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Eric Brown
The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2005

PS Publishing
UK Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 1-904-61934-7
137 Pages; $40.00
Publication Date: 05-30-2005
Date Reviewed: 08-25-05

Index: Science Fiction  Fantasy  General Fiction

As much as I love to get involved in a big fat novel, I also enjoy a one-afternoon-on-the-back-porch novella. PS Publishing has been popping these out for a few years now, and not surprisingly they've got quite good at it. Eric Brown's first novella for PS, 'A Writer's Life', was a sort of quiet science-fiction detective story. His second time around, he aims for something rather different and nails it with 'The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne'. 'Voyage' is a grand pulp adventure, written in the style of Verne, about Verne but with Brown's full complement of current science and science fiction knowledge. Make sure you choose your afternoon wisely, because you won’t want to be interrupted.

'Voyage' begins as Jules Verne, harried by his chores as a bookkeeper and "general dogsbody", stops for a drink to help prepare himself for pulling another late night of figures and facts. In the bar, he meets Leroux, drunk as a skunk. Leroux claims to have once been employed by one "sub-mariner Captain Omen," and is now late for his appointment to return to his new Master. Verne offers to help him do so, and finds himself stepping through a door into the kind of adventure he has yet to write.

Brown's not working new territory in 'Voyage'. A short lived TV series worked from the same premise. What Brown does is to offer not only the adventures but the literary style of Verne in his novella, with a brisk pace that makes reading a delight. You'll find nods to works by Wells as well as Verne, and lots of fun grace notes in unexpected places. Just as a surface experience. 'Voyage' is every bit as much fun as you might hope it would be.

Brown doesn't work entirely on the surface, either. 'Voyage' is something of a dialogue between Verne's and Well's proto-SF and the current state of science and science fiction. He doesn't overdo this aspect however, focusing on the adventure and the style of Verne's work. There's just enough pith to this helmet to make it a satisfying fit.

'Extraordinary' describes the cover art by Les Edwards, and Ian Watson's thoughtful (but tempered) introduction. My advice is to ensure that you pick up the paperback version of this novella, and make sure that the day you choose to read it resembles the cover art. Somewhere in the clouds above, deep history and the far future are colliding, and as you read, it will spill out on the pages. Have a nice afternoon.

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