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.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Dragon in the Sea is a thoughtful novel as well as a tense adventure and should lend itself to discussions of how people behave...

(The entire section is 375 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Stories of underwater exploration date back to at least the early 1600s. Most have focused on the discovery of submerged cities or the lost...

(The entire section is 162 words.)


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Collings, Michael R. “The Epic of Dune, Epic Traditions in Modern Science Fiction.” In Aspects of Fantasy, edited by William Coyle. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986.

Herbert, Brian. The Dreamer of Dune: A Biography of Frank Herbert. New York: Tor, 2003.

Levack, Daniel J. H., comp. Dune Master: A Frank Herbert Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1988.

McNelley, Willis E., ed. The Dune Encyclopedia. New York: Berkley Books, 1984.

Miller, Miriam Y. “Women of Dune: Frank Herbert as Social Reactionary?” In Women Worldwalkers: New Dimensions of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Jane B. Weedman. Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1985.

Stratton, Susan. “The Messiah and the Greens: The Shape of Environmental Action in Dune and Pacific Edge.” Extrapolation 42 (Winter, 2001).