Sunday, November 10, 2019

Review of "Journey to the Center of the Earth," by Jules Verne Illustrated Now Age Version

Review of

Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne Illustrated Now Age Version ISBN 0883011352

Four out of five stars

 Given the significant weakness in the science behind the plot of this book, I have always considered this one to be fantasy rather than science fiction. The idea that people could go deep under the Earth and encounter oceans, storms and dinosaurs is so contrary to the reality that one must pass into the fantasy realm rather than remain within the realistic scientific one.

 Originally published in 1864, the main character is German Professor Otto Lidenbrock, a man that believes that the Earth is partially hollow and that 15th century explorer Arne Saknussemm entered an extinct volcano and traveled deep into the Earth. Along with his nephew Axel and guide Hans, Lidenbrook enters the Snæfellsjökull volcano. Rather than encounter significant heat and increasingly narrow passages, the three of them find themselves in an environment where plants and animals thrive, most of which have been extinct on the surface for millions of years. There is ample light and a massive sea that they must sail across. There is a massive storm that includes lightning and giant creatures that resemble humans. After surviving many near-death experiences, the three of them are ejected from the Earth in Italy, hundreds of miles from where they entered. 

 This story is loosely based on the legends of underground creatures found in many cultures. It has been presented as a work of science fiction, when it is in fact not. The only scientific principles that are cited appear only to be dismissed. For example, the comments about how the air temperatures they encounter are in fact not increasing.

 Yet, this book is a classic in the literature of western civilization, so much so that two feature length movies have been made using it as the basic plot. I am a strong proponent of the “by any means necessary” method of introducing modern readers to the classics of literature. This graphic novel is an excellent way to introduce middle school students to the writings of one of the pioneers of imaginative fiction.

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