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Jules Verne, one of the most prescient authors in history, postulated or invented many innovations long before their actual debut. Among these was his fascination with technological means of travel, including the nuclear submarine, the airship, and ever-more efficient trains and steamships.
In Around the World in Eighty Days, Verne arranges a full circumnavigation of the Earth, a feat that had been achieved already but only at the expense of time, money, and men. Ferdinand Magellan's 1519 expedition successfully completed the first circumnavigation, although he himself did not survive the trip; Joshua Slocum completed a solo trip around the world only two decades after Verne's novel was published. At the time, although much of the world had been industrialized and modern travel methods were widely available, the concept of taking a trip around the world by ones self was unheard of.
Verne used his own life experiences to model Phillias Fogg, the Renaissance man whose discipline allows him to achieve great things. Verne's love of machines and technology shows in the various methods of Fogg's travel; he relies on trains for the bulk of his land travel, and the great steamer ships of the time for his ocean voyages. His love of travel, in which he indulged from an early age, allowed him to research and show accurate pictures of far-off regions, although he was not above the invention of unknown details. Like Fogg, Verne was independently wealthy, and had a wide knowledge of varied subjects; his own travels were almost as extensive.
Today, world-travel is commonplace, but the concept itself was a major undertaking before the advent of air travel. Verne's works show both the ability of man to overcome natural obstacles and love of travel for its own sake.
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