Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rediscovering Verne

I am reading Jules Verne again: last time I was too young and got overwhelmed with his long descriptions and the usage of incredibly exotic units (I was raised as a metric-system mind).

It is a true pleasure to rediscover this author, both in his famous books and in the less known ones. I do not consider Jules Verne as a visionary: he has not foreseen anything like the heavier-than-air vehicles or the usage of oil as a source of energy. He is not such a scientist as well: you can see that he hardly explains what system allows the space travelers to survive the enormous acceleration of the bullet that carries them to the Moon.

But he is very well informed on the state of science and technologies of his time, and extremely good at imagining what could be the most advanced versions of what he was seeing around him. For me, he is more an extrapolative mind than a prophetic one!

But there are of course some interesting coincidences, like the fact that he estimated a lift-off to the Moon would happen either in Texas or Florida, when actually it was from Florida controlled from Texas!

Globally, it is a rejuvenating experience to read his books: his faith in science and engineering, his depiction of righteous men, his fascination for nature are communicative: it makes the grey and gloomy days of winter a little brighter and hopeful.

Moreover his true admiration for the United States, which he considers the land of bold endeavors and true democracy, is also refreshing, because full of genuine tenderness. Can Jules Verne help rediscovering America?

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