Author Topic: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)  (Read 3061 times)

Offline Finch

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« on: August 27, 2016, 05:53:53 pm »
Hello all,

After EuroSpeleo I feel inspired to take up my pen (and procrastinate on my current writing project) by writing a story about caving. I have a few ideas for short stories/ flash fiction in my head, but I was wondering if there was anyone who'd tried this sort of thing before. I'm particularly thinking of fiction (not memoir), but any kind of poetry or prose would be of interest.

Does anything like this exist? Has anyone tried writing something themselves?

Maz

Offline langcliffe

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2280
    • Caving Routes in the Northern Dales
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2016, 07:26:09 pm »
After EuroSpeleo I feel inspired to take up my pen (and procrastinate on my current writing project) by writing a story about caving. I have a few ideas for short stories/ flash fiction in my head, but I was wondering if there was anyone who'd tried this sort of thing before. I'm particularly thinking of fiction (not memoir), but any kind of poetry or prose would be of interest.

You would be in good company. Thomas Hardy wrote a splendid short novel in 1883 called the 'Our Exploits at West Poley', which demonstrated a clear understanding of the nature of limestone caves.  In January 2007, I put together a list of caving fiction on the Wiki, which was subsequently added to by others:

    Barr, N. Blind Descent, Harper Collins Publishers, 1998
    Catherall A., Cave of the Cormorant, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1977
    Corballis, T. Below, Victoria University Press, 2001
    Christopher J. The Caves of the Night, Hodder & Stoughton, 1958
    Church R., The Cave, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1950
    Church R., Down River, Heinemann, 1958
    Dickinson, P. Annerton Pit, Victor Gollanz, 1977
    Hardy, T. Our Exploits at West Poley, Serialised in the Boston periodical Household, 1892-1893
    Harker, G.R. The Mammoth Incident, Doctor Leisure, 1995
    Sell, J. The Quarry Cave, Publish America, 2006
    Styles, S. The Lost Pothole, Brockhampton Press, 1961
    Twain, M. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, American Publishing Company, 1876
    Verne, J. Voyage au Centre de la Terre, Hetzl, 1864
    Watson, R. Under Plowman's Floor, Zephyrus Press, 1978

They are mostly written for children, although Caves of the Night is adult literature ("should I allow my lover or my husband to drop down this bottomless shaft?") . My personal favorites are the Hardy and the Showell Styles.

Online Roger W

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2234
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2016, 07:49:17 pm »
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote "The Terror of Blue John Gap."

I think you can find the full text online.
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline mrodoc

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2690
    • Peter Glanvill's Webpage
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2016, 05:27:32 pm »
There is also Geoffrey Household's: The Courtesy of Death and A Hole in the Ground by Andrew Garve.

Offline langcliffe

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2280
    • Caving Routes in the Northern Dales
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2016, 08:33:58 am »
There is an excellent bibliography of caving fiction available from the British Caving Library online catalogue:

http://caving-library.org.uk/catalogue/BCL/code/php/library.php?action=search&lib=&type=any&search=tag&search_string=fiction&tag=fiction

Offline Finch

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2016, 05:47:32 pm »
Wow! That's fantastic, thank you all.

I hadn't really considered things like Jules Verne, but definitely worth reconsidering! In fact all the ones I've looked into have given me food for thought.

I want to avoid the route of disaster/ horror/ crime stories and  try and write something that captures why people enjoy the sport. I will keep working through these lists and investigate further (there's no way I can read all of them any time soon!)

Thanks again.

Offline Martin Laverty

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 196
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2016, 12:18:59 am »
You mentioned poetry as well - one (long) example which stands out (for me) is James Kirkup's Descent into the Cave (https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_descent_into_the_cave.html?id=wU9KAAAAMAAJ for snippets)

Some more listed at http://caving-library.org.uk/catalogue/any/tag/poetry


Offline caving_fox

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 554
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2016, 09:02:17 am »
I always remain surprised at the dearth of caving literature cf mountaineering. There are uncountable tales of Everest, but very very few equivalences in the caving world. I know the number of participants is considerably fewer, but I'm not sure that's the sole answer.

Any new stories would be much appreciated (look at the dates above). I might even find the time to be a beta reader if you want one.
If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Offline Alex

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • BRCC, UWFRA.
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2016, 12:42:04 pm »
There is a book I wrote several years ago but it was not really on caving though some parts where inspired by caving trips I had done and places I had seen. I think you can still pick it up for a couple of quid on Amazon, search for Surface.

Not sure if that is of any help.

I also like how Mr Beck almost writes poetry style based on real events. He wrote something in the latest Descent on his exploits in Mossdale wrote in an almost poetic style if you want to take a look at that.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Kenilworth

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 616
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2016, 02:19:22 pm »
I always remain surprised at the dearth of caving literature cf mountaineering. There are uncountable tales of Everest, but very very few equivalences in the caving world. I know the number of participants is considerably fewer, but I'm not sure that's the sole answer.

Any new stories would be much appreciated (look at the dates above). I might even find the time to be a beta reader if you want one.

There are lots of books on Everest, very little literature. Most of those are ghost-written, chest-beating, dime-a-dozen, kindling. I've not read any caving fiction worth reading, at least none with caving as a major theme. I have not, though, read Under Plowman's Floor, and need to give it a look. A book that has been very popular among cavers is called Shibumi, by Rodney Whitaker. It is a male fantasy of violence, vengeance, sex and caving. It is absolute crap.

I've tried to write about caving in every form imaginable, and have come to the realization that I'm not an artist. I have written published articles and essays, public speeches, and a cave book, but my efforts at poetry and fiction are unshareably bad.

Here's a simple poem I've always liked, and it has stuck in my head ever since my first reading. It was written in 1970 by an amateur geologist, now dead, called Warren Luther. He put enormous energy into finding and describing and theorizing on the caves of my home state, almost all of which are so tiny as to be ignored by most cavers. When I took up where he left off, and spent five years searching this neglected karst, this poem came to be more and more personal, and, silly as it is, it's one of my favorites. It is about an unsuccessful attempt to find a reported cave in southern Ohio, US, a cave that I found 45 years later. It was a fine and an emotive thing to sit in the little entrance on a cold November evening and overlook the setting for his old words:

Mattimore in the Dolomite Gorges

Above a din of rockbound waters
I said to him,
 My breath is,
tinged with frost,
 the sun
has set behind these
crazed hills-

But whither into this November dusk
shall we wander now?

(the fermenting herbage
is a scent made pungent
by keen cold air)

Through it he stepped
cursing
 (Whither indeed!)
Indeed!
And he said,

He said-

UP YOURS!!


Online grahams

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1032
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2016, 05:03:17 pm »
There's also the odd song.

Here's Spelunking by Laura Veirs (geologist turned songstress) -

The tiny midnight caravan
Made its way across black hills
As I watched from a distance
The slow-going glow

Their wandering, you know
Made me pine
For the lamplight
Where you lie

If I took you darling
To the caverns of my heart
Would you light the lamp, dear?
Would you light the lamp, dear?

I see fish without eyes
Bats with their heads
Hanging down towards the ground
Would you still come around?
Come around

I believe in you
In your honesty and your eyes
Even when I'm sloshing
In the muck of my demise

A large part of me
Is always and forever tied
To the lamplight
Of your eyes, of your eyes


Sceptics wanted!

Offline Speleofish

  • player
  • **
  • Posts: 84
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2016, 06:05:44 pm »
I agree completely about 'Shibumi'. As a thriller, to anyone who hasn't been caving (and who can suspend their distaste for the author's peculiar approach to women and violence) it is well constructed. The caving bit is awful. The same can be said about the climbing in The Eiger Sanction (probably worse). He also wrote a book called The Loo Sanction. Don't even try it....

Wilbur Smith includes a similarly awful bit of cave exploration in one of his novels about Egypt, but includes man-eating eels.

I am too embarrassed to mention any others EXCEPT the Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Alan Garner). The bit where they go inadvertently sumping terrified me as a 10 year old (and still does).


Offline earthlight

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2016, 10:37:02 pm »
EXCEPT the Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Alan Garner). The bit where they go inadvertently sumping terrified me as a 10 year old (and still does).

This. The Earldelving terrified me into giving caving a go. And possibly terrifies me even more now I've tried it...

Offline yrammy

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2016, 09:18:01 am »
Martin Laverty is correct. We have some caving fiction in the library. Some of it is dreadful - but worth a read :-) . As a kid I adored The Forbidden Cave 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forbidden-Cave-Audrey-Furness/dp/B002MYZIKE. I ripping yarn that may have sparked my interest in caving - although the cave part is only really small part of it. Interesting to read it again as an adult - middle class kids having fun  and rather dated. But still has a place on my book shelf.   

Online crickleymal

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 933
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2016, 04:07:46 pm »
EXCEPT the Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Alan Garner). The bit where they go inadvertently sumping terrified me as a 10 year old (and still does).

This. The Earldelving terrified me into giving caving a go. And possibly terrifies me even more now I've tried it...

Yup. Although the Mines of Moria in LOTR also piqued my interest.
Malc
Rusted and ropy, dog-eared old copy.
Vintage and classic or just plain Jurassic:
all words to describe me.

Offline mr conners

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: Caving Fiction (Novels/ Short stories etc)
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2016, 12:42:53 am »
the Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Alan Garner). The bit where they go inadvertently sumping terrified me as a 10 year old (and still does).

I've just read it on holiday. An excellent book and it's inspired me to have a look at the mines at Alderley Edge.
"Life is a thankless struggle"