Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Sea Monsters

The fact that very large creatures like whales and giant squid (krakens) live Under the Sea makes the deeps a logical home for Monsters. Greek Mythology features not only the human-sized Sirens but the many-headed Scylla (a former girl who has suffered Metamorphosis and later menaces Odysseus) and the vast SM from whom Perseus saves Andromeda – a battle closely echoed by Orlando's epic defeat of the Orc in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1516), in turn re-echoed in "To Here and the Easel" (1954) by Theodore Sturgeon. The Bible speaks of the Dragon in the sea and asks, "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?" – a feat which celebrated angler Izaak Walton (1593-1683) very nearly achieves in the eccentric "God's Hooks!" (1982) by Howard Waldrop (1946-    ). Leviathan is often identified as a whale, though Kipling's Just So Stories (coll 1902) distinguishes between whales and far huger undersea creatures. Seeming Islands may prove to be whales (or krakens) which plunge underwater when incautious visitors light a fire, as in one voyage of Sinbad (see Arabian Fantasy). The most famous of fictional whales is the eponymous albino of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851) – rivalled in popular appreciation by Monstro in Disney's Pinocchio (1940). A staple of Travellers' Tales is the sea Serpent, depicted with great circumstantial realism in Rudyard Kipling's "A Matter of Fact" (1892); one tries to crush the eponymous ship with its coils in C S Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952). The truly monstrous, mountain-sized undersea foes Abaia and Erebus in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-1983) are never seen, despite encounters with the submarine female Giants who are Abaia's concubines. In Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) a submarine monster proves to be a human-style Giant, who wears the protagonists' new-gained ship as a hat. [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.