The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Written early in Jules Verne’s career, From the Earth to the Moon depicts the scheme of Impey Barbicane, president of the Baltimore Gun Club, to hit the Moon with a cannon shell. Five years later, Verne published the eagerly awaited sequel” describing the spaceflight itself—together with the first novel under the new title From the Earth to the Moon Direct in 97 hours 20 minutes and a Trip Around It.

In From the Earth to the Moon, the club members, all of whom are wounded artillerymen of the Civil War, despair because peace has ended their activities. Barbicane’s unprecedented idea of firing a projectile at the Moon restores their sense of purpose. The Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, declares the project practical, and Barbicane outlines its features, including the dimensions of the cannon, the quantity of explosive, and the size and weight of the projectile. Following the clubs approval, he directs its members in drawing up plans for constructing “the Columbiad,” attracting international attention. Captain Nicholl, an armor maker and rival, denounces the project on scientific grounds, although he fails to discourage Barbicane.

On the recommendation of the Observatory, the club must select a site near 28 degrees north latitude and 77 degrees west longitude, with a departure date of December 1 of the next year, in order to aim at the Moon when it is directly overhead and closest to Earth. After...

(The entire section is 453 words.)