Many years ago, I watched the Disney version of this book on video. Sometime after that I rode the ride at Disney World. Never had I read the book. I even have a leather-bound copy of it on my large bookshelf. Until now, it was simply a vanity book.
At the beginning of the year, I devoted myself to reading more. Particularly, I wanted to read more classics. So far, I’ve only gotten through two. Twenty-thousand Leagues under the Sea is a classic in the science fiction genre, for good reason. When it was written the idea of a Nautilis-like submarine was fantastical. Even today, the abilities this vessel had is incomparable to submarines of its size. The world that Verne shows the audience is more spectacular than any alien landscape on Star Trek.
I am not a huge fan of science fiction. Within the genre, I really dislike hard sci-fi. I don’t have the patience for the extensive discussion of the science behind the fiction. This is one of the reasons I don’t like Michael Crichton’s books. Jurassic Park almost killed me. I left my copy on a plane in San Francisco. Anyway– apparently, Crichton was a huge fan of this book as a teenager. I can see the influence. To be honest I can see the influence in much of todays science fiction.
Although this book grew weary for me, I still enjoyed the wonder of it. I did have problems with the obsessive description of fauna and flora with long lists of it with the scientific names. Furthermore, whole chapters seemed devoted to what in the writing world, we call “Info Dumps”. I hated this. The characters bothered me some to.
Professor Aronnax approached things as I expected a scientist of his caliber would. However, Conseil was a little like a loyal robot or Vulcan. He had no real character of his own. Of all the characters, Ned Land irritated me the most. When the book was published, ideas of animal welfare was far different from today. Conservation was non-existent. Ned Land is the embodiment of this. He wants to kill everything. He has no regard for the preciousness of certain animal life. He is the personifaction of the madness that almost pushed the great whales to extinction and the madness that pushed things like to dodo into the annals of history.
I wouldn’t read Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea again. However, I would read more of Jules Verne.