While I naturally have long admired Jules Verne for his outstanding scientific vision and prodigious talent as a writer, I really had no idea that he could also write in such an entertaining and humorous fashion as revealed in this short novel. My memories of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea consist to a large degree of stretches of pages devoted to pure scientific language that could be hard to get through, but this book is an easy read full of action and laugh-out-loud commentary. Don't get me wrong, though--the science is here, and Verne goes into a lot of details concerning the project from conception to reality, walking us through all of the steps involved in constructing the cannon and its projectile. Surely, though, Verne knew that the very idea of launching men to the moon via a superhuge cannon was not really an idea that could work; as such, he lets the story and especially his characterizations of the main players in the drama, take center stage over the science. What we end up with is a study of sorts of the American character, a tribute to the power of imagination and dreaming, the glorification of science, and a very funny story about some really amazing characters.
I can not begin to relate the number of truly humorous anecdotes and observations filling the pages of this story. Barbicane, J. T. Maston, and Michel Ardan are quite memorable characters, and their acts and exploits will entertain you to no end. Verne introduces subtle but hilarious remarks and observations throughout the entire book that will make you laugh out loud. If the idea of hard scientific theorizing has scared you away from Verne, pick this book up and be wholly entertained. I would recommend, though, that you pick up a copy that also contains the sequel, Round the Moon. This first book essentially culminates in the firing of the men into space inside the projectile, and you will certainly want to read the story of what happens to the men afterward. I now have to find a copy of the second book, so I urge others to save yourselves time and buy both stories in one package.