First published in 1990. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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The Floating Island based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Although Jules Verne is rightly credited with being the ¿father of science fiction,¿ he was also an astute and biting social commentator. But unlike his younger contemporary H.G. Wells, whose social novels, Tono-Bungay, Ann Veronica, Kips, ¿Mr. Polly, etc., are set apart from his science fiction, Verne wrote his social novels within the context of his celebrated Extraordinary Voyages. In his 1895 novel The Floating Island Verne utilized the premise that worked so well in his most popular works. In such thrillers as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Robur the Conqueror, and Master of the World, to name just a few, a marvelous craft is invented by a rich and eccentric misanthrope, who tries to force world leaders to end their destructive ways-or else. His ship is inadvertently boarded by outsiders who are immediately impressed by the ingenious captain and his marvelous craft, and the trouble begins. In The Floating Island a group of traveling French string musicians, who call themselves The Quartette Party, are on their way to San Diego to give a concert. Somehow they get lost in Southern California, but are rescued by a stranger named Calistus Munbar. They soon arrive in a place called Madeleine Bay and discover to their consternation that they've boarded an enormous vessel, believing they were still on land, on its way across the Pacific Ocean. Indignant at first, they agree to stay aboard for a year, entertain, and receive a handsome reward at tour¿s end. Constructed by a group of American millionaires who¿d formed a venture called The Floating Island Company, of Madeleine Bay, California, Floating Island is an iron vessel made of thousands of caissons and metal slabs, held together by millions of rivets. It is oval shaped, four-and-a-half miles long, three miles wide, with a circumference of about eleven miles. It is impervious to inclement weather or artillery barrage, but subject to piratical attacks and plunder. Little food is grown in its shallow deck soil, so most sustenance is imported. Communication with the mainland via telephone and telegraph. Powered by huge dynamos, it travels at a speed of eight knots an hour thus taking up to a year to circumnavigate the Pacific. Floating Island is a veritable industrial wonder and supreme achievement. Here all material cares are banished and most labor eliminated. The rich simply rest, cruise and sightsee. Verne takes the envious reader to Hawaii, the Marquesas, Tahiti, Tonga and several other archipelagoes. But this ¿the pearl of the Pacific¿ and its population, most of them living in its capitol, Milliard City, are a quarrelling lot divided by their loyalty to two rival leaders. One is named Jem Tankerdon, the other Nat Coverly, and their dislike for one another is intense. One favors making Floating Island an industrial enterprise, the other a rural environment. The two factions refer to themselves as either the Starboardites or the Larboardites. This mutual and volatile enmity naturally leads to the novel¿s spectacular climax. The Floating Island is obviously a Jules Verne satire of late 19th century American life our Gilded Age. Earlier in the century the Frenchman viewed this country as a great nation with the potential to do wonderful things for humanity. But by the 1890s, in Verne¿s view, it had become a nation populated by greedy industrialist whose extravagant lifestyles separated them from a vast underclass-the majority of the population. The friction between the Starboardites and the Larboardites recalls our Civil War conflict. And Verne prophesied that rampant industrialization would destroy society as we know it. ¿When a journey begins badly it rarely ends well,¿ Verne hints in the opening sentence of The Floating Island. As in most Verne novels the characters are a bit flat or comical, but the action is always sustained and his prophetic gifts amazing. Though somewhat lengthy, with several pointless and dragging scenes, this is nonetheless a vastly entert