By George Griffith
Apogee Books, $12.95, 246 pages
In late 19th century Britain, George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones was a widely read journalist and author of speculative science fiction. A contemporary and rival of H.G. Wells, Griffith produced numerous articles and books about extraordinary flying machines, Martian space ships, adventure warfare and fantasy utopias. In 1894, as a publicity stunt for a popular London weekly magazine, he set out to retrace the steps of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg and at the same time break the existing around-the-world record of 74 days. This book, which also includes several other short travel-related articles, is the unabridged transcript of Griffith’s journey, compiled and edited by his grandson (who also provides an introduction to the author and his other works). Almost completely unknown to modern readers, its not difficult to understand why Griffith has passed into obscurity. The Victorian era language and style, although easy to read, is dated and jingoistic. Unfortunately, this slim volume does nothing for encouraging readers to pick up Griffith’s other, perhaps more interesting and enjoyable, works.