He heard the slap of waves against barnacle-encrusted wood and the rush of the ship’s keel through choppy seas. Around the vessel smaller hollow casings floated, logboats dropped like calves….
–Michael D. Winkle, “Leviathan”.
One-hundred-and-fifty years after the publication of one of the original SF novels, Pole-to-Pole publishing has produced this collection of sixteen stories riffing on the world of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus.
Title: 20,000 Leagues Remembered
Editors: Stephen R. Southard and Kelly A. Harmond.
Authors: Mike Adamson, Alfred D. Byrd, Demetri Capetanopoulos, J. Woolston Carr, Maya Chhabra, Eric Choi, Corrie Garrett, Andrew Gudgel, Nikoline Kaiser, James J.C. Kelly, M.W. Kelly, Jason J. McCuiston, Gregory L. Norris, Allison Tebo, Stephen R. Wilk, Michael D. Winkle.
First published in June 2020
Available from as an ebook.
On the 150th anniversary of Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, several writers offer their takes on Captain Nemo, the Nautilus, and the year 1866, which was marked by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.
Michael D. Winkle’s “Leviathan” looks at the Nautilus and humanity from the perspective of a Moby-sized whale. Eric Choi’s “Raise the Nautilus” examines the historical implications of someone acquiring Nemo’s weapons during the Great War. Nikoline Kaiser’s “Last Year’s Water” turns on a premise that, in the hands of another writer, might have produced predictable results. She gives us something else.
Many of the stories are fairly straightforward accounts of some previously unexplored or side aspect of the source material. The premise works well once or twice. Gudgel’s “Recruiter”, for example, proves a page-turner. I found too many of these stories. However, the audience, the diehard fans of the novel, may have a different response.
James J.C. Kelly’s “Nemo’s World” is well-written but reads suspiciously like the introduction to a novel.
Originality: 3/6 The best way to handle “originality” in a tribute anthology is to state that some of the stories take original twists on the source material. I didn’t anticipate something like “The Silent Agenda.” Others, while enjoyable or thought-provoking, aren’t particularly original. “A Strange Depth” brings us the obligatory Verne/Lovecraft crossover. I enjoyed reading it, but I cannot imagine many fans of SF and Fantasy will open this book not expecting a story like this one.
Story: 4/6 As in most anthologies, the kind and quality of stories cover a range. If one story does not appeal to you, the next one probably will.
Emotional Response: 4/6
Overall: 5/6 If you like Jules Verne or fancy steampunk, you will enjoy this anthology.
In total, 20,000 Leagues Remembered receives 31/42