Years ago, I read a great book by Philip José Farmer titled The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, a cool steampunky book about why Fogg was actually making his round-the-world journey and the secrets behind it. It was very interesting, but what stood out for me was the appendix by H.W. Starr entitled “A Submersible Subterfuge or Proof Impositive”. Here, the writer pluckily dissembles the Nemo legend, providing firm evidence that he was not a haunted revolutionary but a greedy (and self-centered) pirate. That I still remember it three decades later points to how cleverly it was written, and the power of the pen.
I had hopes that this new collection of short stories would provide similar tangents on the Verne classics, stories that would complement, contrast, or conflict with the existing tales. And they did, mainly in a lukewarm manner. I found myself nonplussed with most of them. Many were just reheated tellings from a different point of view, others just steampunky excuses. A few just seemed to lack any point, having all the back thought of a Saturday morning cartoon. And really, I wanted it to be better. I did.
There were a few gems in the collection, mostly at the end of the set. Adams Robert’s posted up a nice one, a neat takeoff of Off on a comet which included the strangest alien life form I’ve recently read. Tim Lebbon’s tale of a mysterious torch was also pretty good, as was Molly Brown’s unique tale of teriforming. Maybe you’ll like others, or even more of them than I did. Tastes vary. I’m merely explaining how I felt.
Generally I’ll pick up collections of novellas and shorts such as this to while away a long airplane flight, the point being that you can always hop to the next story if the current one fails to please. Had I done that here, I’d have been through the 490 page collection in quick order.
Verne was a visionary. He deserves better spinoffs. As far as a shot at the moon, this one missed the mark.
>>>VERNE NEVER THOUGHT OF TIME TRAVEL. I’D LIKE HIM TO HAVE READ MINE. YOU TOO. HAVE A LOOK!<<<