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Issue 36; Adventure Lost

Literature and books are an escape, a way to be part of something that would never happen, or a journey into the mind of someone, from a war hero to a serial killer or the detective who is after them.  It could be that you are following a spy on his adventures or smashing swords with creatures from another land.  But I have noticed that one thing is missing, maybe just from my list of books or new books I see in general, we have lost the discovery adventure novel.

This has been a new thought in the jumbled mind of one knitter of words after I decided that I should possibly catch up on books I have never read.  After a few James Bond novels for obvious reasons I began with next thing a book published in English in 1871, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne.

Jules Verne I had heard of, who hasn’t, but unlike many intellectuals and writers I mostly remember the name from it being mentioned in Back to the Future Part 3.  I will hang my head in shame later.  As pop culture was very much my childhood such books were just that books, so as a man heading towards a milestone age at an alarming rate I thought such trivial adventure was what my life needed ,a true escape.  Our world as we know it, is the problem, and as a term is exactly that, we know it, pretty much anyway.  We have explored all the land, we live on most of it and even though the ocean is still largely unmapped we have explored what we can with the technology we possess.  And because of science the thought of finding that hidden island of wonder, that hidden passage to the centre of the earth is lost on many.  Adventure Lost.

Our lives have lost a bit of meaning and Netflix has taken on much of our imagination and even these are endless cop shows, mystery, murder, coming of age and or all of the above, mixed in with the occasional zombie or apocalyptic world.  But where is the exploration, yes you can go and find orcs in a faraway fantasy land outside our world, but can you find this in our world? Is the story about the finding of a mystery land, the exploring of something we do not know? Sadly it is not.  We want action and intrigue but surely you can get this with also being part of a group heading into the unknown and not just a premise to then have space aliens or a broken spaceship.

I love all of what I have mentioned. I am not a man sitting in his leather chair telling people all this new writing of sci-fi and fantasy is all wrong and should be placed into the bin.  I just feel that the adventure of finding out about the unknown has been forgotten.

Back to my friend Jules, who I clearly do not know or have ever met but I like to believe he would have been good to talk to and get along with, notwithstanding that he died in 1905, so way before I was born and the fact he was French and I can barely ask for two coffees when I’m in Paris, I feel I'll hypothetical conversations may have quite non eventful.  But his series of books Voyages Extraordinaire were before their time and amazing, to the point he may have owned a time machine but needed more of his time technology when writing Earth to the Moon published in 1867 a mere 102 years before we actually did it. Which is the royal “we” as I had very little to do with the 1969 moon landing.

If you have yet to venture into the realm of Jules then be prepared for old style English as they are old translations not modern retellings. Journey to the centre of the Earth is told in the eyes of the professor's assistant, his worries and fears of following an old myth of a map, through of a passage that leads to the centre. But the thoughts of adventure that the book fills you with is the draw.  Bringing out the inner explorers our childhood selves once were, that gleeful giddy child with unknowing of what could truly exist in our dark adult world.

But as we have conquered land, air and sea, is there room for the adventure novel in this day and age? I think there is, I just need to write the damn thing myself.