Reviews: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

A novel about our future: Aronnax’s cruel Coming Of Age.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the 9/11, a terrorist attack that signaled the 21th Century through incredible senseless violence. Only some months ago, Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced. And also, it’s the 28th anniversary of me reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

As a twelve year old kid, I could not being bothered to read all the Long List of fishes and interminable data The Professor Aronnax and Conseil exposed to Captain Nemo and Ned Land, I was desperately reading page to page of exposition thinking “When something will happen? Is this an adventure book? Is this literature?

I didn’t know then that something like the Scifi Ghetto will mark all of Jules Verne’s writing, accused by critics of being ''only'' a HardScifi writer that paid little heed to the social ramifications of technology. But with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea Verne wrote in 1869 about Captain Nemo, a man from an oppressed country who had training in the west, and has enough money to pay a country’s national debt, whom decides to create an organization strong enough to fight an entire Western country through terrible acts of violence, and therefore is chased as a menace by all established countries in the West.

Also the real story is not about Captain Nemo, but about Wide Eyed Idealist Aronnax, a poor guy so enchanted with technology until he realizes the brutal destruction that comes with it. The epilogue is him asking forgiveness for his naïve pride. After innumerable Weapons Of Mass Destruction (atomic bombs, chemical warfare, airplanes!) , Bin Landen, the power of multinational corporations, The War On Terror, we are seeing the future that Verne wrote about.

I realize with true terror that Verne, that somber and depressed man, who had to be constantly corrected so his books can sell (because his first drafts were so pessimistic they always produced Darkness Induced Audience Apathy) knew the truth about the future, the future that now is our present.

This novel predicted a lot of things, and maybe the most terrible is that year by year, our technology advancement push us nearest to the edge: Humanity’s future is already set by his past, and like his past, It Got Worse.