IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE
In an 1889 article titled “In The Year 2889” written by Jules Verne (1828-1905), the French poet, novelist and playwright envisaged the future of newspapers a thousand years hence – “Instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every morning spoken to subscribers who, from interesting conversations with reporters, statesmen and scientists, learn about the news of the day.” But barely 30 years after Verne predicted the demise of the printed press, the first radio news program was already broadcast in 1920 in Detroit, Michigan.
Such was the vision and the imagination of Verne that his literary works – “Journey To The Center Of The Earth,” “From The Earth To The Moon,” “Mysterious Island,” “Around The World In 80 Days,” “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” and many others – earned him the sobriquet Father of Science Fiction.
The honor is not undeserved. Verne was considered a prophet of scientific progress, his novels often involving technology that, while considered fanciful and fantastic in his day, eventually became mainstream and even commonplace. In “From The Earth To The Moon” (1865), the projectiles carrying people on a lunar journey presaged today’s rockets and space modules. The electric submarine Nautilus in “Twenty Thousand Leagues” (1869) became a reality only in the 1880s. Some 50 works over a 40-year career of writing scrupulously researched adventure and travel-themed novels – many being part of the seminal series “Voyages Extraordinaires” – earned this lawyer, stockbroker and yachtsman the distinction of being the second most translated author (over 140 languages), second only to Agatha Christie, and ahead of William Shakespeare.
In 2003, Montblanc released its Limited Writers Edition “Jules Verne,” a homage to the foremost exponent of the science fiction genre. The fountain pen’s bright blue lacquer finish is ornamented by a wave-patterned guilloché that evokes the deep oceans beneath which Captain Nemo piloted the submarine Nautilus. Verne’s signature adorns the cap, and a rhodium-plated gold nib is engraved with an antique diver’s helmet that also figured prominently in the novel.
Despite Verne’s prediction, the future seems to augur well for the written word – thanks to the fountain pen.