Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Tunnel Through the Deeps

Rate this book
A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! (aka Tunnel Through the Deeps) is an alternate history. Harrison began by positing two changes which would've allowed this changed history to exist. In this story, set in an alternate 1973, Washington lost the Battle of Lexington & was executed as a traitor. America remains a British colony dreaming of independence. The other change is that Columbus didn't discover the Americas & the cultures of South America weren't destroyed.
Thus Harrison brings into being a British Empire which has survived into the 20th century still influenced by its Victorian creators. But this ideal is threatened by increasing unemployment & the threat of economic decline. The empire needs something to boost its fortunes. So is born an engineering project to link Britain with its colony: a tunnel beneath the sea. Employment will increase & manufacturing will prosper.
The hero of the story is Captain Augustine Washington, engineer & descendent of the traitor. As well as wishing to see the tunnel's success, he wants to see his homeland achieve independence, or at least the dominion status of Canada & Australia. He's also in love with Iris, daughter of the genius behind the project, Sir Isambard Brassey-Brunel, who despises the upstart colonial engineer.
A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! is a curiously transatlantic book. The hero is an American, seeking independence for his country, but the British here are benign imperialists.

174 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1972

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Harry Harrison

902 books928 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was an American science fiction author best known for his character the The Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973). He was also (with Brian W. Aldiss) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
100 (15%)
4 stars
204 (31%)
3 stars
261 (39%)
2 stars
70 (10%)
1 star
20 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan Palfrey.
345 reviews13 followers
October 7, 2022
This book is set in a world in which the Moors were never driven out of Spain, the French and American Revolutions both failed, Britain remains Great, the World Wars never happened, and a descendant of the executed George Washington is trying to clear the family name, marry a woman whose father dislikes him, and build a transatlantic tunnel.

The whole book is written in the sort of old-fashioned, innocent, and rather charming style that might have been employed by a novelist in the world it describes. The story is lightweight, the characters mostly stereotypical; this is a light novel and not an attempt at great literature.

The author describes in detail the alternative technology of this alternative world, quaintly old-fashioned in some ways and yet evolving rapidly. At times he describes it with such enthusiasm that non-engineers may decide to skip a page or two.

Overall, it makes a pleasant read if you like alternative history, and if you'd like to experience a world with (apparently) no big wars in its recent history. I suppose the Napoleonic Wars never happened either.

Although the author and the hero of this tale are both American, it's an Anglophilic book that treats the British with respect and affection; but bear in mind that these are basically pre-First-World-War Brits and not the Brits of today.

Purchasers of the Kindle e-book should be warned that it's somewhat marred by minor scanning errors here and there, and there's a curious sentence in Chapter 2: "Washington sent him over a pint of beer, then raised his own and drained it in Pall Mall." The explanation is that 12 lines of text are missing between "drained it" and "in Pall Mall", as I see from my printed copy of the book.
Profile Image for Ivo.
210 reviews14 followers
November 15, 2020
Harrison entwirft eine wunderbar-originelle Steampunk-Welt, mit viel Humor und einer Begeisterung für gigantomanische Ingenieurskunst. Jules Verne hätte seine Freude gehabt. Die Handlung wird hier zur Nebensache (und das ist gut so, denn sie gibt nicht wirklich viel her).
Profile Image for Natalie.
631 reviews51 followers
October 17, 2011
I liked the story (3), and loved the imagery(4.5). The story captured my imagination with its exploration of alternate history and sneak peaks at the future directions science and engineering might take to tackle such a project.


The concept is so tempting, people haven't been able to leave it alone!

As seen above from a photo of the May–June 2008 installation by artist Paul St George who exhibited outdoor interactive video installations linking London and New York City as a fanciful telectroscope.According to the Telectroscope's back story, it used a transatlantic tunnel started by the artist's fictional great-grandfather, Alexander Stanhope St. George!

Or better yet, how about an interactive tour of such a Transatlantic Tunnel on Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering programe?

Ernst Frankel and Frank Davidson discussed the science behind constructing a Submerged Oceanic tunnel and supersonic train
in a piece in Popular Science, 2004 complete with a fascinating photo gallery.

Their concept drawings have nothing of Harry Harrison's proto-steam-punk aesthetic about them, but if you yearn for such a thing you can step back a little closer in time with 1935 film based on the same concept as imagined by Jules Verne's son, Michel in a short story titled: Un Express de l'avenir aka An Express Of The Future published in The Strand in 1895.
Profile Image for Tim Weakley.
693 reviews24 followers
July 21, 2010
Harrison's novel is considered one of the founding works of the steampunk genre. It features all of the expected literary tropes including an alternate history, overly mechanized technology, and a strangely backward looking and forward leaning world civilization.

The hero of this work is Augustus Washington, an engineer and descendant of the disgraced General George Washington who was hung as a traitor during the early failed attempt at American Independance. His skills put him in charge of the effort to build a monumental undersea railway tunnel from England to the American colonies.

Combining elements such as the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the Brunel family of English engineers, cloak and dagger derring do, and Washington's desire to establish America as it's own country, Harrison writes a tightly plotted thriller.

The copy of the book I obtained was from 1972. The one recurring downside to reading this book was the poor editing used in it's preperation. Normally I'm not one to get stuck on spelling mistakes and the like, but in this copy it was a recurring incident. A shame because it distracted from a very good story.
Profile Image for Tom Loock.
684 reviews10 followers
August 4, 2012
I read A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! in response to the death of Harry Harrison last week. HH wrote mainly two types of novels, funny ones like The Stainless Steel Rat/Jim di Griz-series, and gritty ones like the Deathworld-trilogy, but also some odd ones, like this book which I did read in the early 70s, but did not remember at all.

It has been called "early steampunk", but I disagree wholeheartedly. It is simply a homage to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, it's a "scientific romance" — no punk here whatsoever, no name dropping (Isambard Brunel does not count!). It's written in a rather charming style, the characters are stereotypes and the plot very predictable. To say that is "negative" criticism, is to say Verne & Wells were bad writers, which - of course! - they were not. And Harrison succeeds: I can easily imagine this in "Amazing Stories Quarterly" and Hugo Gernsback praising it.

Has ATTH aged well? It depends: if you like Wells & Verne, you'll love it. If you don't and then measure it against Stephen Baxter or Gregory Benford, you won't.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,138 reviews
May 4, 2020
It has been a while since I read any of the Gollancz "Yellow Jacket" SF classics and I must admit I forgot how varied and fun they are. This (along with the others in the series) is a classic as much know for its title than the actual story (I think another is Make Room! Make Room!) .

So on a lock-down Sunday I decided to finish this off and yes I thoroughly enjoyed it. Part steam punk (the machinery and engineering were so perfectly described and atmospheric to me) and part alternate history this book was still able to tell a compelling story without getting itself lost.

The book itself is pretty straight forward as it tells of the struggles (at all levels) in the epic of constructing the trans-atlantic tunnel. For me this book has create a rich new world one which I am sure could support all manner of tales (now there is an opportunity for a shared world if ever I saw one)

I guess in the end this could be called a pulp adventure - with a very heavy mix of steam punk and alternate history - not sure what else I have recently read that ticks these boxes and I must say for a change in reading very much enjoyed.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
4,993 reviews1,101 followers
April 28, 2011
Despite its short compass (192 pages), this is a fair alternative history story by science fiction author Harrison.
Profile Image for Sean Smart.
148 reviews125 followers
December 28, 2013
A very enjoyable alt history/sci fi story of British engineers building the trans-atlantic tunnel.
Profile Image for Chris Sudall.
119 reviews1 follower
July 20, 2022
This book was a bit of a slow starter (in my mission to read every Harry Harrison book). It's a bit kind of steampunk with a parallel universe theme. Washington isn't really that well fleshed out and it feels a bit like a weak Oscar Wilde writes science fiction.
The title is ace, the cover is ace, the idea is ace, BUT it just feels a bit patched together with the odd burst of action. It does get better as it goes along, but this is FAR from his best work.

If you're a fan of HH science fiction books I'd probably skip it.
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 16 books189 followers
November 13, 2021
review of
Harry Harrison's A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
- November 12, 2021
- read for the 2nd time under a new title & finished on September 28, 2021

This is the 4th Harrison bk I've read & reviewed. The Technicolor Time Machine: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ; Tunnel Through The Deeps: Tunnel Through The Deeps ; Planet of No Return: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... . The 1st & last of those 3 were reviewed in 2020. Tunnel Through The Deeps was reviewed in February, 2014, almost 8 yrs ago. Now, you might notice that that particular bk has a title similar to the one about to be reviewed. As it turns out, despite the different titles, it's the same fucking bk. I didn't remember reading it before. AHA! But there is a difference: the version I just read is 254pp, the version I read almost 8 yrs ago is 174pp. 80pp more in the edition I just read. The font size is smaller in Tunnel Through The Deeps, maybe that's the only difference. The 1st & last paragraphs appear to be the same. SO, it's really the 1st Harrison bk I read, I just reread it. I feel cheated. What the hell, I'll rereview it, maybe that'll produce some interesting comparison material. Wdn't it be 'funny' if my new review were word-for-word identical to the old one? I almost wish that wd happen - but if it did I think I'd get scared. Maybe what I'll do is write a very brief review in wch I don't bother to quote any of the bk. The review will be so brief that it won't really tell the reader much of anything.

This is an alternate history novel in wch the US never came into being b/c Britain won the War of Independence.

It has a character named "Fighting Jack".

It also has time

& a vote

& a flying ship

& a steam car

& 15 hrs

& an Iriquois bar.

There's an ongoing controversy.

Instead of a Cuckoo Clock there's a Jackdaw Clock.

Not to mention a helithopter.

& let's not forget Jules Verne's Around the World in 180 Days.

But what were you saying about an artificial island?

Is presenting a question a technique?

I've always found wire recorders interesting even tho they were technically terrible.

Almost as terrible as ending w/ the Pinkertons.
Profile Image for LadyFlora.
14 reviews1 follower
September 3, 2008
I found this book very inspiring! A real transatlantic tunnel would be exciting. I really enjoyed the unusual time frame it was set in and I believe this style might be referred to as Steam Punk. This would be a great book for someone who was interested in mechanics or engineering but loved it too.
Profile Image for Michael Pryor.
Author 132 books190 followers
July 27, 2012
A classic of proto-Steampunk. Pitch perfect in tone and historicity, chock full of verve and brio.Some wicked wit, too, with lots of cameo appearances (Brian Aldis as Warden of All Souls? Kingsley Amis as Foreign Minister? Why not?) A little gem, and reportedly the book that made the notoriously crusty Auberon Waugh 'cry like a baby' at its glorious conclusion.
Profile Image for Lee.
4 reviews
February 23, 2017
Crammed chock full of worldbuilding for such a short novel. Harrison, likewise as in the Stainless Steel Rat books, excels at making his fictional technology and absurd construction projects sound wholly plausible. If you like pseudo-Victorian steampunk, alt-history intrigue, and adventure, this is a nifty little novel well worth picking up.
10 reviews
January 10, 2013
The author seemed more interested in the concept than in actually writing the story. The plot is underdeveloped and anti-climactic. By the last page I was still waiting for something interesting to happen.
Profile Image for Tony.
1,371 reviews70 followers
October 5, 2021
This 1972 book is an uneasy blend of steampunk and alternative history written as a kind of stilted pastiche Jules Verne adventure. Unfortunately, its mish mash of ideas don't come with any characters sturdier than cardboard, and the story is far from thrilling. Set in the 1970s, the basic premise is that the Muslims never lost Spain, and so Britain never had significant competition in the New World and the United States remains a colony. Because sea travel and air travel are so slow (and the economies are stagnant), a grand scheme is enacted to build the titular tunnel along the ocean floor to link Mother England with New York via a maglev train.

At the center of all this is George Washington's grandson, a genius engineer who is a caricature of an honorable gentleman from the colonies. The plot throws various challenges at him which are dispatched through feats of bravery, ingenuity, and honor. However, the stakes never feel real, and the outcomes of the tunnel enterprise and romantic sub-subplot are never in doubt. Harrison seems mostly interested in imaging the technical challenges to this absurd project, and how they would be overcome. As an example of the shaggy plotting, early on in the story, mysterious assailants try to kill Washington. This is basically forgotten about for a few years and a hundred pages, until a Pinkerton agent suddenly appears to warn of imminent sabotage. This whole thread is dealt with quickly and unsubtly, as if Harrison forgot about it and realized it needed tying up.

As with many alternate histories, there are nits to be picked. For example, having developed computers and nuclear-powered engines for trains and submarines, and an airship that can traverse the ocean in a day or so, the need for a precarious rail link seems somewhat superfluous. Why not just have nuclear-engine planes or ships? Other aspects of the book haven't aged well -- such as the descriptions of the native American characters, who are plentiful since they weren't genocided by Manifest Destiny-driven Americans, but flourish as copper-skinned giants with a keen interest in brawling and alcohol. Can't say this is worth reading unless you are a Harry Harrison completist or are interested in early efforts at steampunk.
Profile Image for Kent Archie.
437 reviews4 followers
April 19, 2021
An alternate universe where America lost the Revolutionary War and is still a colony of England.
And Gus Washington ( descendant of our George) is building a tunnel under the Atlantic.
He is working with a descendant of Isambard Brunel (if you don't know about him you should)
and dating Brunels daughter.
It's a great story of a massive engineering exercise.
Lots of fun and recommended

But there is a part I didn't get.
Starting at both sides, they have built tunnels out from North America (Nova Scotia) and England (Wales) out to the end of the continental shelf.
But for some reason, it is vitally important for Washington to get from New York To London
so he can be on the first train from London out to the edge of the shelf.
So there is a crazy adventure involving going back and forth between Nova Scotia and New York, then a ride in a crazy helicopter that crashes, then (I think) into a jet airplane and then on a rocket and finally an ordinary train. All this involves extreme danger but I have no idea why it was important. Oh, and I think Washington has to jump from a speeding race car onto a moving train.
Profile Image for Kerry Hennigan.
494 reviews12 followers
January 19, 2021
This book is remarkable for a couple of reasons that have little to do with the actual plot - 1) that it anticipated the Steampunk genre before there was such a thing, and 2) proposed and constructed a tunnel linking continents before the advent of the tunnel under the English Channel - through which I've actually travelled (on the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris!)

Alternative history tales can be great fun, and this one certainly has its moments, in fact, those incidental details are the best part of the book, in my opinion. It imagines an America that lost the Revolutionary War, resulting in George Washington being remembered as a traitor to the Crown, and Benedict Arnold celebrated as a hero.

Across the Atlantic (under which the fictional tunnel is being driven) we have 1970s London with vestiges of the Victorian era, alongside a nuclear powered locomotive called Dreadnaught which anticipates today's (non-nuclear) bullet trains.

So, there is plenty that make this tale fun as well as thought-provoking in a light-hearted way. Read and enjoy.
Profile Image for Ian Banks.
742 reviews2 followers
April 17, 2018
Reads far better for being done as a pastiche of the Victorian novel rather than as a straightforward adventure yarn. Harrison reads far better when he's aiming for a voice rather than a point of view. This is a novel of incident rather than of ideas but the ideas aren't to be sneezed at. If it fails, it is through the problem that most alt-history novels have for me in that it is far too clever about where the divergence is and that we still wind up, nearly 800 years later, with a different society but with a lot of the same historical figures.
Profile Image for Ernest Hogan.
Author 31 books56 followers
December 10, 2022
One of the earliest steampunk novels, set in 1973, the British Empire rules America, and a descendant of the disgraced failed revolutionary George Washington is building the tunnel of the title. An action-packed adventure, with lots of technical details--I first read it when it was serialized in Analog--and romance. I would have like it more if Harrison had given up more about the natives of both North and South America who have retained their more of their cultures in this universe. Still a ripping yarn.
123 reviews
January 9, 2023
A good concept but needed to stay on the concept, was this a Steampunk or something else. He writes in a Steampunk at times but then switches to concepts that are not Steampunk such as atomic energy. On page 132 he brings out the Brabbage machine but later has it working at speeds that is similar to a modern computer. Also he uses these machines to send lightning fast messages to the submarines. On page 236 the author brings up an interesting idea, is this a parallel universe. Overall a good read. Recommended.
Profile Image for James.
302 reviews
May 9, 2021
This was not that good. The premise was that America was still a English colony and that they were building a transatlantic tunnel (Hurrah?). The story has some nice technologies (It does have Babbage engines, mobile phones and mag lev trains which were all rather cool) but was written in a “heroic fantasy” kind of style. The heroes are larger than life and their exploits are just a bit too wonderful.
Profile Image for Russell Forden.
Author 5 books16 followers
November 20, 2017
This would have to be one of the earliest post-Vernes post-Wells steampunk books - basically written before the term was even coined. But it's definitely steampunk, positing an alternate history where the Victorian steam age never ended. Some great 'boy's own' adventure writing here, featuring manly men and derring do. Hurrah, I say!
Profile Image for JK.
6 reviews2 followers
August 12, 2017
Classic sci-fi SteamPunk before it existed as a thing. Harrison steams (pun intended) through this story breathlessly imagining a world that never came to be but that we all wish had.
Profile Image for George Hahn.
Author 9 books10 followers
December 19, 2017
I've enjoyed other Harrison books more. This one seemed dated, although that may have been intentional, given the premise.
Profile Image for Peveril.
282 reviews
May 5, 2019
Great fun, sags slightly in places but still works well as a short novel.
38 reviews
January 11, 2020
I read this as a kid waiting every months for the next part to come out in Analog. 50 years later I finally bought my own copy a great read.
Profile Image for Miaz.
13 reviews
May 5, 2020
The environmental drama of building the tunnel far outshined the rest, which involved shoehorning Gus Washington into heroic escapades.
Profile Image for David Robert Bloomer.
140 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2023
Not one of his best. Nothing really happens in it. I didn't feel engaged at all by the story. I've read a good few of his books but this left me cold.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.