The French Atomic Empire

One of the most “perfectly done spoofs”: I have ever read. ([“via”:]) In this context, there is a Kingsley Amis poem, below the fold, in which the Englishman appears more interested in sex than his French crewmates …

bq.. – Welcome aboard the Nautilus, monsieur!
I vow you shall confess yourself amazed
Ten thousand times before our cruise is done.
What spectacles are mustered in the deep!
Beauty mere words are useless to depict,
Marvels unknown to science – dangers too,
Which we expunge with electricity.
Salute your comrades now: Ned Land, Conseil,
Brave fellows, and Professor Aronnax,
The eminent pelagiologist,
Whose fund of knowledge is at your desire,
As is my library, well-stocked and calm,
Matchless for the conducting of research.
Should you set store by music, you will find
That organ a trustworthy instrument,
While, for comestibles, we pride ourselves
On our sea-urchin loaf and shark ragout.
Till dinner, then …

– Thanks, Captain Nemo, this is always what
I think I want. But after weeks of Ned
On whaling, good Conseil just being good,
And Aronnax as Aronnax, I might
Start to browse round that matchless library,
Thrum at the organ, savour the thick film
Choking my tongue; and if, one afternoon,
A mermaid swam from the dead coral-groves
And looked in, sea-eyed, at the fat window,
Her olive hair writhing about her head,
Her turquoise nipple pried at by small fish,
Someone like me would say: ‘Remarkable!
Behold, my friends, a rare phenomenon!
Doubtless, the lungs have been replaced by gills,
The hide, withstanding eighty atmospheres,
Moreover toughened – the Creator’s hand
Lavish as always with new wonderment!’
The long-boat, please …

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1 Response to The French Atomic Empire

  1. I was reconciled to leaving the worldcon for canada before the hugo ceremony — until I read this, which made me weep with elsewhereity. And I’d have liked to see Susannah get her Hugo, too

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