Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The combination of careful psychological characterizations, well-planned futuristic technology, and the understanding of the possible effects of an oil shortage has made The Dragon in the Sea one of Herbert's most contemporary books. Herbert combines the focus on machines and technology with insights into human behavior of people under stress (hence the variant title Under Pressure). Herbert also provides an excellent account of submarine warfare, which has become more imaginable to a general audience in the 1990s than it was in 1956.

In a future earth, oil has become a scarce resource, and the world's population compete to find new oil fields — even those beneath the oceans. Herbert's ability to create plausible situations is revealed in his creation of a futuristic submarine designed to deal with the problems in the seas of his imagined earth. One technological innovation in the novel, a large elastic bag filled with oil and towed by a submarine, was later manufactured in England. In addition, Herbert imagines electronic and sonar devices that would allow for complicated maneuvers in the deepest parts of the ocean.

(The entire section is 178 words.)