Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar is a novel written by Jules Verne in 1876. Some critics consider it one of Verne’s best books. Unlike some of Verne’s other famous novels, it is not science fiction, but a scientific phenomenon is a plot device. Michael Strogoff, a 30-year-old native of Omsk, is a courier for Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The Tartar Khan (prince), Feofar Khan, incites a rebellion and separates the Russian Far East from the mainland, severing telegraph lines. Rebels encircle Irkutsk, where the local governor, a brother of the Tsar, is making a last stand. Strogoff is sent to Irkutsk to warn the governor about the traitor Ivan Ogareff, a former colonel, who was once demoted and exiled and now seeks revenge against the imperial family. He intends to destroy Irkutsk by setting fire to the huge oil storage tanks on the banks of the Angara River.
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Jules Verne (8 February, 1828 – 24 March, 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction. Though he was raised Catholic, Verne became a deist in his later years, from about 1870 onward. On 9 March 1886, as Verne was coming home, his twenty-five-year-old nephew, Gaston, shot at him twice with a pistol. The first bullet missed, but the second one entered Verne’s left leg, giving him a permanent limp that could not be overcome. This incident was hushed up in the media, but Gaston spent the rest of his life in a mental asylum. After the death of both his mother and his publisher, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, he began publishing darker works. In 1888, he entered politics and was elected town councilor of Amiens, where he championed several improvements and served for fifteen years. In 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home. His son, Michel Verne, oversaw publication of the novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World after Jules’s death.
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