Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century
Some weeks ago, I saw some show called "Prophets of Science Fiction" and its subject was Jules Verne. This is the guy who, in the 1800's, saw the future space travel to the moon and submarines exploring Earth's oceans. He, and his works, were very much ahead of their time, and so was his last published book "Paris in the Twentieth Century." It was published in 1996, more than a hundred years since it was written. Publishers were that terrified of its contents. It is also possible that they saw it as less profitable venture, because it is more depressing than the typical fun adventures he offered. Truth be told, there was a darker side to Verne, and a partner helped Verne clean up almost all of his books. Except for this one.
The setting is Paris in 1960. And its descpritions of transportation are quite similar to the present and the future. Gas-running cars, but no visible wheels. Trains running on unique technology. A lot of unique technology that was not possible in the 1800's, yet he saw what technology would provide a whole century later. Things like electric Keyboard machines with the power of two-hundred pianos. A lot of little things like that, that already do exist, and the kind of bigger things that still only exist in sci-fi movies.
Of all things, there are no such things as movies, TV, or "moving pictures." The classic literature and plays of the 1800's exist only in the past in any old, dusty books one is lucky to get their hands on. they are no longer re-printed. Everything is run by big corpartions. New ideas are no longer allowed and individuality no longer exists. Instead, writers are hired to blatantly re-write and regurgitate classic literature into newer contemporary stories. Sound familiar? The same thing has happened with movies today. Only, this book reveals there is some heart and freedom left over in the 2000's after all. In this alternate world by Verne, there is vertually no more heart, feeling or freedom left. You are actually free but, if you don't think and live like the rich, you don't get anywhere.
The main character has old-fashioned sensibilities and misses the classic literature of the past. And he hates how fake and phony the world has become. That's me. I've spoken about how much I miss video stores and simpler times, and despise iTechology and competing companies that has made our everyday life fake and phony. I know I'm in the minority, but that's how I (and some others who replied to my threads) feel. After finding out about this book, I immediately ordered it. This is the kind of story I've thought of writing about, and someone kind of already beat me to it. Feeling like an alien in a new, cold and lifeless world.
This is ultimately a depressing story, but I'm glad to have read it. And if any of you are interested in a different take on the present/future story, this is an interesting read. Too think, it was written 100-odd years before 1960 and 150-odd years before todays world! He was only off by 50 years. Having learned more about Jules Verne and his personality, I get the impression that he also felt "born too late" and/or like an alien in a world of technology evolving too quickly. I'm not alone.
Last edited by Duke Nukem; 08-10-2012 at 06:14 PM..