The SFFaudio Podcast #376 – READALONG: Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne

July 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #376 – Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada talk about Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne.

Talked about on today’s show:
title variations, they don’t go to the center of the Earth, Arne Saknussemm, Lit2Go, the Tim Curry narration, how did the paperwork get out of the Earth?, he was too specific, the knife, what happened to Arne Saknussemm?, barometer, manometer, dead servants, taciturn servants, would you like some bacon cooked on the lava (magma), overdosing on adaptations, comic adaptations, the 2008 Brendan Fraser version (3D movie), fluffy, the nephew-uncle dynamic, a page turner, adding a female expeditionary member, inspiration vs. adaptation, inspired by this book, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the same setup, irascible professors, going for a girl, a forerunner (a person who went before), Maplewhite vs. Saknussemm, dinosaurs, underground journey, subterranean, fun, huge science expositions, Around The World In Eighty Days, the Fantastic Voyages (or Journeys) series, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Five Weeks In A Balloon, Jules Verne wrote 66 novels!, one of the things he’s doing, visit every place in the world and characterize every nation, Germans and Icelanders and Danes, national personalities, everyone is a cartoon, “stereotype”, a crazy uncle, a light comedy, science vs. adventure, Verne takes us on tours, touring Copenhagen, vicarious travel, adventurous passion, not to poop all over this book, At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this book is missing a 12-foot giantess cave-girl girlfriend, standing on the ceiling of the basement, a vast hollow sphere, Pluto and Porcupine (the roman equivalent of Persephone), Jules Verne’s spelling of Edgar Allan Poe (he called him Edgard Allan Poe), referencing everything, The Sphinx In The Ice, Verne was Poe’s #1 fan, a beautiful tradition, The Green Girl by Jack Williamson, biological phases compared to geological phases, looking at the stars and the earth you’re looking backward in time, the science, the original french version of this book was in 1864, 10 years later the relationship with Germany is fundamentally different, the mechanistic world, 10 years made a hell of a difference, this is a very international book, the humor, I was in love with her, “you could say I adored her (if any such word exists in the German language)”, he’s right about us, Verne is very sly, just like the professor, languages, Verne’s dad tried to make him a lawyer, trying not to be provincial, Virgil and Homer and Shakespeare, “You monument to ignorance”, a zinger in every chapter, “great as it is that asylum is it is not big enough to contain all of Professor Lidenbrock’s madness”, you have no vision, “I care nothing about seeing magnificent spectacles”, a walking tour of Copenhagen, crawling up the stairs, Axel’s maturity (or lack thereof), the names, Henry vs. Axel, Lidenbrock vs. Hardwigg, the different translations [the Professor’s name is a pun], a secret history, the Saknussemm document becomes the Jules Verne novel in the 2008 movie, the 1959 movie makes the professor Scottish, translations and adaptations to make it more relevant for the audience, Gretchen -> Grauben -> Gretel, bad translations, learning about eiderdown and eiderdown hunters, stealing nest fluff, the science is pretty damn good, you can’t have an adventure to the center of the Earth if the Earth’s center is hot, EVIDENCE!, “everyone is laughing at me, here’s a pterodactyl”, “science is composed of errors, but errors that are right to make”, the ball-lightning, St. Elmo’s fire, the compass problems, almost realistic, Stromboli was Tolkien’s model for Mount Doom, we will not tell them how we actually got here, they said they were shipwrecked (and it is kind of true), dense with humour, history, architecture, an enduring classic, Hans was the opposite of the uncle, characters exchanging personalities, a process of maturation, an inveterate coward and then he craters, the seeds of what he will become, Axel will become like his uncles when he grows older, Verne shows a character’s worst and best sides, a giant fur covered creature pounding his chest -> it’s King Kong!, 16 foot giant bones discovered, a skull the size of a Volkswagen, a moral panic, a real newspaper article, Jesse does an Icelandic accent, The Odyssey, like Professor Challenger, The Poison Belt, aliens, Hans has to get paid every Sunday, Icelandic life is hard, Icelanders are Eskimos without the benefits of being Eskimos, Master, Verne’s racism is a sympathetic racism, Conan Doyle’s internationalism is very different, Burroughs’s characterization, what Verne is doing is cool, I’m not usually the persons who says: “You know what this needs? More romance”, mineralogists, all good characterization, Conan Doyle’s cute cynicism, Burroughs’s hero characters find girls and have them lay some eggs, H. Rider Haggard’s lost worlds were in Africa, adventure types, She!, The People Of The Mist, a White Goddess among the Zulu people, this is sort of Vernianian: science, history, literature and reveling in that knowledge, The Mysterious Island, a parody meme -> Mysterious Island, Nellie Bly, pretending to be insane to see what life in an asylum is like, Librivox, what it’s like to live in Mexico, back when newspapers paid reporters to investigate things, BBC, gravity in the center of the Earth would pull you in every direction, BBC Radio 4: In Our Time on the Earth’s core, biology is taught wrong, there names are what they do, telling rocks apart at a glance, smell, sound, taste, rocks can be tested it with your body, on the final exam in geology they give you a tray full of rocks, the ferrous iron taste of the water, Hans brock water, flood that whole compartment (luckily it was the size of the Earth), draining the Mediterranean, Verne is the second most translated author in the world, looking at it from our perspective today, Ben Hur, Lew Wallace, do your own abridging.

Scholastic - A Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne - cover art by Mort Kuntsler

A Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne - T618

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - adapted for BOYS' LIFE (1995)

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Jim Thiesen

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Patrick Whelan

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs

November 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice BurroughsThe Land That Time Forgot
By Edgar Rice Burroughs; Read by Brian Holsopple
3 CDs – 3.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
ISBN: 9781897304334
Themes: / Science Fiction / Pulp / Ju-jutsu /

Repeat after me: Pulp is a great genre, but not all pulp is great. And some of it isn’t very good at all, I’m afraid.

I lead with this because I’ve noticed that pulp often gets a free pass from its advocates. Fans will leap to the defense of poorly plotted, boring, or otherwise not well-written stories and pulp-inspired films with a simple, “well, it’s pulp”–as if this fact somehow makes the genre above criticism.

Now, I happen to be a big fan of pulp, but I can also recognize a flawed example when I see it. Even when its written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of pulp’s grand masters (see many of his wonderful Tarzan and John Carter stories).

I’m sorry to say that Burroughs’ The Land that Time Forgot is not very good. It’s not as bad as, say, Magic Kingdom For Sale: Sold, and I’ve read worse, but when compared to the best pulp has to offer–i.e., almost anything written by Robert E. Howard–The Land that Time Forgot simply does not measure up.

Part of my problem with this book may be the fact that I listened to an audio recording produced by Audio Realms, delivered in uninspired fashion by narrator Brian Holsopple. Audio Realms is also responsible for producing the fantastic series The Dark Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, read by Wayne June (who is a terrific narrator), but I found this particular entry in their catalogue rather poor.

To be fair, Holsopple doesn’t exactly have Lovecraft at the top of his game to work with. Some of the dialogue in The Land that Time Forgot is so stilted and cornball that I found myself literally cringing behind the steering wheel while driving into work. Here’s one less-than-stellar example:

“You have evolved a beautiful philosophy,” I said. “It fills such a longing in the human breast. It is full, it is satisfying, it is ennobling. What wonderous strides toward perfection the human race might have made if the first man had evolved it and it had persisted until now as the creed of humanity.”

“I don’t like irony,” she said; “it indicates a small soul.”

“What other sort of soul, then, would you expect from ‘a comic little figure hopping from the cradle to the grave’?” I inquired. “And what difference does it make, anyway, what you like and what you don’t like? You are here for but an instant, and you mustn’t take yourself too seriously.”

She looked up at me with a smile. “I imagine that I am frightened and blue,” she said, “and I know that I am very, very homesick and lonely.” There was almost a sob in her voice as she concluded. It was the first time that she had spoken thus to me. Involuntarily, I laid my hand upon hers where it rested on the rail.

I mean, this stuff makes the lines delivered in Days of Our Lives seem like John Keats in comparison.

The Land that Time Forgot tells the tale of Tyler Bowen, an American on a merchant vessel whose ship is attacked by a World War I German U-boat. Bowen survives and with the help of some British sailors manages to overpower the U-boat’s crew. Bowen is eventually betrayed by one of his own men who smashes the U-boat’s instruments in an attempt to doom the ship’s crew. When Bowen finally learns who his betrayer is, the man on his deathbed reveals his secrets like an unmasked villain from Scooby-Doo:

“I did it alone,” he said. “I did it because I hate you–I hate all your kind. I was kicked out of your shipyard at Santa Monica. I was locked out of California. I am an I. W. W. I became a German agent–not because I love them, for I hate them too–but because I wanted to injure Americans, whom I hated more. I threw the wireless apparatus overboard. I destroyed the chronometer and the sextant. I devised a scheme for varying the compass to suit my wishes. I told Wilson that I had seen the girl talking with von Schoenvorts, and I made the poor egg think he had seen her doing the same thing. I am sorry–sorry that my plans failed. I hate you.”

And he would have succeeded if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

Lost at sea and low on food and water, Bowen and his men land on the island of Caprona, a literal island that time forgot. It’s inhabited by dinosaurs of every age as well as ice-age beasts and men in various stages of evolution. Bowen then spends the rest of the book rescuing a stranded damosel from the hands of lustful Neanderthal men and hungry dinosaurs, as well as kicking the crap out of primitive men. Oh, I didn’t mention that Bowen happens to be a physical specimen and a master of judo? Here’s my favorite passage:

Three of the warriors were sitting upon me, trying to hold me down by main strength and awkwardness, and they were having their hands full in the doing, I can tell you. I don’t like to appear conceited, but I may as well admit that I am proud of my strength and the science that I have acquired and developed in the directing of it–that and my horsemanship I always have been proud of.

And now, that day, all the long hours that I had put into careful study, practice and training brought me in two or three minutes a full return upon my investment. Californians, as a rule, are familiar with ju-jutsu, and I especially had made a study of it for several years, both at school and in the gym of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, while recently I had had, in my employ, a Jap who was a wonder at the art. It took me just about thirty seconds to break the elbow of one of my assailants, trip another and send him stumbling backward among his fellows, and throw the third completely over my head in such a way that when he fell his neck was broken.

“Californians as a rule are familiar with ju-jutsu?” “I am proud of my strength and the science that I have acquired and developed in the directing of it?” “A Jap who was a wonder at the art?” Man, if this isn’t Mystery Science Theatre 3000 material than I don’t know what is.

About the only thing that The Land the Time Forgot has going for it is that it isn’t entirely boring, if you like one mindless action scene strung together after the next. But, in summation, if you’re looking for a good representative of the pulp genre, look elsewhere.

Posted by Brian Murphy