I love science fiction. I love the ocean. Seems like science fiction & the oceans go together like Old Bay on an oyster. Except that almost all the ocean-themed scifi that I’ve encountered has these bloody annoying frickin’ dolphins. My disgust with dolphins and their nasty habits is nothing new, but I’m afraid that the otherwise cool new blog Science In My Fiction rekindled my dolphin-rage with their debut post. They propose:
Researchers’ recent suggestion that dolphins be recognized as non-human persons is a prime example of a scientific idea ripe for storytellers’ extrapolation.
No no no no no! NO MORE TALKING SCI-FI DOLPHINS! And to once and for all refute the idea that this is a novel plot device, here is my quasi-comprehensive list of dolphins in science fiction and fantasy. (JEByrnes shares my sick fascination with dolphin sci-fi & has contributed to the list over the years.) The list is rough order of good to unspeakably terrible.
- So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, Douglas Adams. This is by far the best of the lot. At least the dolphins are saucy and non-psychic.
- Hyperion, Dan Simmons. An otherwise excellent book, but innocent talking dolphins stand in for Bad Humans & Ecological Destruction.
- Deep Wizardry, Diane Duane. In which human and cetacean wizards team up to fight the forces of entropy – at a hydrothermal vent! I loved this book as a kid.
- A Ring of Endless Light, Madeline L’Engle. Psychic dolphins impart spiritual healing.
- The Dolphins of Pern, Anne McCaffrey. Nothing says “let’s jump the shark!” like a friendly talking dolphin. Even if Pern doesn’t have sharks. It’s not like psychic dragons aren’t cool enough – you had to add talking friendly happy dolphins?
- Cachalot, Alan Dean Foster. A murder mystery on a water planet. OMG, did the talking dolphins do it??? At least they’re not happy friendly dolphins.
- A Deeper Sea, Alexander Jablokov. The killer whales speak in weird Elizabethan English. In space.
- Ishmael in Love, Robert Silverberg. A talking dolphin inexplicably falls in love with a human woman. Extreme ickiness ensues, in the way that only obnoxiously sexist 70s sci-fi can be icky.
- I have not read: Dolphin Island, by Arthur C. Clarke. But there are definitely superintellignent dolphins in it.
This is just books and stories. I’m not even getting into talking-cetacean TV/movies like SeaQuest DSV or Star Trek IV. So, please, sci-fi writers, I beg you, no more talking dolphins! Can we at least have some talking squids in outer space?