media zooming in on the natural world
August 18, 2018 2:36 PM   Subscribe

what are some interesting films or books (or other media) about tiny worlds? for instance someone living in an atom or leaf. it could also be non-fiction for instance a documentary zooming around inside some molecules.

i'm less interested in stories where the point is the normal sized world exploring people being tiny such as the films 'downsizing' or 'honey i shrunk the kids'. it doesn't necessarily have to be scientifically accurate at all as long as the worlds are created with care and attention to detail.
posted by mosswinter to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I cant get the link to work on my Ipad but the 1996 movie Microcosmos.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:41 PM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Flux, by Baxter, focuses on a microscopic human society that lives in the crust of a neutron star.
posted by aramaic at 3:04 PM on August 18, 2018

The Queen of Trees takes a giant fig tree as a starting point and zooms down to the tiny wasps that live in symbiosis with it. It's not all about the wasps, you see the impact the tree has on all the creatures of the forest, but the very best parts are when they go inside the figs.
posted by Freyja at 3:20 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Life in the Undergrowth?
posted by glibhamdreck at 3:39 PM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Check your library for Erich Hoyt's book The Earth Dwellers. They are lot bigger than an atom, but you'll never see ants in the same way again.
posted by kmkrebs at 4:12 PM on August 18, 2018

Surface Tension by James Blish.
posted by jamjam at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Innerspace: a completely delightful film.
posted by BrashTech at 6:11 PM on August 18, 2018

It's not the full book, but in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door some characters travel into the mitochondria of another character. (It's a sequel to A Wrinkle in Time, if that matters to you.)
posted by felix grundy at 6:26 PM on August 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Horton Hears a Who
posted by bondcliff at 7:04 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fantastic Voyage: the Azimov novel, the movie, the sequel novel with very odd legacy.

Wikipedia has a whole section on similarly themed works too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:39 PM on August 18, 2018

Fantastic Voyage
The second half of Powers of Ten.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:39 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some of the best hard science fiction books I've read are Dragon's Egg and to a slightly lesser extent it's sequel Starquake which feature sesame seed sized Cheela living on the surface of a neutron star. So the world isn't really small but the creatures are.
posted by Mitheral at 9:36 PM on August 18, 2018

Flatland is set in a world of only two dimensions, if that counts as "tiny"?
posted by lollusc at 11:50 PM on August 18, 2018

There was an idea, which I believe has been dashed by quantum mechanics, that solar systems were replicated in atoms, with worlds as electrons orbiting suns as the nuclei. So if you shrank enough, you'd find a whole new universe of galaxies inside solid matter (and more universes inside the atoms of this new universe). Three stories about going in that direction:
  • The Shrinking Man (which was the basis for "The Incredible Shrinking Man" film from 1957) ends with just a hint of the next level, (and doesn't sound like what the OP is looking for) but
  • He Who Shrank by Henry Hasse takes things down to the next level, as does
  • "Lost in the Microcosm" in the first issue of EC Comics' Weird Science - not the whole thing, but here's pages 4 and 6.
And for expanding, going out,
posted by Rash at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to second the recommendation for the documentary Microcosmos
posted by mkuhnell at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2018

Late to the party but I can't believe no one has brought up The Borrowers and the Ghibli movie based on it, The Secret World of Arrietty. It's been a while since I read the books but I remember adoring them as a kid; can confirm that Arietty is good stuff, though.
posted by brook horse at 6:23 PM on August 30, 2018

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