Classics are works that have stood the test of time. How would a science fiction classic fare 150 years after its publication? I knew the Cliff Notes version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and other works by French sci-fi author Jules Verne, ever since I had devoured them as Moby Books Illustrated Classics. I had been meaning to read at least one of them again, unabridged, in all its old-timey prose and verbose glory. When I found a Canterbury Classic edition of this tale, I took the bait.
The story is a recollection by Dr. Aronnax, who studies marine life, about his year-long journey around the oceans of the planet in an electric-powered submarine. The creator and captain of this submarine is an elusive Captain Nemo. Aronnax, his servant Conseil and harpooner Ned Land are saved and captured on the submarine by Nemo in 1866 and are forced to tag along on his undersea journeys.
The reader is taken on a beautiful journey aboard this submarine, discovering its technologically advanced workings, the mysteries of the ocean and the planet. Verne throws in enough discoveries, twists and tragedies to keep the story chugging and gripping through 21 chapters. Technologies like electricity generated from sulfur, fly-by-wire control and navigation of the submarine, underwater diving and breathing apparatus are described in scientific detail. Also impressive are the hundreds of seas, oceans and places the characters visit as they circumambulate the planet twice. Pages choke under the thousands of sea creatures described in excruciating color by the author.
I like reading classics. In this one, I was connected directly to Verne's imagination and thinking across a century and a half. Besides the science, the riches of the oceans, I was also witness to the history of the time and the state of the various nations and places of the Earth in the 1860s. And even back then, Captain Nemo and Aronnax rue the over-fishing and over-whaling of many marine species that has led to their reduced numbers. All this and a thrilling ride, what's not to like?!