From the Earth to the Moon

Opening line: ‘During the Federal War in the United States, a new and influential club was founded in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.’

Devoted to the progress of cannon and ammunition, the Gun Club (a Yankee enterprise) was responsible in part for the North’s victory over the South. But what is the Gun Club to do during peace time? Will the science of gunnery be lost? The president of the Gun Club rallies his troops with an irresistible idea: they shall build a cannon to fire a projectile to the moon!

The novel derives most of it humour from being a satire of nineteenth century American culture and science, and although being written in 1865, From the Earth to the Moon is also surprisingly uncanny in its subject of sending a man to the moon.

From the Earth to the Moon is a short, amusing novel by Jules Verne. The edition I have was printed in 1958, sold as ‘A Highly Topical Science Fiction Story’ by Digit, picked up on a whim from the used book table on Market Street on a sunny day. It certainly made for a diverting read on the 7.5-hour journey back home from Skye yesterday, though it wasn’t until two-thirds of the way through the book that I started to get really interested in the story. Until that point, all the plans of the Gun Club and its president had gone happily along without incident. That is, until they receive a telegram from a mysterious Frenchman…

Some years ago, on this very same blog, I discussed in a couple of posts (here and here) whether another one of Jules Verne’s works belonged on Kelly’s Essential Science Fiction reading list. I had concluded that Journey to the Center of the Earth did not, in fact, belong on the list, in my-very-humble opinion. Of course, it’s been four years since I’ve read the novel and I might change my opinion now, but I can say that I do think From the Earth to the Moon might be a possible replacement, thus keeping Jules Verne on the list of essential authors to read for the history of the genre — a role he ought to keep.

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