Reviews of Dragon in the Sea, the (1956)
Review by atlantean (2008-03-18)
It's a story in some ways like the ones about the Jack Ryan character from a novelist whose name I can't seem to care to remember. The resemblance with these serialised novels ends however immediately.
Herberts story has virtually none of the patriotic odor that is often rising from the action en thriller novels, instead it pressing the point of one humankind all alike both ends stuck in the same struggles.
The plot which Herbert like on old grandmother with all the time of the world seems to weave delicately into this and as far as I have read all his later books, is basically that there is a crew of four out on a very important mission against improbable odds in a sub with very likely one saboteur on board.
Crews on such subs are subject to breakdowns and the protagonist's role is basically to study the behaviour of the crew on such journeys and weed out the spy if he finds the time.
With these things set almost as variables to an experiment our journey begins, taking us along paranoia and the role of fear inducement in this to psychology filling in the gap that religion had a monopoly on for millienia, to all men are equal and why simply bother with war.
The remarkable thing about his novel is the orchestration of the book, it could easily become a form of essay writing with ties to the classical use of dialogues.
But it goes further than simpy using a teacher and a pupil. The whole crew are equal and all have there insights, not simply those with the degrees, even the spy is given a very human character, perhaps the most human of all and as it all unfolds I couldn't help but regarding him as the sanest person on board.
I had always been curious how a masterpiece such as Dune evolved and in all the writings of Herbert you will find some pieces of the puzzle, finally I had the privilege of finding the first one.
(This review refers to the 1956 version titled “The Dragon in the Sea”)