Book Preview: The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg
Pretty soon Titan books here in the UK will be re releasing The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg, which was penned by legendary science fiction scribe Philip Jose Farmer.
And we have a special preview chapter from the book to share with you.
But first here is a brief description of the book:
When a powerful teleportation device falls into enemy hands, secret agent Fogg must embark on a daring global dash to save his once-immortal race from certain annihilation. Fogg encounters his deadly rival: the infamous Captain Nemo, also known as James Moriarty.
A secret alien war has raged on Earth for years and is about to culminate in this epic race.??A novel in the Wold Newton universe, in which characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Flash Gordon, Doc Savage, James Bond and Jack the Ripper are all mysteriously connected.
The Reform Club was political in origin, being founded by the Liberals of both houses of Parliament to help push through the Reform Bill, 1830–32. This was not what we of today would regard as a democratic measure. It redistributed the seats in Parliament, giving the new middle classes of the industrial cities the representation they had lacked, and getting rid of the “rotten boroughs.” It failed to satisfy the radicals (whom we should regard as very conservative indeed by modern standards), but it was a step closer to true representative government. Why Fogg chose this club rather than another is not known. He seemed to have no interest at all in politics. At least, Verne records no opinions of his, and a diligent search has failed to find his name on any registry of voters.
The club itself was housed in a magnificent structure, the architectural style of which was pure Italian, supposedly based on the famous Farnese Palace at Rome, designed by Michelangelo. It contained six floors and one hundred and thirty-four apartments. In the center was a great hall fifty-six feet by fifty feet, as high as the building itself. Adjoining the drawing room are a library and a cardroom. It was the latter that Fogg intended as his final destination.
In the meantime, he made a scheduled stop at the dining room, the nine windows of which opened onto a garden. He sat at the table which had been laid out for him, and he ate his breakfast, for which he had to give no order since it never varied.
At thirteen minutes to one, he rose and walked to the large hall. He sat down there and a servant handed him the Times. Fogg cut the pages open with a small sharp folding knife and read the paper until fifteen minutes to four o’clock. Without Fogg’s requesting it, he was handed the Standard. He then ate a dinner the menu for which deviated no more than that of his breakfast. Mr. Fogg then repaired to the washroom, an event which Verne discreetly omits to mention. Since his internal actions were as well-governed as his outer, Mr. Fogg reappeared in the reading room at the scheduled time: twenty minutes before six. He sat down to read the Pall Mall, and continued to do so until half an hour had passed. An acute observer, however, would have noticed that he raised his eyes from the paper more times than usual, and he might have deduced that Mr. Fogg was looking for someone. This someone, if he appeared, caused no visible reaction in Mr. Fogg.
Apparently, whatever the signal of the 2° F. meant, events were proceeding slowly. If there was frenzy or desperation behind the plan, it was not obvious. Mr. Fogg read every word of the three publications with a remarkable swiftness. This was even more remarkable considering the lack of practice at other kinds of literature. Nobody at the club had ever seen Fogg read anything but the journals, and he certainly did not read at home since No. 7, Savile Row lacked books of any kind. And yet, he seemed to have been everywhere and to know everything about the most remote of places. From where had he gotten his knowledge?
He did not seem to be looking for anything in particular in his perusal of the papers. Yet his eyes did slow down sometimes and retrack. The delays were caused by certain items, accounts of strange happenings in every niche of the globe. They were the sort of thing put in to fill space, though certainly calculated to interest most human beings. Fogg was putting them together with other accounts in today’s papers and also with those he had read in the past. He was trying to construct a coherent picture from them. He was especially interested in the stories of weird or unusual marine phenomena. Stories about sea serpents or missing or overdue ships caught his attention. Nor did he neglect the terrestrial, especially unmotivated murders or disappearances.
At ten minutes after six, five members stopped to talk before the fireplace and rid themselves of the chilliness of the autumn evening. These were Andrew Stuart, an engineer; two bankers, Sullivan and Fallentin; a brewer, Flanagan; and a director of the Bank of England, Gautheir Ralph. Mr. Fogg was aware of their presence, but, since he was not finished reading, he did not address them.
Mr. Flanagan asked Mr. Ralph what he thought about the robbery.
Stuart answered for Ralph, stating that the Bank of England would lose its money.
Ralph replied that the bank expected to get the robber. The best of detectives had been sent to all the large ports of America and Europe, and the robber would have to be very slippery indeed to elude the hawks of the law.
Stuart said, “But do you have a description?”
Ralph said, “In the first place, he is no robber.”
Stuart was astounded. “What! A chap who makes off with fifty-five thousand pounds is no robber?”
“Perhaps, then, he is a manufacturer?”
“The Daily Telegraph reports that he is a gentleman.”
No one smiled at this last remark, which was made by Phileas Fogg. He rose, bowed to his whist partners, and indulged in a conversation about the robbery. Three days before, a package of bank notes had been picked up by a gentleman from the principal cashier’s table. It was not the gentleman’s, but he did not return it. So, in a sense, it was his. At least, it would be until he was caught.
As Verne observes, “The Bank of England has a touching confidence in the honesty of the public.” No one even knew that the fifty thousand pounds were missing until the bank was closed and the books were balanced. No guards stood by, ready to defend the institution from illegal activities. The cashier had noticed the man taking the money but had thought nothing of it until the loss was discovered.
However, the Bank of England quickly took action when it found its confidence, not to mention the money, misplaced. Detectives were hurried off to Liverpool, Glasgow, Le Havre, Suez, Brindisi, New York, and other parts. The natural zeal of the manhunters was sharpened by a reward of two thousand pounds plus five percent on the recovered sum. They were not proceeding blindly, since they had been provided with an excellent description of the gentleman who had taken the money.
Ralph, as a bank official, thought it unthinkable that the man would not soon be caught. Stuart, the engineer, disputed his conclusion, even after the whist game had started. He had for partner Mr. Flanagan, while Fogg’s was Fallentin. Of course, they did not converse until after the first rubber was over. Stuart then said, “I maintain that chance favors the thief, who has to be a shrewd chap.”
Ralph said, “But where can he fly to? No country is safe for him.”
Stuart exclaimed with disbelief.
“Where would he go?” Ralph said.
Stuart snorted and said, “I don’t know. The world is big enough.”
And having provided an opening for Fogg, he waited.
Stuart is derived from “steward,” one who manages. And Stuart was an engineer in both a public and a private sense. He was, in fact, Fogg’s superior, for all Fogg knew, the head of the entire Eridanean Race. He was the steward, and he was chief engineer of theRace, natal and adopted.
“The world is big enough,” Stuart repeated.
Fogg said in a low voice, “It once was.”
He handed the reshuffled cards to Flanagan.
After the rubber, Stuart said, “What does your ‘once’ mean? Has the world grown smaller?”
Ralph said, “Indeed, I agree with Mr. Fogg. The world has grown somewhat smaller. A man can now go around it ten times more quickly than he could a hundred years ago. That is why the search for the thief is more likely to succeed.”
Stuart said, “But that is also why it is easier for the thief to get away.”
“Be so good as to play, Mr. Stuart,” Fogg said.
No one except Stuart was aware of the double meaning in this request.
Stuart was, it must be confessed, as keen a cardsharper as could be found. Even if he had had no native talent, he would have had to be dull indeed not to have profited by one hundred and fifty years of practice. Despite his ability to crook the cards, he was always honest. That is, he was unless the occasion required otherwise. In this case, the occasion required. And so Stuart laid down as his first card that which he had selected, the jack of diamonds. To all except Stuart and Fogg, it meant that diamonds would be trumps. To Fogg it was an order to bet, to take a dare, though not with the cards. What bet, what dare? That depended on Stuart’s conversation and Fogg’s ability to interpret.
When this rubber was over, Stuart said, “You have a strange way, Ralph, of proving that the world has gotten smaller. Thus, because you can go around it in three months…”
“Eighty days,” Fogg said.
Sullivan interrupted with a long explanation of why it would only take eighty days. The Great Indian Peninsula Railway had just opened a new section between Rothal and Allahabad, and this would reduce the traveling time enough to make it possible. The Daily Telegraph itself had made out a schedule whereby an intrepid, and lucky, traveler might proceed from London and circle the globe with enough speed to be back in London in eleven weeks and three days.
Stuart became so excited at this that he made a false deal. At least, he seemed to be excited. Fogg knew that the trey of diamonds meant: On the track. Go ahead.
Stuart then said that the schedule did not take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railroad accidents, and other likely events.
“All included,” Fogg said. He had kept on playing even though the others had stopped.
Stuart was insistent. “Suppose the Hindus or American Indians pull up the rails? Suppose they stop the trains, clean out the baggage cars, scalp the passengers?”
“All included,” Fogg replied calmly. He threw down his cards. “Two trumps.”
The others looked surprised, not at his cards but at his talkativeness. And they found his attitude irritating. The mirror-smooth calmness and assumption of authority had been noticed by them before, but in general he was a decent chap. His peccadilloes were minor and forgivable because he was an eccentric. Englishmen then loved eccentrics, or at least respected them. But the world was much bigger then and there was room for the unconventionals.
It was Stuart’s turn to deal. While shuffling, he said, “Theoretically, you’re right, Mr. Fogg. But practically…”
“Practically also, Mr. Stuart.”
Mr. Stuart had hoped that someone besides himself would initiate the bet. Since this did not now seem likely, he would have to do it. He hoped that the inevitable Capellean—who was he? the servant nearby? Fallentin? Flanagan? perhaps, perish the thought, Fogg himself?—would think that the bet had arisen naturally. Of course, they were on to Fogg now or at least suspected him. But he did not want them to suspect Stuart. Or, at least, to suspect no more than they did Fallentin, Flanagan, or Ralph.
In a somewhat indignant manner, he said, “I’d like to see you do it within eighty days.”
“That,” Fogg said, “depends on you. Shall we go?”
Stuart replied that he would bet four thousand dollars that it could not be done.
Fogg calmly insisted that it was quite possible. One thing led to another, and so the famous wager was made. Fogg had a deposit of twenty thousand pounds at Baring’s. He would risk all of it.
Sullivan cried out, and we may judge the intensity of his passions—real or assumed—by the fact that an English gentleman would raise his voice inside the Reform Club. He cried out that Fogg would lose all by one accidental delay.
Phileas Fogg replied with his curious, and now classical, remark that the unforeseen does not exist.
Stuart may have shot a warning look. Any eavesdropping Capellean would fasten onto this, worry it as if he were a dog and it the bone, and find in the marrow a vast suspicion. He would wonder if some strange hands were being dealt by strange hands at this card table.
Or had Stuart sent the message that Fogg was to talk suspiciously?
The latter seems more likely, since Stuart’s plan was to use Fogg as a decoy. The time for laying low was over. Now there was a reason for bringing the enemy out, to mark them, and to put an end to them.
Where Stuart got his idea for exposing Fogg is not known. At least, the other log says nothing about its origin. Probably, Stuart was inspired when he read the model schedule for the eighty-day trip in the Daily Telegraph. Fogg would not find out until later why Stuart had decided to launch another campaign.
One of the players protested that eighty-days was the least possible time to make the journey.
Mr. Fogg made another classical reply. “A well-used minimum suffices for everything.”
Another protest that, if he were to keep within the minimum, he would have to jump mathematically from trains to ships and back again.
Fogg made his third classical reply.
“1 will jump—mathematically.”
“You are joking.”
Fogg’s rejoinder was, in effect, that a true Englishman does not joke about such matters.
Convinced by this, the whist players decided to accept the wager.
Mr. Fogg then announced that the train left that evening for Dover at a quarter before nine. He would be on it.
He had not known about the bet until this hour, and he never took the train. How did he know the railway schedules? Had he memorized Bradshaw’s? In view of his other talents, this seems probable, though he must have done it sometime before 1866, as will be made clear in due course. Thus, he had no way of knowing that trains were still adhering to the schedules of that time. But he would have checked long before boarding, and no doubt he trusted in the resistance against change inherent in the English character.
After consulting his pocket almanac, he said, “Since today is Wednesday, second of October, I shall be due in London, in this very room, on Saturday, the twenty-first of December, at fifteen minutes before nine P.M. Otherwise, the twenty thousand pounds now deposited in my name at Baring’s is yours in fact and in right. Here is a check for the amount.”
Mr. Fogg’s total fortune was forty thousand pounds, but he foresaw having to spend half of that to win the twenty thousand. And this is so strange that it is surprising that no one has commented on it. Why should an eminently practical man, indeed, a far too practical man, one who conducted his life according to the laws of rational mechanics, make a bet like this? He was a man who had never given way to an impulse. Moreover, even if he won his bet, and this did not seem probable, he would not be a guinea richer than before. And if he lost, he was a pauper.
The only explanation is that he was under orders to make this astonishing and unprecedented move. Even if we did not now have his secret log, we could be certain of that.
As for his forty thousand pounds, the private property of an Eridanean was at the disposal of Stuart when the situation demanded it. Stuart would have sacrificed his own fortune if it were necessary. And so, if Fogg must put his entire wealth in jeopardy, he could assure himself that it was in a good cause.
Far more than money could be lost. He could be killed at any moment. From now on, he would not be an eccentric semi-hermit living obscurely in a tiny area of London. His bet was sure to be publicized quickly. The world would soon be following his journey with hot interest and cool cash.
If Fogg was perturbed by this, he showed not the slightest sign. Of all the party, he was the calmest. The others were quite disturbed. All except Stuart felt that they were taking advantage of their friend with this bet. Stuart’s agitation had another case. He knew what dangers Fogg would be encountering.
Look for this book soon in all good book stores.
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