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Old 26th May 2009, 2:27   #1
JunkMonkey
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Default Jules Verne: An Antarctic Mystery

A sequel, of sorts, to Edgar Allan Poe's wonderfully weird The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the full subtitle of which reads:
Comprising the Details of Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on Board the American Brig Grampus, on Her Way to the South Seas, in the Month of June, 1827. With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivors; Their Shipwreck and Subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; Their Deliverance by Means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the Brief Cruise of this Latter Vessel in the Atlantic Ocean; Her Capture, and the Massacre of Her Crew Among a Group of Islands in the Eighty-Fourth Parallel of Southern Latitude; Together with the Incredible Adventures and Discoveries Still Farther South to Which That Distressing Calamity Gave Rise.
Poe's book ends with a real cliffhanger when the narrative just stops as the narrator is about to (possibly) plunge into one of the Hollow Earth theories popular at the time. It is asserted by the author in a final note that the narrator of the novel, Arthur Gordon Pym, died at this point and that was that. No more story.

Verne's 'sequel' is set eleven years later follows the adventures of a rich American naturalist called Jeorling as he walks through the most incredible series of contrived coincidences ever commited to paper.

Seeking passage back to - well, anywhere - from the godforsaken Kerguelen islands where he has been naturalisting away, Jeorling eventually gets a birth on board the Halbrane captained by Len Guy. They set sail and encounter a floating block of ice, minutes before it finally melts to nothing. On the ice is a decaying body. The decaying body is that of a sailor who sailed on the Jane with Arthur Pym and under Len Guy's brother! Papers found in his pocket prove Pym's story was no fiction and that members of the Jane's crew are still, possibly, alive. Stopping only to pick up supplies, and several new crew members destined to mutiny by the end of the book (is there a single 19th Century book of nautical adventure that doesn't have a mutiny in it? ) and a mysterious 'half breed' who, before the end of the first sentence of description, we know to be Dirk Peters, Pym's companion in the latter stages of his voyage - though it takes our protagonists an incredibly long time to realise this. Also on-board is, as it happens, another crew member who happens to be the brother of the sailor eaten by Dirk Peters in the previous book. Small world, isn't it?

Our heroes set sail and plod along shooting seals and penguins and arriving at all the interesting places in Poe's book to find them rendered uninteresting and handily denuded of all the bloodthirsty savages that used to live there by earthquakes and (it later transpires) a convenient mass outbreak of rabies contracted from Pym's dog Tiger. (Incidentally Tiger must have also happily tucked in to the poor unfortunate sailor in the previous book because, though he vanished from that narrative ages before all the shipwreck and cannibalism, he must have survived somehow.) Heading further south the Halbrane just happens to be next to an iceberg as it rolls over and the ship finds itself 100 foot up in the air. The crew take everything off the ship and set about trying to launch in again, and just as they are about to crack the champagne over its bows (but - phew! - luckily just before they put all the supplies back on board) it falls off the iceberg and sinks. The iceberg suddenly heads south for no apparent reason, sails past the South pole (to be fair, the area was still Terra Incognita at the time) and beaches near some convenient caves. The mutineers steal the ship's boat and half the supplies, and head off north. A few hours later another boat is spotted drifting by the caves by the stranded heroes. In it are the last three members of the Jane's crew including the captain's brother! Just how big are the unexplored wastes of the Antarctic?

After the revived members of the Jane's crew tell their eleven year tale of mind boggling coincidences in one chapter, they all sail north and find a HUGE magnet roughly in the shape of a Sphinx which has done for the mutineers by pulling all the nails out of their boat (honest). The heroes' boat doesn't get disintegrated because it was a native boat they just happened to find when it was convenient - or Providential.

The body of Pym is found stuck to the giant loadstone, pinned there by the rifle he was carrying. Our 'half-breed' hero takes one look at him, gives a cry, and falls down dead - as only people in Victorian fiction can do.

"But! Wait a minute..." I hear you thinking, "If Pym was stuck to a bloody great lump of iron at the South pole all this time; who was the narrator of the first book?" Aha! That, it turns out, was Dirk Peters who just happened to have Pym's notebook in his (presumably incredibly waterproof) pocket when he fell out of the boat in the final seconds of the previous book! He was just pretending to be Pym. No. I don't understand why either and I just read the book.

Poe's book was eerie, weird and unsettling (and ultimatly unresolved). Verne's was relentless pedestrian hackwork which didn't take up the challenge left lying at the end of Poe's book.

The copy I just read was Published by Coachwhip books and is riddled with typos and missprints. A quick bit of web searching proved to me that Coachwhip merely took the text from Gutenberg.org and didn't bother to proofread it at all. Go to Gutenberg.org. Copy. Go to Wordclay.com. Paste. Hey! We're publishers!

Gutenberg's texts aren't perfect. Their etext of Jules Verne's An Antarctic Mystery is far from perfect. I counted hundreds of errors, with three, pretty major, typos in one paragraph on page 327.

What reading this book did do, was to finally prompt me into becoming a proofreader at http://www.pgdp.net/c/ helping proofread indigestible historic literature before it gets to the Project Gutenberg archive - something I have been meaning to get round to doing for a long time.
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Old 26th May 2009, 8:40   #2
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

Quote:
...a mysterious 'half breed' who, before the end of the first sentence of description, we know to be Dirk Peters ... brother of the sailor eaten by Dirk Peters ... Dirk Peters ...
D-d-duh... Dirk Pitt®'s..?
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Old 26th May 2009, 9:19   #3
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

Heheh, I thought that too!

JM, your review has reminded me that I'd like to read Arthur Gordon Pym.
It was referenced in a book I read recently, Hugo Wilcken's Colony, which has a similarly unreal air in places.
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Old 30th May 2009, 9:35   #4
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

Quote:
Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
The copy I just read was Published by Coachwhip books and is riddled with typos and missprints. A quick bit of web searching proved to me that Coachwhip merely took the text from Gutenberg.org and didn't bother to proofread it at all. Go to Gutenberg.org. Copy. Go to Wordclay.com. Paste. Hey! We're publishers!

Gutenberg's texts aren't perfect. Their etext of Jules Verne's An Antarctic Mystery is far from perfect. I counted hundreds of errors, with three, pretty major, typos in one paragraph on page 327.

What reading this book did do, was to finally prompt me into becoming a proofreader at http://www.pgdp.net/c/ helping proofread indigestible historic literature before it gets to the Project Gutenberg archive - something I have been meaning to get round to doing for a long time.
Well, it just goes to show another way in which amazon is crap (I gave JunkMonkey this book in the BDO book swap based on a comment in his reading list a couple years ago). Amazon seems to be much more seller oriented than buyer oriented, because it was not easy to tell this was going to be a crap publication. <Edit: it's now easy to tell with your one-star review - excellent - I clicked to indicate that it helped me.>

In my research to try to find this Jules Verne story, I found that another famous author created a sequel to Arthur Gordon Pym also. Maybe it's better. I can't remember who it was though!

Anyway, I should have stuck to my original idea and given you Money by Martin Amis. You would have loved the actors!

Still, the proofreading sounds a worthy pasttime!
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Old 31st May 2009, 1:13   #5
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

You mentioned the other version at the BDO Ang, Do you remember anything about it? I'm now curious to see whether whoever it was completely ignored the Verne book or managed to incorporate it into his (or her) version.

Edit:
Here's one:
A Strange Discovery: How We Found Dirk Peters — 1899 — by Charles Romyn Dake,
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Old 31st May 2009, 9:53   #6
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

I don't really have much to add here, except to say that Poe's work sounds truly fascinating - what a superb subtitle!
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Old 31st May 2009, 10:35   #7
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

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Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
You mentioned the other version at the BDO Ang, Do you remember anything about it? I'm now curious to see whether whoever it was completely ignored the Verne book or managed to incorporate it into his (or her) version.

Edit:
Here's one:
A Strange Discovery: How We Found Dirk Peters — 1899 — by Charles Romyn Dake,
No, it was someone famous, like RL Stevenson but not RL Stevenson, if you know what I mean... someone pretty major I had heard of. I had a look around yesterday but didn't spot it.
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Old 31st May 2009, 12:05   #8
Ang
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Default Re: Jules Verne - An Antarctic Mystery

JunkMonkey, it was HP Lovecraft but I think the work is referential rather than a sequel.

From wikipedia:

Poe's novel was also an influence on H. P. Lovecraft, whose 1936 story At the Mountains of Madness follows similar thematic direction and borrows the cry tekeli-li from the novel.
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