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The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne

by Eric Brown

introduction by Ian Watson

(PS Publishing, £10/£25, 137 pages, signed, numbered, limited edition paperback, also available in signed, numbered, limited edition hardback, published May 2005.)

Review by Gary Couzens

cover scanHomages to one's elders and predecessors is nothing new in science fiction and fantasy. Even more recent writers have been referenced (a recent example is Clifford Simak, protagonist of Gardner Dozois's "Counterfactual"). Along with H.G. Wells, Jules Verne influenced a great number of SF writers, and there are many reading this who cut their teeth on one or the other or both. Eric Brown was clearly one, and in this novella he pays his tribute to this early master of the genre.

We begin in Paris in 1855, when a young and yet-to-be successful Verne steps into the bar of the Théâtre Lyrique. There he meets Leroux, who regales him of adventures under the sea in the Nautilus with Captain Omen, and wonders in strange lands yet to be named. Verne accompanies Leroux home and soon finds himself passing through a gateway into the prehistoric past and also the distant future flying city of Centropolis Two, ruled by the mysterious Robur, a fan of Verne's yet-to-be-written work who wants him to write his biography.

The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne is an entertaining but ultimately rather lightweight romp, more memorable for the sights and sounds of Verne's journey -- from the Upper Cretaceous to the Year 5000 -- than the thin and not unpredictable storyline. Verne is not held under duress, which reduces any conflict in his stay as Robur's guest, and it's not unexpected that rebels led by one Eliza Riley turn out to be in the right. That said, the scenery is fine, with plenty of references Verne fans will spot... but this novella won't last long in the memory once you've read the final page.

The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne has an introduction by Ian Watson. It is available as a run of 500 numbered paperbacks signed by Brown and 300 numbered hardbacks signed by Brown and Watson.

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