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"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Mechanical Mole  
  A self-contained device for digging large tunnels.  

In Oath of Fealty, the same company that operates the Todos Santos Independency, a single structure that houses 250,000 people, is also building a subway under Los Angeles. The use of the device is elaborately explored, in, shall we say, unusual circumstances.

The vehicle Tony Rand was driving was longer than four Cadillacs, and shaped roughly like a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Thick hoses in various colors, some as thick as Tony's torso, trailed away down the tunnel and out of sight. The visibility ahead was poor. The top speed was contemptible. The mileage would have horrified a Cadillac owner. The best you could say for the Mole was that, unlike your ordinary automobile, it could drive through rock.
Technovelgy from Oath of Fealty, by Jerry Pournelle (w/L. Niven).
Published by Timescape in 1981
Additional resources -

I don't want to spoil the surprise of how this device is used in the novel; let's just say it's the slowest getaway car in history.

Compare to the mechanical earthworm from Death Dives Deep by Paul Ernst (1936) and the automatic shell from The Great Stone of Sardis (1897) by Frank Stockton.

For comic book look at a mole machine, read about Cave Carson: Adventures Inside Earth.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Oath of Fealty
  More Ideas and Technology by Jerry Pournelle (w/L. Niven)
  Tech news articles related to Oath of Fealty
  Tech news articles related to works by Jerry Pournelle (w/L. Niven)

Mechanical Mole-related news articles:
  - Tunnel Boring Machine B6 For Sale

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