Off on a Comet

or, Hector Servadac

Cover image for


Author: Jules Verne
Published: 1911
Language: English
Wordcount: 98,831 / 298 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 50.4
LoC Category: PQ
Downloads: 4,725 7154

ointment at Mostaganem, and had lately been entrusted with some topographical work on the coast between Tenes and the Shelif. It was a matter of little consequence to him that the gourbi, in which of necessity he was quartered, was uncomfortable and ill-contrived; he loved the open air, and the independence of his life suited him well. Sometimes he would wander on foot upon the sandy shore, and sometimes he would enjoy a ride along the summit of the cliff; altogether being in no hurry at all to bring his task to an end. His occupation, moreover, was not so engrossing but that he could find leisure for taking a short railway journey once or twice a week; so that he was ever and again putting in an appearance at the general's receptions at Oran, and at the fetes given by the governor at Algiers.

It was on one of these occasions that he had first met Madame de L----, the lady to whom he was desirous of dedicating the rondo, the first four lines of which had just seen the light. She was a colonel's widow,


Average Rating of 4.6 from 5 reviews: *****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1911) Sci-fi (Catastrophe) / Adventure (Survival) / Satire (Pride/Nationalism)

R: * * *

Plot bullets

  • Captain Hector Servadac and his aid Laurent Ben Zoof, of the French Algerian Army ,awake one morning to find that they are in a somewhat different world than when they went to bed. Gravity has seemed to lessen, familiar land marks have changed and there is a consistent undefinable surface rock just underneath all the ocean and land, to mention a few oddities.

  • In their searching for answers, they meet up a second time with a Russian, Count Wassili Timascheff as he sails on his yacht. He joins the search.

  • They meet few other humans. There is a group of British soldiers at what is left of Gibraltar, a young girl, a greedy merchant and an unfortunate group of misfits.

  • They begin to form a hypothesis as to what has happened. Their ideas are confirmed when they meet up with scientist Palmyrin Rosette. He confirms that a comet grazed the Mediterranean. There was no mass extinction. The comet just carried away a huge chunk of the Mediterranean on it's back.

  • All might not be lost. The comets orbit will return them to Earth. The little group must learn to survive until that time and plan for a way to get back on Earth as the comet makes it's anticipated pass.

  • They must survive the journey and the return, those that would be, however reluctantly 'Off On A Comet'.

If it wasn't so satirical, it would be uninteresting to read. The ending, if there is one, is disappointing.


This has to be one of Jules Verne's best novels! The plot starts off moving and doesn't slow down at all. The idea of a comet glazing the earth and taking the land, air and people with it may be far fetched but it is no different than Sci-Fi today. However it is interesting to read how they learn about and adapt to their new home. Their spirit of survival is refreshing! Even their their ingenious method of leaving the comet and returning to earth.

The story is a great combination of adventure, humor and science. This, I think is what made Jules Verne such a great writer. This book is highly recommended. A definite 5 star read!

Michael A

Very enjoyable book. Although fantastically unrealistic, it is insightful as always into the mind of Verne. Nice pace to the read and good for all ages.


Great story! As with most of Verne's work, he sometimes spends more time on description than story. This is not one of his most well known works but is a must read for Verne fans.

Paul Baran

I highly recommend this book which I believe best captures the mind of Jules Verne and his attention to detail and accurate scientific findings for his era. This is one of his best novels.

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