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Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) is considered by many to be the “father of science fiction.” Born in Nantes, France, he studied law and wrote opera libretti until, in 1863, with the publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon, he struck a new vein in fiction. This tale and his others which followed (Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days), described adventures carried out by means of scientific inventions in exotic places. Like much good sci-fi, his stories and his wild ideas often anticipated the possibilities of science. His work had a huge influence on H.G. Wells and other science fiction writers who came after him.

In the 1980’s a new aesthetic movement arose called “Steampunk” inspired by Verne, Wells and others. Beginning as a literary term for a specific sub-set of fantasy and science fiction which focused on the era of steam-power, the genre has ultimately evolved into a full sub-culture and lifestyle that combines Victorian fashion, history and art with modern technology, and stresses innovative invention, self-expression and non-conformity. Many steampunkers feel the movement provides them with an intellectual link to the artists and inventors of the Industrial Revolution.

For a modern version of an 80 day voyage around the world, go to: 100 Hours of Astronomy.org for a feature called Around the World in 80 Telescopes.

Around the World in Eighty Days is far more than just a madcap turn-of-the-century adventure. I think of it as an uncautionary tale rather than a cautionary one, with ethical and moral lessons for people of all ages that are as apt and resonant now as they were back in 1872 when the story takes place.

“Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)


-Bonnie J. Monte