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Chosty

Books set on a submarine or similar confined space

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I've recently finished reading 'Das Boot', and loved it, and before that I re-read 'World War Z', and one of my favourite segments was the one following a Chinese (I think) submarine crew. So that got me thinking that I'd like to read more books that are set on a sub or an underwater habitat or possibly some kind of spaceship - the key thing really is a small group of people isolated in a confined space within a very hostile environment.

 

Over the years I've read the daddy of them all, '20,000 League under the Sea' (one of my favourites), also 'Sphere' and 'The Hunt for Red October' and perhaps some others that I've since forgotten. I know there are quite a few Clancy-esque thrillers that sound like they would fit the bill at first glance, but I don't fancy US military potboilers. Ideally I'm after something a bit more considered and atmospheric.

 

Any recommendations from you well-read people?

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Try some of the following SF:

 

'A Fall of Moondust' by Arthur C Clarke.

'Gateway' by Frederick Pohl.

'All Judgement Fled' by James White

'Startide Rising' by David Brin. Possibly his 'Sundiver' novel, too.

 

 

 

 

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A Fall Of Moondust was my first thought too.

 

Then Moby Dick, but that's probably not quite what you're after (it fulfils the basic brief, but probably isn't true to what you were actually after - although it's a cracker of a book in so many other ways (probably my favourite of all the classics I've read)).

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Wool by Hugh Howey fits most of your brief. 

 

Quote

The Amazon rubric says:
In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. 

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. 

Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. 

Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

 

The prose isn’t going to win any awards but it’s an engaging and intriguing read; first in a trilogy. That sense of restriction and peril that you are looking for is there in spades. 

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Try Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twenty-Trillion-Leagues-Under-Sea-ebook/dp/B00E9VSULC/

 

It is 1958 and France's first nuclear submarine, Plongeur, leaves port for the first of its sea trials. On board, gathered together for the first time, one of the Navy's most experienced captains and a tiny skeleton crew of sailors, engineers and scientists.

The Plongeur makes her first dive and goes down, and down and down... Out of control, the submarine plummets to a depth where the pressure will crush her hull, killing everyone on board, and beyond.

The pressure builds, the hull protests, the crew prepare for death, the boat reaches the bottom of the sea and finds... nothing.

Her final dive continues, the pressure begins to relent, but the depth gauge is useless. They have gone miles down. Hundreds of miles, thousands...

And so it goes on. And on board the crew succumb to madness, betrayal, religious mania and murder. Has the Plongeur left the limits of our world and gone elsewhere?

Contains 33 full-page pen and ink illustrations by acclaimed artist Mahendra Singh, who previously illustrated an edition of THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK.

Adam Roberts and Mahendra Singh have revisited Jules Verne's classic SF novel, and together they have come up with a unique vision.

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This is a good start - thanks, everyone. 'Twenty Trillion Leagues...' sounds particularly intriguing. Incidentally, there's a section in 'Das Boot' that describes an uncontrolled sink to the seafloor and I found it genuinely unsettling and claustrophobic. I read it just before turning in for the night and it stayed with me for a while.

 

25 minutes ago, Silent Runner said:

They're complete trash but the Meg books by Steve Allen always have bits set on subs or underwater stations. 

A few years ago I would have gone for this, but my tolerance for trash has rapidly diminished. I appreciate this particular genre isn't going to attract a vast number of literary works, but I'm sure there's some middle ground that I can live with, particularly if the story/concept are strong enough.

 

12 hours ago, smac said:

Try some of the following SF:

 

'A Fall of Moondust' by Arthur C Clarke.

'Gateway' by Frederick Pohl.

'All Judgement Fled' by James White

'Startide Rising' by David Brin. Possibly his 'Sundiver' novel, too.

 

 

 

 

My first love was sci fi so I'l check out some of those, particularly the Clarke one. I'll add Wool to my list too.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Stopharage said:

Wool by Hugh Howey fits most of your brief.

 

Good call - I bounced off that one, but it fits the brief for sure. Maddeningly, there are three or four stories that I can recall reading that fit the bill, but where I have long forgotten the titles or the authors :-(

 

Of the ones I posted. 'Startide Rising' is probably a tad outside the brief; it's one that felt like a hunted submarine story, despite the protagonists not being particularly confined.

 

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56 minutes ago, Chosty said:

Incidentally, there's a section in 'Das Boot' that describes an uncontrolled sink to the seafloor and I found it genuinely unsettling and claustrophobic. I read it just before turning in for the night and it stayed with me for a while.

 

Definitely read 'A fall of moondust', then :-)

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For some reason the thread made me think of House of Leaves. There's definitely some intense claustrophobia going on in that book.

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I thought The Deep by Nick Cutter wasn’t bad.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Nick-Cutter-ebook/dp/B00N9AVKXE/ref=la_B00E6ZYOSY_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1553939895&sr=1-2

 



A plague is destroying the world's population. The 'Gets makes people forget. First it's the small things, like where you left your keys ... then the not-so-small things, like how to drive. And finally your body forgets how to live.

 

But now an unknown substance with extraordinary power to heal has been discovered in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Nicknamed ambrosia, it might just be the miracle cure the world has been praying for.

 

A research lab has been established eight miles below the sea's surface, but all contact with the team has been lost. Dr Luke Nelson's brother is down there and as desperation for a cure outweighs common sense, he agrees to descend through the lightless fathoms ... perhaps to face an evil blacker than anything he could have imagined.

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On 29/03/2019 at 20:37, Plums said:

For some reason the thread made me think of House of Leaves. There's definitely some intense claustrophobia going on in that book.

I almost edited that book into my first post because, yeah, the Navidson Record sections are brilliant in places, but the horror of impossible architecture is perhaps a bit too far from what I'm after here.

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I bought and read two of the books suggested in this thread. Mini reviews:

 

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea

This jumped straight to the action with very little build up, which wasn't ideal, but there were some good spells as the characters tried to work out what the hell was going on after the triggering event. Disappointingly, there wasn't really a sense of place, despite the confined setting - the best of these kinds of books treat the immediate environment almost as a character in their own right which helps build atmosphere and tension, but there was little to none of that here. Some mildly interesting character work, but the underlying premise of the book, when it was revealed, didn't do it for me. It was interesting in an abstract way, and I might have taken to it more if it was covered in a different book, but it just didn't seem to fit the setting and was handled all too quickly. Then there was a reference to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that, if I understood correctly, was pretty daft.

 

A Fall of Moondust

I've not read much Arthur C Clarke - 2001 and a few short stories, but that's it, so I can't say how this one ranks. This was...OK. It felt a bit lightweight (not just because it was set on the Moon, hah) and flat, with little sustained tension, and it wasn't really until the end that there was any genuine sense of urgency or drama. Clarke plays it with flashes of humour and a couple of very brief and trivial subplots. The action jumped back and forth between the stricken craft and the rescue operation, which meant there wasn't really a sense of claustrophobia in this book either. The action beats and character work reminded me of a 70 disaster film.

 

So not quite the belters I was hoping for, but thanks again for the suggestions. I'll probably check out a few more recommendations.

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You should definitely give the Wool trilogy a look @Chosty, they are a brilliantly imaginative series for the most part, and quite unique.

 

For a much shorter read, give H.P. Lovecraft’s The Temple a go. It’s the short story of a German WW1 U-boat captain and crew stranded beneath the treacherous depths - and you can read it online here: https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Temple_(Lovecraft)

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The novelisation of The Abyss is a good read. Deep sea oil platform, submarines, interesting characters (which are expanded on in the book).

 

Quote

When an American submarine sinks in the Caribbean, the U.S. search and recovery team works with an oil platform crew, racing against Soviet vessels to recover the boat. Deep in the ocean, they encounter something unexpected. 

 

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While it is a good novelisation, and a great film, I’d say avoid supporting the author (O.S.Card) as he is a homophobic cunt.

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I'm going to get Wool next - sounds very promising.

 

I really like The Abyss film but never realised there was a novelisation, although I've read a few movie tie-ins and the quality can be shocking. I'll see if I can find a second-hand copy. The Martian is another one that's worth getting. Not seen the film, but if there's a book then all the better. I've read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and thought they were stunning. Although on the whole they're far from what I'm asking for here, there are some great sections focusing on survival in a hostile environment. I'd be very happy to return to Mars.

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Aurora by KSR gave me some claustrophobia - it is generally set on a very large ship with various biomes as it were but I still got that enclosed feeling. It wasn't bad in general but has a standout final chapter (IMO) in regards something very simple  and accessible for a lot of people that may not be appreciated by the majority of us.

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Ice Station Zebra is a cracking yarn. The action moves from submarine to the equally confined Arctic base.

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Two new recommendations, ace!

 

I finished Wool on holiday last week and was pretty impressed. The concept is very much like YA books such as The Maze Runner, but with the F bombs and adult protagonists it's clearly not aimed at that market specifically.  Are the sequels worth getting? 

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If you enjoyed the first, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t enjoy the other two. The second (if I remember correctly) is about how the silos came into being and the people behind them. The third then follows the events of Wool. 

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12 hours ago, Chosty said:

Two new recommendations, ace!

 

I finished Wool on holiday last week and was pretty impressed. The concept is very much like YA books such as The Maze Runner, but with the F bombs and adult protagonists it's clearly not aimed at that market specifically.  Are the sequels worth getting? 

 

If you even vaguely enjoyed the first, I’d say the next two are essential.

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Yep, very enjoyable. I read it in about a week, including a couple of mammoth sessions.

 

But with this kind of story you often get a really tight, focused first book based around a decent concept, then the sequels expand the world and introduce progressively ludicrous concepts and twists.

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On 22/08/2019 at 08:38, Chosty said:

Yep, very enjoyable. I read it in about a week, including a couple of mammoth sessions.

 

But with this kind of story you often get a really tight, focused first book based around a decent concept, then the sequels expand the world and introduce progressively ludicrous concepts and twists.

 

No, it's done very well. I think towards the very end of the third book it gets a little woolly (ho ho!) but it remains compelling throughout.

 

As a caveat I listened to the three as audiobooks, which does make for a slightly different experience. I don't think Howey is a particularly adept writer, and performance narrative tends to smooth out clunky writing.

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