By Adam Roberts | September 15, 2007
Categories: Book News
The estimable Eric Brown is complimentary:
In 1877 Jules Verne published Off on a Comet, in which a meteor strikes Earth and knocks off a chunk of northern Africa inhabited by a cast of characters who whizz around the solar system before arriving, improbably, back on Earth. Roberts recapitulates the earlier novel, but updates and subverts it, having a wedge of present day California fly off into space with a complement of cult members. While Verne was primarily concerned with telling an adventure story, Splinter is an acute psychological analysis of Hector Servadac Junior, a distant relation of the original novel's protagonist. He's a complex character, obsessed with sex and fixed in a permanent adolescent state due to being unable to break away from domination by his father, an overbearing guru-figure. This is a clever thought-experiment from a writer gaining a reputation for producing a string of wholly original novels.
And whilst we're on the subject, I did something for the online version of The Guardian, the ever-so-slightly hubristically named Guardian Unlimited, on 'Verne's Forgotten Masterpieces', which was also obliquely about Splinter. There's also a competition, and the possibility of winning a copy, at the end of that link. And, finally, I wrote a blog entry on the poverty of Verne-in-English translations, here. (I later wrote a follow up piece on the same topic for the Valve, here). So there's today's Vernish variety, right there.