Jules Verne was born in the French port of Nantes in 1828 into an affluent bourgeois family. In 1839 he tried to run away from home, taking a position as a ship’s boy on a vessel bound for India. He was recaptured by his father at Paimboeuf, down the coast from Nantes; in the face of whose displeasure he is supposed to have promised “Je ne voyagerai plus qu’en rêve” (“I will no longer travel except in my dreams”). In 1848 Verne moved to Paris determined to make a life as a writer. After some false starts as a playwright, Verne established a partnership with the publisher “Hetzel” (the pseudonym of Pierre Jules Stahl); together they inaugurated the series “voyages extraordinaire”, and began publishing attractively and copiously illustrated multivolume novels of amazing travels. The series became immensely successful, and many of Verne’s eighty novels proved to be enduring classics: Voyage au centre de la terre (“Journey to the Centre of the Earth” 1864); De la terre à la lune (“From the Earth to the Moon”, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (“Twenty thousand leagues under the seas” 1869-70); Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-vingts Jours (“Around the world in eighty days”, 1872); L’Ile mystérieuse (“The mysterious island” 1874); Les Cinq cents millions de la Bégum (“The Bégum’s five hundred million” 1879) and Maître du Monde (“Master of the World” 1904). Verne’s works have been widely adapted for cinema and television, and continue to be widely read and popular today. He died in 1905.
Adam Roberts is a British writer of science fiction, and an academic at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has published eight novels, including Salt (2000), Stone (2003) and Gradisil (2006). His novel Splinter (2007) was directly inspired by Verne’s Off on a Comet.
“The king of high-concept SF.”
When Hector discovers his father has channelled the family fortune into a bizarre survivalist sect who await the imminent destruction of the Earth, he is wracked by feelings of betrayal and doubt. Things change, however, the night an asteroid plummets from space and shatters the planet, leaving Hector and the remnants of the human race struggling for survival on a splinter of the Earth.