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Journey to the center of the earth by Jules Verne

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Book Information  
AuthorJules Verne
TitleJourney to the center of the earth
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Melysa 
(Mar 25, 2009)

I highly recommend this book to all science-fiction lovers. It is thrilling, exciting, and a quick read. The end of the book was better than the beginning because that is where all the action was. The best and most intense part was where the three characters only had a raft to escape back to the ‘real’ world. After reading this book, it encouraged me to watch the movie. This book can appeal to people of all ages.

Submitted by Geoff Foster (Mugwump) 
(Oct 19, 2003)

In this - the famous French author's opening gambit in the field of SF - Verne regales the story of intrepid professor Lindenbrock, an esteemed German geologist, who stumbles across an ancient parchment detailing the location of a hidden entrance to a passage leading directly to the centre of the earth. With lovesick nephew Axel in tow, the unflappable professor travels to Iceland where he first procures the services of phlegmatic guide Hans Bjelke and then sets off on a journey into the nether regions of the earth.

As is the case with pretty much all of Verne's better-known contes fantastiques, this text is more an exquisitely crafted scientific travelogue than the traditional 'adventure novel' we are so used to these days. Characters are economically drawn so not to detract from the book's primary selling point: the author's imaginatively conceived and supremely detailed locales, both above and below the surface of the earth.

Whether we are stood atop the snow-capped crater's edge of Sneffels, or navigating a churning sea contained within massive subterranean caverns, Verne never fails to arouse those (oft forgotten) childhood feelings of wonder with his ability to capture the true magnificence of the strange and often spectacular.

To relegate the importance of your human protagonists below that of their environment is indeed a high-risk strategy, but Verne is without doubt a master of the art; and echoes of his craft can be found within the work of such luminaries as J.R.R. Tolkien and Arthur C. Clarke.

Two other interesting points to take note of: firstly the author's (presumably) industrial revolution-engendered confidence in science and the absolute truth of science: no 'promethean themes' or Frankenstein Food cynicism to be found here.

Secondly, for a man living and writing in the middle portion of the nineteenth century, a time in which Europe was still suffering its fair share of trouble and strife, Jules Verne appears to be the most remarkable Europhile. Perhaps his living-in-harmony attitudes can be linked to the previous point i.e. scientific truth cannot be immured by borders and boundaries. Of course, Verne stops a long way short of pure egalitarianism (hey - you can't have everything), but it's fair to say that even today his (overly?) optimistic political attitudes are refreshing: squabbling EU ministers and nationalists  take note!

If there is one major quibble to be had here, it is that this book stumbles quite badly over the final few chapters. Certainly, the reader could be excused for thinking that Verne became thoroughly bored with the whole story well before its intended finish, deciding to draw it to an early conclusion with all possible haste. Indeed, the book's title would appear to lend credence to this claim; after all, why would a man, who prides himself on his scientific accuracy, choose to saddle a piece of work with such a glaring misnomer?

Because of this handicap, the book falls short of Verne's seminal tour de force, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, but that said  it is still a wonderfully entertaining and gorgeous piece of imaginative fiction.

Essential reading for all lovers of early SF; it's painlessly worded style and imagery makes it also an absolute must for parents seeking to stimulate a child's sense of imagination and adventure.

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