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The cover of Pisces Rising by Peter Cave and Margaret Wredden; a red background and a dolphin leaping. Pisces Rising by Peter Cave and Margaret Wredden // Fontana Books, 1979 // Bought at a carboot sale // Read and reviewed February 2013

Fathoms deep they lay in wait, these sea creatures man had exploited for so long. Soon their concerted might would be ranged against mankind – the slashing, tearing jaws of the great sharks, the numbing shocks of the stingrays, the fury of the killer whales and the guile of the dolphins. Man would be taught a lesson, slowly and agonisingly, and he would have only himself to blame...


I read this pretty much entirely because cheap-and-rubbish-70s-scifi with bonus dolphins on the cover (Seriously, it has 85p printed on the cover as the recommended retail price - this thing is pretty much a historical artifact!)! And the best part is that it is exactly as good as it looks.

This book contains, in no particular order:

  • A fairly illogical story with the silliest, most anticlimatic ending. The blurb in my copy makes it sound like a story of Evil Corporations vs Noble Idealistic Scientist... Which is dropped fairly quickly. Along with pretty much everything else in the initial set up beyond ANGRY FISH.

  • Terrible stereotypes (the American scientist is heroic, any of the non-white characters are racial stereotypes are introduced to die and/or suffer, and of the female characters are ineffective peace keepers, mothers, secretaries, or Plot Point Children, the military people are pointlessly stupid, violent and cruel.

  • Some ridiculous names in this - seriously, there's names that sound like something from an aquarium ("Bluey the Blue-Ring Octopus"... Why are these the default names? Why the Shakespearean names... Why many of the names? I have no idea what the logic is behind them.).

  • Every problem in this book (every single one!) being caused by stupid military people (I include the fish/underwater mammals in this) or scientists doing something really stupid, pointless, and damaging to everyone. It is really annoying to see someone do something so blatantly ridiculous, so reading this book is sometimes really frustrating.

  • Lectures (whole pages!) on how Man (and it is always Man, never humanity - yeah, this book contains some really blatant background sexism.) is destroying the enviroment in general and fish/the ocean in specific. It's... Very pointed. Very preachy.

  • Decent world-building and underwater mythology. It's kinda interesting, but not great enough to justify... Well, the rest of the book.

  • Basic errors that even a layperson (i.e. me) can pick up - I'm gifting my copy to a friend who scuba-dives and is interested in this sort of thing to see if he picks up more than me, but there seems to be things like basic misgendering, inaccuracies in actions and statements... It doesn't make sense, some of the things they get wrong.

  • Some deaths and attacks that are genuinely atmospheric, horrifying, and inventive! Some of the effects a sudden lack of fish would have on the world are really well-thought through and interesting, with the obvious flaw of some of them are absolute nonsense.

  • FISH TELEPATHY. When telepathic fish is not the strangest thing in your novel, you should probably... Take a look at that.


BASICALLY, this is one sexy love-interest away from being the literary version of a made-for-TV "Syfy" original, so if you like those it may be worth trying to grab a copy. It is exactly of the quality and enjoyment level of one of those and the very least; pretty bad, but a decently entertaining read!

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Cirque des Geeks

About Us

Welcome to Cirque Des Geeks! We are a trio of geeks who review books, manga, comics, tv shows, and films as the mood takes us. Our trio comprises Sam (the fez-wearing philosopher), Susan (the book-addled librarian), and Tonks (the shape-changing scientist). Our interests are wide and varied, but generally come back to science fiction and fantasy in all their forms.

Sam and Tonks can also be found working with Black Stump Films (On Vimeo and Youtube) making short films.

We do not have a formal posting schedule, but the current goal is at least two posts per week. If you wish to be kept in the loop of what's happening, please follow us on twitter - [personal profile] cirquedesgeeks.

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