From terrifying sea creatures to ancient civilizations at the bottom of the Ocean, science fiction has some great books set underwater in the ocean.
In this article, let’s have a look at the 17 best underwater sci-fi books you should definitely check out if you’re interested in the genre.
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1. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Published back in 1869, this is a classic book by French author Jules Verne. His novel of undersea adventure has captivated its readers ever since.
Something like a ‘monster’ in the ocean threatens international shipping and trading. French oceanographer Pierre and his assistant join the US Navy to help hunt down this monster.
After months of searching, they finally find it, but it’s not a ‘monster’. It’s actually a futuristic submarine commanded by a man who calls himself Captain Nemo. Pierre and his assistant Conseil join Captain Nemo and his crew on a journey through the dark oceans and the ruins of an ancient sunken city.
2. Sphere by Michael Crichton
Norman Johnson, a 53-year-old psychologist, is taken to the middle of the South Pacific Ocean in a Navy helicopter. He’s been informed that there’s been an airplane crash and his expertise is needed.
But, Captain Harold Barnes later informs him that it’s not an airplane. Thousands of feats below the ocean level, a spaceship has been found which, according to scientists, landed at least 300 years ago.
His job is to recommend a contingency plan in case the spaceship has extraterrestrial beings in it.
3. Startide Rising by David Brin
The Progenitors were the very first species to gain intelligence without the help of anyone. They started the business to uplift other species throughout the galaxy and help them gain knowledge.
Humans are also one of the uplifted species and we’ve uplifted other species as well like the dolphins now called Neo-fins.
While on a mission, a spaceship with a dolphin captain finds the dead body of an alien species that could possibly be one of the mysterious progenitors. Maybe this discovery can help humanity uncover ancient mysteries and find out exactly who uplifted humans.
4. The Scar by China Mievelle
Bellis’s qualifications as an interpreter have helped her escape from horrific punishment. Now, she’s fleeing to go settle in the colony and wait for her home to become safe again.
But, on her way, her ship gets hijacked by pirates and the ship crew is killed. The remaining people are taken to the landless city of Armada formed using pirate ships. Once you’ve been captured in Armada, you may never leave.
She soon finds that the secrets of Armada lie deep in the ocean, along with terrifying beings.
5. The Swarm by Frank Schatzing
Humans face the wrath of the ocean and its inhabitants as whales begin to sink ships around the world, crabs start poisoning the water supplies, and every other marine life starts attacking humans.
A group of scientists soon discover the reason behind the recent attacks – an intelligent life called Yrr at the bottom of the ocean aiming to destroy humanity for the harm they’ve caused to Earth.
A race against time and the ocean itself starts as humanity’s fate and Earth’s ecosystem lie in balance.
6. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
A crew was assembled to shoot a mockumentary in the Mariana Trench, but no one ever came back. Some call it a hoax others call it a tragedy.
Seven years later, a new team has been gathered to once again explore the trenches. This time their goal is not to entertain people with a mockumentry. Some want the thrill of the hunt while others want to prove themselves.
For young scientist Victoria, it is a mission to find out what happened to her sister. But, the truth will come at a price.
7. Deep Fathom by James Rollins
Jack Kirkland was sent on a salvage mission below the surface of the ocean but the mission had to be aborted and then he returned to the surface, only to find the Earth burning.
Solar flares have caused disasters throughout the world and the planet is doomed. It is up to Jack to pilot his exploration ship called “Deep Fathom” on an underwater mission that could save the world.
Deep in the ocean lies the secrets of an ancient civilization and a power that would alter the Earth’s fate.
8. The Abyss by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card is one of the best writers in the world with his most famous sci-fi books being the Ender’s Game series.
U.S. submarines have been attacked and the government suspects Russia, growing the tension between the countries and inching the world closer to a nuclear war. But, it wasn’t Russia. It wasn’t even a human…
9. Deep Storm by Lincoln Child
Naval doctor Peter Crane is immediately flown to a remote oil platform in the middle of the North Atlantic to help deal with a strange illness spreading among the crew members.
It all started after the discovery of the ancient city of Atlantic at the bottom of the ocean and the construction of the “Deep Storm”, a research facility on the ocean surface.
While looking into the medical mystery, he soon uncovers something far more deadly and sinister.
10. Meg by Steve Alten
Jonas Taylor ended up being the sole survivor of a top-secret underwater mission after coming face-to-face with a predator thought to have gone extinct long ago – the Carcharodon megalodon, a sea creature strong enough to tear the Tyrannosaurus Rex to shreds.
But, no one believes him and writes him off as someone suffering from PTSD after losing his crewmates.
After spending years theorizing and teaching about what he saw, he’s finally back into the ocean to face the terrors once again with the help of a female submarine pilot.
11. The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
After strange fireballs fall from the sky into the ocean, ships start disappearing mysteriously, taking the people onboard to an early grave.
The creatures soon show themselves as they start attacking the town and before humanity can react, the apocalypse starts.
We see the events unfolding through the eyes of a journalist couple Mike and Phyllis Watson.
12. Starfish by Peter Watts
Scientists have found a way to farm geothermal at the bottom of the ocean. The GA Corporation immediately built a facility on the Juan de Fuca Ridge and sent people to do exactly that.
But, living at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean proves to be difficult for normal humans. Only a crew of genetically engineered humans can withstand the pressure and even breathe underwater.
13. Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement
Mesklin is a disc-shaped planet with such a harsh environment that it would be nearly impossible for humans to survive on it.
For some reason, the small inhabitants of the planet have managed to adapt to the environment and gravity. When an extremely valuable unmanned human probe crashes on Mesklin, humans must enlist the help of the Mesklines.
Barelnnan is the captain of a Mesklinite ship and now, it is his job to retrieve the crashed probe and return it to humans.
14. The Dragon Dreamer by J.S. Burke
Arak has been bullied all his life for being a worthless dreamer. To prove himself, he flies off on a quest but soon finds himself wounded and on the verge of death. But, a shape-shifting octopus saves his life.
Upon his return, he finds that a deadly illness has spread throughout the dragon clan, an undersea volcano has erupted, and a deadly chain of events threatens to destroy the entire dragon race along with their sea friends. Can he use his unique gifts to save his people?
15. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
A group of three – Adaora, a biologist, Anthony, a famous celebrity, and Agu, a troubled soldier, find themselves in a race against time to save the world and humanity itself.
A massive object has crashed into the ocean near Nigeria’s most famous city and this marks the beginning of a chain of events that could destroy the entire nation of Nigeria along with the world.
16. A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Sharers of Shora is a highly advanced pacifist civilization of women who have colonized the planet without hurting the native inhabitants. They believe in protecting nature rather than harming it for personal gain.
But, their violent neighbors, the Valedons, don’t share their ideals and now, they’ve decided to expand their territory and take over Shora.
Can the sharers use their pacifism to win the upcoming war?
17. A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
Humans have already made contact with an extraterrestrial lifeform called the Sholen, and now they found another alien race – the Ilmataran, a species of intelligent fish living under a roof of thick ice on the planet Ilmatar.
At first, it was supposed to be a simple mission to observe the alien habitat but things escalate pretty quickly when a media personality working as the crew’s cameraman gets sliced open by curious Ilmatarans.
With war on the brink of happening, the future of human space exploration changes forever.