Adam Roberts revisits Jules Verne's classic novel in a collaboration with the illustrator behind a recent highly acclaimed edition of The Hunting of the Snark.
It is 1958 and France's first nuclear submarine, Plongeur, leaves port for the first of its sea trials. On board, gathered together for the first time, are one of the Navy's most experienced captains and a tiny skeleton crew of sailors, engineers, and scientists. The Plongeur makes her first dive and goes down, and down and down. Out of control, the submarine plummets to a depth where the pressure will crush her hull, killing everyone on board, and beyond. The pressure builds, the hull protests, the crew prepare for death, the boat reaches the bottom of the sea and finds nothing. Her final dive continues, the pressure begins to relent, but the depth gauge is useless. They have gone miles down. Hundreds of miles, thousands, and so it goes on. Onboard the crew succumb to madness, betrayal, religious mania, and murder. Has the Plongeur left the limits of our world and gone elsewhere?
This is what happens when a writer decides to write philosophy rather than allowing philosophy to shine organically from story and characterization. So what begins as middling weird homage to Jules Verne turns into a gawd awful mish mash of Stalinism, kabbalah, and a soupçon of Rosicrucianism. It's a shame, because the prose style is generally interesting, but the person who writes characters like this has no real interest or insight into humans.
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Started out as a good sci fi and ended as a philosophical/sudo-scientific mess. And of course it had the token crazy Christian guy who kills a bunch of people. I feel like the writer had a bunch of strange ideas over a decade or so and then jammed them together the best he could.
On top of that the ending left you with... blah. But maybe you like that sort of thing.