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The Tunnel Under the World by Frederick Pohl

The Tunnel

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The Tunnel Under the World

“The Tunnel Under the World”

is a science fiction short story written by Frederick Pohl. It was first published in 1955 in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, and has since become a classic of the genre.

The story takes place in a small town called Tylerton, which is located near a large chemical plant. The protagonist, Guy Burckhardt, wakes up one morning to find that he is reliving the same day over and over again. He soon realizes that he is not alone, and that the entire town is caught in a loop. Every night, their memories are erased, and they wake up the next morning thinking it is June 15th.

Guy is desperate to figure out what is going on, and he begins to investigate. He discovers a tunnel beneath the town, and inside he finds a miniature city. This city is inhabited by tiny robots who are running simulations of the town above. Guy realizes that he and the other townspeople are being used as test subjects for a new advertising technique. The robots are creating alternate versions of the same day, and then testing different advertisements to see which ones are the most effective.

Guy manages to escape the tunnel and contacts the authorities. He tells them what he has discovered, and they launch an investigation. They discover that the chemical plant has been conducting secret experiments on the town for years, and that the tunnel under the town is just one of their many projects.

The story ends with Guy being hailed as a hero for uncovering the truth. He is offered a job with the company that owns the chemical plant, but he turns it down. He realizes that he wants nothing to do with the world of advertising and consumerism that he has been a victim of. He decides to leave Tylerton and start a new life.

“The Tunnel Under the World” is a classic science fiction story that explores the themes of consumerism, advertising, and the power of corporations. The story was written in the 1950s, when advertising was becoming a major force in American society. Pohl was interested in the way that advertising could manipulate people’s thoughts and feelings, and he used science fiction to explore these ideas in a compelling and entertaining way.

The story also has a strong element of suspense and mystery. The reader is kept in the dark for much of the story, as Guy struggles to uncover the truth behind the strange events in Tylerton. The final revelation, that the entire town is a test subject in a larger experiment, is both surprising and disturbing.

In many ways, “The Tunnel Under the World” can be seen as a cautionary tale. It warns us of the dangers of giving too much power to corporations and of allowing them to control our lives. It suggests that we should be wary of the messages that we receive from advertisers, and that we should be vigilant in protecting our own thoughts and feelings.

Overall, “The Tunnel Under the World” is a gripping and thought-provoking science fiction story. It is a classic of the genre, and it remains just as relevant today as it was when it was first published.

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