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The Floating Island: The Pearl of the Pacific

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A French string quartet traveling from San Francisco to their next engagement in San Diego, is diverted to Standard Island. Standard Island is an immense man-made island designed to travel the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The wealth of residents of the island can only be measured in millions. The quartet is hired to play a number of concerts for the residents during their tour of the islands (Sandwich, Cook, Society, etc.) of the South Pacific. The island seems an idyllic paradise; however, it is an island ...
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A French string quartet traveling from San Francisco to their next engagement in San Diego, is diverted to Standard Island. Standard Island is an immense man-made island designed to travel the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The wealth of residents of the island can only be measured in millions. The quartet is hired to play a number of concerts for the residents during their tour of the islands (Sandwich, Cook, Society, etc.) of the South Pacific. The island seems an idyllic paradise; however, it is an island divided in two. The left half's population is led by Jem Tankerdon and is known as the Larboardites. The right half's population is led by Nat Coverley and is known as the Starboardites. Despite the obstacles encountered on their journey, the two parties have a disagreement that threatens the future of the island itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410100634
  • Publisher: Press Holdings International
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Jules Verne
Jules Verne
A legendary French author and pioneer of the science fiction genre, Jules Verne wrote visionary tales of space, air, and underwater adventure in classics like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).


The creator of the roman scientifique, the popular literary genre known today as science fiction, Jules Gabriel Verne was born in the port town of Nantes, France, in 1828. His father, Pierre, was a prominent lawyer, and his mother, Sophie, was from a successful ship-building family. Despite his father's wish that he pursue law, young Jules was fascinated by the sea and all things foreign and adventurous. Legend holds that at age eleven he ran away from school to work aboard a ship bound for the West Indies but was caught by his father shortly after leaving port. Jules developed an abiding love of science and language from a young age. He studied geology, Latin, and Greek in secondary school, and frequently visited factories, where he observed the workings of industrial machines. These visits likely inspired his desire for scientific plausibility in his writing and perhaps informed his depictions of the submarine Nautilus and the other seemingly fantastical inventions he described.

After completing secondary school, Jules studied law in Paris, as his father had before him. However, during the two years he spent earning his degree, he developed more consuming interests. Through family connections, he entered Parisian literary circles and met many of the distinguished writers of the day. Inspired in particular by novelists Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (father and son), Verne began writing his own works. His poetry, plays, and short fiction achieved moderate success, and in 1852 he became secretary of the Théâtre lyrique. In 1857 he married Honorine Morel, a young widow with two children. Seeking greater financial security, he took a position as a stockbroker with the Paris firm Eggly and Company. However, he reserved his mornings for writing. Baudelaire's recently published French translation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the days Verne spent researching points of science in the library, inspired him to write a new sort of novel: the roman scientifique. His first such novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, was an immediate success and earned him a publishing contract with the important editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel.

For the rest of his life, Verne published an average of two novels a year; the fifty-four volumes published during his lifetime, collectively known as Voyages Extraordinaires, include his best-known works, Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Begun in 1865 and published to huge success in 1869, Twenty Thousand Leagues has been translated into 147 languages and adapted into dozens of films. The novel also holds the distinction of describing a submarine twenty-five years before one was actually constructed. As a tribute to Verne, the first electric and nuclear submarines were named Nautilus. In 1872 Verne settled in Amiens with his family. During the next several years he traveled extensively on his yachts, visiting such locales as North Africa, Gibraltar, Scotland, and Ireland. In 1886 Verne's mentally ill nephew shot him in the leg, and the author was lame thereafter. This incident, as well as the tumultuous political climate in Europe, marked a change in Verne's perspective on science, exploration, and industry. Although not as popular as his early novels, Verne's later works are in many ways as prescient. Touching on such subjects as the ill effects of the oil industry, the negative influence of missionaries in the South Seas, and the extinction of animal species, they speak to concerns that remain urgent in our own time.

Verne continued writing actively throughout his life, despite failing health, the loss of family members, and financial troubles. At his death in 1905 his desk drawers contained the manuscripts of several new novels. Jules Verne is buried in the Madeleine Cemetery in Amiens.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Good To Know

In 1848, Verne got his start writing librettos for operettas.

When Verne's father found out that his son would rather write than study law, he cut him off financially, and Jules was forced to support himself as a stockbroker -- a job he hated but was fairly good at. During this period, he sought advice and inspiration from authors Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.

Verne stands as the most translated novelist in the world -- 148 languages, according to UNESCO statistics.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 8, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nantes, France
    1. Date of Death:
      March 24, 1905
    2. Place of Death:
      Amiens, France
    1. Education:
      Nantes lycée and law studies in Paris

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2007

    A reviewer

    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

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