Book Review: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Book Name: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Author: Jules Verne
First Published: 1870

Jules Verne was born the son of an French attorney in Nantes, France. As a boy, Verne developed a great love for travel and exploration, which was reflected in his science fiction writings. His interest in storytelling often cost him progress in other school subjects. It is rumored that the child Verne was so enthralled with adventure that he stowed away on a vessel going to the West Indies, but his voyage of discovery was cut short when he found his father waiting for him at the next port of call.

As Verne grew to adulthood, he began to write libretti for operettas even as he was studying in law school. When his father discovered that he was not attending to his law studies, his educational funds were cut off. Jules Verne turned to being a stockbroker to make his living, a profession that he hated. Around this time, he met and married Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. Honorine encouraged her husband to do what he loved, to write.

Verne’s writing career improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, an important French publisher, after being rejected by many other publishers. Verne and Hetzel formed a successful writer-publisher team until Hetzel’s death. Verne was prone to be overly scientific and melancholy in his writing, Hetzel forced the author to be more upbeat and to add in more adventure and less science. The combination proved to be gold. Verne began publishing his novels two years after the birth of his son and generally published two books a year after that point. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of his more famous works and one of the earlier novels that he published.

The novel begins in 1866 when a mysterious sea monster is sighted by ships of several countries. In New York City, an expedition to track down and kill the menace is formed by the US government. Professor Pierre Aronnax, a renoun french marine biologist, is invited to join the expedition at the last minute. Aronnax, his assistant Conseil and harpoon master Ned Land set sail from Brooklyn aboard the naval ship Abraham Lincoln and travel around Cape Horn and entering the Pacific Ocean.

The monster is discovered and the ship enters into battle. During the fight, the three men are thrown overboard and find themselves stranded on the “hide” of the monster. Much to their surprise, they find that the animal is a metal ship. The men are captured and brought on board the strange vessel where they meet its creator and commander, Captain Nemo. The vessel is an electrically powered submarine known as the Nautilus which roams the oceans to carry out marine biology research and to serve as an instrument of revenge for her captain. Nemo and Aronnax form a friendship as Aronnax is enthralled by the undersea views, despite the fact that Nemo has forbidden the three passengers to leave the vessel. Only Ned Land continues to plan their escape.

The title of 20,000 leagues under the sea does not refer to the depth that the electrical submarine dives, but rather the distance that the vessel travels in the ocean during the story. The passengers of the Nautilus see the coral reefs of the Red Sea, the shipwrecks of the battle of Vigo Bay, the Antarctic ice shelves and the fictional sunken nation of Atlantis. The crew does battle with sharks and other marine life and the ship itself is attacked by a giant octopus.

In the end, Nemo’s vessel is attacked by a ship from Nemo’s home nation. The battle pushes Nemo into an emotional depression and in his grief, he allows the Nautilus to enter a whirlpool off the coast of Norway. During this distraction, Aronnax, Conseil and Land manage to escape the submarine and return to land. However, the fate of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus remains a mystery.

I can’t remember a time when I did not know of and love the stories of Jules Verne. So many of his stories have been adapted into movies, his characters have been adopted into other novels, and there was once a ride in Disneyland based on the book. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first of his novels that I read, prompted by seeing the Disney movie by the same name starring Kirk Douglas (who sings!) produced in 1954. This movie is likely the most famous of numerous films based upon this book. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is considered one of his “Voyages Extraordinaires” novels which also include Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mysterious Island, and From the Earth to the Moon. Many of the inventions that Verne wrote about are now real technology that we see everyday. Verne paid attention to the state of the art scientific information of his time and embellished upon it with his vivid imagination to create his fantastic worlds of the future. If you have not read Jules Verne, I urge you to look into his novels. You’ll see long ago dreams that now have become the shape of life as we know it.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is considered in the public domain and is available for free download at Project Gutenberg or at your local public library.

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Author Interview: D. H. Brooks

I’m pleased to welcome fellow GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society) member, D.H. Brooks to No Wasted Ink. A fellow fan of fantasy, comic books and vintage science fiction, Daria is a woman of many talents and I’m sure you will find her story as interesting as I did.

Daria Brooks - AuthorMy name is Daria Brooks; I write under the name ‘D. H. Brooks.’ A Legacy Of The Pacific is my debut fantasy novel.

When and why did you begin writing?

I took a few creative writing courses at university but did not begin to write fantasy tales until the late 1990s when I built a fan-fiction following online. Being a big fan of the comic book heroes ‘Gambit’ (Marvel Comics) and ‘Tempest’ (DC Comics) gave me rich background material to work with, plus I wrote Thunderbirds adventures as well.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

A Legacy Of The Pacific is the tale of three teens, raised separately, who come together upon the revelation that they are heirs to a kingdom in the Pacific Ocean near Southern California. As the story unfolds, distrust and sibling rivalry turn to mutual respect and understanding. They learn to work together to save their home-waters and our coastline.

What inspired you to write this book?

Our family spent many idyllic Sundays at Point Fermin in San Pedro, which taught me to love the beauty of the ocean. However, I also recall the cola colored water at Cabrillo Beach and terrible pollution and litter in Santa Monica Bay. My novel was inspired by a desire to end public apathy to these dangers.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It was the title of a one-off comic book I created in 1993. The title indicates one particular tale of the Cote D’Or family, but there could be other ‘legacies’ to explore later on.

What is the significance of the dolls that you hold in your headshot? Did you make them yourself?

I created the dolls using the Madame Alexander Workshop through the FAO Schwarz toy store; they allow for various shades of skin, eyes and wigs of numerous styles. The dolls were inspired by the trio of siblings in the tale. I’ve been an avid doll-maker for many years, so it was an enjoyable task to create the clothing and to style their hair. Of course, in the novel the kids are teens, not little children, but doll fans love the little guys. What was truly important about this exercise was that all the while I was writing my novel, I was also thinking ahead to the promotion and marketing of this tale. Part of such a project includes coming up with items that readers (and a future movie audience) would connect with and wish to collect, so I explored various elements within the novel which would fit. The Sagara dragons, the glowing swords, the Victorian bubble wand and Pincin’s sea animal friends, Bubble and Squeak, were the obvious choices for tie-in toys and a video game, plus the inevitable princess dolls for Lile and Ciona and action figures all around. I’m looking forward to working with designers on all of the above. Novelists have to envision the “whole package” these days, not just print media.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I am hoping that readers are inspired to follow safe litter discarding practices in their daily lives and to donate toward protecting our coastline and the marine animals that call our shores home, particularly cetaceans and sea otters. We are killing them by the thousands with discarded fishing nets and cat litter being flushed out to sea. On the human side, I also want readers to understand the value of working together to achieve our common goals. People bicker too often about petty things, ignoring what we have in common.

If you had to choose, is there a writer who you consider a mentor?

Not a mentor but more of an inspiration: Clarence Day, Jr. I’ve long enjoyed the way he managed to convey life within his delightful, prestigious family so that it is still hilariously clever nearly 150 years later.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

A little lady named Daria Brooks translates what I see in my head to the sketch pad. I illustrated the book because I knew exactly how best to express the look and feel of the characters.

Is your novel illustrated or did you only design the book cover? How many illustrations would you recommend to other authors that are considering illustrating their novels?

A Legacy Of The Pacific was created with four full-color illustrations, and the Kindle e-book version includes them. (The book will soon be available for iBook and Nook within a few weeks). The artwork depicts each of the siblings, with the fourth one being a portrait of Princess Ciona and her beau, the romantic Asterus The Messenger. My publisher, being decidedly small press, was concerned about the ratio of the cover cost for a debut novel vs. the price of printing with full-color illustrations. As a test, we created a short run of full-color prints at a low cover price, which happily sold out almost immediately. (Even I don’t have one)! All print copies available via Barnes And Noble and Amazon.com right now are without the illustrations, sorry to say, as I did not want to raise the cover price. There are plans for later this year to release a second edition of the illustrated version, as I’ve had numerous requests for a copy.

As for my process as an illustrator, I always pencil sketch my ideas first, then transfer the line art to Photoshop where I work with various color palettes and tools to achieve whatever vision I’ve dreamed up. Since I am constantly learning to use various options and filters within the program, each piece of artwork features a unique style. When I read novels as a kid, I enjoyed the inclusion of illustrations, particularly in classic novels which often included beautifully etched, dramatic frontispieces. I’m a very visual reader, so I always used my own imagination to decide what this or that character looked like, judging by the descriptions given, but illustrations were always welcome. My suggestion to authors who write in the fantasy or science fiction genre would be to include between two to four pieces of art, if they deem it worthwhile to their project. Grayscale or line art is a great alternative to costly color art. Often, the difficult part is trying to describe your vision to an illustrator, if you are not an artist, since only the writer really knows what the characters should look like. Luckily, I started out as an artist who worked my way into writing; now I enjoy creating both print art and the printed word.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be very careful and patient when seeking a publisher. I picked what I thought was a reputable small press publisher and lived to regret it. Join a writers’ association which matches your chosen genre and get as much legal information as you can. It pays off down the line.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks to all who have taken an interest in my young heroes and have sent e-mails or otherwise contacted me to say how much they have enjoyed my novel. I appreciate all of the feedback I have received and look forward to working on the sequel for their further enjoyment.


Legacy of the Pacific Book CoverD H Brooks
Rancho Dominguez, CA

Nothing pleases me more as a writer than to find the exact word that fits the mood or tempo of a sentence. I enjoy playing characters against each other in verbal sparring matches; if their banter makes me laugh, I know it will do the same for my audience.

Novel: A Legacy Of The Pacific
Published by Cedar Grove Books
Written and Illustrated by D H Brooks.

You may purchase A Legacy Of The Pacific at Amazon.com  or at Barnes & Noble.

 

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

I’m often fascinated about the different programs that authors use to write with or what you need to do to prepare when going to a writer’s convention. Fortunately, I have a few great articles to share on such subjects here on No Wasted Ink. Enjoy!


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Book Review: The Time Machine

Book Name: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
First Published: 1895

The Time Machine was H. G. Wells’ first novel of literary importance. He would go on to write The Island of Dr. Moreau and The War of the Worlds soon after. At the time of his writing of The Time Machine, he was a young man of 29 years, a hard working former apprentice to a draper who felt the class system in England all to keenly. Gaining access to books through the connection of his mother who worked in service as a lady’s maid, he was able to gain an understanding to the classics of literature from her employer’s private library. He would later become a socialist, a supporter of women’s suffrage and become a man who loved to fight for causes. H G Wells would marry twice and carry on several affairs with women artists and authors, having several additional children out-of-wedlock in addition to his two sons by his wife Amy Robbins.

The idea for time travel came from a student debating society at Imperial College in London. The debate was on new scientific ideas about the nature of time and from there, Wells spliced science fact into his fascination of government and the effects of the English class system. During the period that he was writing the novel, he was renting a flat with his soon to be second wife, Amy Robbins. His landlady disapproved of the relationship and would spend time outside his window in the dead of night making rude comments about Wells and his private living arrangements. It is said that much of the Morlocks, the villains of the story, were based on this woman’s personality!

The Time Machine is the story of a victorian scientist and inventor from England. He is entertaining dinner guests in his home and reveals to them that he has built a machine that can travel through time. The time traveller leaves the dinner party to test his device and travels into the far future where he discovers the Eloi, a tribe of simple people that have no concept of work and seem to have little curiosity about their environment. The time traveller speculates that they are a peaceful communist society, the result of humanity overcoming nature and evolving to where intellect and strength are not advantageous for survival.

During his efforts to communicate with Eloi, and in particular an Eloi woman named Weena, the time machine is stolen. The time traveller realizes that the machine has been dragged into a close by building that resembles a sphinx. During the night, he is threatened by the nocturnal Morlocks and within their underground home he finds the technology that makes the Eloi way of life possible. The Morlocks control the Eloi to their advantage, using the simple people as their livestock.

The Morlocks, fearing the strangeness that the traveller represents, using the captured time machine to bait the traveller into an underground trap, little realizing that once he gains access to his machine, he is able to use it to escape them. The traveller pushes forward in time to the end of the world before he returns back to his origin, arriving a scant 3 hours later in the evening to the astonishment of his dinner guests. He relates his adventures to his guests and produces two exotic blooms from his pocket that he claims were given to him by Weena as proof. The following day, the time traveller prepares to make a second journey, promising to return in a half hour, but in the end he does not and after three years of waiting, the original narrator of the story realizes that he will never be seen again.

My first exposure to this classic science fiction story and author was via the 1960 movie The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor. It was a special effects giant of its day, winning an academy award for stop-motion photography. I was completely enamored of film and it led me to seek out the book by H.G. Wells. From there I started to read more of his scientific romance stories and became hooked on his writing. Later, I would also become a fan of the 1979 movie Time After Time where the characters Herbert George Wells and Amy Robbins supposedly meet and fall in love in the 1970’s before they return via time machine to Well’s Victorian era where he is inspired to write his famous science fiction novels. The character of George Wells in the movie is very much as real life H G Wells might have been in personality.

H. G. Wells is considered one of the progenitors of the science fiction genre and of scientific romance in particular. His views on the future were not always pleasant, but in his writings there is such a sense of reality that you can believe his reasoning and accept his views as a logical progression of where humanity might go. I personally find that the book has a steampunk feel to it, although it was created decades before the steampunk movement in literature began. The author and the protagonist of The Time Machine originate during victorian times and the story concerns an inventor of a fantastic machine that likely runs on steam like technology. Perhaps in a way, The Time Machine could be considered a forerunner to the steampunk sub-genre.

The Time Machine Book CoverYou can download a free copy of The Time Machine at Project Gutenberg. It is one of the very first novels that they transcribed for the project.