This classic novel offers an example of Jules Verne’s extraordinary ability to make science fiction seem real. Truly the father of this genre, he mastered the art of describing in minute detail the design and workings of machines and technologies unknown to most people of his time. As a child, Verne was able to witness experiments of an underwater vehicle tested by Brutus de Villeroi. By 1800, Robert Fulton had designed and built a practical submarine that he named the Nautilus. Influenced by these innovations, Verne wove miraculous tales that anticipated the development of such a machine. Like Leonardo da Vinci and H. G. Wells, Verne was able to foresee many technological advances that humans would achieve. This limitless hunger to learn about and build new technologies epitomized all of Verne’s works.
In his novel De la terre à la lune (1865; From the Earth to the Moon, 1873), Verne’s design specifications for his rocket ship are similar to those from which the Apollo spacecraft were made a hundred years later. Verne’s spacecraft was made from aluminum and had approximately the same dimensions as the Apollo spacecraft, was launched from Florida, and was made to splash down into the ocean upon return. Along with such detailed foresight, however, Verne also includes a social commentary of how technology can erode the fabric of society: Technology makes the life easier for the human race, but it also introduces new...
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