One of the earliest pieces of science fiction composed for contemporary novel readers, “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” digs not only the crust of the actual Earth, but also take readers’ mind to places that no human has ever been before.
Vividly written, the novel takes us into the weird but astounding journey of German professor Otto Lidenbrock, a renowned geologists of his time, his nephew Axel and a tour guide named Hans. The three men take a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the Icelandic volcano Snaefellsjokull, believing that the unexplored volcano will lead them towards the very center of the Earth. As they descend into the volcano, weird creatures including ancient humans, humongous creatures and plants, and other bizarre beings appear.
With overwhelming geological details about the inner parts of the volcano, the author gives us clear pictures of the terrains of Iceland and other parts of Europe as Otto sets out his race to reach the Earth’s core being other folks in his profession follow.
Otto’s determination to go deep into the volcano is triggered by the hidden code on a parchment from a very random book. Otto and Axel discover the Latin code which reads “Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm.” So, they embark on an expedition that takes them to the extinct volcano, piecing through Earth chained secrets.
Obviously, this is a very risky journey. Who would know if one would melt even before reaching the crust, not to mention its core? What creatures will be waiting for them down there? Will there be enough food and water supplies? All of these create one of the most exhilarating and dangerous adventure at the same time.
Jules Gabriel Verne, who was born more than a century ago, leaves behind a scientific legacy through this book. He took great attention to scientific plausibility, although many criticised him for his lack of character dramatisation. His writing demonstrates that he has lived in a world totally different from those in the scientific world, yet his imagination makes us want to believe that such adventures really exist in one form or another.
This book is really hard to decipher, considering that it contains myriads of geology jargons and terms only the experts understand. But once you get the grasp of the story, you will have to work out on how to drop it. Fictional propositions and scientific theories are presented side by side, and may be a little intimidating especially by young readers. But still, it’s a major must-read classic.
Author: Jules Verne
Publication: November 25, 1864