The Mysterious Island

Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island begins with great drama and continues through a roller-coaster ride of great fun, if not great logic. Convenient coincidences abound as our heroes land on and take dominion of their fortunately well-provisioned South Pacific island, on which they discover just about every animal, vegetable, and mineral that one might want. In their heads they bring with them an incredible wealth of practical science and engineering knowledge, precisely the right kinds of know-how to build an advanced technological society within a few years. It's hardly sustainable, of course: there are no women in the book, as Isaac Asimov observes in his charming Afterword essay in the edition I read. And luckily no one ever gets seriously sick.

But enough carping! Verne's story, even in a pedestrian English translation, flows well enough to keep the plot bubbling along briskly. His characters are cheerful as they apply names to everything they find. They're tireless as they overcome obstacles and build shelters, roads, bridges, telegraph lines, etc. They're enthusiastic as they mine ores, refine metals, concoct explosives, domesticate animals, and farm the land. The author's breadth of knowledge is amazing. And there are plot-development surprises enough to maintain a constant high interest level. Overall, The Mysterious Island is a romp, a Victorian-era Gilligan's Island—populated exclusively by Professors.

(cf. Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003-04-29), Rider Haggard (2003-06-27), Count of Monte Cristo (2007-06-08), Scarlet Pimpernel (2007-10-19), ...) - ^z - 2008-10-02

(correlates: CozyZone, ElusivePimpernel, TreasureKnowledge, ...)