Saturday, October 22, 2011

From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne


A fun and funny book about a bunch of Civil War era gunnery experts who are so bored with the post-war peace that they decide to build a cannon and shoot themselves to the moon.  Verne gets a bit bogged down in the details--there are pages and pages of discussion on the size and makeup of the cannon, the size of the projectile, the type of gunpowder or other substance used, the location of the cannon, etc.  You wouldn't think there would be time for such elaborate descriptions in such a short book (the version I read was only 74 pages long), but there you have it.  Fortunately, Verne has a great sense of humor and even these seemingly mundane details are interspersed with plenty of amusing touches (as well scientific ideas that are hilarious to the modern reader, whether or not they were intended to be).  I for one was pleasantly surprised to find so much humor in such an early work, as much modern science fiction is characterized by an almost unnaturally serious tone.

It's not as seamless as later entries in the science fiction genre, to be sure--the genre was still very nascent at this time, and a lot of the kinks had yet to be worked out.  But if you read it with a little indulgence and patience, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

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