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Archive for the ‘Jules Verne’ Category

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Herbert George Wells (1866-1946)

Wells was born in Bromley, Kent. His father was a shopkeeper and a professional cricketer until he broke his leg. In his early childhood, Wells developed a love for literature. His mother served from time to time as a housekeeper at the nearby estate of Uppark, and young Wells studied books in the library secretly. When his father’s business failed, Wells was apprenticed like his brothers to a draper. He spent the years between 1880 and 1883 in Windsor and Southsea, and later recorded them in KIPPS (1905).  

Adult Life, Loves and Children

“I was never a great amorist,” Wells wrote in Experiment in Autobiography (1934), “though I have loved several people very deeply.”  In 1891 Wells married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells, but left her in 1894 for one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins, whom he married in 1895. He had two sons with Amy: George Philip (known as ‘Gip’) in 1901 and Frank Richard in 1903. During his marriage to Amy, Wells had liaisons with a number of women, including the American birth-control activist Margaret Sanger (They had no children!) and novelist Elizabeth von Arnim. In 1909 he had a daughter, Anna-Jane, with the writer Amber Reeves; and in 1914, a son, Anthony West, by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West, twenty-six years his junior. Wells also had liaisons with Odette Keun and Moura Budberg. In spite of Amy Catherine’s knowledge of some of these affairs, she remained married to Wells until her death in 1927.

Visionary (From a 1945 issue of The Nation.)

OF COURSE it was H.G. Wells who first perfected the atomic bomb and put it to work. And not only did he put it to work, demolishing most of the world’s capital cities and destroying governments, but then he got busy and built an entirely new society. In less time than you can imagine after the last bomb fell, everybody was settling down nicely in a global socialist community under a World Republic; atomic energy, internationally controlled, was performing all the necessary jobs of production, transportation, heating, and such, and the creative energies of mankind were being applied to higher things. In 1914, when “The World Set Free” was published and no bombs of any sort had been dropped it all sounded fantastic and even funny.

 “Father of Miniature War Gaming”7c8183e02ba8b68e

Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells wrote Floor Games (1911) followed by Little Wars (1913). Little Wars is recognised today as the first recreational wargame and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as “the Father of Miniature War Gaming.”

Utopian Novels

From early in his career, he searched for a better way to organize society. He wrote a number of novels related to idealized worlds. The first of these was A Modern Utopia (1905), which shows a world-wide utopia with “no imports but meteorites, and no exports at all.”  Two travellers from our world fall into its alternate history. The others usually begin with the world rushing to catastrophe, until people come up with a better way of living: whether by mysterious gases from a comet causing people to behave rationally and abandoning a European war (In the Days of the Comet (1906)), or a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come (1933, which he later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come). This depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with cities being destroyed by aerial bombs. He also portrayed the rise of fascist dictators in The Autocracy of Mr Parham (1930) and The Holy Terror (1939), though in the former novel, the tale is revealed at the last to have been Mr Parham’s dream vision.

d019af389ab3c4a2Film Adaptations

A Trip to the Moon · The First Men in the Moon (1919) · The Invisible Man · Island of Lost Souls · The Man Who Could Work Miracles · Things to Come · The History of Mr. Polly · The War of the Worlds (various versions) · The Time Machine (1960) · First Men in the Moon (1964) · The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) · The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) · The Time Machine (2002) 

 

“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” (from War of the Worlds)

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One thing I am fascinated by are flying machines and how they so easily—and quintessentially—fit into the steampunk genre.  After all, what’s steampunk without airships?

Dupuy Lome Dirigeable

Jules Verne enchanted us all with balloon travel in “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “Five weeks in a Balloon.”  Who wouldn’t want to travel in a helium filled balloon?   But aircraft get even bigger—even today, such as blimps and dirigibles, which are used for tourism, camera platforms, advertising, surveillance, and research. It’s not that far off to think of them on an Airship from the Golden Compasseven grander scale, such as passenger ships as elegant as the Victorian steamers, transporting people from one place to another with speed, elegance, and spectacular views. 
steampunk airshipThey could be grand and elegant passenger ships of gleaming wood and polished brass, or could be patched and clunky cargo haulers, or these vessels could be filled with the most fearsome people to haunt steampunk skies—air pirates!   

 

But ships aren’t the only things that can fly.  I’m also fascinated250px-Leonardo_Design_for_a_Flying_Machine%2C_c__1488 with the idea of personal aircraft—such as the idea of “detachable wings” – small powered gliders with wings reminiscent of a Da Vinci sketch.  One could almost imagine a ruffian in his leather aviation cap and brass goggles soaring through the sky on such a contraption. 

skysurfingHoverboards also enthrall me.  A steampunk teen could easily be dodging the police on some sort of brass and wood flying skate/surfboard powered by rockets, the sun, or who knows…

Finally, we can’t forget the flying car—whether it simply floats or has giant purple bat wings.  This is yet another fabulous, flying machine that could find a home in a steampunk world. 

Don’t even get me started on floating cities. 

What’s your favorite flying machine—fictional or fact?  Do you wish you could fly out the window on a red dirt devil?  Soar the skies in a giant airship?  A poster will be chosen at random on Friday to receive a bag of “productivity pixy dust” to inspire you and a small sparkly tiara. 

Happy Dreaming!

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jules_verne_middle_ageJules Gabriel Verne

February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905

Jules Verne was born and raised in the port of Nantes in France. His father was a prosperous lawyer. In order to continue his father’s practice, Verne moved to Paris, where he studied law. His uncle introduced him into literary circles and he started to publish plays under the influence of such writers as Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, whom Verne also knew personally. Verne’s one-act comedy The Broken Straws was performed in Paris when he was 22. In spite of busy writing, Verne managed to pass his law degree. During this period Verne suffered from digestive problems which then recurred at intervals through his life.

In 1854 Charles Baudelaire translated Edgar Allan Poe’s works into French. Verne became one of the most devoted admirers of the American author, and wrote his first science fiction tale, ‘An voyage in Balloon’, under the influence of Poe. Later Verne would write a sequel to Poe’s unfinished novel, Narrative of a Gordon Pym, entitled The Sphinz of the Ice-Fields (1897). When his career as an author progressed slowly, Verne turned back to stockbroking, an occupation which he held until his successful tale Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863) in the series VOYAGES EXTRAORDINAIRES.

 Also during this period he met Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. They married on January 10, 1857. With her encouragement, he continued to write and actively try to find a publisher. On August 3, 1861, their son, Michel Jules Verne, was born. A classic enfant terrible, he married an actress over Verne’s objections, had two children by his underage mistress, and buried himself in debts. The relationship between father and son improved as Michel grew older.   

In 1862 Jules Verne met Pierre Jules Hetzel, a publisher and writer for children, who started to publish Verne’s ‘Extraordinary Journeys’. This cooperation lasted until the end of Verne’s career. Hetzel had also worked with Balzac and George Sand. He read Verne’s manuscripts carefully and did not hesitate to suggest corrections. One of Verne’s early works, Paris in the Twentieth Century, was turned down by the publisher, and it did not appear until 1997 in English.   

             Jules_verne                  

 Jules Verne’s stories caught the enterprising spirit of the 19th century with its uncritical fascination with scientific progress and inventions. His works were often written in the form of a travel book, which took the readers on a voyage to the moon in From the Earth to the Moon (1865) or to another direction as in A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864). Many of Verne’s ideas have been hailed as prophetic. Among his best-known books is the classic adventure story Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).

Hetzel read a draft of Verne’s story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers on the ground that it was “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, Verne rewrote the story and it was published in book form as Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages. 

From that point on, and up to years after Verne’s death, Hetzel published two or more volumes a year. The most successful of these include: Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as “Les voyages extraordinaires” (“Extraordinary voyages”). Verne could now make a living by writing. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), which he wrote together with Adolphe d’Ennery.

cc64726ff11b8d2eIn 1867 Jules Verne bought a small ship, the Saint-Michel, which he successively replaced with the Saint-Michel II and the Saint-Michel III as his financial situation improved. On board the Saint-Michel III, he sailed around Europe.

In 1870, he was appointed as “Chevalier” (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur. Verne became wealthy and famous. He remains the most translated novelist in the world, according to UNESCO statistics.

On the BOOKS page of this blog is a list of many of Jules Verne’s 54 novels.

 

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You may think you’ve never read a Steampunk book or seen a Steampunk movie, but there’s a good chance you have. Find out more about Steampunk. It’s been around. You may even be WRITING IT!2509601257_24429a39c9

230111411STEAMPUNK is defined by Wikipedia as “subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominenece in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. These include works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used – usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era London – but with elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.”

Steampunk Fiction focuses on real or theoretical Victorian-era technology, and includes steam engines, clockwork devices, and difference engines. The genre has expanded into medieval settings and often dips into the realms of horror and fantasy. Secret societies and conspiracy theories are often featured, and some steampunk includes fantasy elements. These may include Lovecraftian, occult and Gothic horror influences. Another common setting is “Western Steampunk” (also known as Weird West), a science fictionalized American Western.

Historical Steampunk Fiction usually leans more toward science fiction than fantasy, but a number of historical steampunk stories incorporate magical elements. For example, Morlock Nights by K.W. Jeter (who invented the term Steampunk) revolves around an attempt by the wizard Merlin to raise King Arthur in order to save the Britain of 1892 from an invasion of Morlocks from the future. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers involves a group of magicians who try to raise ancient Egyptian Gods in an attempt to drive the British out of Egypt in the early 19th century.

Fantasy Steampunk Fiction Since the 1990s, the steampunk label has gone beyond works set in recognizable historical periods (usually the 19th century) to works set in fantasy worlds that rely heavily on steam- or spring-powered technology. 

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