- ISBN: 978-618-81232-3-6
- Size: 234 x 156 mm
- Pages: 316
American millionaire Lexington White sails, on a ship of his own design, to find the North Pole. Instead he finds an opening to the Earth’s interior which is populated by an advanced civilization. He and his crew are received as honored guests by the King of Atvatabar and take a tour of the country marveling at its technological, natural and spiritual wonders. White falls in love with Lyone, a young woman who is the incarnation of the supreme goddess of Atvatabar. Their sacrilegious relationship produces a crisis that leads to civil war.
This is William R. Bradshaw’s only novel and its story has strong influences of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and Rider Haggard’s She. However, Bradshaw has a wilder imagination that leads him to describe a fusion of technology and spiritualism in machines such as the “Sacred Locomotive”, various ecstatic rituals, buildings and clothes of exquisite design and unusual fusions of plant and animal life, in a prose that becomes a kind of Victorian Hypnerotomachia.
Richly illustrated by various artists, The Goddess of Atvatabar is a unique specimen of 19th century science fiction offering a rare glimpse to the techno-spiritual Victorian imaginary.
“There is a sumptuous, painterly quality to the writing throughout the book. This is a hollow earth paradise of exquisite detail described in exquisite detail, literally reveling in it, though after a while it becomes almost overwhelming, like one too many bites of a thirteen-layer German chocolate cake. This hyperestheticism is part of Atvatabar’s larger purpose-to show a society as devoted to art and spirituality as most are to profit and power. It’s as if Bradshaw is straining to take the visual ideas and aesthetics of newly developing Art Nouveau and render them in prose.”
David Standish - Hollow Earth. The Long and Curious History of imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical Creatures, Advanced Civilizations and Marvelous Machines bellow the Earth’s Surface. Da Capo Press, 2006
The Scientific Romances series presents hard-to-find works of early science fiction. The timeframe extends from the publication of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley until the publication of the first dedicated science fiction magazines in the early 20th century. In a time before science fiction got its name, let alone its common motifs and clichés, various authors experimented with ideas of the future producing highly imaginative works.
This an era of celebrated authors, like Poe, Verne and Wells, but also of countless other works now mostly forgotten. This is the childhood of science fiction, an era of intense experimentation and play. This is also the era of the real steampunk. A century before the invention of the term, the real Victorians were dreaming of a world of airships, steam high-tech, wars, adventures and romance.