The Nautilus was powered by a mysterious, possibly nuclear, generator that made electricity and its purpose was to destroy surface shipping by subterfuge, just as the real ones did until the nineteen-fifties when their purpose became that of destroying whole cities of civilian populations instead. But the truly fascinating aspect was the character of Captain Nemo himself—the name means Nobody in Latin—who was a man bent on ending wars and his means was to destroy any warship he could find.
Ridden by guilt at each sinking, he strove to assuage his troubled conscience by playing thunderously on his organ. To make war at sea untenable—that was his mad dream and with his ultimate weapon render all other weapons useless. He was wrong, of course. Jules Verne could not have known, as Alfred Nobel could not have, that you couldn’t frighten people out of having wars. The need for weapons is created by fear, not prevented by it. Neither he nor anyone could have conceived of a world so mad that even the genuine threat of atomic annihilation and a nuclear arsenal sufficient to obliterate the entire solar system would not actually stop them from fighting wars. It would only make them all a little less comfortable about it.
But that is another story. Jules Verne’s place in immortality arose from his great stories as much as his attempts to predict the future, and if he got it wrong more often than not, still he got it right to an astonishing degree.