"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
This is a very early use of the idea of a machine that can effectively drive through the earth, boring its way through.
Compare to the mechanical mole from Oath of Fealty by Pournelle and Niven (1981) and the automatic shell from The Great Stone of Sardis (1897) by Frank Stockton.
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