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The Tunnel Under the World

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  65 reviews
"The Tunnel under the World" was first published in 1954 in Galaxy magazine. On the morning of June 15th, Guy Burckhardt woke up screaming out of a dream. It was more real than any dream he had ever had in his life. He could still hear and feel the sharp, ripping-metal explosion, the violent heave that had tossed him furiously out of bed, the searing wave of heat. He sat u ...more
Paperback, 44 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Aegypan (first published January 1955)
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Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frederik Pohl's first published work, written in 1937, is a poem called, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna". This short story "Tunnel Under The World" first appeared in 'Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine', January of 1955.

"Tunnel Under The World" anticipates the movie "The Truman Show" by a half-century, with a bit of 'Groundhog Day' peppered into the mix. Perhaps now we know where movie makers get some of their ideas.

Born in New York City, Pohl grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. His f
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
In the middle of reading Replay by Ken Grimwood, I become obsessed with tracking down a short story I read 30 years ago in a science-fiction almanac. Couldn't remember the title, as I read it initially in Romanian translation, but a search with "time loop" as the key word came up a winner. So here it is:

On the morning of June 15th, Guy Burckhardt woke up screaming.

original illustration by EMSH

What follows is his routine day of breakfast, going to work, job stress, lunch, going home in the evening. But something is slightl
Love of Hopeless Causes
Something is rotten in Tylertown and it's not the Chocobars . . . or is it? Still relevant and could have inspired several popular movies:(view spoiler) ...more
Barbara Krasnoff
I recently reread this story by Frederik Pohl, which is one of the classics of 1950s science fiction. It is the tale of a supposedly ordinary man in a small town who one day realizes that he is living the same day over and over again.But whereas a lesser author would have left it at that, Pohl unfolds layers of increasingly horrific revelations that makes the story riveting. But at the core, this is a satire of the advertising culture that dominated the 1950s U.S., making it a completely satisfa ...more
Patrick DiJusto
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
imagine the plot of the movie Groundhog's Day. even though this was written 20 years before Groundhog's Day. combine it with the plot of the scariest Twilight Zone you've ever seen. Even though this was written five years before Twilight Zone ever premiered. in Groundhog's Day there was no explanation as to why the days repeated. In this story there is an explanation and it's malevolent.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly well crafted story from the Golden Age of SF, 1955 specifically, by one of the masters of the field. I won't say more about the plot since I don't want to spoil it, but it's well worth reading & FREE! You can find it on here:
It's not too long & well worth reading for itself & its influence on later SF. It was a great pick by Ed for the April short story in the "Evolution of SF" group. The topic is here:
Ed Erwin
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, short-story
A great, classic SF story that may have inspired several quite good films. ((view spoiler) among others.)

The original film version, though is not one of those good films. I could tell you the whole story of the film without spoiling the story, since it diverges quite a bit. Well, actually I can't tell you, because I'm not enough of a masochist to watch the entire 56 minutes of "Il tunnel Sotto il Mundo", and the bits I did see didn't make much se
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a very fine example of the type of science fiction in which the idea is the main source of interest. The characters are really simply conduits for the development of that overarching concept. This story was published in "Galaxy" in 1954 and remains not only quite enjoyable but relevant and disturbing. The idea has been seen in various forms in some quite good science fiction films since but it would be quite wrong to give any spoilers which might lessen its initial impact.

Suffice it to
Elena B.
Pinching yourself is no way to see if you are dreaming.

This story is more than 60 years old but it almost reads as a contemporary work of science fiction (view spoiler).

I liked how it combined so many elements in such a short space. Pohl builds a lot of suspense and keeps the reader's curiosity all throughout the book - I couldn't guess the twists and the details at the end.

It wasn't just that things were wrong with the pattern of Bu
Jon Ureña
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A neat tale from the Fallout era of science fiction (meaning stories that could fit in a Fallout game), about the evils of (view spoiler). The prose is workmanlike, but the plot seems ahead of its time, dealing with (view spoiler). I didn't mind too much about the shoddiness of the science part of sci-fi. Computers still worked with vacuum tubes back then. It also has the Groundhog Day thing going on, which ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: best-free-reads
A fun read....something I might have seen on the twilight zone.
Joseph Inzirillo
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short novella by Pohl. The fourth star is for the second twist. Did not see that second one coming at all. Well done sir.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very clever short story, a mind-blowing must read.
Norm Davis
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Science fiction fans.
Recommended to Norm by: Librovox browsing in science fiction section
The Tunnel Under the World, by Fredrick Pohl, Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1955

Librovox Audio by the most excellent Phil Chenevert, Feedbooks epub, a cleaned up version of a Gutenberg project ebook. FREE, FREE, FREE

I'm a bit stumped by the title, “The Tunnel Under the World”. Don't know what I expected but it wasn't this story... which, by the way, is excellent. It's a 59 year old story but with a tweak here and there, then add a little polish, and you have a ready to go story or movie adapta
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: SciFi History Buffs
Recommended to Bodhi by: Philip K. Dick
You owe it to yourself to read this story if you are curious about some of the early themes in Science Fiction writing. My review is probably biased by the fact that this was my first taste of SciFi from this era. The time was embodied by cigarette stands, cellophane dresses, Martians, and American values.

Without revealing much, I will say that the story is an ideal length. The action and reveals don't let up. Some of the ideas are kind of quaint in the 21st century, but there was a suspicion th
Sidharth Vardhan
Like in case of many HG Wells' books, the many themes of this book have since been heavily overused by movie makers which means there may not be a lot to learn in it. The 4 star ratings just show how perfectly the story is told retaining reader's curiosity by bringing in different sci-fi elements like:

1. The tunnel mentioned in title.
2. The dreams of explosion.
3. The frequent mention of advertising techniques.
4. The robots.
5. The fact that protagonist finds some of details in his house changed i
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just read this fun story by Pohl through my East of the Web app. EotW features a number of Pohl's shorts. I'm glad to have found his work. Pohl's writing is fairly concise and his imagination is fantastic. A trending theme in the shorts I've read so far is the development of a character's (typically the main one) and the reader's discovery of the unusual circumstances that Pohl has placed that character in.

My only complaint is that the richness of the tale starts to pull me in and I want to lear
Scott Harris
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This story must have inspired the genre of perpetual same day experiences that have since become a relatively common plot scheme in Hollywood. Pohl's version however is richer and far more nuanced, with a sense of horror and mystery that takes time to unfold, and provides an emotional richness beyond the typical - what I would do today if I knew it would erased kindergarten version. Very rooted in the culture of the 1950s, it is equally a healthy dose of social commentary.
Slightly dated, but otherwise interesting time loop short, a la "Groundhog Day". I didn't see any of the twists (in the final pages) coming.

It ended with a bit of a classical "TheOuter Limits" or "The Twilight Zone" vibe.
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, very well written early classic SF tale, reminiscent of The Truman Show movie from 1998. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Philip K. Dick! ...more
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
totally didn't see that coming. Great twist for a short story.
Jessica Meyers
I really enjoyed this short story. It was quite interesting, and leaves you thinking. I definitely recommend it.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The twists. OH THE TWISTS. This had 100% of my attention from beginning to end. I bloody love sci-fi. Review to follow.
Marts  (Thinker)
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Now Guy Burckhardt will be forever waking up from that disastrous dream on June 15th... I love these sci-fi tales, they really stretch the imagination...
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This wasn't really a novel, but a short story, pretty kooky tale of a "Groundhog Day" situation with Big Brother and robots thrown in.
This review is partly an excerpt from my earlier review of Galaxy Science Fiction, January, 1955, in which "The Tunnel Under the World" first appeared.

Part of "The Tunnel under the World" involves a familiar science fiction trope, (view spoiler), but there is considerably more to the story. This is as anti-advertising as the earlier Pohl/Kornbluth novel The Space Merchants. After you read this, you may be persuaded to go in search of a Feckle Fr
Anurag Sahay
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well, that was interesting.

Note: I read the online version of this story on gutenberg.

I stumbled on this story when reading about "Adjustment Team", the short story on which the Matt Damon starring "The Adjustment Bureau" was based. I was expecting something similar - but they're honestly quite different.

It's especially interesting that I read both of these stories given the current theme of S04 of Black Mirror.

On the whole, this story creates a similar set up to Dick's story, but it has a com
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Hmm. It seems advertisers got their hands on technology to keep a town in a perpetual loop, thus selling the same products day after day until the person is addicted/brain washed. they are even using sex (sexy saleswoman, hunky salesman) to do it.

Damn. (view spoiler)
Manuel Alfonseca
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A short science-fiction story (about 30 pages), previously published in Galaxy magazine, where Pohl goes into his favorite theme (publicity in the future) by presenting a very strange society where people live and relive the same day. In this story Pohl was one the first to tackle the theme of the unloading of people's conscience into computers.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm sure when this came out it was an interesting concept but coming from where I am today I found it more amusing if anything. I don't think it was supposed to be humorous but the reasoning behind the groundhog day loop was something like black comedy. That doesn't mean that this book failed! I actually enjoyed viewing it from that perspective. I enjoyed it.
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

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