28/11/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
There are two loves in Arthur C. Clarke's life: space and the sea.
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There are two loves in Arthur C. Clarke's life: space and the sea. He couldn't go to the former but in the 1950s, he could go scuba diving and that's part of the reason why he settled in Ceylon or Sri Lanka as it is now. The results of this produced two SF stories based in the sea. The first, 'Dolphin Island', I've yet to read but 'The Deep Range' rises from the depths periodically and the latest edition has just come out from Gollancz. Even more remarkable is that it still holds up reasonably well with what we know about the oceans now and using it for controlled farming, which we will have to do if we are to control the fishing stock. In his original introduction, Clarke defends himself about the size of sea creatures, but its nice to see that this was more accurate than the size of captured species at the time.
Although collected in one volume, 'The Deep Range' is more the series of adventures of sea warden Don Burley and the problems he has to sort out, including an encounter of the gigantic kind. The reason it falls in the SF rather than general fiction has always been a puzzle to me. Certainly, if it had been published today, this would have been less of a problem. However, Clarke was on its 60s reprint a rising star because of his involvement with '2001: A Space Odyssey' and everything he'd written was put back into print.
'The Dark Range' was written at Clarke's early rise in creativity combined with personal experience that he could share in this book, making it still a rather delightful read about life under the sea. Even if you prefer space to sea, this is a book to read because apart from being Clarke it's an involving novel.
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