Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Jules Gabriel Verne was an influential 19th century French novelist who became famous for his adventure novels and Speculative Fiction. He is widely credited as being one of the pioneers of the Speculative Fiction genre (the others being Mark Twain, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. G. Wells). His works greatly influenced several generations of authors, and is often the basis for the modern Steampunk setting.Jules Verne wrote about space and undersea travel before such things were possible, and many early engineers and scientists said his works greatly influenced their careers. In fact, some of his works were eerily on-target predictions of the future in many ways... some more than others, naturally. He is also the seldom-credited inventor of the Transforming Mecha concept in the form of the Terror, Robur's newest flying machine in Master of the World, which can also become a sub or an armored car. Sadly, Verne being the stickler for realism that he was, the world would have to wait another century for the Japanese to be crazy enough to come up with the idea of the now ubiquitous humanoid robot mode.He also wrote short stories and some nonfiction works, including a seminal historical overview of famous explorers and their achievements. Intended originally as a quick side project to pad his permanently thin wallet, it eventually grew into a compendium rivaling in size even the Voyages Extraordinaires themselves.Jules Verne's works are notorious for being poorly translated into English, specifically by arrogant, censor-happy, blind idiots who can't do math. Beware, particularly with public domain translations. His works also suffered from Executive Meddling of his friend and publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel (for instance, changing Captain Nemo's origin to an Indian fighting the English from a Pole fighting the Russians, as France was allied with Russia at the time), who generally demanded happy endings for the protagonists. You see, Verne wasn't a cheerful and spunky man by a long shot, he always was more on a brooding side, and especially in his late years, his difficult family life and declining health had led him to grow increasingly bitter and misanthropic, which is evident from his later works, where he earned a Protection from Editors after Hetzel died and his son (who basically grew up at Verne's home and counted him as his favorite uncle) couldn't bring himself to insist on the changes he wanted.Another thing is that many of his posthumous works (Verne was a prolific author and there was a large backlog of unpublished novels after his death in 1905, which were published well into the Roaring Twenties) were extensively edited (up to the point of a complete rewrite) or even made from the whole cloth by his son and heir Michel Verne. Michel, while being in general a classic enfant terrible, and a cause for a lot of trouble for his father, by the end of his life made up with him and become his advisor and assistant. Due to the way he was working, Verne left a lot of unfinished novels in the various states of completion, from the simple outline to the almost complete manuscript, so Michel, who inherited his father's archive, completed and reedited these drafts himself as he saw fit, so the Verne scholars to this day are still trying to separate Michel's influence from Jules' last works. Fortunately Michel was a good enough writer for this matter to be only of academic importance.
Robur The Conqueror: The flying ship is carried by storm between Mount Erebus and Mount Terror and narrowly misses by a lucky helm handling the flames spewing from Mount Erebus' crater. The tone of the story makes people think it as some dashing flight through a canyon of fire. In Real Life the mountains are separated by more than 15 miles, Mount Terror has been extinct for at least 800 000 years and Mount Erebus' flames never jump for thousands of yards into the atmosphere.
Black Best Friend: Typical secondary characters in novels with larger casts. While he did use some of them as Plucky Comic Relief and they often served as a Token Minority, he almost always portrayed them in a positive light and as resourceful, intelligent and equal to white characters. Best example being Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen, where the Black characters who aid the hero are loyal, devoted and brave fighters. A notable exception is the black servant in Robur the Conqueror, portrayed as an abject coward and not particularly bright.
Born in the Wrong Century: Verne was really ahead of his own time. Many of his stories features inventions like space travel that are so accurately described that you would forget that many of these things weren't invented yet in his own lifetime!
Canon Welding/Massive Multiplayer Crossover: To a smaller extent on a few occasions. The Mysterious Island linked the previous novels In Search of the Castaways and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea with itself into a loose trilogy (via the characters of former pirate Ayrton and Captain Nemo). Verne's fans tend to call the three novels "The Sea Trilogy".
Some novels contain just a single-line link to other novels. For example, Robur the Conqueror mentions the cannon from The Begums Millions.
Creator Breakdown: A mild form happened later into the Verne's life. A combination of family problemsnote He grew progressively more distant from his wife, his son was a good-for-nothing playboy with atrocious business sense, and his nephew Gaston was mentally ill, bad health, partly stemming from the very same problems, and loss of some of the closest people to him — his brother Paul and his longtime friend and publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel — drove Verne to progressively darker views on the life and science, obvious in his later works.
Crippling the Competition: In Michel Strogoff, the eponymous character is blinded by having his eyes exposed to a heated iron by his foes.
Dark and Troubled Past: A lot of his characters, especially those who would've been seen as social outcasts by contemporary 19th century society. Many of them eventually get better and become The Atoner. Others, not so much...
Dystopia: Some of his novels feature varying examples of this. A good full-blown example is his early novel Paris in the Twentieth Century. One of the Ruritanias in The Begums Millions is clearly a Take That at the Prussian militaristic tradition and the German arms industry of the pre-World War One era (to the extent of giving off Putting on the Reich vibes, despite being written many decades before this trope came in full force). Propeller Island is an allegorical Humans Are Bastards novel, where the inhabitants of a mobile and hi-tech island utopia eventually end up in petty arguments and in-fighting, unwittingly damaging the island's drive and buoyancy mechanisms, sinking it in the process. Works with dystopian overtones were more common in his later life, when Creator Breakdown and Real Life Writes the Plot started settling in.
The most shining example is probably his posthumous novel The Incredible Adventures of Barsac's Expedition, set in the Darkest Africa, which he started shortly before his death in 1905 and which was completed by his son from Vere's outline some 10 years later. Its bleakness is comparable to the Paris in the Twentieth Century, though much of it probably stems from his son's touch — Michel Verne was fond of writing Dystopias.
Humans Are Bastards: Contrary to the public opinion, Verne didn't have any illusions of the human nature and wasn't that shy to show it in his works. This was greatly moderated by his close friend and publisher, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who had much more optimistic outlook and spared no effort in reigning in his friend's misanthropy.
Enfant Terrible: Verne's son Michel, who was for much of his life a good-for-nothing playboy, and even when he became more subdued with age he remained a total loser in business and private life, and his father had to constantly bail him out. What's interesting, despite Michel's erratic behavior, he later made up with his father and became an heir to his archive. As turned out later, he's also basically co-wrote much of Jules' posthumous works.
His nephew Gaston, the son of Jules' much beloved younger brother Paul, was mentally ill and once shot his uncle to the leg. Verne never completely recovered and walked with a heavy limp until the end. As he couldn't go to sea anymore due to his injury (and because he needed money to pay for one of Michel's many business blunders), he had to sell his favorite yacht, which he always used as a retreat from his difficult home life. This greatly contributed to his darker outlook on society and technological progress late in life.
Executive Meddling: As noted above, at a certain angle Hetzel could almost be counted as a Verne's co-author.
Foreign Culture Fetish: In his early years, he adored British culture and science, but later became Britophobic for some reason and shifted his focus to Americans. This is noticeable in his later novels, where American and French characters are often portrayed in a somewhat friendlier light than British ones (though the Brits are rarely villains and mostly end up as Jerk with a Heart of Gold characters at worst).
Glorious Mother Russia: Verne was somewhat interested in Russia — as was a significant part of the French society in XIX century — and often used it as his setting, but most of these books were largely informed by this trope: despite the interest, the mid-XIX century perception of Russia in France was largely Entertainingly Wrong. Verne himself never visited the country unlike his literary mentor Dumas-père — he planned a Black Sea tour during one of his Mediterranean cruises, but the trip in question was cut short (different sources give different reasons: from cholera outbreak in Odessa to a falling out with his wife).
Market-Based Title: The reason why many of his novels often have three or even four different names, with one of them being preferred in the country where it's being published.
Phlebotinum du Jour: Much, much of Verne's work feature incredibly widespread and, for its time, almost inconceivably advanced use of electricity. In fact, some of the technologies he describes are still largely out of our reach today.
The Begums Millions is also one of the very few known Verne's collaborative novels. The novel's outline was proposed by a famous revolutionary and a Paris Commune member Paschal Grousset, better known under his pen name of André Laurie. He has then just returned to France from his exile in New Caledonia and the US, and was in a bad need of an income. Verne, being an ardent French nationalist and somewhat sympathetic to the Commune, and thus completely in agreement with the book's themes, reworked the novel and published it under his name to help his colleague — Laurie later became a famous adventure writer.
This led to a rather awesome moment; the inventor of the first truly functional submarine, Simon Lake, was caught in a storm, and recalled a moment in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea where the Nautilus dives a few feet underwater to avoid the storm. He then repeated the technique and survived, and sent Verne a telegraph thanking him.
From Earth to the Moon has become somewhat famous for this, where Verne correctly predicted not only the location the astronauts would launch from, but the height and weight of the craft, the number of astronauts, and was accurate to being only about 2 and a half miles off from where the craft splashed down.
Vitriolic Best Buds: With Hetzel — their letters to each other show that both men rarely shied from rather pointed barbs, especially when discussing their Creative Differences, but they remained fast friends to the very end.
Ripped from the Headlines: Thomas Roch is actually a thinly veiled caricature of the famous French chemist Eugène Turpin, who invented the use of the picric acid (trinitrophenol, a common dye and antiseptic) as a military explosive and (reportedly, though the rumors later turned out to be false) toured various governments trying to sell them his patent, after the French military turned uninterested. Verne, a nationalist at heart, disapproved of Turpin's profiteering, and presented his character in a rather unpleasant fashion. Turpin, naturally, wasn't amused and sued Verne for defamation, but lost, largely because of the effort of the Verne's attorney, Raymond Poincaré, a future President of France.
Artistic License - Economics: The Incredible Adventures of Barsac's Expedition features a highly advanced city built by the villains in some inaccessible place in uncharted African lands. The sole way to finance the construction and a giant factory building most advanced technology is a string of bank robberies in Europe. One of the characters lampshades it by saying something along the lines of "how do they got you the money to build all this? The Big Bad has to be at least a billionaire."