Thursday, 1 September 2016

Welcome to Voyages Extraordinaires, Volume II!

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the newly refreshed Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age weblog!

For longtime readers of this weblog, I hope you'll enjoy this new incarnation and the new opportunities for content that it affords. For those of you who are not so familiar, allow me to describe what it is you'll find in the premier electro-tele-kinetographic journal of Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances, Retro-Futurism, and Victoriana.

Actually, let me first say what you will not see here: you will not see endlessly reiterated costume photoshoots, DIY project tips, or the other affectations of a long-worn out post-Goth fashion trend (and my equally worn-out complaints about it). Nor will you find plain reviews of film, novels, comic books, and video games. At some point, Voyages Extraordinaires "Volume I" became an encyclopedic catalogue of everything that fit into the broad scope of its featured genres... Even when I did not have anything particularly interesting, insightful, or positive to say about it. On sober reflection, Voyages Extraordinaires will now be concentrating on my own strengths of context and analysis. Opinions on the quality of something may come through now and then, but my focus will be on history, culture, and meaning as we investigate Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances, Retro-Futurism, Horror, Fantasy, and Adventure together.

Voyages Extraordinaires is named for the series of books written by Jules Verne and published by Jules Hetzel. Though Verne's precursors to Science Fiction are his best-known and beloved works today, the idea of "Scientific Romance" is much more than an outdated term for Science Fiction. Though a chanticleer of new technology, Verne also responded to the hunger of a literate public for stories of far-flung places and interesting cultures. Hetzel stated that the purpose of Verne's "Extraordinary Voyages" was "to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format...the history of the universe." Of his own work, Verne said,
My object has been to depict the earth, and not the earth alone, but the universe, for I have sometimes taken my readers away from earth, in the novel. And I have tried at the same time to realize a very high ideal of beauty of style. It is said that there can’t be any style in a novel of adventure, but it isn’t true...   
Together, we will take these Extraordinary Voyages through the lens of the nostalgic myth of the past, fully cognizant of its negative aspects but unapologetic in our love for its beauty and style. At times it might go back as far as the Renaissance, while at others it might come as close as the 1930's Golden Ages of Travel and Hollywood. Usually, though, we'll be rooted in that Romantic, high Victorian-Edwardian world of the Gay Nineties and the Belle Époque. We'll sit in explorers clubs, wilderness lodges and grand railway hotels. We'll scale mountains, from the Rockies of North America to the Montes of the Moon. Our journeys will take us up the Nile and down the Mississippi, in the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton and Lewis and Clarke. We'll board the steam trains of the Orient Express and the Galaxy Express. We'll spend much longer than 80 days in travels from Olympus Mons to the Matterhorn to Maple White Land to the Mountains of Madness to the flaming mouths of Pele's volcanoes. As noted by aesthetic philosopher Walter Benjamin, "The grey film of dust covering things has become their best part."

Another difference prior readers might notice are advertisements for Amazon at the bottom of each post. Up to now, I have published Voyages Extraordinaires without requests for donations or petitions for compensation of any kind, since I hold to the view that one's hobbies should be at one's own expense. I don't anticipate anything but a pittance from being a member of Amazon's affiliates programs either, but I felt that if someone was compelled to buy something I have discussed in this weblog anyways, having that pittance thrown my way would be a nice gesture. 

So thank you to everyone who has enjoyed Voyages Extraordinaires up to this point, and welcome to all those joining in now. May you continue to enjoy this weblog as we embark on "Volume II"!

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