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Adapting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea part IV. Captain Nemo.

Genius, billionaire, philanthropist, Captain Nemo continues to entertain and fascinate since his first publication in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but most people today will know him from his many film adaptations.

Nemo has been played by many actors, such as James Mason, Patrick Stewart and Michael Caine. And as these are all are all white English guys, it may surprise the casual viewer to discover Nemo was an Indian prince.

Having sworn revenge on the British Empire after his wife and child were slaughtered during India’s 1857 First War of Independence of War, Nemo spends his time making a scientific study of the seas and using the plunder of shipwrecks to fund freedom fighters around the word.

Mercurial, passionate, ruthless and prone to depression, Nemo is last seen in 20,000 Leagues piloting his submarine the Nautilus as its swallowed by a massive whirlpool in the north Atlantic ocean.

Similar to Nemo, Detective Sherlock Homes and super spy James Bond have appeared in many films, and they also share with Nemo an attempt by his own author to kill him off. However due to Nemo’s popularity and at his publisher’s insistence, Nemo returned in 1875’s The Mysterious Island, this time as an elderly Prospero-like figure from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest.

Verne wasn’t overly-interested in continuity, and The Mysterious Island is set during the US Civil War of 1861 – 1865, whereas 20,000 Leagues begins in 1866. And when Nemo returns he’s a much older character, repentant and helpful but still mischievous.

And this mercurial nature of Nemo’s is a gift for a gamebook author, especially one working with INK, a programme which allows the writer to create many different responses for Nemo, any one of which may be chosen at random.

One of the joys of the game is that I will never know in what temper or mood Nemo will respond. And every time anyone plays the game, the response will be different for every player in every scenario, making a unique game experience every time the game is played.


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