“Roche transforms Verne’s work into a ship’s signal lamp, transmitting flashes of insight, warning, and a tender awareness of interconnectedness that may buoy us yet.”
—Allison Boyd Justus, author of Solstice to Solstice to Solstice
First serialized in a French periodical between March 1869 and June 1870, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea forever changed not only the arena of fiction as we knew it, but our relationship to the sea. Considered by most to be one of the earliest works of science fiction, Verne’s imaginative, wondrous novel has lent itself to hundreds of translations and interpretations the world over, introducing new generations to a fathomless world of infinite mystery and unearthly beauty from the depths. In the twenty-first century, however, it’s hard to imagine the bottomless ocean without the comprehension of all the harm and shifts that humans have wrought to this natural marvel from which all life sprang.
In text artist and poet Jennifer Roche’s erasure of Verne’s classic, this contemporary sensibility and awareness meets the adventurous realm of an ancient underwater sci-fi. With a mix of mourning, precaution, awe, and fascination, Roche has given urgent context to old words, and ignited them with new breath. Pulling in our post-industrial world on the cusp of the Anthropocene, with its gun violence, refugees, war, overstuffed prisons, climate change, and destruction of natives—both human and nonhuman alike—Roche has begged of us a furious calling to protect and cherish the seas that swirl around us. She has transformed a classic into fresh work that stands on its own merit, reaching into the past to speak to our troubling modern times, and reminding us: the sea is everything.
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