Noted geologist Professor Liedenbrock discovers a cryptic message hidden in the pages of an ancient volume purporting to show the way into the center of the earth. Liedenbrock determines to make this fantastic journey, insisting his 16-year-old nephew, Henry, accompany him. Tim Curry handles the verbal pyrotechnics of Verne’s classic adventure, capturing the sardonic wit and droll observations of 16-year-old Henry. Writing in 1864, when explorers such as Burton, Stanley, and Livingstone were charting the earth’s geography, Verne created the fantastical geography of the world below based on current scientific fact. With breathtaking surety, Curry’s performance takes listeners from Germany to Iceland to the bowels of the earth and back, providing humor and clarity.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of literature’s earliest works of science fiction. It vividly animates a fantastical subterranean world as an intrepid crew, led by the eccentric Otto Lidenbrock, traverses the planet’s core and its various bizarre obstacles: giant mushrooms and insects, a herd of mastodons, prehistoric humans, a treacherous pit of magma, and more.
Tim Curry, narrator of the customer favorite A Christmas Carol, returns for an encore performance that delivers a range of distinct character voices and captures the energy and enthusiasm of a time when scientific exploration was a brand new adventure.
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Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
With a classic like this one it all comes down to the narrator.
Tim Curry reads it as if Jules Verne is looking over his shoulder. His voice seems very appropriate to the book and its time period.
He is not particularly good at changing his tone for different characters and his female impersonations are far from flattering.
But in an odd way he seems to be perfect for a Jules Verne story.
Its absolutely worth getting.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Listening to Tim Curry read Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth was a surprisingly entertaining experience. I had expected the novel to be a weak story overwhelmed by a series of dry scientific facts and pseudo-facts, but it was lively and funny and often exciting and awe-inducing. The first-person narrator Axel is refreshingly reluctant, cowardly, weak, and despairing, especially when compared to his fiery, impetuous, glory-seeking, knowledge-hunting, unquenchable middle-aged uncle Professor Otto Lidenbrock and their taciturn do-everything guide Hans. Verne vividly depicts their descent down the volcano tube and exploration of the subterranean world deep inside the earth. Sure, the ???science??? is crazy, and it takes three and a half hours for them to even get down there, but Verne's enthusiasm for it all and the sense of the vast scale of time that has passed on our earth and the joy of discovery and the interplay between Axel and his uncle all glow brightly throughout. And Tim Curry multiplies the enjoyment. I'm still hearing in my mind his Professor Lidenbrock remonstrating with Axel to buck up or his Axel futilely trying to get "Uncle" not to do something reckless and chuckling to myself.
Some reviewers have said that the book is dull or that there isn't enough action, but I think that 1) the avoidance of what today would be a non-stop page-turning never-ending action sequence novel is refreshing and that 2) Verne's depiction of the relationship between Axel and his uncle and his enthusiasm for the natural world and Curry's reading of it all is entertaining, even when Axel or his uncle are listing different kinds of minerals or different eras in the earth's geologic history.
I would give four stars to Verne's novel and five to Curry's reading.
Why would you want to listen to this book? You may wonder if the story is too old school, not modern enough, or just one of those reads your teacher made you endure in school so she can say she taught you the classics.
Forget all of that and just buy the book! The story is a good story, one you can share with your kids- there is no cursing, no sex scenes, just a romping adventure that takes you from the entrance of a volcano to the center of the earth and back again.
Tim Curry gives the story life, gives the characters personality and makes this a story you will revisit through the years. His voice makes this a movie in your imagination
Take an evening with the kids, turn the lights down low in their room, plug in your ipod or MP3, turn up the speakers and start a tradition with your children they will never forget.
I have had a ridiculous amount of fun this year listening to classic novels as audiobooks. When Audible offered a freebie (I think it was a freebie) of Journey to the Center of the Earth read by Tim Curry, I was excited – Tim Curry! Come on. It almost didn't matter what it was; I kind of place Curry in the same class as Tom Baker – love the actor, adore the voice, will listen to literally anything read by him.
And I was right. Curry was fabulous. His performance – and it was in every way performance – was incredibly enjoyable, and accounted for a good part of my rating. The voices he gave to the characters were dead on; the emotion with which he invested some scenes elevated them; it's purely because of his voice that I don't completely loathe the two main characters of this book, Axel and his Uncle/Professor Otto Liedenbrock. Not completely …
I do dislike them intensely, though. Even Tim Curry couldn't prevent that.
I will absolutely grant that part of my dislike for the book was some inability to separate myself as a 21st-century woman with a (very) basic (high school) education in geology from myself as reader of a book published and I assume set in 1864. From the former point of view it's an absurd figment of science fantasy. I know, I know – I have no problem accepting vampires (as long as they don't sparkle), werewolves, thousand-year-old druids and 932-year-old Time Lords. I never said I was consistent.
Still, despite the initial head-meets-desk reaction I had to a forest many leagues below the surface of the earth, not to mention a life-filled ocean and the mastodon-herding giants – still, it was fun. It felt like a Disney version of science, crossed with Lewis Carroll – fall down the universe's biggest rabbit hole, and land in an impossible, improbable wonderland. I was able to enjoy some of the fantasy.
The parts I couldn't enjoy were simply outweighed by the stupidity of the characters. The two so-brilliant scientists, Axel and his uncle, were textbook examples of book-smart vs. street-smart. I mean, what moron goes on any expedition into the unknown with only a little water? Good God, people, don't you watch Les Stroud and Bear Grylls? Well, no, obviously not, but – common sense, men! "Oh, don't worry, we'll find fresh-water springs": probably the last words of many a dim adventurer.
And the subject of stupid adventurers brings me straight to Axel. Good grief. In my Goodreads updates I referred to him as a damsel in distress, and also TSTL: Too Stupid To Live. Bringing that boy on an expedition (I keep wanting to write a Winnie-the-Pooh-esque "expotition") is like taking a penguin to the Bahamas. I lost count of the number of times he fell or got lost or otherwise needed rescuing – and every single time there was poor old Hans, probably thinking "ach du lieber (or the Icelandic equivalent thereof), we should just put the fool on a leash." I can't imagine why his uncle brought him in the first place, unless he didn't realize what a Moaning Myrtle the boy would become, in addition to being a hazard to himself and all those around him. Every step of the way he complained and protested and fretted and despaired. The fact that he happened to be right in some of his complaints – as, for example, when he protested the minimal amount of water they were toting – doesn't make his constant whingeing easier to tolerate.
And the Professor … a more overbearing, pompous, irritating, foresightless windbag I don't remember in my reading. Did I mention it was his decision to bring only a little water with them? And also to chuck most of their gear down an apparently bottomless hole, confident that they would catch up to it in the climb. And also to set off across an apparently limitless ocean in a boat I wouldn't sail in a bathtub rather than try to trek the shoreline. And then to pause at random intervals and pontificate as if in front of an audience.
Oh, and to take few or no specimens of their discoveries. "Center of the earth, eh, Liedenbrock? Riiiight."
My list, made early on in the read/listen, for tips on a hypothetical Journey to the Center of the Earth:
1. Bring water
3. Be sure to pay guide/servant/lifesaver weekly, even if he can't spend the money
4. Give guide/etc raise after he saves your butt after you disregarded 1 & 2
5. Do not bring nephew; he is prone to both hysterics and despair
6. Do not bring uncle/professor, as he confuses humans with camels (also: twit)
7. Do bring Tim Curry, because he just makes everything sound good.
I don't think the uncle and nephew actually did give Hans any kind of monetary reward for saving their rear ends, on several more occasions than just the water situation. The uncle paid him promptly every week – not that he was able to spend or bank or otherwise appreciate said payment, miles below the surface of the earth – and probably lost it all in their adventures.
The translation used by Audible was an odd one. The only example I noted was this: "His absolute silence increased every day." If it's absolute, it can't increase, though, can it? The Goodreads edition has it: "But his habit of silence gained upon him day by day" - which works. I would be interested in either reading or listening to another version, to see if anything improves … but no. The language wasn't the problem. The problem was that I spent over eight hours alternately smiling happily at Tim Curry's performance and wanting to reach through my iPod and shake Axel and Otto until their ears flapped. It's another of those "could-have-been" books. It could have been so much fun. It just wasn't.
I wish I could say this classic is as thrilling as it was when first published, but some books remain cultural milestones for their historical importance, even though more recent, imaginative, and better successors have come along, and this is true of most of Jules Verne's works, I think. He is the grandfather of "hard science fiction," and his books were notable for their rigorous attention to the laws of physics as they were understood at the time. Everything about Journey to the Centre of the Earth has the ring of plausibility about it (backed up by a great detail of technical explanation of instruments and measurements and physical science), even though we now know the "internal fire" debate is settled.
"Such was the succession of phenomena which produced Iceland, all arising from the action of internal fire; and to suppose that the mass within did not still exist in a state of liquid incandescence was absurd; and nothing could surpass the absurdity of fancying that it was possible to reach the earth's centre."
The plot, in brief: Otto Liedenbrock, German Professor of Mineralogy, discovers a Runic code in an ancient Icelandic text which, when deciphered, indicates that a 12th century Icelandic traveler named Arne Saknussemm found a passage to the center of the Earth down a volcano. (Journey to the Centre of the Earth is notable also for featuring one of the earliest use of cryptography in fiction, as several chapters are spent on the deciphering of this code.) Liedenbrock immediately resolves to follow the footsteps of Saknussemm, and drags along his nephew, Axel, the narrator, and eventually a taciturn Icelandic guide named Hans.
This is a great book for kids who are still fascinated by anything to do with secret codes, volcanoes, prehistoric creatures, and fantastic journeys and haven't been jaded by exposure to countless books and movies based on such concepts. Yes, Jules Verne was the granddaddy of them all. However, this novel is basically a travel epic, written at a time when the journey to Iceland alone would have been considered quite daring and exciting. Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew, Axel, encounter darkness, lava, near-starvation and dehydration, an underground ocean, giant mushrooms, the remains of prehistoric fauna, and a battle between an ichthyosaurus and a plesiosaurus. But the whole book is just an account of their journey, with the reader expected to marvel at these fantastic sights.
It was interesting to me more for its historical context and to compare with imitators that have followed in the "fantastic voyage" genre than for the story itself. Three men travel to the center of the Earth, see a few interesting things, and come back, the end. Jules Verne's prose (as translated into English) conveys the breathless wonder of the characters, as well as their trials when they find themselves without food or water deep underground, but it's quite an arid narrative for all its meticulous details. I find Jules Verne to be readable but rather unexciting, as he seems to feel no emotion about his tale and doesn't inspire the reader to feel any.
A book to be read for the sake of having read it, but I suspect few modern adult readers will really find it thrilling or memorable.
Tim Curry does a great job narrating, though, and invests the story with more excitement than did Verne's prose alone.
I bought this book on an audible sale, mostly because I love the narrator (Tim Curry)
The story was lively and eventful and so darn much fun that it made up for the cry baby of a main character, Axel, who tells the story of the journey he, his uncle and an Icelandic guide take into the the center of the earth.
Two geologists and their assistant try to reach the centre of the earth. Remember the old kids' cartoon? - well, nothing at all like that! But it's a classic tale of the days of Victorian gentleman scientists, read in a rich plummy baritone by Tim Curry.
I love a funny story that doesn't take itself too seriously, but I can get caught up in a good mystery or a romance too. And of course I feel obligated to pay my respects to the classics, no matter how sleepy some of them make me.
Tim Curry is the BEST narrator I've listened to! I literally buy books just because he narrated them. The story is great! It's a scientist's wet dream and an insane romp through the bowels of the earth.
I liked Professor Lidenbrock best. He's insane, but I like that, and he's unshakably optimistic even in the face of almost certain death. His impatience, his child-like enthusiasm, and his raw energy make him into the kind of ridiculous old person I want to be when I get older.
I think I related more to Axel's logic and that he's the voice of reason, and I loved Hans' ability to completely ignore his peril, but Lidenbrock was undoubtedly my favorite.
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what makes him a fantastic author. I would have to say that Tim Curry is simply made of awesome and everything he reads becomes 30x more interesting than it would be in print.
I'm only part way into the book, but I like it a lot. Tim Curry is a hoot to listen to and adds a lot to the character.
Yes, this was time well spent for me, because this is a classic that I had never read as a child. It gave me some cultural/historical perspective on the state of science in Verne's time, and an appreciation of how far science has come. For my son (8) it was entertaining, captured his imagination, and made him laugh a few times. And I think he liked feeling a little bit "superior" in his understanding of modern science. It also spurred some good discussions for us.
Perhaps, but I found some of the more technical sciency sections quite tedious--not because I don't understand the terms (I'm a biologist)--but mainly because the long lists of scientific names do nothing to advance the story, and rather seem like a device to make the reader feel like a naive outsider. So the tone comes off as pompous, which is funny since it is not even real science, just science fiction. Incidentally, Curry's reading of these litanies of jargon had an unmistakable irony that, for me, highlighted Verne's naivite and the absurdity of the whole premise.
Tim Curry's reading is absolutely masterful. I didn't love this book, but I loved his reading. He brought out the hints of irony, humor, and absurdity that would have been lost on me if I had been reading it myself. This is not a humorous book generally, but we did burst out laughing at a few of those great Tim Curry moments. I especially loved the absurdity of the professor's optimism and determination in the face of utterly impossible situations.
"Boys Own Story"
Curry is brilliant as the narrator here, but it is a shame that Verne has given him such poor material. The narrative is pretty 'ripping yarns' and there's none of the depth I'd hoped for it is one dimensionally a 'Boys Own' story.
This would have easily been given six stars, if that was allowed.
'COME to me, I'm DYING!'
"Tim Curry rocks"
Tim Curry's narration. As an actor I felt he gave the book greater depth than some other narrators.
Still thinking about that one
A depth to each of the characters, and a rich voice that's easy on the ear.
I haven't read any Jules Verne before but loved the experience of the language used in it's own time frame.
I'll definately be looking out for other Tim Curry narrated books, and more Jules Verne as well.
I was really looking forward to listening to this as it has been one of my most favorite stories from childhood, how disappointed I was. The narrator did not hold my attention, I tuned out that many times that in the end I gave up. What happened to the suspense, the story, the excitement .... gone ! There was too much technical detail which did not add but detracted from my enjoyment. And I have to say that the narrator did nothing to save it. In my opinion a wrong choice of narrator. I think an abridged version would be better
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