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Today is the 189th anniversary of the birthday of Jules Verne, the French author of many science fiction classics such as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. You can find a brief tribute to Jules Verne at the Smithsonian Libraries, with the photo below that shows some of the incredible inventions he imagined.

It’s hard to know the kind of impact that Jules Verne had on people, especially those reading his books in the age before movies and television. As a book lover, I have always thought that a book creates its own movie in your head, and it’s your movie, and your imagination that’s doing the work. What Jules Verne offered was the opportunity to imagine worlds that you had never experienced yourself and to travel by sea, by air, by space to find those new worlds. So, in honor of Jules Verne and the leap year, let’s allow our imagination to take great leaps instead of little ones in the year ahead.

More about Jules Verne

If you’re a big fan of Jules Verne, you might join the North American Jules Verne Society unless you’re not living in North America.

Here’s a page that lists all of Verne’s works. I like the short summaries of some of his 54 novels such as:

From Earth To Moon

Barbicane and members of the Baltimore Gun Club conceive of a plan to travel to the moon via a gigantic cannon.

Topsy-Turvy or The Purchase of the North Pole

The North Polar Practical Association has plans on making a purchase of all the territory north of the 84th parallel. This association is in reality the members of the Baltimore Gun Club, including Secretary J.T. Maston, President Impy Barbicane and Captain Nicholl.

Maybe Jules Verne imagined how makers would get together in clubs and do amazing things.

Do you have a favorite Jules Verne novel? I’d have to say that I loved Mysterious Island. I realize there’s some kind of movie version in theaters now, which I’m pretty sure is not as good as the version I created as an eleven-year-old.

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


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