The Essential Question

Over the past year and a half, I have been gradually working my way through Kelly’s Essential Science Fiction reading list (I like to think she made it because I requested it, but the truth was she had been working on it already). Anyhow, we have discussed each book as I’ve read it, reaffirming that work’s place on the list. I have recently read Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Since she hasn’t actually read it (Yes, sometimes I actually read a book before Kelly has. Not often, but it does happen.), Kelly asked me to determine whether it stood up to snuff. Sadly, I must say that Journey to the Center of the Earth does not belong on the Essential Science Fiction list.

“But Chera,” you may protest, “it chronicles a voyage of discovery and there is the undeniable use of geological science throughout.” Indeed, Verne makes liberal use of geological science, to the extent that the terminology is lost on the layman, and can actually be more of a detriment than an aid to the reader, but that is beside the point. The point is, that as I was reading the book, I was distracted by something remarkably missing. What was it that this book lacked that prevented it from being essential science fiction?

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