Fantastic Scientific Adventures
Most critics and experts agree the first novels that can be dubbed strictly science fiction were written by Jules Verne. Yet the history of science fiction is somewhat vague. Still, Verne did set a precedent. Beginning around 1860, Verne penned a series of novels about amazing scientific exploits by scientists and explorers. All incorporated the Victorian attitude that mankind had reached; a pinnacle that all things were possible.
His first book was Journey to the Center of the Earth, a fanciful story about finding a route down to Earth’s center, then thought to be hollow. In that imagined space lived dinosaurs and other beasts.
Next came From the Earth to the Moon, possibly the first space travel story. Verne used a mammoth cannon to propel his ‘astronauts’ to our satellite. Obviously, we know today the g-forces would have destroyed the craft, not to speak of its occupants.
These and most of his other ‘science fiction’ novels more properly fall into the category of science fantasy. It was not until 1870, with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, that he actually put real science in a story. The submarine Nautilus, as he described it, could have been a modern nuclear sub. In fact, his description of the Nautilus’ power source is eerily similar to an atomic pile or fusion reactor.
Beyond that, the diving gear the crew wore when they went outside to gather food is almost a blueprint for scuba gear.
It is noteworthy that none of these stories are set in the future. They take place in contemporary Victorian times. For that and other reasons, I consider Around the World in 80 Days science fiction.
This novel contains no fanciful journeys and no extrapolative science. It is simply Phineas Fogg using the most up-to-date technology of his day to win his bet that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days.