3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
significant in its technological predictions, but a mediocre novel,
This review is from: Paris in the Twentieth Century (Hardcover)This is a highly significant novel because of its discovery nearly a century after the author's death by his great-grandson. It makes very accurate technological predictions based by extrapolation on developments up to the 1860s. However, in other fields, the predictions are very much less accurate, for example in this reality most of the major states (France, England, Russia and Italy are mentioned, but not Prussia/Germany) have disarmed due to "perfection of engines of warfare" and have done away with the armed forces and the whole military state, implying that there has been world peace throughout the 20th century. Interestingly, the only weapons mentioned are swords and sabres, whereas in reality this was written only a few years before the mass shootings and shellings of the Franco-Prussian war and the siege of Paris. Another difference is that British landowners have been buying up large tracts of land in France to the extent that the French fear for the very ownership of their own country.
The society depicted here, while based on accurately predicted technology, goes to the extreme of having science and technology completely vanquish literature and the arts in a way that mercifully has not happened in reality, such that, for example, Victor Hugo is totally unheard of in the Paris of 1960.
These interesting facets aside, there is little room left for actual plot in a novel of 200 pages printed in a large and well-spaced font (with a few line drawings), and the actual story is mediocre, the characters flat and one-dimensional, though the ending is sad and poignant.
Overall, this book is really for Verne completists, or those with an interest in predictive fiction, or lost novel curiosities. Those new to Verne should definitely first read one of his famous classics.