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Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

Rolling in the Deep

by Mira Grant

Other authors: Julie Dillon (Cover artist)

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This was fun! But then, I'm a sucker for people that try to give their horror a plausible veneer of biological reality, and after how much I enjoyed Newsflesh I'm more than eager to read more. I'm a bit skeptical on how to make a series out of this premise, but I await to see how it unfolds once Into the Drowning Deep is released. ( )
  themjrawr | Dec 1, 2017 |
The Imagine cable network has launched a new expedition to create a documentary in search of the reality of mermaids. Unfortunately, they find just a bit too much reality for their hyperreality programming.

I had intended to use this book for my stand-alone fantasy entry for the /r/Fantasy book bingo challenge, but I just couldn’t justify calling this a novel when it was 89 pages on the Kindle. That's squarely in novella territory.

That does NOT mean I didn’t enjoy this immensely -- I’m not sure, at this point, that Seanan McGuire can do much wrong in my eyes. It was creepy and scary and I wanted desperately for it to be about twice as long at an absolute minimum. Pout. Pout pout. Sigh. ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
Horror novella with Grant’s trademark interest in public perception/communication. A “reality” show similar to Discovery’s pseudo-scientific “documentaries” sets out to find out if mermaids really do live in the deepest part of the ocean. Spoiler: they do. And they’re hungry. ( )
  rivkat | Sep 23, 2015 |
When I saw that this book by Mira Grant was being released by Subterranean Press I was immediately dying to have it. I am a huge fan of Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). This ended up being an intriguing and well written fantasy/thriller/horror of sorts. It is a pretty short novella and would have made a wonderful full-length book.

The cruise ship Atargatis has been hired by Imagine Network to go on a journey like none other. The Atargatis is supposed to journey over the Marianas Trench in a quest to prove that mermaids are real. The boat is full of the world’s leading researchers on marine life; experts who...while not necessarily looking for mermaids…are excited to have someone else foot the bill for their scientific equipment and give them a chance to learn more about deep sea life.

Imagine Network (never one to leave anything to chance) also brings along their own troupe of mermaids, normal women who really want to be real life mermaids and are darn good at it. What they find is more disturbing and alarming than anything they imagined.

This book is set up in a very journalistic type way...much like Grant’s Newsflesh series. Each section starts with an excerpt from a book about ghost ships, so right away you know things went horribly wrong with the Atargatis. The story is very much a slow build with disaster striking quickly and decisively right at the end of the book.

I was a bit worried about how many characters are introduced right off the bat, but I shouldn’t have worried. There are a lot of characters, but they were easy to keep track off. The book also switches POV between different characters quite a bit, but this worked well and gave the story a broader focus without being too scattered.

I also enjoyed some of the science talk around marine biology and a look into the lives of women who want to assume the lifestyle of mermaids.

Parts of the book do get pretty gory and disturbing at the end, so you’ve been warned.

My only complaint about this book is that it is so short. There were so many interesting areas in this story that could have been explored at greater depth (no pun intended). I wanted to know more about everything in this book and was disappointed at how quickly everything was presented and wrapped up.

Overall this is an engaging and entertaining thriller/fantasy of sorts. The story is fast-paced and interesting. I wish it had been a bit longer and more fleshed out. ( )
  krau0098 | Jun 11, 2015 |
Every now and then I happen upon a story that reminds me why I love science fiction so much. I love its imagination, the way an author extrapolates from the factual to the bizarre; and the more she can pack her fiction with solid science, the happier I am. Mira Grant achieved this for me in her NEWSFEED trilogy and her PARASITOLOGY series. Now she does it again, even better than before, in her new novella for Subterranean Press, Rolling in the Deep.

Grant starts from the premise that Imagine Network (which bears a striking resemblance to Syfy TV in our own reality) has moved from B-grade horror movies and reruns of science fiction classics into the production of documentaries. These documentaries, however, are not straight reporting; they involve searches for fabled creatures like the Loch Ness Monster, with the facts manipulated to entertain as well as to provide cover for the legitimate scientists who agree to participate.

In May 2015, a new documentary is in the works. The SS Atargatis is headed for the Mariana Trench in search of mermaids. We know from the outset of Grant’s novella that this voyage will not end well, for instead of a 2015 documentary about mermaids, we are provided with an excerpt from a 2017 documentary entitled “Modern Ghost Ships: The Atargatis.” This preview tells us that the Atargatis and all its passengers and crew were lost at sea — or, at least, that Imagine wants us to think they did. Still, if it’s a hoax, it’s a big one, because no one has ever again seen any of the scientists, crewmen or actors who set sail on that ship.

After that introduction, we flip back to May 2015, when an unlikely set of people are gathering on the Atargatis. Captain Jovanie Seghers knows she’s going to have her hands full dealing with idiot paper pushers from the network, television personalities worried more about getting the right light than anything else, prima donna scientists, and a troop of mermaids: women who wear tails and frolic in the water as a means of making a living, who Imagine plans to have appear in its documentary in fleeting glimpses to give the actual science being done some oomph.

Grant manages to tell us a good deal about oceanic science when she introduces her cast of scientists, plenty about the state of the media when introducing her camera operators and on-air personalities, and a good deal about the fad of dressing up as merfolk and frolicking in the water. I particularly enjoyed the work the scientists did in exploring the Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans, and attempting to learn more about its wildlife, the chemical composition of its water, and other genuine scientific inquiries. No one on board really believes that there is the slightest chance that the scientists will discover mermaids, but everyone plays along. The scientists, in particular, have an opportunity to do some groundbreaking work that could make their reputations.

Once the science starts in earnest, though, things quickly get strange. An early probe returns with blood instead of water in one sampling tube, and it shares as many characteristics with mammalian blood as with fish blood. The on-air personality who interviews the scientists is thrilled when they reluctantly admit that it is an aberration. But things take a turn for the worse when a crewman disappears, and worse still when one of the mermaids doesn’t make it back from a deep water dive. And they keep getting worse as Grant follows the scientific trail she has carefully laid down from the very first paragraphs of her tale.

Many Easter eggs lie hidden in this tale, if one cares to root them out; check out the ship’s name, for instance, or look into the “documentaries” done on mermaids by Animal Planet in 2013. But Grant does her best work in showing us how her sea creatures are constructed and how they work, all based on extrapolation from real science. It’s a delight to see her imagination work as she draws her mermaids and shows them in action.
My delight in Grant’s talent at scientific extrapolation did not lessen the horror of this novella one iota, however. These creatures make Jaws look amateurish. What would happen after an expedition like this one ended in an empty ship floating two hundred miles from its last known location? The immediate investigation seems content to leave it all a mystery rather than tracking down the source of the strange lights in the water and the odd noises at night, but how long before someone decides to investigate further? And what if these creatures decide that the land is as big a source of food for them as the sea is a source of food for humans? That chill you feel as you finish this book may be a trickle of seawater down your neck.

Originally published at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/horrible-monday-rolling-in-the-deep-by-... ( )
1 vote TerryWeyna | Mar 23, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mira Grantprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, JulieCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, to be filmed from the cruise ship Atargatis, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses. They didn't expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn't expect those mermaids to have teeth. This is the story of the Atargatis, lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench...and the depths are very good at keeping secrets.… (more)

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