Earlier in 2005, Eric Brown co-edited, with Mike Ashley, ‘The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures’, published in the UK by Constable & Robinson (amazon.co.uk) and by Carroll & Graf in the USA (amazon.com). That featured over 20 stories, mostly by British writers of high repute (ie Stephen Baxter, Brian Stableford, Ian Watson, Adam Roberts), although some by overseas-types of high repute (ie Paul Di Filippo), and some by others (ie F Gwynplaine MacIntyre).
One contribution was by Peter Crowther, of PS Publishing, so he is obviously a Verne afficianado, and hence would not have needed much persuading to publish a longer homage than might otherwise have been possible in the Mammoth collection.
Whilst the majority (perhaps all, as I have yet to read it) of the stories in the Mammoth collection featured Verne’s (now out of copyright) characters in new adventures, in this PS Publishing chapbook, Brown posits an adventure for Jules Verne himself.
Ian Watson provides a short introduction, which looks at the contrasting cases of Verne and Wells for the title of Father of Science Fiction, and then Brown then takes the reader on an adventure as seen through Verne’s young eyes.
True to life, Verne starts the story in a relatively menial job in Paris in his early 20s. However, a chance meeting in a bar leads to Verne embarking on a most strange journey.
Not being a Verne scholar, I could not vouchsafe accurately for the extent to which all the characters draw on Verne’s, although it is possible to ascertain that the fictional Verne is transported to the future to meet, Robur, the Master of the World, is indeed one of the real Verne’s creations link
Verne has been summoned to the far future by none other then M Robur, who is desirous of having Verne write his biography. Why? Because M Leroux was so inspired by reading Verne’s tales of Leroux, that he grew up deterimined to become Master of the World, and took that name. A perplexing conundrum approachs, as this fictional Verne realises that Robur is an egotistical mass murderer – what has he created, albeit unwittingly through his own writing? And what of the fact that he has yet to have begun writing his stories in his own time line?
Brown resolves the problem through the use of quantum alternate Vernes, and not only does Verne get the girl, but also the meek, or rather, the alien Keem, do inherit the Earth. (Did Verne have a penchant for awful puns, or is this purely down to Brown?)
Whilst I have a suspicion that the 498 pages of the Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures may well never get read, I can confirm that the slimmer volume in hand was a most enjoyable read (concluding pun notwithstanding) in which Brown gives a convincing impersonation of M Verne. Certainly a better showpiece of Brown’s ability than his recent ‘Approaching Omega’