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Old 03-20-2013, 03:38 PM   #16
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I've not read it myself, but a friend of mine, in high school, complained about there being an entire chapter dedicated to clam chowder.
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:05 PM   #17
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I read it as a kid, too but almost certainly in a mangled version. I can see why Verne is described as the father of science fiction. His entire approach is to emphasize the power of scientific technology--as it was conceived at that time. It was his approach that dominated most science fiction into the so called "Golden Age".

Verne clearly felt that the scientific element was of great importance. Thus, there are very many quite long exposition passages {sometimes taking up a complete chapter} which are devoted to various scientific ideas and theories. These sections are frequently quite interesting {excluding the elaborations of various menu items } despite the fact that they are dated. In this way he is quite different from Wells who was much more vague in his use of sci-fi literary machinery. The Nautilus, for example, is certainly very carefully constructed in literary terms and is very nearly a character in the book.

In fact, the great submarine is more vivid and realistic than any of the characters aside from Nemo. The Captain stands out with a mysterious charisma. The other main figures are rather one-dimensional--especially the {for me} intensely irritating Ned Land. Conseil gets on my nerves with his constant references to "Master" and the Professor himself suffers the fate of many novelistic narrators in that he becomes subsumed into the story as a plot mechanism.

But intense characterization has seldom been a strong element in science-fiction. Nemo makes up for the other cardboard characters and the imaginative power of Verne allows one to read it now almost as though it were an example of Steampunk.

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Old 03-20-2013, 04:21 PM   #18
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I read it as a kid, but was very pleased to read the new edition / translation published by the Naval Institute Press:

http://www.usni.org/store/books/fict...gues-under-sea

It's a marked improvement, though tinged somewhat by my having read _The Mysterious Island_ as well as _The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen_ --- so his being described so as to likely have been Polish was a bit off-putting.

Very fitting that the U.S. Navy named the first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) (and a previous WW-II era SS-168) for it. Wonder what happened to my plastic model of it....
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:53 PM   #19
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I haven't finished yet - 60% through. As I've been reading I've been wondering why some suggested this would not be a good fit for Travel/Adventure. It's a much better fit than I had thought when nominating it.

The story itself does get bogged down by the descriptions, catalogues and history/scientific lessons. It's possibly why I haven't finished yet even though I thought I'd given myself enough time. I usually find it hard to read non-fiction quickly.

Strangely enough, I have a tough time thinking of it as science fiction. When there was a complaint that we were going to be reading yet another science fiction book, I had to stop and think about it. It hadn't even occurred to me that it was science fiction when I nominated it - all I thought at the time was underwater travel/adventure story. It may be because the notions of submarines, electrical power and underwater exploration are so common to me that I just failed to see it. Actually, if Verne made this science fiction feel so commonplace to me, he must have been a pretty great science fiction writer back then.

The only character worth knowing is Nemo and he is pretty interesting throughout. The narrator is for the most part a travel writer with a scientific background and not worth exploring as a character at all. The rest are not really worth much either.

I haven't got to any real drama yet other than the shark fight, so I'm expecting it to become more dramatic fairly soon.
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:00 PM   #20
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In fact, the great submarine is more vivid and realistic than any of the characters aside from Nemo. The Captain stands out with a mysterious charisma. The other main figures are rather one-dimensional--especially the {for me} intensely irritating Ned Land. Conseil gets on my nerves with his constant references to "Master" and the Professor himself suffers the fate of many novelistic narrators in that he becomes subsumed into the story as a plot mechanism.
I take all the gentlemen's point about technology and I gave Verne his due, I thought! Reading about it was never my cuppa, and I'm willing to grant that it's unrealistic for me to expect more plot and character. I liked Ned the best, fanasyfan, since to me he was understandable. "Get me off this thing!" I had very high hopes initially for the development of Nemo's backstory. Another reason I liked Ned was that ultimately I held him less complicit in whatever evil Nemo visited on his enemies. No matter what the provocation and his history, even Nemo surely knew that the lackeys on the ships of his enemy were not in control of their destiny or responsible for the tragedies that had befallen him. I think this is what bugged me; I smelled a powerful story, but Verne only hinted at it.

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Very fitting that the U.S. Navy named the first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) (and a previous WW-II era SS-168) for it. Wonder what happened to my plastic model of it....
One of my greatest pleasures in reading this was realizing how very apropos was the name of the nuclear Nautilus. I read a lot about polar exploration as a kid and understood that it had been named after the submarine in 20,000. I had no idea that when the USS Nautilus was the first submarine to penetrate the North Pole in the late 1950s, it was merely aping the antics of its namesake at the South Pole a century earlier.
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:05 PM   #21
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It occurs to me that Nemo and Ahab have some things in common. Both have sailing vessels (though of different types), both have a need for vengeance, and both have crews that are very loyal to them. And of course in both books there are survivors of the wreck of the vessel.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:29 PM   #22
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I don't really have much to add to the above. I read it, but don't feel I could recommend it to anyone else as a "must read". At one stage I thought that if Conseil was referred to once more as a gallant lad or a fine lad I might start chewing the furniture. And all those lists of categorisations of fish. I suppose it was 19th century geekiness and as issybird says, would have appealed to 11 year old boys some time back.

Nemo was interesting until he committed mass murder. After that I really didn't care what had happened to him to make him so brooding and mysterious. Nothing could justify such an action.

And finally: what a copout at the end! There they are in a situation which had to mean certain death, so the narrator gets knocked unconscious and comes to safe and sound on land. Do you mean to tell me he didn't ask Conseil and Ned Land how they got out of the Maelstrom?

I won't be reading The Mysterious Island to find out what it was all about!
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:59 PM   #23
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I haven't read "The Mysterious Island" though I have seen the movie version of the story with the late Herbert Lom as Capt. Nemo. I'll have to get round to reading it after I finish reading TTLUTS this time round.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:44 AM   #24
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Well that was a bit of a chore. I finally finished. I'll need some time to ponder before I give one of my far-fetched theories.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:44 AM   #25
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Well that was a bit of a chore. I finally finished. I'll need some time to ponder before I give one of my far-fetched theories.
It can be slower going than a book written today would be. People wrote more indepth about the world that the book was set in back in Verne's time I think. Where a writer today might take a paragraph to set a scene writer's back then might have taken a chapter.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:19 PM   #26
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I haven't read "The Mysterious Island" though I have seen the movie version of the story with the late Herbert Lom as Capt. Nemo. I'll have to get round to reading it.
I think I'll give it a go too.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:12 PM   #27
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I think personally that "The Mysterious Island" is much better. Do give it a go.
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:32 PM   #28
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I had the pleasure of reading The Mysterious Island unaware of the payoff. Of course, I began to suspect it before I got there, but not knowing at time that Verne had written a sequel to 20,000 Leagues was a plus.
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:11 PM   #29
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I had the pleasure of reading The Mysterious Island unaware of the payoff. Of course, I began to suspect it before I got there, but not knowing at time that Verne had written a sequel to 20,000 Leagues was a plus.
It's rather odd, isn't it, that "20,000 Leagues" is a book which everyone's heard of, while "The Mysterious Island" is virtually unknown when - to me at least - "The Mysterious Island" is so much better a book.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:20 PM   #30
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I had heard of The Mysterious Island but didn't realise it was related to Nemo until this thread.
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