It has come a long way since then. Every member is described as disfigured in some way by their experiments with explosives: [A]nd of those who came back the greater part bore marks of their indisputable valour.
The Gun Club considered testing this, but while the horses raised no objections, it was unfortunately impossible to find men willing to take part. What Verne correctly prophesised was: the use of the zenith in the equatorial circumference to get closer to the moon; in doing so he places the cannon on exactly the same latitude as Cape Kennedy, the launch site of the Apollo mission; the dimensions and use of aluminium for the capsule; and the number of men launched within it.
We must also mention the formidable mortar invented by J.Maston, secretary of the Gun Club—meets the rivals in the forest where they have agreed to duel. From then on, the story alternates biting and humorous portrayals of Americans with some pretty darn good science. I can imagine his French readers practically rolling on the floor at passages like: It is but fair to add that these Yankees, brave as they have ever proved themselves to be, did not confine themselves to theories and formulae, but that they paid heavily, in propria persona, for their inventions. Finally, Impey Barbicane, the President of the Gun Club, proposes, to wild cheers, that they build a cannon to shoot a projectile to the moon! But now the generals are gone back to their counters; and in place of projectiles, they despatch bales of cotton. By Jove, the future of gunnery in America is lost! The story opens some time after the end of the American Civil War. Nevertheless, these valiant artillerists took no particular account of these little facts, and felt justly proud when the despatches of a battle returned the number of victims at ten-fold the quantity of projectiles expended. Verne returned the dig later when he pointed out that he used gun cotton to send his men to the Moon, an actual substance. Every member is described as disfigured in some way by their experiments with explosives: [A]nd of those who came back the greater part bore marks of their indisputable valour. It ends shortly after the successful launch. Maston plan to use the Columbiad to alter the tilt of the Earth to enable the mineral wealth of the Arctic region to be put within reach of exploitation.
Bedford, mentions Verne's novel to his companion, Professor Cavor, who replies in a possible dig at Verne that he does not know what Bedford is referring to. The Czechoslovak film The Fabulous Baron Munchausen combines characters and plot elements from the Verne novel with those of the stories of Baron Munchausen and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Maston plan to use the Columbiad to alter the tilt of the Earth to enable the mineral wealth of the Arctic region to be put within reach of exploitation. Maston, scratching with his steel hook his gutta-percha cranium… It is casually proposed that the Gun Club could stir up some war or other rather than let artillery science languish in peace, a prospect that has all the cripples in the club yearning for death.
Models of cannons, specimens of bronze, targets spotted with shot-marks, plaques broken by the shock of the Gun Club, balls, assortments of rammers and sponges, chaplets of shells, necklaces of projectiles, garlands of howitzers—in a word, all the tools of the artilleryman surprised the eyes by their wonderful arrangement, and induced a belief that their real purpose was more ornamental than deadly.
It seems appropriate to us to share with you some of the reflections of the crew as the modern-day Columbia completes its rendezvous with the planet Earth and the same Pacific Ocean tomorrow.