Iain M. Banks is remembered as creator of Shellworlds-artificial planets with layers of habitable space within them.

Except this is incorrect. I distinctively remember reading a British author in my youth that had a whole SF series dedicated to this very idea. One of the titles was something along Invasion from the Centre.

Does anyone remember who the author might be?

  • Could you be thinking of the "Great Ship" novels by Robert Reed? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marrow_(novel)
    – Valorum
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:26
  • Brian Stableford, "Journey to the Center" was the one I was looking for. I would like to thank everyone for helping me, and giving other interesting examples.
    – Lokari
    Jun 26, 2015 at 19:20
  • Not really relevant to the (in any case rather old) question, but the German Perry Rhodan series had a shell word with distinct layers in 1965 (Perry Rhodan Volume 206, "Schrecken der Hohlwelt" (Terrors of the Hollow Planet)). So Stableford is not the inventor of the concept, either. May 26, 2018 at 22:09
  • May be of interest as a related topic publicdomainreview.org/essay/stories-of-a-hollow-earth Jul 19, 2022 at 6:27

3 Answers 3


Brian Stableford, Journey to the Center (DAW Books, 1982), followed by Invaders from the Centre (1990) and The Centre Cannot Hold (1990).
The trilogy is also published as the Asgard Trilogy, as Asgard's Secret, Asgard's Conquerers and Asgard's Heart.

The galaxy is full of mysteries. Asgard one of the most inexplicable. Many different species & many types of individual sought answers to its enigmas. Anthropologists, fortune hunters, scientists, gangsters, politicians & explorers found reason to congregate on the planet which possibly wasn't a planet. To stand on the artificial surface & wonder how many subcutaneous levels the planet contained, & what, if anything, was at the center, to examine the artifacts on the reachable levels where the temperature approached absolute zero.

front cover of Journey to the Center

  • 1
    Also, in 1979, American author Ted Reynolds wrote the novella "Ker-Plop", nominated for a Hugo in 1980, that featured a 'ship' with a 5000 mile radius and layered civilizations. Jun 23, 2015 at 22:11

Could it be the Orbitsville series by Bob Shaw (from Northern Ireland, not technically Britain but still United Kingdom)?

The title in the series are Orbitsville, Orbitsville Departure, and Orbitsville Judgement.

You can find more information about fiction in which this kind of setting (usually called “Dyson spheres”) appears in the rich, if haphazardly organised, Wikipedia article about Dyson spheres in popular culture.

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    As I recall Orbitsville is just a (Dyson) sphere, not lots of concentric levels as the question describes. Jun 24, 2015 at 9:49

From wikipaedia:

The Cageworld series is a science fiction series by Colin Kapp which takes place in a distant future where humanity lives on nested Dyson spheres. The four books are Search for the Sun (1982) (also published as Cageworld); The Lost Worlds of Cronus (1982); The Tyrant of Hades (1984) and Star Search (1984).

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