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Captain Nemo: The Fantastic History of a Dark Genius [Hardcover]

K.J. Anderson
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 2 2002

Most readers know Capain Nemo only as the enigmatic protagonist of Jules Verne's classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But what if Nemo was a real man, whose actual life was more fantastic and adventurous than all the fictions it inspired?

Here is the epic tale of Andre Nemo, the man behind the myth. The free-spirited and inventive son of a French shipbuilder, Nemo goes to sea as a cabin boy, faces marauding pirates and bloodthirsty sharks, is marooned for years on a mysterious island, battles prehistoric monsters long believed extinct, journeys to the center of the Earth, balloons across Africa, escapes from Arab slavers, discovers the fabled city of Timbuktu, endures a plague of locusts, survives the Charge of the Light Brigade, tends to the wounded with Florence Nightingale, is pressed into service by the ruthless Robert the Conqueror, and, ultimately, wages war on War itself as the captain of his greatest creation: the legendary underwater vessel known as the Nautilus.

Captain Nemo is also the story of Nemo's childhood friend, Jules Verne, who would bestow immortality upon the captain's exploits, and of the remarkable woman they both loved to the very end.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

rolific bestseller Anderson (Hopscotch; the original Star Wars anthologies) pays dashing homage here to Jules Verne (1828-1905), one of the genre's founding fathers and creator of the brooding captain of the Nautilus, hero of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In this fictionalized biography of Verne, Anderson postulates a "real" Andre Nemo, Verne's boyhood friend who lived the life and then some that Verne wanted but didn't dare to follow. After young Nemo's father dies in a shipbuilding accident in Nantes, Verne runs off to sea with Nemo, only to be jerked back by his dry-as-dust father to the caning of his life, then law school. Both Nemo and Verne love the luscious Caroline Arronax, but her heart belongs to Nemo alone. She patiently waits through his exotic adventures, which Verne eventually shapes into his Voyages Extraordinaires (Five Weeks in a Balloon, etc.), wildly popular whales-of-tales that made the French author wealthy and famous. Anderson's rollicking whopper of a novel glides along smoothly in a style deliberately modeled on Verne's own, yet unvexed by the scientific detail that often bogged down Verne's prose and muddied his narrative waters. Anderson's Nemo, whose stories alternate here with Verne's, is a sympathetically drawn Byronic hero, playing off the pedestrian Verne, a multitude of flamboyant pirates, Turkish caliphs, raging sea monsters and the incomparable Caroline, a proto-feminist shipping executive and composer. No one would miss the boat by signing on this fantastic journey. (Jan. 2)Forecast: This title could get a boost from the publication of Verne's last novel, Invasion of the Sea, in its first English edition (reviewed above), plus the reissue of two new editions of The Mysterious Island (one of which is noted below).

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

As young men, Jules Verne and Andre Nemo pledged to experience a world of adventures together but fate set them on two different paths. Nemo becomes an adventurer, traveling to fantastic places and encountering hidden civilizations and mythical creatures, while Verne builds a reputation chronicling his friend's exploits. The author of Dune: House Corrino (with Brian Herbert) pays tribute to one of the genre's founding fathers in a fast-paced sf fantasy reminiscent of the early pulp stories. Romance, adventure, and a new look at Verne's classic novels make this a strong addition to most sf collections.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars No Mo' Nemo. Aug. 4 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I think the thing that bothers me most about this novel is the novelist. Had Anderson actually read any of the Verne's work, he might have understood how patently ridiculous the idea of a novel based on the "real" Captain Nemo is.
Why? Well, "Nemo" is a pseudonym, for one. It comes from The Odyssey. When Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, the creature roars out a demand for the name of the man who has done this to him. The answer is "Nemo", or "No man", which is how Odysseus tricks the Cyclops into lying to his brethren. "Who did this to you?" they ask. "Nobody. Nobody did this to me."
So, Verne has his unnamed Captain adopt the name "Nemo" to show that he has separated from the world of men, and their greed and abuse. The idea that it is a true surname is absurd.
At the end of "The Mysterious Island", Verne reveals that Nemo is an expatriate Indian, which makes it even more unlikely that he would be around to befriend the boyhood version of Verne.
Of course, Verne could have made that bit up.
Tie it all to dull writing and a drab storyline and what you get is a dreary, dreary book that will make your blood boil with annoyance.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Writing Style Since Robin Cook! July 12 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a sci-fi and fantasy fan(atic) of over 50 years, devouring 2 to 3 genre books a week plus magazines like F&SF, but curiously, I hadn't run across Kevin Anderson before picking up CAPTAIN NEMO in a bookstore. Just lucky, I guess.
The reviews sprinkled on the back cover were selected to impress suckers (like me), and although the novel's premise sounded like fun, believe me, it wasn't. If you are looking for a dull, plodding story with nonsensical science, ungrammatical English, zero-dimensional characters, switching (and confusing) viewpoints, embarrassing name-dropping from Jules Verne's stories, contextually meaningless action scenes, and every other amateur mistake a writer could make, then read CAPTAIN NEMO. As a kid, I read pulp magazine space-opera better written than this!
Anderson should either go to writers' school or retire. There are so many truly outstanding sci-fi/fantasy writers to choose from -- contemporaries like Charles Sheffield, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, Gene Wolfe, Octavia Butler, Greg Bear, and Ursula LeGuin; older ones like Alfred Bester, Bob Heinlein, Fredric Brown, Sprague DeCamp, Jack Vance, Samuel Delaney, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc., etc., including of course Jules Verne. Why should anyone bother with drivel like CAPTAIN NEMO? You're much better off spending your money to see the cartoon movie about a little fish named Nemo.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Fashioned Scientific Romance March 1 2003
Captain Nemo is a novel in the tradition of Farmer's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg and other tributes to science fiction pioneers. Andre Nemo is the son of a carpenter in the shipyards of Nantes. His friend Jules Verne is the son of a local lawyer. Together they dream of exploration and experiment with diving suits.
When Andre's father is killed in a ship fire, he becomes a cabin boy on the Coralie and sails on an exploratory mission. Jules tries to join Andre but is intercepted by his father and taken back to Nantes. After a long voyage, the Coralie is attacked by pirates and Andre is stranded on a mysterious island. He escapes underground, finds dinosaurs, and travels through the center of the earth. Later, he travels across Africa in a huge balloon and is involved in the building of a great undersea vessel by Robur, a Turkish general.
Meanwhile, Jules completes his training as a lawyer and dabbles in writing plays, with little success. As he receives news of Andre's exploits, Jules incorporates them into fictious adventures which become wildly successful. Eventually, Jules is reunited briefly with Andre aboard the Nautilus and gets an underwater tour.
Caroline Aronnax, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is the friend and sweetheart of both boys, but is more attracted to Andre. After Andre goes to sea, Caroline is married to Captain Hatteras, who sails away to the Arctic Sea, never to return. In his absence, Caroline manages the Hatteras household and finances and, when her father dies, the family business as well. Although still loving Andre, she is determined to be true to her husband until he has been legally presumed dead. Andre can't stand the wait and goes off to the Crimean War.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Clever Ideas, Spotty Execution Jan. 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
OK, you've read the previous rants and raves. I wasn't insulted by the implication that Verne was a wanna-be adventurer with few original ideas-- the book isn't supposed to be Verne's biography. The idea that Nemo was real and that his life story inspired some of Verne's most famous novels is neat, and the way they're threaded together is nifty. But the first half of the book is slow and awkward, peppered with awkward writing (Verne is nearly always referred to as 'Jules Verne', guess his friends didn't want to get too informal), bad science (Nemo dives to a sinking ship using unpressurized air-- he's not going to go far!), implausible bits (a hang glider built from DaVinci's notebooks while marooned!), and laughable moments (a timely volcanic eruption releases an even more timely dinosaur). The second half of the book seems better written, almost as though the book was started very early in the author's career and finished much later. I finished the book, but it was maddening at times-- a bit like reading Philip Jose Farmer.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A well crafted Jules Verne-style story. Anderson has reached deep into the legendary stories and created a unique take on the Verne classics. Highly recommend this book.
Published 2 months ago by Russ Crossley
2.0 out of 5 stars Skip this book
This book stitches together reinterpreted samplings of Verne's classics via a Nemo character along with an alternative bio of Verne. Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by Rob
1.0 out of 5 stars It came from the bottom of the sea....
I'm not going to mince words, this book is horrible...
It's a pastiche of Verne's life, intercut with the adventures of "Andre Nemo" who wanders around the world, involving... Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Fun
Looking for a book you and your young teens will enjoy. Give this one a try. Reads very much like a 1950/1960 Science Fiction movie.
Lots of adventure and no sex.
Published on May 20 2003 by Dean E. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
If you are a Verne's fan then you have to read this book. I really don't like to analyze the style of the author or if the events make sense or not because this is the type of book... Read more
Published on March 27 2003 by Martin A. Negron
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Fun, but a bit slow
This book's premise is that all of Jules Verne's fiction was based on the real-life adventures of his friend, André Nemo. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002 by Chad Cloman
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could be better
Taken as a whole, the book Captain Nemo sounds interesting.
The premise of a real person being the inspiration for Jules Verne sounded promising unfotunatly, it is a bit of a... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2002 by "krissoff"
1.0 out of 5 stars The pot calls the kettle black
Jules Verne, one of the founding fathers of Science Fiction, is revealed to be a bad writer who relies on a severely bastardized Captain Nemo to supply him with ideas. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2002 by Babytoxie
2.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointed
As others have said, Anderson describes Verne as a no-talent hack unable to come up with any original ideas without his periodic letters from Nemo. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2002 by James L Mulder
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