Saturday, June 2, 2012


Jules Verne: Pre-Pulp Pioneer Extraordinaire

JulesVerne is sometimes called the grandfather of modern science fiction. That's not exactly accurate. Verne’s novels typically don’t extrapolate into scientific technology beyond what was actually available at the time he wrote them. Instead, Verne was more of an adventure writer, whose novels are grounded in the world of science. They also were tales of adventure in exotic settings. His scientist-protagonists prefigure many of the heroes that later populated pulp magazines -- Doc Savage, Captain Future, and many of Robert Heinlein and Van Vogt's science heroes -- as well as later, pulp-influenced characters like Batman, the Challengers of the Unknown, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and others.
Also, many of Verne’s novels originally saw print as serial publications in a magazine published by his book publisher, Jules Hetzel, and titled Magasin d’Éducation et de Récréation. So, Verne is linked to the pulp writers of the 20th Century by the medium his work first appeared before the public.
Hetzel would serialize one of Verne's novels in the Magasin, then the collected chapters would be published in book form by Hetzel under the series umbrella, Voyages Extraordinaires. As stated on Wikipedia (but which I've seen quoted other places as well), "Jules Verne remains to this day the most translated science fiction author in the world (second only to Agatha Christie as a fiction author), one of the most continually reprinted, and the most widely read French author. Though often scientifically outdated, his Voyages still retain their sense of wonder that appealed to readers of his time, and still provoke an interest in the sciences among the young." More than fifty volumes of the Voyages Extraordinaires were published. Verne's enduring popularity more than a century after his death is evident in the new translations of his works that continue to appear -- in recent years, a number of his novels have appeared in English for the first time.

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