Underwater SF

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Diziet Sma, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have been looking for some Underwater SF ideas and I have come across this list.
    I read way back 20.000 Leagues Under The Sea. Starfish by Watts is a book I have been putting off as I’m under the impression of being quite technical.
    I watched a while ago the film Sphere. I didn’t like it and I am reluctant to pick the book up.
    The Little Mermaid by H.C. Andersen is a wondrous, dark and disturbing story, as most traditional fairytales are.

    The Top 10 Underwater Science Fiction Books - The Best Sci FI Books

    1. Sphere by Michael Crichton – 1987
    2. 20.000 Leagues Under She Sea. 1870
    3.The Scar by China Mieville. 2002
    4.Startide Rising by David Brin. 1983
    5. The Swarm by F. Schätzing. 2004
    6. Camouflage by J Haldeman 2004
    7. Starfish by P. Watts 1999
    8. The Dragon in the Sea by F. Herbert 1956
    9. The Kraven Wakes by J. Wyndman 1953
    10. Reefsong by Carol Severance 1991
    11. The little Mermaid by H C Andersen 1837
    (My own contribution :))
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I actually like Sphere (the novel) like I do pretty much all of Crichton's works that I've read. The movie wasn't great, but I still remember enjoying aspects of it. A better underwater film is Cameron's The Abyss. Watch the director's cut version. It also features Corporal Hicks (from Aliens), who played a great supporting role.

    I've not read Starfish, so I can't say, but I did read Watts' Blindsight, and that's most definitely a 'hard sf' novel which explores consciousness, evolutionary biology and even game theory. No physics or maths. Lots of speculations on the nature of identity and it presents some very interesting and weird examples of individuals who are trans-human.

    I like Mieville, and The Scar in particular. So, I would definitely recommend it. It's the second of his Bas-Lag books and they can all be read independently of each other. It's a slower read compared to Perdido Street Station, a little like a Bildungsroman (over a short interval) against a marine/urban backdrop that almost has a 'frontier' feel to it during a heart-of-darkness-like journey.

    I also like Brin's Startide Rising. It's a great space opera novel that starts slowly and builds to a smashing climax. The short alien perspectives are surreal. The novel features dolphins who have been 'uplifted' into full-fledged sapience by humans.

    Arthur C. Clarke has written quite a few stories that take place in the ocean. There's The Deep Range about whale-farming. There's Dolphin Island, which deals with communication between dolphins and humans. And The Ghost from the Grand Banks, which is about the raising of the Titanic.
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  3. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Well, as always Boreas you've sent me scurrying to my Kindle Books tab with your recommendations and mentions, and now Elvira is doing too! That's great, and I've read a few on your list Elvira (Sphere (much better than movie), 20000 Leagues several times, The Scar (my only Mieville), and Camouflage) and will now start the rest of your list with Starfish, Watts' first book. Then it will be on to Startide finally, which I've tried to read a couple times but like my first attempts at Polity, haven't determined to stick with it.

    Which reminds me Boreas, I'm also going to force myself to read a Stephen Baxter book so please give me a recommendation. I need another sci-fi author with an extensive bibliography.

    I know I've seen The Abyss but can't recall. Is this the one with the submarine that's on a ledge that finally falls off and goes deeper?
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  4. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Starfish has being tempting me for a while. I think I will have a go.
    Regarding Mieville, I have also read many good comments about his Series Perdido Street Station. You mentioned they can be read independetnly but I’m kind of picky and it annoys me when I feel I’m missing out on details, in particular regarding character building. Doesn’t it really matter where I start then?
    Anyhow, this is for my Autumn/Winter TBR list. My summer one is as fat as it can get!
    I'll also check Brin's Startide Rising, just in case...
  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You know, if you guys are going to start Starfish in around a month's time, then I might join you. I've been wanting to read more Peter Watts myself.

    @kenubrion, I've only read Baxter's main-sequence Xeelee books and nothing else. I remember we discussed this on BFB a year or maybe even two years ago. You have the option to start with his Xeelee collection of short stories in Vacuum Diagrams. You said you got into Reynolds after devouring his collection Galactic North, so maybe the same approach? His bibliography is extensive, too, but I think Baxter has also written alternate history and even historical novels.

    If you want authors with extensive bibliographies, then maybe Poul Anderson and Roger Zelazny?

    Speaking of Zelazny, I remember he wrote a very famous short that takes place in the 'oceans' of Venus and is basically a monster hunting story. I read it and actually didn't like it much at all, but it's highly regarded: "The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth". Although, I do like most of the Zelazny I've come across. The only Zelazny novel I just couldn't get through (even though it was so short) was the strange and experimental Creatures of Light and Darkness that featured Egyptian mythology.

    @Elvira, the narrator of The Scar is a very, very minor character in Perdido Street Station. Any references to the events of PSS are minor and insignificant and have no relevance to the narrative. It is a self-contained story with no other re-appearing characters. But it's up to you. I read PSS first myself and thoroughly enjoyed it, so maybe it might be a better introduction to this universe for you, too. I think it definitely might be the book that codified the new wave of weird fiction in the contemporary era. Sort of like Gibson's Neuromancer is supposed to have codified the cyberpunk aesthetic and style in the 80's. So, PSS is likely more of a landmark work because of that.
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  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, remind me in a month time...
    Boreas likes this.
  7. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's right Boreas, I still have the vacuum diagrams sample on the Kindle. I'm going to buy it now. Either he or Brin will satisfy for a new author with lots of books. Thanks.

    I have Zelazny's The Doors... in hardback around here somewhere. Bought it used after I read The Amber Chronicles.

    Thanks Boreas, once again you've set me on a course of discovery.
    Boreas likes this.
  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I like Brin's writing, and I definitely enjoyed Startide Rising and the other two early Uplift books I read by him. I thought SR was a great adventure and some of those short alien chapters were also pretty funny (I had to read some of them multiple times because the perspective was so strange).
    These look interesting. Bookmarked.
    There is a downed submarine that they go into to extract something important, but it doesn't go over the edge. Something else does. It's a great movie and you should watch it again. Definitely the director's cut, though!
  9. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Now I'm really confused...! I think I'm mixing up The Abyss and Sphere. I better check them up!
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I bought myself The Skinner and David Brin’s Uplift Omnibus (It was on offer and I couldn’t resist) Have you also read Sundiver and The Uplift War?
  11. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Yes. I liked them all, but I'm not quite sure if you'll enjoy Sundiver. It might even feel a little dated. And all three novels, Sundiver, Startide Rising and The Uplift War, are completely independent stories, connected only by theme and setting. So you can start with any whose description grabs you most. In keeping with the marine theme of this thread, SR would be the one to go for.

    Haven't read The Skinner, but I love Neal Asher. He does high-octane action with a strong, horror tinge with respect to some of his fauna. I've read his 5-part Ian Cormac series, which is the main sequence of his Polity setting, and they are great. Does contain some high-tech jargon, though.
  12. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you @Boreas ! As we are talking of 1.300 pages omnibus, I will stick to the original plan of Startide Rising and I shall see what follows…

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