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Titanic 101: The Ghost from the Grand Banks

It was 101 years ago today that the one of the greatest – certainly the most famous – of all maritime disasters occurred: the sinking of the RMS Titanic. With a hull containing sixteen separate airtight compartments, causing some to refer to it as ‘unsinkable’, the Titanic struck an iceberg south of Newfoundland and sank, five days into its maiden voyage, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives.

The Titanic has fascinated explorers, historians and writers for over a century, now, prompting salvage expeditions, films and, of course, novels. All very interesting and timely, but none of this would usually be considered fodder for a site dedicated to classic SF – unless one of those novels was written by one of the all-time greats of science fiction, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

It is 2010. In two years’ time it will be the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. Two of the world’s most powerful corporations race to raise the vessel but there are other powers at work, and chaos theory comes into play as plans progress – and six preserved bodies are found.

This novel incorporates two of Arthur C.Clarke’s passions – deep sea exploration and future technology – in a fast-moving tale of mystery and adventure. As operations proceed, the perfectly preserved body of a beautiful girl is found. She was not on the ship’s passenger lists.

The quest to uncover the secrets of the wreck and reclaim her becomes an obsession . . . and for some, a fatal one.

 

The Ghost From the Grand Banks was written in 1990, when the Titanic centenary was still a dozen years in the future, and Clarke approaches it with the rigour and imagination we’ve come to expect from a Hugo Award-winning grandmaster. It’s a book that is often overlooked among the more straightforwardly SFnal of his works, but we think it’s stood the test of time – as, indeed, has the strange allure of the tragic event that inspired it.

The Ghost From the Grand Banks is available as a Gollancz paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.