Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea
Approx. 310 pages
Originally published in 1870
This is my fourth Gutenberg review and it's also the one which took the longest to finish. Why? Because quite frankly, this is a stupendously boring book. It also didn't help that the first translation I read could at best be described as pedestrian; fortunately I discovered an updated, far better translation Project Gutenberg had available halfway throught the book. However, no matter how good the translation, it cannot change that this is just not a very interesting book.
Which is weird, based on the reputation Jules Verne has as a storyteller. I certainly didn't find his books boring when I first devoured them, at eight or so, including this very same story. Possibly this was because those were abridged versions...
I'll assume anybody who reads this is familiar with Jules Verne, the French writer who together with H. G. Wells is considered the father of science fiction (Mary Shelley is the mother of sf, so we're off to a great start here already...). Where Wells was interested in broad vistas of future change and didn't much care for how his wonderful technologies worked, Verne was as much interested in how his inventions worked as what you could do with them. More of an Clarke then a Heinlein so to speak.
Which can be seen here, where the central invention, the incredible Nautilus is described in loving and lengthy detail, as are the divers suits, the underwater guns and other paranaphelia of the story. Not to mention the many wondrous creatures the Nautilus encounters on its trip through the world seas, in long, boring lists.
Webpage created 21-11-2001, last updated 23-12-2001