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Life Imitates Art?

The Inventors of Science Fiction

Through the centuries art had been financed by the Royals and the rich. From medieval times artist, sculptures and painters recorded the events, battles and the personalities of the day. Whether Kings, Queens, Princes, Popes and Millionaires to pastoral landscapes all needed to be recorded and remembered for all time. Stories were written about the past and the present with little thought to what the future could possibly hold.

The change in attitudes may have contributed by the birth of 'Mechanised Warfare'. The industrialised nations in Europe and America flooded the battlefields of World War One with new inventions. Man had only just begun to fly and suddenly there were men dropping bombs, by hand from biplanes. The machine gun was in its infancy and it found its way to the frontlines. Chemical weapons were also brand new and immediately put to use as mustard gas blinding troops on both sides.

The powerful impact of machines to change the twentieth century civilisation became apparent. To the scientists, politicians and visionary writers of the day it became obvious that technology will play a dominant role in Mans destiny.

At the begining of the 20th century there was a great interest of scientific

investigation into interplanatery spaceflight, inspired by fictional writers such as

Jules Verne and H.G Wells.

Jules Verne (1828-1905)

Jules Gabrial Verne, was a French Novelist. Vernes largest body of

work is the ‘Voyages Extraordinaires’. His publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel had long

planned a family magazine which combined science fiction and scientfic education.

The first publication was ‘Five Weeks in a Balloon’ in 1863, which has nothing to do

with balloons. Their professional relationship was strained during the writing of

‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’ in 1870, but they continued working

together and published ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ in 1864, ‘From the Earth

to the Moon 1865’. Vernes titles include ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ which first

appeared in 1872.

On March 24 1905 while ill with diabetes Verne died at his home in Amiens, France.

His son Michael Verne, oversaw publication of his final novels ‘Invasion of the Sea’

and ’The Lighthouse at the End of the World’ after his death.

The original book covers of Jules Verne's early books.


Movies Inspired by Jules Verne.

Masters of the World (1961)

Mad inventor Capt. Robur (Vincent Price) kidnaps a team on a government expedition to investigate a mysterious crater in Pennsylvania. The team is taken aboard Robur's spectacularly engineered air ship, the "Albatross," which Robur plans to fly around the world to various military installations in his desperate desire to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, thereby bringing about world peace. The kidnapped team's leader, John Strock (Charles Bronson), responds by planning an uprising.

Cast and characters
  • Vincent Price as Robur

  • Charles Bronson as John Strock

  • Henry Hull as Prudent

  • Mary Webster as Dorothy Prudent

  • David Frankham as Philip Evans

  • Richard Harrison as Alistair (Helmsman)

  • Vito Scotti as Topage (Airship Chef)

  • Wally Campo as First Mate Turner

  • Ken Terrell as Crewman Shanks


Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959)

The story begins in May 1863, at the Lidenbrock house in Hamburg, Germany. Professor Otto Lidenbrock dashes home to peruse his latest antiquarian purchase, an original manuscript of an Icelandic saga written by Snorre Sturluson, "Heimskringla", a chronicle of the Norwegian kings who ruled over Iceland. While leafing through the book, Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel find a coded note written in runic script along with the name of a 16th-century Icelandic alchemist, Arne Saknussemm. (This novel was Verne's first to showcase his love of cryptography; coded, cryptic, or incomplete messages would appear as plot devices in many of his works, and Verne would take pains to explain not only the code itself but also the mechanisms for retrieving the original text.) Lidenbrock and Axel transliterate the runic characters into Latin letters, revealing a message written in a seemingly bizarre code. Lidenbrock deduces that the message is a transposition cipher, but achieves results no more meaningful than the baffling original.

Professor Lidenbrock locks everyone in the house and forces himself and Axel to go without food until he cracks the code. Axel discovers the answer when fanning himself with the deciphered text: Lidenbrock's deciphering was correct but simply needed to be read backward in order to reveal a paragraph written in rough Latin. Axel tries to hide his discovery from Lidenbrock, afraid of the professor's maniacal reactions, but after two days without food, he knuckles under and reveals the secret to his uncle. Lidenbrock translates the paragraph, a 16th-century note written by Saknussemm, who claims to have discovered a passage to the center of the earth via the crater of Snæfellsjökull in Iceland. In what Axel calls bastardized Latin, the deciphered message reads:

The Runic cryptogram

In Sneffels Yokulis craterem kem delibat umbra Scartaris Julii intra calendas descende, audas viator, et terrestre centrum attinges. Kod feci. Arne Saknussemm.

which, when translated into English, reads:

Go down into the crater of Snaefells Jökull, which Scartaris's shadow caresses just before the calends of July, O daring traveler, and you'll make it to the center of the earth. I've done so. Arne Saknussemm


A man of astonishing impatience, Lidenbrock departs for Iceland immediately, taking the reluctant Axel with him. The latter repeatedly tries to reason with his uncle, describing the dangers of descending into a volcano that could very possibly reactivate, then putting forward several accepted scientific theories as to why the journey is flatly impossible. The professor ignores Axel's arguments, and after a swift trip via Kiel and Copenhagen, they arrive in Reykjavík. There they hire as their guide Icelander Hans Bjelke, a Danish-speaking eiderduck hunter, then travel overland to the base of Snæfellsjökull.

In late June they reach the volcano, which has three craters. According to Saknussemm's message, the route to the earth's center is via the crater that's touched by the noontime shadow of a nearby mountain peak, Scartaris, just before the end of June. But at that point the weather proves too cloudy for any shadows, and Axel hopes this will force his uncle to abandon the project and go home. Alas for Axel, the sun finally comes out, and Scartaris's shadow indicates the correct crater.

Reaching the bottom of the crater, the three travelers set off into the bowels of the earth, encountering many dangers and strange phenomena. After taking a wrong turn, they run short of water and Axel nearly perishes, but Hans saves them all by tapping into a subterranean river, which shoots out a stream of water that Lidenbrock and Axel name the "Hansbach" in the guide's honor. Later on, Axel becomes separated from his companions and gets lost deep in the earth. Luckily an odd acoustic phenomenon allows him to communicate with the others from a distance, and they are soon reunited.

Édouard Riou's illustration of an ichthyosaurus battling a plesiosaurus.

Following the course of the Hansbach, the explorers descend many miles and reach a cavern of colossal size. It's a genuine underground world that's lit by electrically charged gas near its ceiling, is filled by a deep subterranean ocean, and surrounded by a rocky coastline that's covered with petrified tree trunks, the fossils of prehistoric mammals, and gigantic living mushrooms. The travelers build a raft out of semipetrified wood and set sail. The professor names the ocean the "Lidenbrock Sea" and their takeoff point "Port Gräuben", after his goddaughter back home (whom Axel will marry at the novel's end). While at sea they encounter the prehistoric fish Pterichthys from the Devonian Period and giant marine reptiles from the age of dinosaurs, including a large Ichthyosaurus, which battles and defeats a turtle shelled Plesiosaurus. After the conflict between these monsters, the party reaches an islet with a huge geyser, which Lidenbrock names "Axel Island".

A lightning storm threatens to destroy the raft and its passengers, but instead surprises them by apparently throwing them back onto the very coastline they'd previously left. But this section of coast, Axel discovers, is the site of an enormous fossil graveyard, including bones from the pterodactyl, Megatherium, and mastodon, plus the preserved body of a man. Nephew and uncle then venture into a forest featuring primitive vegetation from the Tertiary Period; in its depths they are stunned to find a prehistoric humanoid more than twelve feet in height and watching over a herd of mastodons. Axel isn't sure he has actually seen the creature or not, and he argues with Lidenbrock over whether it's a manlike ape or an apelike man. In any case, fearing it may be hostile, they quickly leave the forest.

Continuing to explore the coastline, the travelers find a passageway marked by Saknussemm as the way ahead, but unfortunately it has been blocked by a recent cave-in. The adventurers lay plans to blow the rock open with gun cotton, meanwhile paddling their raft out to sea to avoid the blast. On executing this scheme, however, they find a seemingly bottomless pit beyond the impeding rock and are swept into it as the sea rushes down the huge open gap. After spending hours descending at breakneck speed, their raft reverses direction and rises inside a volcanic chimney that ultimately spews them into the open air. When they regain consciousness, they learn that they've been ejected from Stromboli, a volcanic island located off Sicily.

The trio returns to Germany, where Axel and Lidenbrock deduce that the electric storm at sea had reversed the poles of their compass — in actuality they hadn't been driven backward but forward to a new shore notable for containing gigantic hominids. At home in Hamburg again, they enjoy great acclaim; Professor Lidenbrock is hailed as one of the great scientists of the day, Axel marries his sweetheart Gräuben, and Hans returns to his peaceful, eiderdown-hunting life in Iceland.

Cast and characters
  • James Mason as Sir Oliver Lindenbrook

  • Pat Boone as Alec McEwan

  • Diane Baker as Jenny Lindenbrook

  • Arlene Dahl as Carla Göteborg

  • Peter Ronson as Hans Bjelke

  • Thayer David as Count Saknussemm

  • Bob Adler as Groom (Credited as Robert Adler)

  • Alan Napier as Dean

  • Ivan Triesault as Professor Göteborg

  • Alex Finlayson as Professor Boyle