How do you handle a basket case at 7000 metres height?
That is the question an accomplished and esteemed aeronaut is forced to ask himself in 1850 after his hot air balloon is hijacked by a young, idealistic admirer in the skies above Frankfurt, Germany.
A fellow countryman well-versed in aeronautical science and its history, the newcomer's abrupt arrival is soon forgotten, although his companion's soaring aspirations and numerous tales of historical balloon expeditions leave the narrator with a sense of unease.
But how much room is there for honest debate when you're of inferior physique, several kilometers
above ground and a few feet below considerable volumes of highly flammable gas?
Originally titled ”A Drama in the Air”, Jules Verne takes suspense and air balloons to new heights in this 1852 short story, while also providing insight into the technical aspects and oftentimes grim history of hot air balloon travel.
Most famous for his 54-volume ”Extraordinary Voyages” series, French writer Jules Verne (1828-1905) was a pioneer of fantastical journeys propelled by science, most notably ”Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1864), ”Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” (1870) and ”Around the World in Eighty Days” (1872) .
Popular with both children and adults, Verne's works have had an incalculable impact on scientists the world over. He is credited as one of the inventors of the science fiction genre.