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The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures : Return to the Centre of the Earth and Other Extraordinary Voyages, by the Heirs of Jules Verne by Mike Ashley
Review by Edward Carmien
Carroll & Graf Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0786714956
Date: 12 March, 2005 List Price $12.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Following in the footsteps of previous mammoths of science fiction, comic fantasy, and Sherlock Holmes is The Mammoth Book Of New Jules Verne Adventures. Mike Ashley carries on previous work in the series, while Eric Brown is new to the adventure. They have assembled an amazing cast of writers such as Stephen Baxter, Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Stableford, Paul Di Filippo, and twenty others (yes, that?s Mammoth) who have interrogated Verne?s contribution to the world of science fiction with stories that retell, re-see, and sometimes expand on Verne.

Each story is prefaced with a brief factual introduction that often brings forth interesting tidbits of Vernalia both literary and biographic. I found these introductions to be interesting and useful. As for the stories themselves they are generally quite good on an individual basis?my only complaint comes when, as a whole, different authors repeat certain tricks of the trade. One will meet Verne in different guises throughout the book?this is to be expected. One also meets George Orwell and sundry Verne characters several times, so that if nothing else if one is not immediately familiar with Verne?s works much of the detail will be familiar by the time one finishes the anthology.

Of particular interest to this reader were F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre?s ?Tableaux,? a story that demonstrates a keen eye for research, ?Doctor Bull?s Intervention? by Keith Brooke that will ring bells for any student of science fiction, Ian Watson?s ?Giant Dwarfs,? a story to make one rethink how Verne?s journey to the center of the Earth might have been reported had it been told by another narrator, and others too numerous to detail here.

The authors here were not averse to working their craft effectively: Peter Crowther?s ?Cliff Rhodes and the Most Important Journey? is notable for its structure, as is ?Londres AU XXIe Siecle? by James Lovegrove. Ashley and Brown are to be praised for including works not originally written in English, as in the case of Laurent Genefort?s ?The True Story of Barbicane?s Voyage? (?Le Veritable Voyage de Barbicane?), published here in English for the first time. Most of the stories here are original to the anthology; in addition to Genefort?s story, Stephen Baxter?s ?Columbiad? is also a reprint?but as the story is completely appropriate, its presence is necessary.

This is the sort of text one parks on one?s bedside table, or takes along on commutes of intermediate length. Each story in its way helps highlight the importance of Verne to contemporary science fiction, and the authors here demonstrate a strong grasp of literary history. Richard A. Lupoff?s contribution helps demonstrate the ongoing trend in the world of the literary fantastic for the erasure or transgression of genre definitions?his contribution, ?The Secret of the Sahara,? amply demonstrates why he has succeeded in multiple genres. I?m new to the ?mammoth? phenomenon, but in this case at least those with a taste for Verne or at least a hankering for that old-time religion will find this book a great read.

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