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The Digging Leviathan Mass Market Paperback – 1 Aug 1984

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, 1 Aug 1984
£90.83 £12.53
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ace Books (Aug. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044114800X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441148004
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,515,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This novel written in the style of Ray Bradbury is about an idiosyncratic character who has the power to realize his fantasies. The author presents us with a modern day Hieronymous Bosch cityscape in which the central figure lives his unrealistic existence, viewing life from a novel perspective. The author has won the World Fantasy Award and the Philip K.Dick Memorial Award for previous novels. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Blaylock is an author of a number of fine, quirky novels balanced perfectly between science fiction, adventure and comedy.

The Digging Leviathan describes the efforts of two, or just possibly three, groups of endearingly bonkers (and occasionally sinister) scientists to tunnel through to the centre of the allegedly hollow earth, in 1980s California. Our heroes' efforts are complicated by mermen, an apparently immortal poet, and the machinations of the fiendish Dr. Hilario Frosticus. There are a couple of bits of island exploration which recall Robert Louis Stevenson, and some cracking chases through the Bay area sewers.

Like other Blaylock novels I've read, the opening chapters are a bit bewildering, as you try to keep track of the 7 or 8 sturdy chaps who make up our band of heroes, and who at times seem to have wandered in from a Monty Python sketch; although the novel is set in modern times, its' roots are in Victorian science fiction and now disproved theories, but written with a light touch and tongue firmly in cheek. As the story bowls along,Blaylock never fails to bring a smile to your face. This book spawned a sequel - Homonculous,set in nineteenth century London - which is, if anything, even better.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Remember reading these many years ago and thought I'd refresh my memory. Every bit as good as I thought though very "off the wall" science fiction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DELIRIOUS LITERARY FANTASY 18 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In brief: Young Jim Hastings, his eccentric father William, his bookish uncle Edward and his best friend Giles (who has webbed fingers and vestigial gills), become involved with an odd collection of poets, madmen and explorers in a frantic race through (and under) Los Angeles, seeking a way to the center of the hollow(!) earth. If you have read Blaylock's later novels this wild, funny, gentle, occasionally dark valentine to all our silliest and noblest pulp dreams may surprise you. Ostensibly set in Southern California, it actually takes place in a kind of book-lover's fantasy world: ALL the protagonists are eccentric, bookish, single males, whether bachelor, widower or prepubescent boy. None of the characters seem to have a job (except the terrifying Dr. Hilario Frosticos, who runs an insane asylum). This lack of real world attachments gives the book a refreshing purity: these dilettantes, pseudo-scholars, poets and madmen have nothing to do but pursue, and be pursued by, their magnificent obsessions, which include immortality (literary and otherwise), merman hunting, miraculous inventions (the eponymous machine, antigravity), and attempts to encourage amphibious habits in mice. Blaylock's writing has since become more assured, his characters more real, his themes more mature, but there is a crazy joy in this book, and a lyrical beauty that charms me silly every time. This is a book about dreamers, for dreamers. If you grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, seek out THE DIGGING LEVIATHAN but be warned: it may break your heart. I leave a little piece of mine inside everytime I read it.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of a new style of literature 22 Jan. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in the mid 80's, and it made me a Blaylock fan for life. I had never read anything like it, and can count on my fingers the books of this style I have read since (why couldn't Blaylock be a little more prolific?). Apparently, this book was completely misunderstood by his Balumnia (i.e. Elfin ship, etc.) publisher (Del Ray) forcing him to turn to other houses to get it published. I am grateful he was so persistent.
A young boy with gills and webbed fingers builds a digging machine to travel to the center of the earth. The machine is much like the many complex devices constructed by preteen inventors who are disapointed that the laws of physics didn't bend to their wills. But this boy is different...
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended 2 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James P Blaylock's 'Digging Leviathan' is a superb book, one of the best I've ever read in my life, a sometimes frenzied, sometimes somber race between mad scientists, good (William Hastings and young Giles Peach) and evil (the abominable Hilario Frosticos). Mr. Blaylock loves to constantly blur the lines--Is Hastings really crazy? Do the machines work by science or by Peach's will? And how did those dog droppings appear in the yard?) Most of Mr Blaylock's books have a similar theme; a good-hearted anyman (William Hastings, Walt Stebbins), usually with the help of family or friends (Blake Society, Trigimestus Club) must confront and defeat vile evil (Frosticos, Ignacio Narbondo) on the edges of a society that never knows what it was saved from. In DigLev, Hastings must confront his own fears and flaws in order to rescue the innocent Peach, stop Frosticos, and save us all from catastrophe. If you can find this book, read it.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read! 24 Feb. 1999
By Flugle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The only copy of this book that I've stumbled across is the one I own ... And I've read it 4 times in as many years!
Not only, as the other reviewers here describe, is The Digging Leviathan a rollicking, post-mystical romp through a Los Angeles of indeterminate timeframe, it is also an eloquent and beautifully rendered story. Blaylock's great power as a writer, in addition to the fantastic situations he has dreamed up in this novel (his best, in my opinion, and I've read them all now!), comes from his grace as a stylist of prose. There are imagistic moments in this book on the level of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez that will bring tears to your eyes.
As well, his characters, although uniformly eccentric, are lifelike & believable, sympathetic & empathetic in their relationships with each other. The under-emphasized relationship between young Jim, the book's protagonist, and his purportedly crazy father is subtle and wonderful. This novel reinvigorated my taste for fantasy after a lapse of many years ... Get it! Read it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the title 7 Oct. 2012
By VBBorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's only marginally a story about a journey to the center of the earth in a digging machine, but more about people turning into human-fish hybrids, genuine mermen, and their offspring. It's brilliant, cleverly written, with lot of dream-fueling imagery. When I read this novel, I felt like when I played with my dinosaurs toys as a kid. If you like a movie like the 1961 classic "Mysterious Island" with the late Herbert Lom, I believe you will love this book (it's set in 1964). I strongly recommend it.
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