20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne


TweenScience Fiction

Twenty thousand leagues under the sea Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJules Verne; Dover Publications 2006WorldCatThe narrator, Professor Aronnax, is a scholar and scientist from France visiting the United States. Along with his manservant, Conseil, he boards a ship that is searching for a sea serpent that was sighted. When they find it they are unable to harpoon it. Instead, their ship is sunk. Only three people survive. Aronnax, Conseil, and a Canadian harpooner named Ned Bell, are rescued by a strange machine. The sea serpent is actually a submarine. They have been rescued by Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus.

Aronnax is awed by what he finds on the Nautilus. Nemo welcomes them with conditions. The biggest condition is that the men will never leave the Nautilus again – and they have no choice. Aronnax finds much to keep him busy. Conseil is content to care for his master. Bell, though, is quickly unhappy. He’s not allowed to harpoon whales – the only job he knows – nor is he educated so doesn’t appreciate the library or wonders of their new home.

The Nautilus is involved in many adventures. They almost get trapped under the South Pole. They fight a giant squid. The occasionally make landfall on native people’s islands. Nemo is secretive when it comes to his past and his motives Jules Verne gives him layers, only some of which Aronnax is able to figure.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a classic written in the later 1800’s. While most of the wonders of the Nautilus have come to pass, Jules Verne correctly imagined much that developed in making a submarine. It’s dated now – especially in the technology. It’s still good for tween boys but anyone older than that will laugh at its outdated language. It’s a fun adventure.

After reading this, I have to wonder how much of today’s science fiction can hold up for over a century like Verne’s work has.

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