February 8, 2011
Happy birthday Jules
by Dennis Johnson
Google UK is celebrating the 183rd birthday of the father of science fiction, Jules Verne, with a special, interactive “doodle” (what the company apparently calls its logo on its search page).
As a Guardian report describes it, “In honour of Verne’s most famous novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the new doodle takes the form of the portholes of a submarine. A lever on one side can be manipulated to plunge the submarine deeper into the sea, which appears to be populated by various forms of sea life.”
It’s true that Verne was the father of sci-fi, but last fall Melville House presented evidence that he may also deserve credit for being the father of the zombie genre, too, with our publication of The Castle in Transylvania (in a terrific translation by Charlotte Mandel). The story — about a man who encounters what may or may not be his undead girlfriend, was also hailed for being a unique treatment of Verne in English — that is, we didn’t edit the bejesus out of it. In particular, we didn’t cut out all Verne’s world-building as did previous English-language publishers in an attempt to get to more stripped-down, action-oriented stories. As Paul Oliver noted in his review at The Devil’s Accountant, “One of the most interesting things to note about this edition of Verne is that it is complete.” Paul Di Filippo, in a Salon review, also praised our edition for its “restoration” of Verne’s “charming info-dumps.”
Which is more than we can say about the Google homage — charming, yes, but it too an info-dump from the Guardian to figure out what, exactly, was going on with that “doodle.”
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.