Last Update 4/12/21

The Fur Country (1872) 

This is one of Verne’s more entertaining non-fantastic adventures. A party of men have been sent north of the Arctic Circle to build a fort. They make good progress until an earthquake changes their circumstances and they find themselves on a very large block of ice floating out to sea. They have some minor adventures and solve some apparently mysteries about the physical world. The characters are pretty shallow but sufficiently differentiated to support the story. 4/12/21

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, 1872

I don't think I ever actually read this before. Phileas Fogg accepts a bet that he can travel around the world in the stipulated time, thanks to the construction of a railway across India. If everything had gone well, he could have accomplished this easily enough, but there would not have been much story. He has various adventures, the chief of which involves the rescue of a young woman who is to be ritually burned alive in India. She accompanies Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, for the rest of the journey, which includes missed connections and other delays and dangers. Famously he believes he lost the bet by one day, but forgot that he crossed the international date line and therefore has won. This was fun and one of his best books. 3/16/21

Zorro and the Jaguar Warriors by Jerome Preisler, Forge, 1998

This new adventure of Zorro, the Robin Hood of old California, gives him a new villain to battle. Searching for two missing men, Zorro finds a mission that appears to be innocent but which is actually the headquarters of a mysterious and evil cult. Naturally they are no match for him, his whip, and his sword in the long run, although several adventures take place before we reach that point. The plot is entertaining but it felt oddly flat at times and the ending, of course, comes as no surprise at all. 2/19/21

The Child of the Cavern by Jules Verne, 1877

Also known as The Underground City and Black Diamonds. A mining community has fallen onto hard times when the coal mine is worked out, but years later an engineer decides that there is a new and undiscovered vein. The story is complicated by odd events suggesting that the mine is haunted. A young girl is found living in the mine - her origin is never explained - but she is not responsible. It is actually a former mine worker who has lost his mine and is behind all of the ghostly events. Kind of dull. 1/23/21

A Floating City by Jules Verne, 1871

The title refers to a very large steamboat crossing the Atlantic. It runs into a cyclone, among other difficulties. The passengers include a man convinced the ship has fatal flaws that will inevitably lead to disaster, the three members of a romantic triangle, which eventually leads to a fatal duel, and other eccentric characters. It is a mildly entertaining but unmemorable adventure story. 1/19/21

The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa by Jules Verne, 1872

The six people mentioned in the title travel together to South Africa to conduct a scientific experiment. After some minor adventures, their plans are disrupted by the outbreak of the Crimean War, which means that the two factions are technically at war with one another. As you might expect, this complicates matters considerably. Not Verne at his best, but it's not a very long novel and there are parts of it that are wryly humorous. 1/13/21