Around The World In Eighty-eight Minutes
What does a French science-fiction writer have in common with a Russian girl and a cosmonaut? What event could reach across the span of nearly a century to give their lives continuity?
Let’s start with the writer. His name is as recognized today as the titles of his many books. He wrote several science fiction stories that seemed outlandish, even preposterous, in his day. When we consider the time in which he lived, and wrote, his work was remarkable. If for no other reason that they were presentient of things to come, almost prophetic. His fiction became our science. For instance, he wrote about submarines traveling under the water before they became a viable reality. He also wrote about an expedition to the moon long before the technology existed. He wrote about traveling around the world in a balloon at a rate unheard of in his time; this particular fictitious journey took place in only eighty days. If you haven’t already guessed, the writer was none other than Jules Verne.
But what about the others, I alluded to earlier, the cosmonaut and the Russian girl? How do they fit into all this? I mentioned three people at the beginning, we disclosed the first. What of the other two?
Pause here momentarily while we go to another period in time. It is June the 19th, the year is 1963. The cosmonaut, let’s abbreviate the middle name of this intrepid pioneer in space to “Vlad”. Vlad has been inside the cockpit of the Vostok VI for nearly three days orbiting the earth up to one hundred and thirty miles above the surface of the planet. Before the mission is completed, Vlad will have orbited the earth for seventy hours and fifty minutes, a total of eighty–eight times around the world. The cosmonaut, and the Russian girl, are the same. They are, or should I say, she is “Vlad’, her full name is Valentina Vladimirova Tereshkova.
What did Jules Verne have in common with this Russian girl born in 1937? Almost a century prior, in 1873, he wrote of a fictitious “Phineas Fogg” circumnavigating the globe in a hot-air balloon, the book was titled, “Around The World In Eighty Days.” Ninety years later, this 26 year-old Russian girl had obliterated his then incredible time of eighty days. What he wrote of, she surpassed literally going around the world at the rate of once every eighty-eight minutes. Valentina Vladimirova Tereshkova lived the sequel to the Jules Verne classic. Perhaps we could title her contribution to the race for space as, “Around The World In Eighty-eight Minutes.”