructed for the conveniences within.
Olaf Jansen makes the startling announcement through me, a humble instrument, that in like manner, God created the earth for the ‘within’--that is to say, for its lands, seas, rivers, mountains, forests and valleys, and for its other internal conveniences, while the outside surface of the earth is merely the veranda, the porch, where things grow by comparison but sparsely, like the lichen on the mountainside, clinging determinedly for bare existence.
Take an egg-shell, and from each end break out a piece as large as the end of this pencil. Extract its contents, and then you will have a perfect representation of Olaf Jansen’s earth. The distance from the inside surface to the outside surface, according to him, is about three hundred miles. The centre of gravity is not in the centre of the earth, but in the centre of the shell or crust; therefore, if the thickness of the earth’s crust or shell is three hundred miles, the centre of gravity is one hundred and fifty miles below the surface.COLLAPSE