The characters in my newest thriller, Fatal Depth, live in an underwater city. They commute to work in scuba gear or in submersibles. They work in submarines or serve in the submarine fleet, piloting massive warsubs through the world’s oceans. They live, love, fight, and do everything else underwater. All. The. Time.
It’s their life, it’s their existence, and it’s their very reason for waking up each morning.
But what are they eating???
It’s an interesting question, and in fact, it’s at the core of the entire series of novels (which includes The War Beneath and The Savage Deeps).
I knew I wanted to write a series of books that were cold war espionage/spy thrillers that take place underwater. Think The Hunt for Red October on steroids. But every writer needs a rationale behind the world they create. I wanted it to be grounded in reality, in history, and in science. It needed to be logical. After many years at University in the 80s and 90s, and teaching environmental studies for decades, the justification for my undersea reality quickly became obvious: global warming and rising ocean levels might soon destroy continental breadbasket regions and ravage shorelines. Economies would disintegrate. Nations would fall to rebellion.
People would starve.
But the underwater world could be our salvation! Consider this: The oceans occupy 70% of the planet’s surface. Scientists believe we’ve only discovered 10% of the species which live there. The ocean floors are, generally speaking, way beyond our reach. However, the continental shelves at the rims of nations, extending a few kilometers into water before their rapid plunge into deep ocean abysses, are rich in organic material. They are shallow enough to receive sunlight. Fish love the shelves, especially if the currents are just right. A collision of warm and cold currents is preferable.
Kelp flourishes in these areas too. Some cultures already make heavy use of kelp and seaweed. Imaging cultivating this crop in an organized and industrialized manner! Kelp grows one meter a day in the right conditions. It could solve our food problems, especially as famine and collapsing arable land hits us on the surface. Throw in fish farms — schools of fish contained by bubble fences — and shellfish fields, and suddenly there’s a very real (and logical) reason for people to colonize the shallow ocean floors.
This is the basis for my current writing: Surface nations are essentially a collection of collapsing economies which thirst for new resources. There is an explosion of exploration and colonization on the ocean floors. In Fatal Depth, the confluence of events have led to a Second Cold War, and a rapid flood of human beings into the oceans, to settle underwater cities and exploit the ocean deeps. And, more often than not, war is the result. This future possibility is a near certainty, if history is any indication of things to come.
I hope you might consider joining me in these adventures, and to explore just what people are eating in the underwater world!
- Timothy S. Johnston, from somewhere on the continental shelf
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Timothy!
Fatal Depth Book Trailer: www.timothysjohnston.com/fataldepthtrailer