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Five Weeks in a Balloon
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Five Weeks in a Balloon tells the tale of three Englishmen who attempt to cross Africa, from east to west, in a balloon. Dr. Ferguson is the rational scientist leading the trio, accompanied by loyal sidekick Joe and the doctor’s sporting friend Kennedy.
The three embark on many adventures: They encounter natives and dangerous animals, experience problems with their ballooning technology, and struggle with the winds and the weather. Throughout the novel, the author liberally sprinkles descriptions of flora, fauna, and geography, as seen through nineteenth century eyes.
Though this is Verne’s first published book, he already demonstrates much of the formula that drive his later works: the well-defined characters led by a rational scientist, the focus on science and technology, and of course the adventure-filled plot.
The novel, first published in 1863, was topical for its time, as European interest in African exploration was strong. At the time the book was published, David Livingstone was midst-exploration in south-east Africa, and Burton and Speke had recently returned from exploring the Great Lakes region. The novel itself contains many references to actual expeditions that would have been current or recent for the original readers of the novel.
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