- UNDER THE SEA
- The world under the sea is an alien environment still in the process of being explored. John WILKINS, in Mathematicall Magick (1648), offered speculative designs for submarines and discussed the possibility of underwater colonization; already, in about 1620, Cornelius Van Drebbell (1572-1634) had successfully navigated a submarine rowing-boat in theThames, and before the end of the century another would-be submariner had perished in Plymouth Sound. David Bushnell (1742-1824) built a submarine boat in 1775, and Robert Fulton (1765-1815) remained under water for 4 hours in his egg-shaped submarine in 1800. By 1863 the David, a submarine built by the Confederacy during the US Civil War, was sufficiently functional to attempt a torpedo attack on an ironclad; its successor actually managed to sink a ship, but was lost with all hands. By the 1890s the French Navy was equipped with 4 submarines and both Germany and the USA were building them.The first notable literary work to feature asubmarine was a romance by Theophile Gautier (1811-1872) about a plot to rescue Napoleon, Les deux etoiles (1848; exp vt Partie carree 1851; vt La Belle Jenny; trans in var colls as "The Quartette", "The Belle-Jenny" and"The Four-in-Hand"). The classic underwater romance of the 19th century was, however, Jules VERNE's Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1870; trans as Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas 1872 UK), in which the undersea world became for the first time a place of marvels and natural wonders to be explored. Frank R. STOCKTON's The Great Stone of Sardis (1898), Harry COLLINGWOOD's The Log of the Flying Fish (1887), Herbert STRANG's Lord ofthe Seas (1908) and Max PEMBERTON's Captain Black (1911) feature submarine adventures, but are concerned primarily with TRANSPORTATION rather than with exploring the wonders of the deep. The main reason for this relative uninterest was the impossibility of any real interaction between human visitors and the alien environment. Apart from the occasional duel with a sea- MONSTER (almost always a giant squid or octopus) there seemed to most writers to be little dramatic potential in underwater ventures; for a protagonist to get to grips with the underwater world, some fantastic modification was necessary - as in The Water Babies (1863) by Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) - and the notion of adapting humans to underwaterlife by biological engineering did not appear until Alexander BELYAEV's The Amphibian (1929; trans 1959). The only attempts to set aside thisdifficulty in the 19th and early 20th centuries were stories dealing with the rediscovery of ATLANTIS - which had often, by more-or-less miraculous means, managed to preserve itself and its air despite its cataclysmic submersion; examples include Andre LAURIE's The Crystal City under the Sea (1895; trans 1896), the title story of Arthur Conan DOYLE's The MaracotDeep (coll 1929), Stanton A. COBLENTZ's The Sunken World (1928; 1949) and Dennis WHEATLEY's They Found Atlantis (1936).Early GENRE-SF writers showed relatively little interest in undersea adventures, although film-makers made persistent attempts to make bigger and better versions of Verne's novel from the earliest years of silent movies to Disney's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954). Several pulp-sf stories, however, dealt withundersea life on alien worlds. An early example was Neil R. JONES's "Into the Hydrosphere" (1933), but the classics of the species are "Clash by Night" (1943) and Fury (1947; 1950; vt Destination: Infinity) by LawrenceO'Donnell (Henry KUTTNER and C.L. MOORE), reflecting the common image of VENUS as a watery world. The most notable pulp story partly set beneath the oceans of Earth is The Green Girl (1930; 1950) by Jack WILLIAMSON.In the post-WWII period sf writers became more interested in the possibilities of undersea melodrama. Alien oceans figure in "The Game of Glory" (1958) by Poul ANDERSON, "The Gift of Gab" (1955) by Jack VANCE,Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954; vt The Oceans of Venus) by Paul French (Isaac ASIMOV) and in the story in which Roger ZELAZNY bade a final fond farewell to the image of Venus as an oceanic world, "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth" (1965). The notion of adapting humans tounderwater life by GENETIC ENGINEERING is notably featured in James BLISH's "Surface Tension" (1952), although Blish had introduced it in amore tentative form in "Sunken Universe" (1942 as by Arthur Merlyn), which is combined with the later story in THE SEEDLING STARS (fixup 1957). Blish and Norman L. KNIGHT's novel A Torrent of Faces (1967) features humanoid "tritons" engineered for underwater life, similarly carried forward fromKnight's earlier solo work "Crisis in Utopia" (1940).The mid-1950s saw a minor boom in sf stories set beneath the oceans of Earth, including Frank HERBERT's submarine spy-thriller THE DRAGON IN THE SEA (1956; vt 21stCentury Sub; vt Under Pressure), Arthur C. CLARKE's novel about whale-farming, The Deep Range (1954; exp 1957) and the first of Frederik POHL's and Jack Williamson's Eden trilogy of juveniles dealing withundersea colonization, Undersea Quest (1954) - a theme to which they returned much later in Land's End (1988). Kenneth BULMER's City under the Sea (1957) makes much of the idea of surgical modification for life in thesea; he further extrapolated the notion in Beyond the Silver Sky (1961). Other stories of the biological engineering of humans for undersea lifeinclude Gordon R. DICKSON's The Space Swimmers (1963; 1967), Hal CLEMENT's Ocean On Top (1967; 1973) and Lee HOFFMAN's The Caves of Karst (1969). Theidea is more elaborately developed in such works as Inter Ice Age 4 (1959; trans 1970) by Kobo ABE, in which Japanese scientists prepare for a new deluge, and in The Godwhale (1974) by T.J. BASS, whose eponymous protagonist is a CYBORG leviathan.The scientific community took an increasing interest in dolphins during the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by researches into their high INTELLIGENCE. The idea of communication between dolphins and humans was popularized in numerous sf stories, including the Dickson titles mentioned above, Clarke's Dolphin Island (1963), JoePOYER's Operation Malacca (1968), Roy MEYERS's Dolphin Boy (1967; vt Dolphin Rider) and its sequels, Robert MERLE's The Day of the Dolphin (1967; trans 1969), Margaret ST CLAIR's The Dolphins of Altair (1967), Robert SILVERBERG's "Ishmael in Love" (1970), John BOYD's "The Girl and the Dolphin" (1973) and Ian WATSON's The Jonah Kit (1975). Dolphins gifted with sentience by means of human ingenuity play a key role in David BRIN's Uplift series, most notably in STARTIDE RISING (1983), in which adolphin-commanded starship takes refuge from a host of enemies in an alien ocean; similarly blessed - or in this case, perhaps, cursed - dolphins feature in Alexander JABLOKOV's A Deeper Sea (1992).Analogies may easily be drawn between submarines and SPACESHIPS. In Harry HARRISON's The Daleth Effect (1970; vt In our Hands, the Stars) the heroes, in urgent need of aspaceship, simply attach their drive unit to a submarine. Greater subtlety is exhibited in James WHITE's The Watch Below (1966), which juxtaposes the problems of an ALIEN spaceship nearing Earth with those of a group of people surviving in the hold of a ship which has been under water for many years. A similar analogy is drawn in Asimov's "Waterclap" (1970), which deals with a conflict of interest between projects to colonize the sea bed and the Moon. A curious novel in which huge water drops function as "space habitats" of an extraordinary kind is Bob SHAW's Medusa's Children (1977). The CINEMA has carried forward its own tradition of submarine romance asits technical capacities have grown. Notable sf examples include VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961), which spawned a long-running tv series(1964-68), and The ABYSS (1989). The latter was the most distinguished of a cluster of such movies at around the same time, others including DEEPSTAR SIX (1988), LEVIATHAN (1989) and Lords of the Deep (1989). In thejuvenile-adventure tradition of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea came another tv series in 1993, SEAQUEST DSV, made by Steven SPIELBERG's production company, and featuring an intelligent dolphin as a crew member. Sciencefictional submarines are featured in Martin CAIDIN's The LastFathom (1967) and Richard COWPER's satirical comedy Profundis (1979). Alien oceans and races adapted to them are found in Stefan WUL's Temple of the Past (1958: trans 1973), in which a spaceship which lands in an alien ocean is swallowed by a whale-like creature, Michael G. CONEY's Neptune's Cauldron (1981), Joan SLONCZEWSKI's A Door into Ocean (1986), in whichemissaries from a race of peace-loving ocean-dwellers must visit a very different kind of world, our own, and Piers ANTHONY's Mercycle (1991).Arthur C. Clarke's constant interest in the sea - reflected in hisnonfiction as well as his fiction - is further demonstrated in The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990), about the raising of the Titanic. Another writer much interested in the sea is marine engineer Hilbert SCHENCK, whose fascination is evident in the stories in Wave Rider (coll 1980) and the curiously mystical At the Eye of the Ocean (1980).BS
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.