Study Guide

From the Earth to the Moon

By Jules Verne

From the Earth to the Moon Introduction

Take one part Stephen Colbert, add a dash of Douglas Adams, and top it all off with a heaping spoonful of Pepé Le Pew—that right there is a recipe for From the Earth to the Moon.

First published in 1865 by Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon is considered by many to be the most important science fiction novel of its era. Verne is a true O.G. of the sci-fi game—along with H.G. Wells, dude is considered one of the most influential and innovative sci-fi authors of all time. As one of his first novels, From the Earth to the Moon represents a groundbreaking moment in his career, as well as the history of science fiction.

The novel follows the Gun Club, a band of super-intelligent guys who love building cannons. They love building cannons so much, in fact, that the end of the Civil War causes them to throw a temper tantrum straight out of The Real Housewives. Fortunately, Gun Club President Impey Barbicane has a brilliant new plan: For their next trick, they will build a cannon so powerful that it can hit the moon. With this ambitious goal in sight, the Gun Club looks to boldly go where no one has gone before.

As you might imagine, they meet plenty of obstacles along the way. Barbicane is challenged to a duel to the death; a charming Frenchman arrives with an enticing offer, forcing the Gun Club to rethink their whole project from the ground up; plus, poor J.T. Maston's squirrel gets eaten. No rest for the weary, as they say.

Plot aside, the most important thing you need to know about this novel is that it's hilarious. Although Verne takes his story seriously, he spends a lot of time making fun of his characters and putting them into absurd situations. So if you like your science fiction with a generous side of belly laughs, then From the Earth to the Moon is for you.

What is From the Earth to the Moon About and Why Should I Care?

Move over Nostradamus—you don't have jack on our boy Jules Verne.

Verne is an author and prophet in one tidy package. Let's run down a few of the bizarrely accurate predictions Verne made in From the Earth to the Moon:

  • He predicted that the Apollo Missions would be launched from the state of Florida.
  • He predicted that the first lunar mission would have three crew members.
  • He predicted that shuttles would be made out of aluminum.

In fact, Apollo 8 was even launched exactly one hundred years after Verne's novel was first published. Eerie, right?

We're not trying to say that the dude is a psychic or anything; he's just really smart. In fact, Verne is so smart and clever that the novel still feels fresh, despite being way older than your grandma. This is one book that you're going to want to dig into. After all, who knows what other crazy coincidences you might unearth?

From the Earth to the Moon Resources

Websites

The Apollo Missions
Want to learn about mankind's real first trip to the moon? Head over to NASA's website and prepare to reach outer space.

North American Jules Verne Society
Did reading From the Earth to the Moon make you a die-hard Jules Verne fan? We have a few people we want to introduce you to…

Articles and Interviews

An Interview with Brian Taves
In this interview, Verne aficionado Brian Taves discusses some of the author's lesser-known and even unpublished works.

Weight in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon
This Wired article uses Verne's novel as a jumping-off point into a discussion on gravity in space. Verne's science, though not completely accurate, holds up pretty well.

Articles and Interveiws

Does Sci-Fi Show the Future?
This piece from the BBC discusses the incredibly accurate predictions made by science fiction writers like Verne. What you read may shock you….

Video

Biography: Jules Verne
If you're like us, then sometimes you want to watch a nice, cheesy television documentary. Have no fear—Shmoop is here to give you what you need.

From the Earth to the Moon (HBO) Documentary
Although it shares its name with Verne's novel, this HBO miniseries is exclusively focused on the real-life Apollo missions. Check it out either way, though—it's great stuff.

Footage from the Apollo Missions
Want to see what it's like to actually walk across the moon's surface? Well, your wish is Shmoop's command.

Audio

The Legacy of Verne in Science and Literature
Recorded one hundred years after Verne's death, this radio story details the long-lasting impact the author has made on the fields of science and literature. That's a two-for-one special.

How the "Earthrise" Photo Was Made
This story discusses the origin of the most famous photograph ever taken from the moon—more famous than Neil Armstrong's innovative moon-selfie.

Images

The Moon
Hey there, moon. What's going on, little buddy?

The Arrival of the Projectile-Carriage
This is one of many awesome old school illustrations made for the novel. Do a little searching and you might be able to find a few more.