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Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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Guardian on Splinter

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 uppiece on the same topic for the Valve, here). So there'stoday'sVernish variety, right there.

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2 Comments to-date;

2 Responses to “Guardian on Splinter”

  1. Octavo Says:
    September 18th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    We've got a print-out of your Guardian piece up on the board at work. Who'd have thought that Verne's work had been so totally mutilated like that? And what on earth was going on with the Anti-semitism? It's as if the "translators" had decided to twist Verne's words in order to trumpet their own little agendas.

  2. AdamR Says:
    September 18th, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    To be fair, the Verne book is a little anti-Semitic in its portrayal of Habbakuk (he's only interested in money, for instance); just not as anti-Semitic, or as explicit about it, as the English translator.

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