Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Under the Sea

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The undersea realm is, in a sense, an Otherworld and the water's surface a Portal; the world below is populated by Sea Monsters and Mermaids, and littered with forgotten treasures, including the remains of sunken Lost Lands like Atlantis and Lemuria. Edgar Allan Poe's "The City in the Sea" (1831) provides an influential image of deep-sea decay and Thinning. The chemicals of seawater are reflected in blood and amniotic fluid: Sex with undersea beings has a peculiar fascination and horror, as with H P Lovecraft's miscegenated Deep Ones in The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1936) and the more positive matings of Sterling Lanier's "The Kings of the Sea" (1968) (see also Selkies). The sea monster Abaia in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-1983) is named for a mythical and decidedly phallic giant eel. When underwater Cities and realms are still going concerns, the surrounding fluid provides a Dream-like quality – as in the enchanted undersea episodes of John Masefield's The Midnight Folk (1927) and Tanith Lee's The Dragon Hoard (1971), or the pursuit down a submerged stairway to Rebma, the pelagic Double of Amber, in Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber (1970). E Nesbit's Wet Magic (1913) hinges on a magical undersea Library. [DRL]

see also: Islands.


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.