100 Fathoms Below

Tomorrow is the deadline to nominate for the Planetary Awards, so I’m making my nomination for best novel of 2018 tonight, and I’ll try to do a short story nomination tomorrow.

If I had to nominate the book which I had the most fun reading, I’d nominate Monster Hunter Memoirs : Saints.  But, I’m not going to nominate it, because I’m a jerk.

monster hunter saints

Saints is the third book in a trilogy by John Ringo and Larry Correia, and the trilogy is a spin-off of Correia’s Monster Hunter International series.  To nominate Saints, I’d have to read it again, and try to judge how much enjoyment was due to the book itself versus the works that came before it.  I don’t have time for that right now, so I’m limiting my nomination to standalone books or the first book in a series.

Wow, I should work for the government.  I’m creating arbitrary rules and rigidly enforcing them.  On second thought, the government usually creates arbitrary rules and enforces them sporadically.

I’m sticking to my rule, and nominating 100 Fathoms Below by Steven Kent and Nicholas Kaufmann.  I almost skipped this book, thinking it would be “too mainstream” for me.

100 fathoms

100 Fathoms Below mostly takes place on a Los Angeles class submarine during the Cold War.  The night before the sub puts out to sea, a sailor visits a brothel and is bitten by a vampire.

The novel starts out a bit slow as the other sailors and officers try to figure out who’s smashing the interior lighting, and then why some of the crewmen have extreme light-sensitivity.  The investigative actions and thoughts are logical, but a little dull to read because you already know about the vampires.

Things picked up as the tide turned in favor of the vampires, with more and more of the sub’s interior in darkness, and fewer and fewer live, uninfected crewmen.  The sailors ultimately came up with an original vampire-killing strategy.  Describing it will be a spoiler, so skip the next paragraph if you’re thinking of reading the novel.  [The WordPress image-insert function is buggy tonight, so I can’t place my normal warning symbol]

The sailors figure out that, just as vampires can be killed by sunlight at intensity levels that don’t harm humans, they can be killed by radiation at levels that humans can shrug off.  So, they grab some mildly-radioactive water from the reactor’s cooling system and splash it on the undead like it’s holy water.  I’m declaring this an official addition to vampire lore — from now on, all vampires shall be susceptible to death by all forms of electromagnetic and particle radiation, not just sunlight.  I’m envisioning an armored vehicle with an x-ray projector in its turret for those really bad vampire outbreaks.

The novel also had a couple of encounters with Soviet submarines.  Unfortunately, these occurred separately from the vampire attacks.  It would have been much scarier if the Soviets had come snooping around while the vampires were making their move.  Imagine trying to smash in a vampire’s head with a wrench, but you can’t risk clanging against anything if you miss.  Imagine a vampire throwing you into the galley, and instead of using your hands to protect yourself, you have to catch a falling can of green beans.

Fictional characters need their troubles multiplied, not added to.  It’s bad if their clothes are on fire.  It’s bad if they step in a bear trap.  It’s really bad if they step in a bear trap while their clothes are on fire.

Even though I’ve mentioned a few things I wish had been done differently, 100 Fathoms Below was still the most enjoyable book of those I read for the Planetary Awards, so I’m giving it my nomination.  I’ll also look at each author’s other work, to see if they’ve written anything else I might like.



  1. ” I’m envisioning an armored vehicle with an SPOILER in its turret for those really bad vampire outbreaks”

    You know, I’m surprised more authors haven’t taken the whole sunshine thing to its next logical level. Create a flashlight with a bajillion lumens on the right frequency and whammo, no need for guns, crosses or holy water. They’d have to have a tactile grip, have light come from each side and be unbreakable. I call my creation “Combat Light X” and it only comes in black. Unless you want to special order the genuine silver edition, at 100 times the cost 😉

    1. We’ll need some test subjects to get the frequency right.

      1. The entire Twilight Cast just “volunteered” 😉

  2. And I believe that Kent wrote a whole series of SF about a clone empire/army thingy. I only read the first book though. It is called The Clone Republic. I gave it 2 stars, which was more for subject matter than anything else.

    1. I saw those books, but they don’t have audio versions, which is most of what I’m “reading” at the moment. I’m still reserving my eyeball time for short story collections.

      So, you didn’t like the subject of clones? Or was there some offensive material in the book?

      1. “Other” offensive material.

        As for human cloning. I don’t have a problem with cloning human parts, as long as human embryo’s aren’t created just for that purpose. That’s as much murder as abortion. But whole human cloning? In principle I’m against it but am not too worried about it actually happening. I don’t think we’re going to get there. Just like I’m not worried about the effects of colonizing Pluto 😉

  3. Anonymous · · Reply

    My takeaway – the Catholic Church has been giving people cancer with their holy water for years!

    1. A few sacrifices are necessary to keep the vampires out of church.

  4. […] as I mentioned in my best novel nomination, I’m not considering sequels for my picks.  So, although I love this series of stories and […]

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