Verne, Jules

About the Author:

 

Jules Gabriel Verne was born in France in 1828.  He died in 1905 and is widely regarded as the father of the science fiction genre.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

4 out of 5

(1 book)

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

One of the most famous science fiction stories of all time, this book begins with a scientific expedition to investigate reports of a sea monster attacking shipping.  The expedition soon discovers that it is a highly advanced submarine, the Nautilus, and its enigmatic Captain Nemo who are behind the attacks.  Taken prisoner but treated with respect and honour, they accompany the crew of the Nautilus on a journey around the globe beneath the seven seas.

As with much 19th Century literature, this book has been obscured in the public's eye by countless movies, TV shows and comic books etcetera.  It was therefore an interesting and exciting experience to go back to the original work which spawned a thousand imitations.  Verne's great talent was in taking the scientific advances of his time and applying carefully researched logical extensions of them in order to create wonderous fiction.  This talent is in full effect here as we are presented with the Nautilus, a submarine which is entirely believable to the modern reader but which is leaps and bounds beyond the technology of Verne's day.  We experience this wonder, and others, through the eyes of scientist Pierre Aronnax and his companions as he is whisked away on a thrilling adventure.

This is a great 19th Century adventure novel which is well-written, engrossing and thought-provoking.  One of the things I liked most about it was that Verne doesn't always see fit to resolve all of the questions and issues he raises, particularly in regard to the tempestuous and enigmatic Nemo.

If this book can be said to have a downside, it is one produced by the change in attitudes towards the natural world since the book was written.  In Verne's time nature was not only a source of boundless wonder but it was also seen as an expendable resource entirely at the service of mankind.  However, in the more ecologically aware 21st Century (and speaking as an animal-loving vegetarian), the fact that every wonderful new animal the characters encounter must be first documented and then, inescapably, shot and eaten doesn't sit too well.

4 out of 5

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