Jules Verne

Review: Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea

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Review: Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea

I picked up this one thinking that it was going to be one of those adapted-classics-with-a-twist, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Android Karenina.

It isn’t.

In 1958, the submarine Plongeur had just begun its maiden voyage when the ballast tanks, steering, and engine all experienced catastrophic failure at the same time. The vessel and its entire crew sank and kept on sinking, past the point where the pressure should have crushed the submarine, past the point where it should have hit the ocean floor, continuing on its unstoppable dive while the depth gauge insisted they’d gone thousands of miles deeper than the diameter of the planet.

Adam Roberts’s Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea by Adam Roberts is a sci-fi disaster adventure and a horror story with touches of Lovecraft. Other than the title and the setting it has next to nothing to do with Jules Verne, until suddenly it does, and then the madness of the crew and a decades old story and conflicting political alliances all meet in an impossible setting created by a godlike being who is either trying to destroy Earth or conquer it. And the ending is equal parts hypothetical science and poetry, so I’m still not quite sure what the heck it was all about.

The book is hard to describe, is what I’m saying. “Weird” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

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Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

I’ve decided that, as a fan of the steampunk genre, it’s a shame and a crime that I haven’t read more Jules Verne. As a fan of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, not reading the original tale of Captain Nemo is just unacceptable.

A classic science fiction story along the lines of Journey To The Center of the Earth, Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea tells the story of three castaways – Professor Pierre Aronnax, his manservant Conseil, and the whaling shipman Ned Land – as they’re swept up in the travels of the mysterious Captain Nemo in his submersible, the Nautilus. It works as a character study, as an adventure story, and as a treasure for anyone who’s even a little bit curious about the sea and everything it contains (or at least everything that Victorian scientists thought it might contain.)

And of course the Nautilus is a straight-out steampunk fantasy. It’s a submarine. With a library. How can you not love that?

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