13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wildly entertaining story
While I naturally have long admired Jules Verne for his outstanding scientific vision and prodigious talent as a writer, I really had no idea that he could also write in such an entertaining and humorous fashion as revealed in this short novel. My memories of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea consist to a large degree of stretches of pages devoted to pure scientific language...
Published on 30 Nov 2002 by Daniel Jolley
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, but bland
So much of the beginning of the book reads like a manual that it is like reading the Old Testament (except that the measurements are not in cubits). I doubt anyone reads the bible for enjoyment either. I would have expected literature to have moved on in the thousands of years since, but Verne obviously hankered for the old days. It is drier than a pack of Spanish...
Published on 28 Dec 2011 by G. Heywood
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wildly entertaining story,
While I naturally have long admired Jules Verne for his outstanding scientific vision and prodigious talent as a writer, I really had no idea that he could also write in such an entertaining and humorous fashion as revealed in this short novel. My memories of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea consist to a large degree of stretches of pages devoted to pure scientific language that could be hard to get through, but this book is an easy read full of action and laugh-out-loud commentary. Don't get me wrong, though--the science is here, and Verne goes into a lot of details concerning the project from conception to reality, walking us through all of the steps involved in constructing the cannon and its projectile. Surely, though, Verne knew that the very idea of launching men to the moon via a superhuge cannon was not really an idea that could work; as such, he lets the story and especially his characterizations of the main players in the drama, take center stage over the science. What we end up with is a study of sorts of the American character, a tribute to the power of imagination and dreaming, the glorification of science, and a very funny story about some really amazing characters.
I can not begin to relate the number of truly humorous anecdotes and observations filling the pages of this story. Barbicane, J. T. Maston, and Michel Ardan are quite memorable characters, and their acts and exploits will entertain you to no end. Verne introduces subtle but hilarious remarks and observations throughout the entire book that will make you laugh out loud. If the idea of hard scientific theorizing has scared you away from Verne, pick this book up and be wholly entertained. I would recommend, though, that you pick up a copy that also contains the sequel, Round the Moon. This first book essentially culminates in the firing of the men into space inside the projectile, and you will certainly want to read the story of what happens to the men afterward. I now have to find a copy of the second book, so I urge others to save yourselves time and buy both stories in one package.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Verne's lesser-known gems,
Apparently considered a poorer relation to the more famous 20,000 Leagues and Around the World in 80 Days, I found this at least as enjoyable to read. It moved along at quite a pace, and although the technical details meant that it read a bit like a maths book for a few pages early on and to some, it could be considered a bit 'Boy's Own', some amusing (by today's standards) historical facts and general action, meant that by the end, I was reading it faster and with some excitement. I wish I had read it when I was at school. Recommended.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Verne the Master story teller,
I have recently started to read Verne's novels and have found them to be very entertaining indeed. Although From the Earth to the Moon is not perhaps as well written as Around the World In Eighty Days, or Twenty thousand Leagues Under The Sea, it is still worth dipping into. The characterisation is not brilliant, but the story itself is entertaining. Anyone who is a fan of the birth of science fiction as a genre should read this book.
Verne attempts to explain exactly how to send a group of men to the moon with scientific reasoning. It is fascinating reading about the various opinions that existed at the time regarding who inhabited the moon, what it was made of and various other strange questions that we take for granted nowadays.
The ending to the novel was not what I expected and should leave the reader satisfied. A charming read.
5.0 out of 5 stars didnt enjoy,
sorry didn't enjoy this book long before our time and to far fetched to enjoy, compared to his other books
5.0 out of 5 stars Jules verne,
If you like Jules Verne and you like a good read you will enjoy this book came very quick through the post.
5.0 out of 5 stars great,
the book was brand new and is really nice buying the whole set for myself as like them all and want to read them.
4.0 out of 5 stars BLAST OFF?!,
THIS REVIEW CONSIDERS BOTH 'FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON' & 'AROUND THE MOON' SEPARATELY.
A REVIEW OF `FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON' BY JULES VERNE
`From The Earth To The Moon'* (1865) is a novel that should ultimately fail to hold any real purpose or interest in the 21st century. After all, its premise (Is it possible to send a projectile to the moon?) is utterly redundant. Not only did Neil Armstrong's 1969 steps prove that such a feat could be achieved, but the method suggested in `From The Earth To The Moon' (firing a capsule into space from a gigantic artillery gun) was scientific nonsense. With all of these facts stacked against it, why then is the novel still intriguingly readable and entertaining?
The answer surely lies in the fact Jules Verne appears to have written `From The Earth To The Moon' with his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek. Rather than offer a serious exercise in speculative lunar exploration, it is more cock-eyed study of the human obsessions of war, imperialism and personality cults that permeated the late 19th century. Indeed, it would seem that Verne himself did not believe that a voyage to the moon was actually possible and overwhelmed his reader with a tidal wave of scientific `facts' that served to mask some glaring omissions in his supposed theory (the most blatant being that the projectile would be squashed to pancake thinness upon firing!). Let us therefore look at the themes that the book satirises.
War and imperialism certainly get a good kicking in `From The Earth To The Moon'. The whole idea of launching a projectile to the moon stems from the frustration of the USA's artillery manufacturers following the end of the American Civil War. In such a way, the challenge of building an outsized cannon replaces their desire to design military weapons. Verne uses the imaginary `Gun Club' organisation as the think tank behind the lunar plans. The way that he has his industrialists talking suggests that they retain an entirely detached attitude to their work in terms of human compassion. What they crave is the challenge and the financial rewards. The target is purely an irrelevance. `From The Earth To The Moon' therefore offers a scathing but humorous attack upon the attitudes that were to result in two world wars in the 1900s.
Perhaps even more perceptive is Verne's ridicule of the personality cults that had transformed (and would transform) national leaders into figures of near god-like stature. This is most obviously lampooned in the public's reaction to the posing and posturing of an absurd Frenchman, Michel Ardan, who volunteers to become the world's first astronaut. Thanks to the telegram and newspaper coverage, within weeks of his heroic announcement, a wealth of Ardan inspired merchandise is ready for the hungry man-on-the-street's purchase. At times, `From The Earth To The Moon' resembles an episode of `The Simpsons' in which the wider public is swept along in wild waves of mass over-reaction. As such, the novel does seem to be rather ahead of its time. Writing of which, Verne's choice of Florida as the launch base of the space capsule turns that peninsula into the fictional space station / theme park that it would later become.
However, `From The Earth To The Moon' remains a flawed novel by virtue of the impossibility of its proposed journey. Indeed, the afore-mentioned over-loading of scientific evidence is tiresome and horribly slows down the pace of the narrative. Nevertheless, overlooking its failings, `From The Earth To The Moon' offers enough surprises and produces enough wry smiles** to retain the reader's interest far beyond expectations. It also offers a wonderful `cliff hanger' that sets up the sequel - `Around The Moon'- with real promise. Therefore, whilst not being truly stellar entertainment `From The Earth To The Moon' creates enough atmosphere to make second orbit well worth trying.
Barty's Score: 7/10
* Interestingly, Verne's premise of `From The Earth To The Moon' is an exact negative/mirror image of his previous year's magnificent `Journey To The Centre Of The Earth'.
** In 1865, Verne tells us that Russia was happy to pump money into the international funding of the mission. How different things would turn out to be in the actual space race of the 1960s!
A REVIEW OF `AROUND THE MOON' by JULES VERNE
`Around The Moon' (1870) is Jules Verne's sequel to his `From the Earth to the Moon' published five years earlier. It picks up exactly where its predecessor left off, with our 3 intrepid astronauts (Barbican, Nicholl and Michel Arden) having been fired by a giant cannon towards the moon in their bullet-shaped projectile. Having been spotted from Earth hovering in the moon's orbit, how will they fare? Will they become the first lunar explorers? Will they survive the journey? Will they ever set foot on terrestrial soil again?
I must confess to having approached `From the Earth to the Moon' with some trepidation, wrongly assuming that it would prove to be a redundant tale, given the events of 1969 and beyond. However, to my pleasant surprise, Jules Verne delivered a wry fable about celebrity and mankind's ceaseless ambition. Sadly, `Around The Moon' succumbs to most of the pitfalls that the first volume avoided. It is not a bad book. Instead, it has failed to stand the test of time and would benefit from a considerable abridgement. Allow me to briefly explain why:
1. Far too much of the novel is set within the confined environment of the space craft. In fact, the first 19 chapters take place nowhere else. At first (with descriptions of the novel way of generating oxygen, etc.), this makes for fun reading. However, it soon breeds a woeful lack of incident. Indeed, if `Around The Moon' were a play, most of the `action' would involve one, two or three or its leading men simply wandering over to a window and looking out. This point is emphasised by the book's illustrations. Although beautifully drawn, most are inevitably extremely similar, with a certain `spot the difference' quality about them.
2. Because the bulk of the story takes place aboard the projectile, very little actually happens and the narrative disintegrates into a series of hypothetical conversations and lengthy descriptions of actual lunar studies by renowned astronomers from the past. Whilst this might have held some genuine interest in the late 19th century, such passages are arguably less-than-captivating today.
3. Perhaps most frustrating of all, the story fails to emphasise the "Will they? Won't they?" predicament of the travellers. Rather than show a determination to reach the moon and/or return to Earth, our three astronauts seem content to adopt a ce-sera-sera attitude throughout their journey. Amidst an incredible story, this phlegmatic mindset is perhaps the most unbelievable element of all.
Nevertheless, despite its failings, `Around The Moon' offers flashes of the creativity and verve that made its predecessor such a delightful read. Indeed, the opening chapters offer the truly bizarre phenomenon of a pancake-thin dead dog orbiting the space craft! Likewise, as soon as the story returns to Earth, the pace and incident pick up with immediate effect. In fact, had the final 10% of the story been stretch to become the final 50% of the book, it would have been a far more balanced and satisfying read.
Therefore, my advice would be to accept the limitations of `Around The Moon', skim read the acres of astronomical and mathematical gobbledegook, and enjoy the odd flash of magic. After a brilliant first volume, `Around The Moon' avoids a crash landing, but fails to truly take off.
Barty's Score: 6.5 / 10
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preparations for a cannon shot to the moon.,
By A Customer
This is a prophetic, both scientifically and socially, novel by Jules Verne that was first published in 1865. Verne was a satiric critic whose novel strongly hints at the future military industrial complex. This story depicts a club of artillery experts, the Baltimore Gun Club, bemoaning the end of the U. S. Civil War. The President of the Club, Impey Barbicane, comes up with a new project: a cannon shot to the moon. The idea for having passengers comes from a Frenchman. Most of the novel is concerned with the preparations for the launch which occurs at the end of the book. The story continues in Verne's sequel, "Round the Moon" (1870). It's amazing how many things Verne correctly predicted. Verne was perhaps the first author who attempts to make his novels agree with the science known at his time, although there are still mistakes. Verne is also making a number of political points as well in comparing the freedom observed in the U. S. and the real lack of such freedom in France of the 1860s. Readers should also note that Walter James Miller has provided an annotated edition of this novel in 1978 that is excellent.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent example of pragmatic use of knowledge of the time,
By A Customer
From the Earth to the Moon is an example of hard science fiction, were, as with all Jules Verne's works, the author takes the accepted scientific knowledge of the time, and extrapolates its use in a most real and convincing fashion. He also manages to bring human flaws, such as professional ambition and jealously, into the story.
The very fact that the scientific knowledge used in this book is somewhat different from currently accepted knowledge, makes it all the more enjoyable as one discovers the elements the have been updated by discover and experiment. It also makes on wonder how much of our current accepted scientific knowledge will be proven wrong and superceded by newer theories.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part Fiction, Part Premonition, Pure Verne,
By A Customer
From The Earth To The Moon, and its companion, Round The Moon are seamless in storyline and meticulous in detail. Character development was not only thorough but had a sense of optimism, from Barbicane's vision to Ardan's intelligent arrogance. This book was no doubt enjoyable upon its first release, but the events take on new meaning when read in our age. The entire story seemed somewhat uplifting, especially when compared with something depressing like Paris in the 20th century, which unfortunately was also prophetic. A reader should note that while the concept is similar to The First Men in the Moon by Wells, the storyline immediately diverges from its counterpart. While Wells' work is pure, though enjoyable, fantasy, Verne's uncanny sense of future events keeps the reader grounded while reading what was at the time utter speculation.
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