FFO: “No sir, it is evidently a gigantic narwhal”


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

‘The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake.’ – Under the Sea

As January is the start of Vintage Sci Fi I’ve gone for a classic this week:  Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  I didn’t even scratch the surface of covers this week – my giddy aunt, you can’t really go wrong with the classics can you, they’re always a feast of covers:


Next week – a cover that features a Knot/Knots

Future themes:

12th January – ‘More than one meaning have I’ – a cover featuring a Knot/knots

19th January – You know your A, B, Cs – a cover made up only of letters/words

26th January – “The grass is always greener on the other side of personal extinction” – a cover featuring grass

2nd February – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – a Psychedelic cover

9th February – ‘My what big teeth you have’ – a cover featuring a cloaked figure 

16th February – ‘Groovy baby’ – a cover that is: Retro

23rd February – “There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me”  – a cover featuring a staircase

2nd March – ‘The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing’ – a cover featuring something from Greek mythology

9th March – ‘…but Icarus flew too close’ – a cover featuring the Sun

16th March – ‘I got no strings to hold me down’ – a cover featuring a doll or puppet

23rd March – “When she was a child, the witch locked her away in a tower that had neither doors nor stairs.” – a cover featuring a Tower

30th March – ‘A little soil to make it grow’ – a cover featuring seeds/spores

6th April –  “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” – a cover featuring a family

13th April – ‘lawns and rocks and heather and different sorts of trees, lay spread out below them, the river winding through it’ –  a cover featuring a panorama

20th April – Where there’s fire there’s… – a cover featuring smoke

27th April – ‘Those darling byegone times… with their delicious fortresses, and their dear old dungeons, and their delightful places of torture’ – a cover that is positively mediaeval 

4th May-  ‘A Hand without a hand? A bad jape, sister.’ – a cover featuring a hand/hands

11th May – ‘Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth’ – a cover featuring a dinosaur/s

18th May – ‘Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;’ – a cover featuring a gravestone

25th May – Trip trap, trip trap, trip trap – a cover featuring footsteps

1st June – clinging and invasive – a cover featuring creeping vines

8th June – Raining Cats and Dogs – a cover featuring a stormy sky

Vintage Sci Fi: Book No.30

vintage-sf-badgeNo.30 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

As part of Vintage Sci Fi month being hosted by Little Red Reviewer I’ve given myself a small challenge to post a vintage book each day – one that I’ve read – and to highlight some of the covers.   Today’s choice, like yesterday’s, is a bit sneaky – I’m reading both these two books but haven’t finished or reviewed them yet – but they definitely need highlighting because they are great classics.  Today: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  First published in 1870 this is considered one of Verne’s most popular works.  My dad gave me this book and I’m kind of disappointed that I’ve not been able to finish it yet but I’ve been overtaken by life and other deadlines!

1873 Sampson Low:

1873 Sampson

1917 Geosset and Dunlop:

1917 Geosset

1958 The Children’s Press:

1958 Children's Press

1966 Pocket Books:

1966 Pocket Books

1976 Bantam:

1976 Bantam

1987 Galley Press: (I just love this one for some reason)

1987 Galley

1997 Acclaim books:

1997 Acclaim

2007 Dodo Press:

2007 Dodo Press

2014 Rock Paper Co:

2014 rock Paper

A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

Just finished reading A Journey to the Centre of the Earth which I have read as part of the Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Sci Fi (not a challenge).  I don’t suppose this story needs much introduction really.  In a nutshell this is a story of a professor and his nephew who, after discovering a mysterious parchment and uncovering the content embark upon a dangerous journey.  A journey to the centre of the earth.  Following in the footsteps of Arne Saknussemm – an explorer who made the same journey a few hundred years earlier.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for some time and so this none challenge gave me a little push in the right direction.  I really enjoyed this story and the way it’s told.  The story is told in the form of a memoir by the ever complaining nephew Harry.  Harry does not want to undertake the journey, he is very aware of the dangers and the idea of climbing down into a volcano doesn’t appeal.  To be honest Harry does come across as a little bit ‘cowardly’ at points but that being said I’m totally on his side in not wanting to climb into a volcano – extinct or/and definitely not otherwise!

This is a really imaginative story – the idea of coming up with the worlds beneath the crust of the earth – I’m not sure that anything has been done like that since this book?  I must admit that upon reading, and already having seen the film and a tv adaptation some time ago I did have preconceived ideas of what to expect and I suppose the element of surprise was stripped away in certain areas.  However, the book does still hold some surprises.

What I found really enjoyable was the different characters, the uncle, cool and stubborn who absolutely refuses to be thwarted in his goal to reach the centre of the earth and never doubts their ability to succeed.  Harry, who for the most part of the book, spends his time worrying about every conceivable way in which they may die upon the adventure whether by earthquake, volcanic eruption, starvation, lack of water or any number of other things that I won’t go into.  And Hans, the Eider Duck Hunter, who is their steady and reliable guide.  Strangely enough, and despite all their education and knowledge neither the professor or his nephew would never have stood any chance at all with their adventure if not for Hans – he is the definite unsung hero!  And, more to the point with these characters, is the way they interact with each other which at times is very amusing.  We get to hear all Harry’s inner thoughts, and then we hear him voicing these to his uncle, couched in ways not to aggravate (because the professor can have a bit of a temper) and then we hear the professor shoot Harry’s theories down in his calm, collected way.

The other thing I really liked was the old fashioned style of story telling and writing which lends the story a strangely amusing appeal.  One particular part of the story where the adventurers have uncovered a most fantastic cavern of huge proportions and with some strange inhabitants Harry, who is unable to believe what he is actually seeing but has no choice but to do so, says ‘I looked, shrugging my shoulders, decided to push incredulity to its very limits.  But whatever might have been my wish, I was compelled to yield to the weight of ocular demonstration.’ !  who on earth says that – it made me laugh (in other words seeing is believing).  That phrase is a definite keeper.

Now, in all this, one thing that you must be aware of is that although Jules Verne was considered to be something of an expert in this area of writing you clearly have to remember when this book was written.  Advances in science are always moving forward and therefore some of the speculation and theories of the Professor and Harry have dated or become completely null and void.  The other thing is you really do have to suspend some of your disbelief in certain areas – for example, the notion of building a raft out of bits and pieces of wood to set sail on a massive ocean – which can withstand the brunt of terrible weather – is a bit of a stretch, as is the method of expulsion of our travellers from their volcano.  But, don’t we suspend our disbelief in many of the works of fiction we read?  I suppose what makes you more critical of these stretches of imagination with this particular novel is that it comes across as very factual with all sorts of detail to try and lend it credulity so when you do read certain areas you can’t help thinking ‘no way’ – I suppose that shows the talent of Jules Verne really in that he carries you along on this tale and makes you feel it’s believable (but for a few parts).

All in all, a great read.

In conclusion, my particular book says on the jacket that Jules Verne is considered to be the father of science fiction.  Not sure if that’s something that everybody will agree with or not.  He certainly tells a good and imaginative story backed up with a lot of what was, then, considered to be believable science.  Personally, if I had to make a choice, I would probably veer towards HG Wells, simply because I think some of his works, and The Time Machine in particular, are so brilliant.  Maybe it’s down to the different writing styles and I suppose the fact that my copy of JttCoTE is a translation, and not possible the best one produced!  But there it is.

A fun read.

Rating B+