Jules Verne, born today in 1828, is often called one of the “Fathers of Science Fiction.” But what was more impressive about him, as a person, was his inability to let anyone or anything stop him from writing.
Sent to Paris to study law, it wasn’t long before Verne began writing for the theater, but it was his flair for penning tales about travel that quickly came to the forefront. His father eventually found out about his son’s extracurriculars and withdrew all financial support from him. So Verne began to support himself, doing work he despised as a stockbroker, then marrying a woman who encouraged him to look for a publisher. He sent manuscripts to many who rejected his work, but eventually met Pierre-Jules Hetzel. The two became a stellar team, and Jules Verne was soon a name that few lovers of literature were likely to forget.
Verne’s zeal for adventure prompted him to set his stories any-and-everywhere. His characters explored islands and the ocean, traveled to the center of the planet and all the way around it, broke away and shot straight up to the moon. He had a knack for predicting the future, an ease with scientific detail that made his novels seem more credible than they might have in another wordsmith’s hands. The manner in which he tapped humanity’s most intrepid desires has made him one of the most translated authors of all time.
With the money he finally earned from his writing career, Verne bought a boat and sailed around the European continent. He was knighted in France, a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. Jules Verne was far more than man who wrote incredible tales that continue to thrill the world—he was Captain Nemo and Phileas Fogg and Professor Lidenbrock. His gift to us was permission to journey farther than we had ever imagined was possible. To this day, we are still living up to what he dreamed.
Originally published February 8, 2013 on Tor.com