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From the Earth to the Moon - Jules Verne - Book Cover

From the Earth to the Moon

From the Earth to the Moon is an 1865 science fiction novel by the renowned French author Jules Verne. It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club, a society of weapons enthusiasts in post-American Civil War America, and their ambitious plans to launch a projectile to the Moon.

Recommended for: If you enjoy captivating science fiction stories with a blend of meticulous technical detail and a captivating narrative, From the Earth to the Moon is a must-read. This pioneering 1865 novel by Jules Verne takes you on an extraordinary journey as the Baltimore Gun Club endeavors to launch a projectile to the Moon. With themes of human ambition, competition, and the allure of the unknown, this classic work of science fiction continues to inspire readers and spark dreams of space exploration.

You will:

  • Witness the ambitious plans of building a colossal cannon, the Columbiad, capable of shooting a projectile to the Moon.
  • Experience the tension between rivals Impey Barbicane, the club’s president, and Captain Nicholl, as they confront the challenge of a French adventurer, Michel Ardan, joining the lunar voyage.
  • Explore the technical intricacies of the Columbiad’s construction and the launch sequence, all meticulously described by Jules Verne.
  • Encounter thought-provoking scientific and engineering solutions to the challenges faced by the travelers, such as extreme acceleration and the absence of breathable air.
  • Encounter the cliffhanger ending that sets the stage for the sequel, Around the Moon, continuing the captivating lunar journey.
  • Discover the lasting impact of this groundbreaking novel on popular culture, from coining the term “spaceship” to inspiring early science fiction films and various adaptations in different media.

Plot Summary

The novel opens with the Baltimore Gun Club convening after the end of the Civil War. The club’s president, Impey Barbicane, has calculated that it is possible to build a massive cannon, called a Columbiad, capable of shooting a projectile all the way to the Moon. Despite skepticism from his rival Captain Nicholl, Barbicane gains the support of the club members and begins fundraising for the monumental project.

After securing over $5 million in funding from various countries, the Gun Club selects a site in Florida to construct the colossal Columbiad cannon. The process of excavating a 900-foot deep, 60-foot wide hole to house the cannon is a massive engineering feat in itself. Just as construction is nearing completion, a new complication arises when a French adventurer named Michel Ardan announces his intention to ride inside the projectile to the Moon.

Ardan’s proposal leads to a tense confrontation between Barbicane and Nicholl, the two rivals, who nearly duel over the mission. Ardan intervenes and convinces the men to join him on the lunar voyage. With all the key characters in place, the Columbiad is finally loaded with the powerful explosive “gun cotton” and fired, sending the projectile hurtling towards the Moon.

Verne meticulously describes the technical details of the Columbiad’s construction and the launch sequence, drawing on the scientific knowledge available at the time. He also thoughtfully considers the challenges the travelers would face, such as the extreme acceleration at launch and the lack of breathable air in the projectile. Barbicane’s solution to the acceleration problem, using a special shock-absorbing system, is a remarkable piece of speculative engineering.

While the initial launch is a success, the ultimate fate of the three men – Barbicane, Nicholl, and Ardan – aboard the projectile is left unresolved at the end of the novel. This cliffhanger ending sets up the sequel, Around the Moon, which continues the story of their journey and lunar landing.

Theme and Analysis

Verne’s novel was groundbreaking in its scientific approach to imagining space travel, going beyond the fantastical lunar voyages of earlier works. He drew inspiration from real-world developments in artillery and ballistics, as well as the growing interest in the Moon sparked by the “Moon Mania” of the 19th century. While some of Verne’s technical details have been proven impractical, his core concept of using a massive cannon to launch humans into space was a major influence on the genre of science fiction.

The novel has had a lasting impact on popular culture. It was the first literary work to coin the term “spaceship,” and its vision of a Moon-bound projectile inspired early science fiction films like Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon in 1902. Verne’s novel has also been adapted into various other media over the years, from comic books to operas to films.

Beyond its scientific and literary significance, From the Earth to the Moon also reflects broader themes of human ambition, competition, and the drive to explore the unknown. The rivalry between Barbicane and Nicholl, and their desire to outdo one another, mirrors the competitive spirit that has often fueled great scientific and technological achievements. Ardan’s role as the adventurous outsider who disrupts the Gun Club’s plans adds an element of unpredictability and humanity to the story.

Verne’s novel remains a landmark work of science fiction, blending meticulous technical detail with a captivating narrative. It stands as a testament to the power of imagination and the human capacity to conceive of the seemingly impossible. Even over 150 years after its initial publication, “From the Earth to the Moon” continues to inspire readers and spark the dreams of space exploration.


Jules Verne. From the Earth to the Moon. Originally published in 1865. Translated from french by Ward, Lock & Co. This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author and translators died at least 100 years ago. This digital edition is provided by Standard Ebooks under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The PDF version has been independently generated by Ebooks-net, while maintaining the same content and adhering to the license conditions of the original edition provided by Standard Ebooks.

To cite this work

Verne, Jules, From the Earth to the Moon. Standard Ebooks. CC0 1.0. https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/jules-verne/from-the-earth-to-the-moon/ward-lock-co


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