Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is arguably his best known work. It stands as a remarkable example of Victorian science fiction and proto-Steampunk fiction.
Verne wrote more than just 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, however, and many of his novels have such radical and fantastic twists that they deserve more attention within Steampunk circles.
Robur the Conqueror, written by Jules Verne in 1886, is a lot like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea featuring an enigmatic captain who takes prisoners aboard his highly advanced craft and shows them the wonders of his technology. Instead of being set in the seas, however, Robur the Conqueror is set in the skies and features heavier-than-air aircraft that would turn from science fiction to science fact in the following century.
The novel has moved into the public domain, which means you can read it for free from a number of sources. You can find the various e-reader formats and an audiobook version from the Dieselpunks forum here.
Robur the Conqueror was combined with another of Verne’s novels, Master of the World, in a 1961 adaptation featuring Vincent Price as Captain Robur. It used to be available on Hulu back in May when I covered it then (so please go there if you want a more in depth breakdown of the film), but it appears as though the film is no longer in the Hulu archives. Here’s a trailer, at least.
A remake of this tale with a bit larger budget might be really interesting and probably in high order.