Star Trek Week #4: Hooray!
Ace Doubles: G's Complete

Underground Reading: Sea Siege by Andre Norton

Sea Siege by Andre Norton Sea Siege (1957 as an Ace Double, 1980 by Fawcett) is a half-baked post-apocalyptic tale by prolific science-fiction legend Andre Norton. The book is an uncomfortable mix of Cold War paranoia, Lovecraftian tentacle-beasts, voodoo and racism. 

If, for some reason, that strikes you as appealing, let me assure you - it isn't. 

The book takes place in the not-so-idyllic Pacific island of San Isodore - populated by a mysterious gov'mint research station, some scientists and a 'mongrel population' of superstitious natives. The protagonist, such as he is, bears the unfortunate name of Griff Gunston. Griff works with the scientists - his father, in fact, is the head muck-a-muck on the team. Griff really wants to go back to the US, where he fly jets and help save America from the Communist menace. 

His father, however, demands that Griff stay on San Isodore, to help research radioactive red algae (that's right, red algae).

This tension is undeveloped, which is fortunate, as, like all the other character relationships in Sea Siege, it is phenomenally boring. After a few introductory pages on Griff's woes, Sea Siege treats the reader to a half-dozen chapters of no importance whatsoever. Griff meanders around the island, meeting other characters who never appear again and staring suspiciously at octopi. Eventually, things liven up when the Russians nuke the US and a legion of sentient tentacle-monsters and their sea serpent masters invade the island. Oddly, the two events aren't connected. 

Besides the octopus invasion and the nuclear fallout, San Isodore also has to deal with hurricanes, Russian submarines and voodoo cultists. In fact, the one thing that doesn't actually menace San Isodore is the oft-referenced and utterly-pointless red algae. 

Sea Siege is actually so awful that the author gives up on it herself. After gently shepherding the remnants of humanity to this octopus-infested, rain-lashed, radioactive island, Andre Norton abruptly ends the book. Griff stares out over the ocean and vows that God-fearing, flag-waving, apple-pie-eating humanity WILL win the day, dammit. Square jaw clenches, Griff shakes his fist at the sky and makes his pledge. Fade to black. The reader can only hope that he's subsequently devoured by octopi somewhere between the last page and the back cover.

Still, Sea Siege has some redeeming qualities. Just not many. In fact, here they are:

1) sentient octopi

2) "the pig bomb" (literally, a pig stuffed with grenades)


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