The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

As a result of a long-running war, the world is starved for petroleum products. In response, using “sub-tugs,” the United States has been taking crude oil from an undersea well operated by the enemy powers. In similar missions, twenty sister submarines have been lost to enemy action. U.S. Navy experts believe that the Fenian Ram has a good chance for success.

Ensign John Ramsey, an electronics officer and psychologist trained in the Bureau of Psychology, becomes a member of the closely knit crew of the Fenian Ram. His mission is to ferret out the enemy spy among the other three members of the crew to ensure the success of this critical mission.

Nothing about the mission augurs well. A corpse is discovered in the shielded atomic drive room, hidden electronic devices signal the sub’s location, and a silk wiper rag threatens to cause an explosion from static electricity. As the obstacles to success slowly are overcome, Ramsey comes no nearer to determining the identity of the unknown spy, even though he has studied the personalities of the three other crew members intensely, both ashore and on board the ship.

Each of the other crew members has distinct individual qualities as well as potential tragic flaws. Captain Sparrow is extremely competent and has earned the nickname “Savvy” for his superior ability. He is also an apparent religious fanatic, fond of quoting Scripture, yet a man of immense personal emotional control. He is a virtual father to the crew, a commanding presence who can sense or intuit problems before they occur.

Les Bonnett, the first officer, and José Garcia, the engineering officer, react to both the...

(The entire section is 693 words.)