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Captain Nemo

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Most readers know Captain Nemo only as the enigmatic protagonist of Jules Verne’s classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But what if Nemo was a real man, whose actual life was more fantastic and adventurous than all the fictions it inspired?

Here is the tale of Andre Nemo, the man behind the myth. The free-spirited and inventive son of a French shipbuilder, Nemo goes to sea as a cabin boy, faces marauding pirates and bloodthirsty sharks, is marooned for years on a mysterious island, battles prehistoric monsters long believed extinct, journeys to the center of the Earth, balloons across Africa, escapes from Arab slavers, discovers the fabled city of Timbuktu, endures a plague of locusts, survives the Charge of the Light Brigade, tends to the wounded with Florence Nightingale, is pressed into service by the ruthless Robert the Conqueror, and, ultimately, wages war on War itself as the captain of his greatest creation: the legendary underwater vessel known as the Nautilus.

Captain Nemo is also the story of Nemo’s childhood friend, Jules Verne, who would bestow immortality upon the captain’s exploits, and of the remarkable woman they both loved to the very end.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published January 2, 2002

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About the author

Kevin J. Anderson

698 books2,738 followers
Yes, I have a lot of books, and if this is your first visit to my amazon author page, it can be a little overwhelming. If you are new to my work, let me recommend a few titles as good places to start. I love my Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series, humorous horror/mysteries, which begin with DEATH WARMED OVER. My steampunk fantasy adventures, CLOCKWORK ANGELS and CLOCKWORK LIVES, written with Neil Peart, legendary drummer from Rush, are two of my very favorite novels ever. And my magnum opus, the science fiction epic The Saga of Seven Suns, begins with HIDDEN EMPIRE. After you've tried those, I hope you'll check out some of my other series.

I have written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and I'm the co-author of the Dune prequels. My original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. I have also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps.

I serve as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest.

My wife is author Rebecca Moesta. We currently reside near Monument, Colorado.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.8k followers
February 13, 2012
A rousing, well-told, thumping good yarn full of excitement-filled rollicking...and one I am fairly astonished to have enjoyed as much as I did. This is a page-turning, popcorn adventure with real heart and a few more brains in its noggin than I initially provided for. Within no time, it has sat on my expectations and made them cry uncle.

Let me explain...

Going in, I thought there was little hope for more than a single star and some rage clouds in this book’s narrative sky. I was already cogitating how I was going to go about dumping a sweaty pile of stink all over it as the novel had 3...BIG...STRIKES against it from the moment “get” started to “go.”

First: you’ve got the “historical mash” concept that always makes me twitch like a hooker at an aids test. I like well done mashes quite a bit, but sadly have found only a few that were really up to the challenge of being well done.

Second:, you’ve got Kevin J. Anderson. Now I had never read any of KJ’s work before, but he's pretty famous as a “literary whore” who pumps out tie-in books for franchises like Star Wars, StarCraft, X-files and has been “milking” the Dune franchise with Brian Herbert until the poor thing's utters are dry, cracked and swollen. His name across the top did not bode well for my happy.

Third: The COVER. I mean seriously, who approves these things and can we get them into detox before it’s too late. You have this “heavy-lidded” brooding dorkmeister looking both constipated and as if his bottom lip were about to start quivering because someone off camera just called him an assclown. Publishers listen up……(especially the “cover art wizards” over at BAEN books)...COVERS SHOULD SELL BOOKS, NOT SOIL THEM.

Needless to say, the above was about as confidence inspiring as a congressional promise. However, the book had come up on my random selection of “what to read next” and so, though cursing both my fate and several pantheons of gods, I reluctantly started reading...and color me all different shades of surprised, I found myself really enjoying this. Further, the fact that I was enjoying it “against my will” is a pretty big “tip of the cap” to Mr. Anderson who pulled off what I now understand was a labor of love for him as a huge fan of Jules Verne.

Well his love doth shine through and this speedy-paced, well plotted adventure is filled with fun. The story also includes a “where’s waldo” aspect for Verne fans as they can play “spot the underlying Verne novel” while reading the book. BONUS!!


Jules Verne wrote 54 stories as part of “The Extraordinary Voyages” series (FYI I had no idea there were so many before reading this so Anderson picks up some points there already). These stories include all of Verne’s most famous works (e.g.,Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,The Mysterious Island,Around the World in Eighty Days,Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and From the Earth to the Moon).

The premise of this fictional biography is that Andre Nemo was Jules Verne’s BFF and that Nemo’s incredible “real life exploits” were the inspiration for “The Extraordinary Voyages.” Now with this many stories (54 mind you) you will have to forgive a certain amount of coincidence as Anderson ties so many of the plots of Verne’s stories around a single man’s life. However, I was really impressed with how well Anderson accomplished this massive feat and think it was a large part of the fun I had with the novel.

This is the account of a brilliant, resourceful, intrepid adventurer whose travels and trials take him around the world on a series of incredible journeys. These sojourns inspire the tales of Jules Verne while shaping the man into the Captain Nemo that readers know and love. This latter part, the growth of young Nemo from fearlessly curious teenager to the nationless renegade who “declares war on war itself” is deftly handled and very well done indeed.

If the story were only the above, it would be worth reading. However, Anderson gives the reader even more. He weaves into the story of Nemo’s life Verne’s own early struggles as a writer to get published (under the tutelage of Alexandre Dumas) while attempting to live up to his father's expectations that Jules join the practice of law. In addition, Anderson does an excellent job with the central female character of the story, Caroline Aronnax. Caroline was a childhood friend of both Verne and Nemo and the secret love of both. Anderson's portrayal of Aronnax as a strong, intelligent woman who succeeds “on her own” despite the barriers imposed on women in 19th century France was a wonderfully nice touch. These two additional components of the story make Anderson’s adventure feel more rounded and complete.

Overall, this was a terrifically enjoyable tale and one I certainly recommend. The prose is functional rather than inspired, but the story-telling is top notch and Anderson successfully employs a style reminiscent of Verne himself. You may even find yourself inspired to go out and read a few more Verne novels, which would not be a bad thing.

I am really caught between 3 and 4 stars on this one and am going to split the difference. Let’s call it 3.5 stars but with a strong recommendation.
Profile Image for Ross Armstrong.
196 reviews4 followers
October 8, 2015
Not a good experience with this. I am a big Jules Verne fan and this is a really disappointing read.

This is supposed to be a biography of Verne's fictional Captain of the Nautilus from "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea." Instead we get a mash up of a fictional Jules Verne and Nemo being best friends as children and also both in love with the same woman. It starts with the myth of Verne never travelling anywhere and living and writing vicariously through Nemo. While Verne did not travel extensively, he did travel outside of France. This myth comes from an early mistranslation of his bio in an early novel.

One thing I really did not like was how Anderson has Nemo involved in every one of Verne's most famous novels, from being stranded on an island, to journeying to the center of the Earth. From flying across Africa in a balloon to helping develop a submarine for an evil Turkish caliph, Robur, during the Crimean War. He even picks up Phileas Fogg after sinking the vessel Fogg was returning to England on so as to complete his famous "Around The World In Eighty Days".

To me, this makes Verne come off as a fraud instead of the prophetic writer of some of the most memorable fiction and the creation of a new type of fiction with his Extraordinary Voyages. He is often credited as the father of modern science fiction. In his writings he imagined a submarine, a vehicle that could travel 60 mph, the television, a flight to the moon (Incredibly the launch sight was just miles from Cape Canaveral in Florida) among his many tales. Having him just parrot back Nemo's travels with some embellishment actually lessens him as an incredible author.

Many real life incidents from Verne's life are woven into the tale but even these have been altered from reality as with his loveless marriage which, in reality, he was really smitten with his wife.Just a little bit of research would have fixed much of this.

I don't see why Verne even needed to be a character in the story. An original story detailing how Nemo went from an Indian prince to building a submarine and beginning a war on war should be sufficient inspiration for an great story but we instead get Nemo changed into a French citizen who becomes disenchanted with civilization and eventually goes off on his own but not before he finds and rescues his childhood love interest who chooses Nemo over Verne.

This was a very disappointing tale.

Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,264 reviews201 followers
July 18, 2021
It was, mostly, fun. Good narration, cool idea, strong characterization are a plus. Cramming Nemo's story with as many Verne's stories as possible tired me, though. I definitely preferred Jules Verne and Caroline's chapters.

Still, I think it's a fun read, and fans of Verne's oeuvre will love it.
Profile Image for Mark.
542 reviews154 followers
December 24, 2011
Titan Books are re-releasing this book, which takes both Jules Verne, the writer, and his fictional character Andre Nemo (of 20 000 Leagues Beneath the Sea, amongst others) and mixes them up.
In this novel Andre Nemo, friend of the young Jules, is a real person, although one which Jules used in his writing. The key conceit here is that the adventures that Nemo has forms the basis for Jules’ prodigious writing later in life.

We begin the tale with both boys attempting to stowaway to sea. Unfortunately Jules is caught by his father and made to return home. Andre does escape and before long he is doing all the things that have become famous in Verne’s writing. He is set upon by pirates, shipwrecked, takes revenge, has to face dinosaurs, travels into the Earth, balloons across Africa, discovers Timbuktu, and ends up in the British cavalry fighting the Russians. Whilst doing this, Nemo also encounters a number of key historical people and is involved in a number of key events (such as the Charge of the Light Brigade) before returning home to France. Jules, still in France and pining after Caroline Arronax, eventually turns these real life tales of his friend into his popular novels.

This is a solidly written piece of entertainment. At times the info-dump exposition can be a little unsubtle, along the lines of ‘Character X thought of how the plants had adapted, based on Darwin’s Theory of The Origin of Species, written in 1838 as Darwin was sailing in the Galapagos Islands on the good ship SS Beagle with its crew of ....’, though this is not as bad as it could be. The characterisation is as you would expect, the prose determinedly straightforward, the tale told with barely a pause for breath before diving into the next exciting exploit. This, of course, gives the reader little time to think about the implausibility of one man appearing, Zelig-like, at all of these key historical events.

Part of the fun is of course spotting all the references to Verne’s work and others. There’s a great version of Verne’s ‘Centre of the Earth’, for example, as Nemo travels into it, with giant mushrooms, fluorescent plants and crystals. The chapter titles are often Verne titles, too: The Mysterious Island, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Master of the World, 20,000 Leagues, for example. There’s also a sprinkling of other Verne characters throughout, such as Ned Land and Professor Liedenbrock.

However, above all, this book celebrates what Verne’s tales did at their time of publication – the joy of discovery and exploration and the miracles performed by technology. It is gloriously steampunk, with Kevin using all the technological marvels of 1840: steamboat, locomotive, balloon, telegraph, submarine – as did Verne. As one of the characters puts it, “It is wonderful to see impossible dreams come to fruition.”

It is quite interesting to read Verne portrayed as a home-body, whilst Nemo is the more exciting and darker alter-ego, managing to do all the things Jules would like to do, but sadly does not. The novel has the break-neck pace of the old pulps, with the metafictional idea of using real-life people and fictional characters together. This is something of a trend at the moment from Titan: see also Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula for something similar.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting to. Anyone who enjoys old action adventure tales of the Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle type, or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which, incidentally, Kevin wrote the film novelisation for) or, as mentioned above, Anno Dracula, would enjoy this one.

And if it means that some readers will then read Verne’s own tales, then so much the better. Great fun.

Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,070 reviews264 followers
June 10, 2012
A delightfully engrossing novel by an extremely talented author, Kevin J. Anderson, “Captain Nemo” can be classified in several categories; fantasy, historical fantasy, science fiction, science fantasy, adventure, thriller, coming-of-age, friendship memoir, and much more. It’s simply a breathtaking fictional view of the writings of Jules Verne, as if Verne were the amanuensis who recorded the true-life adventures of his best friend, rather than only a writer of science fiction. For readers who have long loved the stories of Jules Verne, “Captain Nemo” will be quite like returning home, from a new viewpoint. For those who haven’t yet discovered Verne, they will be exposed to Verne’s mysteries and glories, and no doubt inspired to read him in the original books.

Very simply, author Anderson posits Andre Nemo-Captain Nemo as readers have known him for over a century-as an actual historic individual, the best friend (and sometimes rival) of the more reticent and fearful Jules Verne. Andre Nemo becomes a great adventurer, travelling the globe (and beyond), a man’s man whose incredible experiences are recorded by his stay-at-home friend Verne. Verne becomes a popular and bestselling author because of it; yet he still yearns deep within to have experienced these adventures himself, decrying his own ingrained armchair adventurer attitude.

“Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius” is a captivating novel on many levels, sure to please uncountable readers (and inspire them to read or to re-read the original works of Monsieur Jules Verne.
Profile Image for Bryan.
315 reviews7 followers
January 14, 2011
Kevin J. Anderson writes consistently entertaining science fiction. He includes a lot of adventure, and has a clean style that is accessible. Not the most experimental of authors, he is unlikely to win many awards nor further the genre, but he can be counted on for a good story and a good read.

Sounds a bit like Alan Dean Foster (and coincidentally, both authors write a lot of media-related titles also). Neither writes high literature, but you can enjoy their SF adventures without keeping it as a "guilty pleasure".

So how is this book? Quite surprising, actually, in that I really, really enjoyed this. I was expecting a good yarn and a smooth read, and I got all that, but also more. I'm actually inspired to go to Project Gutenberg and read a lot more of the Jules Verne novels (I've only read two).

Another reviewer criticized this book in saying that sometimes it went too far (and I agree - there were some unbelievable coincidences in which it seemed the author decided to throw everything into the novel including the kitchen sink). And the reviewer also said that sometimes this novel did not go far enough (and again, I agree - there could have been a bit more depth in the tragic romantic life of Captain Nemo). But for the most part, this was a well-crafted novel, and I commend Anderson for making an obvious labor of love so accessible and entertaining.

Check it out...

Profile Image for John Stinebaugh.
243 reviews7 followers
November 23, 2018
Kevin J Anderson has a unique voice for retelling or adding to the stories of others. This delightful steampunk Forrest Gump is a delightful romp through the 1800s and the works of Jules Verne.
Profile Image for Leelan.
227 reviews3 followers
October 27, 2008
Interesting book if a little uninspired at times. Jules Verne always dreamed of travelling and seeing the world but his strict father wouldn't let him. By the time Verne grows up he is set in his ways and can't bring himself to leave France. But his old friend Nemo returns now and again to tell him of his adventures. There is also an invented character involved, a woman(whose name escapes me) who forma part of a tentative romantic triangle of childhood companions. Basically Jules is living vicariously through Nemo. What's worse, he becomes rich and famous writing them down and selling them to a publisher! What a friend!

KJ Anderson boils down all of the real Jules Verne's books to their bare bones and makes Nemo live through all of them except for "A Trip to the Moon".

IMHO KJA went too far in some cases and not far enough in others. But it is a fairly good book. I have read worse.
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,497 reviews32 followers
September 14, 2016
Excellent book blending a fantasy "biography" of Jules Verne and Captain Nemo. Anderson does an excellent job blending the historical facts of Verne's life into the fictional life of Nemo. I liked how the "true" history of the amazing stories of Jules Verne were revealed. Good, entertaining and nicely done read. This is the first book by Anderson that I have read that he has not co-authored with someone. I will be seeking out more of his work. Very recommended
Profile Image for Noran Miss Pumkin.
463 reviews94 followers
August 3, 2011
I read this book, along with others-when "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". I got books on each of the characters to read. Sean Connery Makes most any movie better.
Profile Image for Matthew Kresal.
Author 43 books32 followers
September 2, 2017
There are few authors whose works have stood the test of time more than Jules Verne. With a handful of classic novels and characters, he created timeless tales of adventure and science fiction. Suppose though that those tales and some of his most iconic characters had a basis in fact? That is the basis of Captain Nemo, Kevin J. Anderson's 2002 novel subtitled The Fantastic History of a Dark Genius (or alternatively “The Fantastic Adventures” depending on which edition you have). The result is a treat for fans of both Verne and the steampunk genre he helped to inspire.

Going into the novel, it's important to keep in mind that Anderson is like many of those who have adapted Verne's works in the past. He is out to capture the spirit if not necessarily the exact details and characterizations that the Frenchman gave us starting more than a century and a half ago. His Nemo is not the mysterious character Verne used twice in his writings but rather Andre Nemo, a boyhood friend of Verne's who proves able to go out into the world and put his genius to work in extraordinary situations. It's a premise that perhaps seems a bit of a cheat at first but in fact isn't as Anderson drops in elements of Verne's real life into the mix, such as the pivotal event from Verne's youth that the novel uses for the two men to part ways. It's something that both anchors the novel in some kind of reality as well as allowing Anderson to effectively have his way with Verne's creations.

Taking that as a given, there is much to enjoy here. Those familiar with both Verne's best-known works and even some of his more obscure ones will find plenty to enjoy here. There's Nemo himself, the genius engineer whose adventures take him from desert islands to commanding the most famous submarine in literature with quite a few places in-between. Along the way, he encounters the 'inspirations' for a number of Verne's characters and works from Ned Land and Robur the Conqueror to Phileas Fogg. For Verne fans, the novel is like an Easter egg hunt in finding not only the people but events from various stories and even some of the better-known adaptations of Verne's work.

One of the big accomplishments of the book is just how well it captures the spirit of Verne with a more modern eye. Verne could almost be considered the father of 'hard science fiction' and his works today can be marred down by the technical details he wrote into them. Anderson finds a middle ground, giving enough detail to make the advanced for its time technology seem plausible in context while also not forgetting that he is writing an action/adventure tale. The novel has plenty of action pieces inspired by Verne's source material which, like the other Easter eggs, will have readers smiling in delight. Like incorporating Verne himself as a character, these help to make the fantastic seem plausible especially given the sometimes acknowledged implausible nature of events.

Something else that Anderson also is aware of is that Verne, despite characters like Nemo, was never strong on characterizations. His Nemo and Verne are both strong characters with one being able to go out into the world and the other being forced to stay home in France, both finding inspiration and friendship in the other. Perhaps more surprising is the inclusion of their mutual love interest Caroline Aronnax, a proto-feminist who is a strong presence throughout the novel's pages as she pulls against the social conventions of early to mid nineteenth century France. The other characters are nicely drawn, drawing on and sometimes expanding on some of Verne's own creations.

The result is that Captain Nemo is a supremely enjoyable read. Verne fans will enjoy new takes on familiar characters and plot elements while those who are perhaps looking for a good steampunk themed read will find plenty to enjoy from solid characterizations to plenty of high-tech Victoriana on display. It also stands as a good example of how one writer can take the creations of another and change them into something both familiar and refreshingly new all at once.
Profile Image for  ManOfLaBook.com.
1,145 reviews71 followers
April 1, 2020
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Captain Nemo by Kevin J. Anderson is a novel expanding the background of the famous Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island. Mr. Anderson is an award winning author, mostly known for his Star Wars novels and original sagas.

In France, 1840s, Jules Verne and his friends Andre Nemo and Caroline Aronnax dream of adventures and travels. While Caroline and Andre have their own adventures, Jules can only look from afar and write novels which are a re-telling of Nemos life.

I have heard of Kevin J. Anderson previously, I had a few guest posts done by Star Wars fans on my blog, and good word of mouth by friends. When a friend loaned me Captain Nemo by Kevin J. Anderson I was looking forward to finding out myself what the big hoopla is all about.

Right off the bat I could tell that this would be a good read. Like Verne’s books, each chapter is its own little adventure (Verne’s were serialized), full of excitement and good time. This book is the equivalent of a good pop-corn flick, full of fun, comedy, some romance, but no real underlying heavy literary themes meant to rock your world.
And that’s just fine.

I especially enjoyed two aspects of the book, literary mashups and literary hunt. Literary mashups are tricky and difficult to pull off. Combining per-existing literature to a new work of fiction can be undone quickly with even a bit of carelessness, however Mr. Anderson pulled it off. The other part, the literary hunt for Mr. Verne’s stories was especially enjoyable to me, Mr. Anderson weaved in some of Jules Verne’s most famous books as part of Nemo’s fictional biography which inspired his friend and budding author.

This was a really enjoyable story, the narrative reads like a biography and not a fictional tale, Mr. Anderson’s literary devices to pay homage to Jules Verne work very well. The story, written in a way which is reminiscent of the way Verne writes, works very well and is especially inspired.
172 reviews
August 21, 2022
This novel is rather unique in its method of telling the story as well as the way it is constructed (for lack of a better term).

The story follows the life of Andrei Nemo who will eventually become captain Nemo of the Nautilis. In the beginning we see him and Jules Verne as young boys who have grown up together. Verne's father is a lawyer, and Verne being the eldest child is expected to take up that profession even though he would much rather write. On the other hand Nemo's father is a shipwright who intrigues and influences both Nemo and Verne with his stories.

Throughout the story we are meet numerous people who will eventually be represented in name at least by characters in Verne's novels. Some of these are Phileas Fogg, Arne Saknussemm, Ned Land, Cedric Harding, Conceil, and many others.

In both of Jules Verne's (1828-1905) stories where we actually meet Captain Nemo ("20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "The Mysterious Island") we aren't given a whole lot background information about his past life, so Kevin Anderson had a lot of leeway in how he constructed the history of Captain Nemo, and I believe he did an excellent job as it is quite believable within the world Verne has created for his characters. In addition the way he wove the real life of Jules Verne into the story was extremely well done.
1 review
March 22, 2023
What a stoopid book! Portrayed Jules Verne in many negative aspects, probably this author hates him. So it created a bad impression on me. And also out of nowhere after you have read half a book it becomes a story about war, aggressive acts and violence. It's also super fake and must be indicated as a parody! I haven't read the original and almost killed my motivation to do it! I also at first thought this is the original captain Nemo, but both the book and author are some copycats
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chris.
240 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2018
This was a really fun book. I wasn't sure what to expect as I picked it at random going only by the fact that this is the person that co-wrote the Clockwork Angels books. To be honest I have never read any of Jules Vern's books so there may have been some things that I didn't catch that someone who is familiar with his works might. That being said, it was a enjoyable book.
Profile Image for Kenneth Flusche.
1,029 reviews6 followers
September 5, 2022
Mysterious Island was the only Jules Verne Book I ever owned and was reread until it fell apart. I read every book of his from the library between age 12 and 15. When I tried to re-read them in my 30's the stories were not quite the same.

Kevin has re-created the adventure that I experienced in my youth. I was spell bound from start to finish.
Profile Image for Betty.
116 reviews9 followers
January 5, 2018
Not bad. Not bad. This tale is a fun ride for any Jules Verne fan. A new back story is revealed as you come across familiar ships and captain names. Very well thought out by someone who obviously loves Verne's writings.
129 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2021
What a great book! KJA has, once again, gone and written a book that is enthralling. If you're a fan of Jules Verne then this is a book for you. It looks at Andre Nemo and Jules Verne and their lives. It was an eminently enjoyable book!
Profile Image for Natalie Williams.
130 reviews83 followers
January 11, 2018
KJ Anderson rarely disappoints and he most definitely delighted me by tying all the Verne stories together in the character of Andre Nemo. Hear, Hear Mr. Anderson! More Fantastic Voyages, please!
476 reviews4 followers
September 4, 2020
I picked up this book because I met the author at a convention not really expecting to like. It proved to be a fast paced and interesting read.
Profile Image for Lel.
790 reviews17 followers
April 15, 2021
I really liked this. It was interesting seeing more of a background to 'Captain Nemo'. The relationship between the three main characters was also very well done.
311 reviews16 followers
July 12, 2021
I enjoyed this book. A look at Jules Verne famous character as if he really existed.
Profile Image for Crystal Edwards.
2 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2022
Honestly took a little while to get into, but once the adventures started they just kept going. I like how it plays off of a well known classic book.
Profile Image for Willem van den Oever.
448 reviews4 followers
May 26, 2014
Jules Verne is often considered to be one of the forefathers of science fiction. By combining interesting discoveries and fantastical possibilities in science and technology with exciting adventures and brave heroes, he captivated readers around the world with his works.
What many don’t know, though, is that Jules relied heavily on a childhood friend of his; one who explored much of the world during various expeditions in the mid-1800’s. Providing Verne with extensive notes and anecdotes of each individual trip, Verne transformed these expeditions into reading material for young and old.
The name of this mysterious inspiration? André Nemo.

This “What if?”-scenario provides the base for Kevin J. Anderson’s adventure novel “Captain Nemo”. An idea which might seem awkward and silly, but which is pulled off with surprising success by Anderson.
What makes this novel work as a whole, is the way how the individual adventures of Nemo are merged together. While Verne used science and technology as foundation for his stories, Anderson uses history for his. By using actual events – The Crimea War, the French Revolution or the Franco-Prussian War – and real-life characters to serve as a backdrop and support for both Nemo’s and Verne’s adventures, “Captain Nemo” becomes a whole. Had this not been done, the story might’ve fallen apart into smaller vignettes. Now, fact becomes fiction and fiction is integrated into facts; much like Verne himself might’ve done.

So “Captain Nemo” is Kevin J. Anderson’s ode to Jules Verne. And he brings his ode amiably. Still, most of “Captain Nemo” is obviously a retelling of Verne’s books and Anderson depends heavily on what Verne had already created for him. Of course the elements from various “extraordinary voyages” are cleverly gelled into one. Spotting all the references is a joy for Verne-fans. But that doesn’t hide the fact that most of this book is borrowed material. A cantankerous reviewer might call it extremely elaborate fan-fiction.
Not me, though. Most of the time, I was having too much fun reading this book to worry too much about originality.

What bothered me the most, though, is that in the book Jules Verne does so little to hide the fact that his ideas are really the adventures of an actual person, rather than Verne’s imaginings. Nemo’s a very well known man – even honored and recommended by the Emperor Napoleon himself – so why wouldn’t anybody else in France figure out that the real hero is Nemo, not Verne?
Nemo crosses the African continent in a balloon trip covered by international press, and some years later Verne’s characters do the exact same. Verne publishes a book about a warship-destroying submarine; while in the meantime, warships around the world are actually destroyed by a mysterious metal craft; and nobody gets suspicious about that..?

Perhaps that proves that one shouldn’t think too much while reading “Captain Nemo”.
Though the book is far from flawless, as a whole it proves to be an entertaining and adventurous – if sometimes a little uninspired – romp.
38 reviews
September 9, 2022
A wonderful homage to Jules Verne and his characters; I really love the framing as a sort of biography of a real Andre Nemo that inspired the stories; got me more interested in some of Vernes other works
Great book; recommend to fans of Jules Verne
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