The Word for the Blog is Scientifiction

sábado, 27 de enero de 2018

Undersea Quest, by Frederik Pohl & Jack Williamson

(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

(También puedes leer esta reseña en castellano aquí)

As I explained in the first post, I intend to read three submarine science fiction books. Maybe I must have read this one first, because it is an anterior work than Creatures of the Abyss (1961) but it does not matter: the two novels deal with different topics.

I admit that I expected more from the masters Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, but it is my fault because Undersea Quest (1954) is juvenile literature. Juvenile literature is that we call today young adult? I think this is not exactly the same: about the former, one can say that is more naive and intentionally more... juvenile; while about the latter, as far as the few books that I have read, the A weighs more than the Y, but maybe the kind readers of this blog could think different…

So, from the firsts pages I know this is a novel for youngsters. The orphan Jim Eden receives a visit from his uncle, who is a great scientist and lives in a submarine city-state called Marinia. Uncle Eden announces to Jim that on his sixteenth birthday he will join the Sub-Sea Academy... and then the adventure starts. As a submarine cadet, Jim will visit astounding undersea cities; he will make friends (and some enemies) and he will face incredible dangers, including some monsters from the unexplored depths (well, this in not true, they are only mentioned, but I hope to see them in the sequels).

The undersea world that Jim and his friends will know is full of technological marvels, with incredible city-states and submarines faster than the surface vessels, but also this future has its own troubles, such as corruption and crime in Marinia; and also, one terrible threat for the entire world: a shortage of uranium! I said in the previous post how the oceans were considered the promise of future for humanity, and there is another trope: in the fifties the nuclear fission was expected as the future energy source. How I love retrofuturism! (No irony here, I am being honest).

The novel is correctly written, it is narrated from the protagonist point of view and maintains the youthful tone at all times. For example, when the story gives clues about what will occur next, such as when Jim Eden says, Soon (in the next chapter) I would discover how wrong I was. This is a curious way to anticipate the plot because... juvenile literature. However, in the third part of the book the pace is faster and the story gains interest.

Summarizing, an entertaining submarine adventure, nostalgic from better times, by the SFWA Grand Masters Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) and Jack williamson (1908-2006), whose prolific and prolonged careers have given us great science fiction stories for almost six decades.

My next and last under the sea science fiction reading will be Starfish by the mad genius Peter Watts. Naivety is over!

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