Home Reviews Shorts Search

Jules Verne – The Floating City/The Blockade RunnersOk, ok, ok, I know, this is NOT a new book. Nevertheless, The Floating City is a classic book containing two stories from Jules Verne, one of the masters/forefathers of Fantastic&Science Fiction, and it is well worth a read. This is just a quick run-through, as this is a book that’s a good 100 years old…

The first story, The Floating City, describes the author’s trip aboard the “Great Eastern”, going from the UK to America and back. The Great Eastern is the giant ship that Brunel (yup, the very one) built, you can still go and see the huge timbers of the shipyard where it was built, as the archaeologists dug them up (Isle of Dogs, west side). The second story is an account of the maiden voyage of the ‘Dolphin’, the fastest ship that there was at thetime, built in Glasgow; to be used as a blockade runner during the American civil war.

Language and storytelling are somewhat antiquated (no idea why ;-), but very well paced and make for compelling reading. Some of the exchanges appear a bit wooden (in a film we’d call them ‘scripted’), and I’m not going near his depiction of matters of the heart, but besides this there’s very little to complain about – he’s not a classic author for nothing, I guess.

Both stories rely on historical facts – the Great Eastern and the Dolphin very much existed, including the usage they were put to, and, in case of the Great Eastern, the bad luck and series of serious accidents that seemed to marr whatever the current owner at the time attempted to do. The actual details of the trips, as well as most of the characters and their interaction are fictitious, and (hopefully) overdrawn for effect, and not realistic.

I like the first story much better, both from the point of how it is told (from the view of the author instead of in 3rd person) and from the topic at hand, too. The Blockade Runners (it’s only 96 pages long, a novella basically) is available on Project Gutenberg, while the entire book is available on eBay now (hint, hint… ;-) or on amazon, or …

Title: The Floating City/The Blockade Runners
Author: Jules Verne
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher: Sampson Low, Marston & Co
Publication Date: approx 1900
Review Date: Dec 4 2005
Pages: 296
Format: Hardback
Topic: Technology
Topic: Travel
Topic: Fantastic Literature


Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives


Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner


Ken MacLeod - Cosmonaut Keep


Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow


Iain Sinclair - Radon Daughters


Liz Williams - Empire of Bones

Andy Weir - The Martian


Doris Lessing - Shikasta


Lavie Tidhar - Central Station


Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me


Peter Watts – Maelstrom


Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku


Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace


Peter Watts - Blindsight


S.P. Somtow – I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City, Powered by Mambo!; free resources by SiteGround