Five Weeks in a Balloon

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Author: Jules Verne
Published: 1863
Language: English
Wordcount: 92,632 / 280 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 60.2
LoC Category: PQ
Downloads: 6,135 7157
Genre: Adventure

"You'll stop nothing at all, Mr. Kennedy, with all respect to you, sir. My master is no hare-brained person; he takes a long time to think over what he means to do, and then, when he once gets started, the Evil One himself couldn't make him give it up."

"Well, we'll see about that."

"Don't flatter yourself, sir--but then, the main thing is, to have you with us. For a hunter like you, sir, Africa's a great country. So, either way, you won't be sorry for the trip."

"No, that's a fact, I shan't be sorry for it, if I can get this crazy man to give up his scheme."

"By-the-way," said Joe, "you know that the weighing comes off to-day."

"The weighing--what weighing?"

"Why, my master, and you, and I, are all to be weighed to-day!"

"What! like horse-jockeys?"

"Yes, like jockeys. Only, never fear, you won't be expected to make yourself lean, if you're found to be heavy. You'll go as you are."

"Well, I can tell you, I am not going to let myself be weighed," said Kennedy, firmly.

"But, sir, it seems that the doctor's machine requires it."

"Well, his machine will have to do without it."

"Humph! and suppose that it couldn't go up, then?"

"Egad! that's all I want!"


Average Rating of 4 from 2 reviews: ****
Henry L. Ratiff

(1863) Adventure (African balloon flight) / Sci-fi (Apparatus) / Travel / History

As with Vern's stories, there are many statistics
about places, peoples and in this case, about balloon flights and the
explorations of the African Continent, up to the time of the writing.

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • A man invents a way to generate a gas, to substitute for hot air, in a balloon.

  • This invention will make it possible for prolonged flights.

  • He, his servant and a friend set off for a distance record, across Africa from East to West.

  • They have many adventures, both planned and accidental.

  • The primitive Africa of the 1800's, provides untold adventure for three men who are willing to spend 'Five Weeks In A Balloon'.


I've always enjoyed the Jules Verne favorites (Round the World in 80 days, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea), but it's harder to find JV's other works, despite the fact that he's written over 50 books, so I snatched this one up when I saw it.

It's the story of 3 men crossing Africa (then not fully explored at the time) in a balloon (a novel method at the time). So it's basically fiction since no man had crossed that part of Africa and no one had succeed in taking a long trip in a balloon. As a result you have to take his geography and even his science in stride. It has been worked out by others that his balloon could never have made the trip and we now know that his description of that part of Africa was fanciful. So it's fiction, nevertheless it's good fiction. And we have to remember that this book was written over 100 years ago! So when I read this book, it is also an exercise in time travel for me, to read this book as it was written, in 1869, otherwise you will be offended at all the non-politically correct events that happen and the descriptions of the natives and the mind set at that time.

It's interesting to note that this book was supposed to be a forerunner to the much beloved Round the World in 80 days and I can imagine Mr. Verne testing out his ideas in this book. Jules Verne was the father of the explorer/adventure type novel and today's authors owe a lot to him. So sit back and travel back 100+ years and try this book!

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