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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne

Many have hailed Verne as the first science fiction author. There is no question that his works often stepped away from the genre of the time, epic adventure, for which they had been written and jumped into the realm of science fiction. Verne reacts to the evils of monarchic government through the shady character of Captain Nemo who must have had a really good reason for going and building such a boat, right?

Jules Verne was born in 1828 in Nantes, France. Verne was enamored of the sea and even ran away as a cabin boy while a young man. His parents, however, thought ill of this and eventually sent him to college to study law. Verne wasn't much of a lawyer, but he did produce a play while in school which was actually published. This publication caused his parents to cut off his funding and Verne was forced to live in poverty with only his stories to support himself. Fortunately, he was such a good author that he more than supported himself, he became quite wealthy and was even able to sail around Europe. Jules Verne died in 1905.

In this book, Verne tells us the story of a fantastic submarine. The adventures of the submarine in the deep are the main emphasis of the story and the thrilling ending has captured many a reader. The underlying story, however, is how a human being reacts to oppression and the loss of his family. In its original conception, Captain Nemo was driven to build the Nautilus by his family's murder at the hands of the Russian Tsars. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, France was on good terms with Russia and Nemo ended up being a Hindu Prince who had lost his family in a rebellion aginst Britain. Nemo's search for freedom comes in the Nautilus and both the adventures and the underlying social commentary therein embodied are excellent reading!

Brett Fishburne

Find the book here.