20000 leagues under the sea

Encounters at the used-book store

blog review

Jules Verne is one of my favorite authors. He's one of those classic speculative fiction writers who gets your imagination churning with cheap thrills and incredible plot-lines. I could spend a whole week reading his stuff and never get bored. Or I could just re-read a handful of his books, like 20,000 leagues under the sea

This book is his typical men-on-a-fantastic-quest story, except that in this case the men on the quest are accidentally swept up on someone else's journey and are basically just along for the ride. It's slightly unsettling to a modern reader, to have a plot so stubbornly passive, but as with many Jules Verne books, the real character you ought to be following is the sense of wonder. Just imagine reading this book in the 1870s, when submarines were in the prototypical stage. Imagine the sense of wonder you'd have reading about a submarine large enough for a full crew, diving to impossible depths far out in the ocean. Even in the 21st century, it inspires wanderlust.

And let's face it, this is sort of a landmark book. For whatever reason, the mysterious Captain Nemo and his vessel the Nautilus, intriguing and exciting, are still modern-day titans with a mythology and reputation all their own or, at the very least, name recognition.

It's a book worth reading if you enjoy old speculative fiction, or, I daresay steampunk. It's a must read if you've never experienced Jules Verne's utter awe at the world both real and imaginary, because it's infectious. If you're a boring person, pick up this or any Jules Verne book and force yourself to say "No way!" aloud at the end of each chapter. I promise, by the end of the work, you'll be excited and passionate. And finally, if you're a Dungeon Master or an author or a creative type, read this book if only to experience the way it masterfully fascinates and manipulates the reader.

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