20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1870) by Jules Verne



Interesting Fact: I had always thought twenty thousand leagues referred to the depth attained in this masterwork. Then I looked it up. 20,000 Leagues would be all the way through the earth and about one third of the way to the moon besides. The distance discussed in the title refers to the twenty thousand leagues the narrator and his companions traveled, whilst under the sea. Good to know…

Interesting crap aside, I really enjoyed this novel. It was brilliantly written and there is no doubt in my mind as to why it is a classic. Strange though it may seem, this is a science fiction novel. It was written when enormous, self sustaining submersibles were but a thing of the imagination. Interestingly enough Jules Verne predicts the widespread arrival of such craft to within a decade of their actual creation. The story takes place in the late eighteen hundreds and sees the narrator, Professor Pierre Arronax, his servant, Conseil, and master harpooner, Mr Ned Land, taken aboard the Nautilus, a super advanced submarine, owned, built and captained by the mysterious Captain Nemo. It seems Nemo has special reasons for building this unknown behemoth and as the story unfolds it is easy to be swept up in the fantastical descriptions of the unknown depths of the world’s oceans. Truly this is a masterful story with twists and turns and a subtle hint of magic about the air. It was lovely to read.

One of the best things about this story is the steampunk style that pervades the visuals that Arronax describes. It is a brassy, steam filled world with fancy homemade innovation and subtle reminders of a time when the monsters in the world were so frightful that the technology of man was barely enough to hold them at bay. If you are a fan of that genre you will be well pleased by this tale. If you aren’t a fan of the awesomeness that is steampunk, go and fix your problem dude. Seriously, that’s like, weird…

The story is a tried and true trope these days but in my mind that is more of a reason to read the original than anything that has come subsequently and it doesn’t disappoint. It can be a little slow at times but that is merely accurate of the time and place that the story is set. The e-book for 20,000 leagues under the sea is free and a quick net search will find it without hassle.

Grab a real nice hardcover from your favorite hidden bookstore, one of the new cheap orange reprints at your favorite big bookstore, download for free on your phone, e-reader, or tablet or give the excellent audiobook a whirl, but whatever the method, read this book.

Five Stars.


3 thoughts on “20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1870) by Jules Verne

  1. You are correct – It is less steampunk and more, well… steam… but I was suggesting that steampunkifying it in your head is awesome and should be done at all times… đŸ™‚

    • Haha, yeah the genre began in the 90s and really gained steam (no pun intended) in the 2000s. Works like Verne and Moorcock were definitely influences…. I think it relates to general interest with “the Victorian” aesthetic as well.

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