Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Around the Solar System in 80 Days by Jonathan Ammon is set in the year 2078, and in this re-working of Jules Verne’s classic, we find Phileas Fogg about to meet his new manservant. Wearing a felt bowler hat, Pas-Par-2, the latest and most sophisticated robot servant to be developed, is looking forward eagerly to his first assignment as Fogg’s valet. Anticipating a fairly routine and predictable employment, he is rather taken aback when Fogg returns from his afternoon of cards at the Reform Club and instructs him to pack immediately and book tickets for a trip to the moon. And so commences an epic adventure; Fogg has made a wager with his fellow card players that using a new experimental engine developed on the moon, he would be able to circumnavigate our solar system in 80 days. Furthermore, he would collect rock samples from a list of asteroids, moons and planets agreed with the participants in the wager.
Around the Solar System in 80 Days is a great idea, well-written by a talented author, and the use of material from the various NASA probes to each of the destinations Fogg visits make this a brilliant work of science fiction. The narrative is briskly paced with plenty of action and vivid descriptions of the moons and planets visited. The characters are solid, well-drawn, and believable, particularly the robot Pass-Par-2, whose French accent and growing humanity position him at the very center of the tale. There is enough action, double-dealing, and romance along with breath-taking scenery and mind-boggling concepts to make any sci-fi fan happy. It is the sort of tale that Arthur C. Clarke might have written but I doubt very much that he could have done a better job. Congratulations to Jonathan Ammon for a first-class, entertaining book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can easily see it being made into a fantastic film.