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Under Pressure

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,300 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Twenty subtugs had been lost in the attempt to bring back oil from the undersea fields on the enemy's borders.

A brilliant psychologist-electronics expert is planted in the crew of the subtug Ram to find out what is happening.

And theory becomes terrifying reality when, miles deep under the ocean, the minds of the crew begin to crack...

Mass Market Paperback, 220 pages
Published January 12th 1979 by Del Rey (first published February 1956)
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Description: Twenty subtugs had been lost in the attempt to bring back oil from the undersea fields on the enemy's borders. A brilliant psychologist-electronics expert is planted in the crew of the subtug Ram to find out what is happening. And theory becomes terrifying reality when, miles deep under the ocean, the minds of the crew begin to crack...

Read by John Horton

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A good ol' subtug story couched in continuing war (although Russia is only alluded to), and hissing, whistling vinta
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so very Herbert, he hits the ground running with an amazing amount of world building and data compressed into every page while explaining nothing to the reader directly, but through poetry of words implying everything you need, such as magna-boots, plasteel, and diffusion rates. Military cat and mouse books are not my usual "thing" but I did enjoy the conclussions and normal deep looks at society, pyschology, and perceptions.
Gary Foss
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-sci-fi
This book was clearly in many ways an experimental work by the author. The musings on the psychological nature of birth as compared to the experience of the submariners, the protracted scenes of paranoia and conflict amongst the characters, and the repetition of religious metaphors as well as outright dialogue all illustrate that Herbert was immersed in his own reading of psychology and religion at or around the time he penned this book. In later books, it's clear that such research would pay of ...more
Jun 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I just finished reviewing Peter Maas's The Terrible Hours, and thought of this book for the first time in years... another quite decent submarine story. It's not the best thing Herbert wrote, but compares very favorably with the later volumes in the Dune saga; I also preferred it to the (in my humble opinion) overrated Hunt for Red October. Worth a look if you like tales of the sea.
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Herbert's first novel shows a lot of elements that he would return to in his later work. It is not as complex or conceptually rich as Dune or The Dosadi Experiment but it is certainly a novel that is still well worth reading. It's fairly short but very intense and more action packed than many of his later novels. Quite a few later novels by Herbert don't hold up as well as The Dragon in the Sea does. If anything I like it even better after this reread. There are a few books by Herbert I would ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.

Frank Herbert's first science fiction novel, set in about 2020 and written in 1956, today reads more like a contemporary thriller than science fiction, even though it is set in a somewhat different world to the real one. It is set during a length, drawn out nuclear war (it was written at a time when comparatively little was known and much less public about the effects of a nuclear attack). The West is running short of oil but cannot easily obt
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was local author Frank Herbert's first and is on a list of Defining Science Fiction books of the 50s. More thriller than SF, it is part sub warfare and part psychological drama. It is set in the near future of an ongoing world war between West and East, where oil is scarce and some targets (including the British Isles) are uninhabitable due to nuclear fallout.

I love a good sub war book, and this reminded me of The Hunt for Red October. Some of the technology is a advanced (a signal rep
Sarah Sammis
Last night I finished reading Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert (1956). Dragon in the Sea is quite a departure from Dune. It's more akin to The Santaroga Barrier (my favorite Herbert book) in Herbert starts with a few ordinary events and then turns them into psychological dramas. For this book, he goes one step further and leaves off the chapter divisions to create a literary claustrophobia to match the claustrophobic conditions of the submarine. Some of the psychobabble to explain the captain' ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-audio
The entire book made me super, super uncomfortable. Ugh. Submarines. *shudders*
Caprice Hokstad
It was okay. I didn't understand this book as well as I would have liked. I feel like I need the Cliff notes to help me. What was the telemeter and how did it work? Who killed the security guy? Why was psych so sure insanity was an issue when they were pirating oil from deep in enemy territory? They shouldn't have been so surprised to lose subtugs under such conditions. What was this war even about and who was the enemy, specifically? Too many unanswered questions.

I liked the Captain Sparrow ch
Tim Mercer
4 stars. The setting is an East vs West war in the style of the old Cold War from the 50's to the 80's except they are shooting. This is a story of a submarine crew on a mission to steal crude oil from their enemy (the Eastern Powers). It was an enjoyable read but unfortunately the terminology is showing it's age (written in the 50's). Also I was not a fan of all the amateur psychology which is a large part of this story. Because of this I was only going to give it 3 stars. However when you cons ...more
Michael Selden
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Michael by: No one—I was on a reading binge
Classic Frank Herbert, which means it's heavy on the psychological. The engineering and physics in this book are well done, realistic even if a bit dated. This is a quasi post apocalyptic world, dominated by the military fighting what seems to be an endless war, fought under the sea by the blind dragons of nuclear powered submarines crewed by men suffering from the paranoia of having to always suspect everyone. (In fact, I heard they re-issued this book as The Dragon in the Sea)

Aspects of this b
Tenaillés par un manque de pétrole, les USA envoient des sous-marins vider les puits de pétrole de nations ennemies en temps de guerre. Malheureusement, toutes les expéditions ont échoué. Ils envoient alors un psy avec leur équipage, afin de survivre à cette naissance sous-marine.

Cet ouvrage devrait à mon avis être lu par les fans comme un brouillon à Destination Vide. On y retrouve en effet les mêmes ingrédients : un équipage peu nombreux, un environnement stressant, la présence mêlée de la rel
Fantasy Literature
The East and the West rule the world, but the West is running out of oil. The West has been sending subtugs (specialized submarines) to smuggle oil from the East, but the last twenty missions have failed. It’s treachery! Security knows that the East has a lot of sleeper agents among their ranks, so they assign John Ramsey, who specializes in psychology and electronics, aboard the next mission in order to uncover the sleeper agent.

There are four men aboard the subtug, and since one of them is Ram
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
An early effort by Frank Herbert, with an interesting premise but some weakness in execution. The premise is America is sending submarines to pilfer oil from undersea wells in Russian territory. There were very good cat and mouse bits as they evaded enemy detection. But a couple scenes had so much detail about the layout of the submarine it lost narrative focus..
It would have worked better as a tight short story.
Joann Bloxsom
Started the book knowing nothing about it other than the author's sci-fi cred. I kept waiting for the dragon to come. Possible spoiler: there is no dragon. It was like waiting for boats in Watership Down.
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Frank Herbert, although I do find some of his work overly psychoanalytical. I heard about this book initially as an "underwater pirates" idea, and finally got around to reading it over the past week. It was not what I expected at all.

In a war-torn future, Britain has been destroyed by a Soviet Union that has rolled over most of Europe. The United States remains defiant, but is desperate for oil and resorts to underwater drilling operations. After every sub they send out is de
Chen-Wei Cheong
A revolutionary novel, fore-seeing nuclear submarines and a struggle for oil. I expected nothing less from one of the fathers of sci-fi Frank Herbert. Although I have to say that towards the end, the novel became a little surreal with his use of a lot of jargons and slangs which, I admit, in trying to make the feel of the characters in the submarine authentic, I somehow had to struggle to understand. Some have compared this novel to Jules Verne's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, but it is an entirel ...more
Rocket to Mars
Reading a book of medium length and being able to only rate it 3 stars is always a disappointing feeling, because it means I wasn't able to find in it nothing that I either loved nor hated. While enjoyable throughout, this dive into the lives of four submariners, their fears and paranoias, ended up being painfully average. The only major criticism I can move towards it is that the characters of Garcia and Bonnett weren't distinct enough, so much that even now, besides a few key plot elements, I ...more
Stuart Dean
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Psychological military thriller heavy on the psychology. There's a spy on a submarine so Security sends in a ringer to ferret him out. There's sabotage, murder, hiding from the enemy, mechanical breakdown, emotional breakdown, all the favorites. Mostly it's a study of how men react under pressure, specifically military men in active warfare. How they become functionally psychotic, shutting down their emotional sides and acting like machines when necessary.

Good story, lots of 1950's future tech,
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a pretty decent read--I really enjoyed parts of it, and those parts made it worth the time spent. (It's a quick read.)

The story is set in a future America (past 2021, at least) that is in a prolonged war with Russia. (Now that I think about it, I'm not actually sure if Russia was spelled out, but it's obvious.) New submarine technology has developed, producing subtugs: submarines that sneak into enemy territory to drill for and steal their oil. That's where the war part comes in, but it
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently I am not qualified to read this book, having no prior naval training. I can mostly sort of glean what's going on, but without gut knowledge of naval jargon and the working of nuclear submarines, a lot of key details are lost, and with Herbert's extreme subtlety and minimal description that really makes a difference.
Manuel Pirino
I wish there was a 4 and half star rating on Goodreads. Most of the book I have read lately, I would have gladly given them 5 stars, but I am saving that for when my jaw truly drops and / or I cry rivers. Tha being said, The Dragon in the Sea (Under Pressure) is a damn good book. It is a new Frank Herbert, away from his familiar landscape, the Arrakis/Dune which is now a quite well known setting (starting with David Lynch's adaptation, and on with videogames, spinoffs and telefilms).

Herbert sho
A good psychological thriller, rather than, a science fiction story. However, a good, quick entertaining read.
Maurick Starkvind
Sheol se estira como un sinvergüenza bajo "El Dragón en el Mar", una obra del autor de #Dune, Frank Herbert. Bien escrita, pero falta de emoción e interés por sus personajes.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story about sub(marine) tugs. Couldn't put it down! Short and sweet!
Dec 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An early work and it shows. Poor characters, with an interesting premise and very poor execution.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This was Herbert's first novel to achieve any kind of commercial success, well before he wrote Dune. It always held a special place in his heart for that reason, and while not as strong a work as Dune, it is enjoyable. I might have judged it differently had I read it before his more famous books, but at this point it's very unlikely that any reader will come across it first.

There are a few things that immediately jump out as rather proto-Duneish. The environment of the characters takes on a role
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Herbert, of course, is a science fiction writer famous for Dune and its sequels, an epic tale of an extreme environment where its people wear special suits to preserve and reclaim every bit of water. The oceans of our Earth are also extreme environments, one few science fiction authors have mined, despite it being about as forbidding and unknown a place for exploration as the moon. Before this, the only such novels I'd read in the genre were by Arthur C. Clarke, such as his novel Deep Range. The ...more
Aug 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Frank Herbert a écrit la longue saga de Dune, une fresque qui aura pour longtemps sa place dans le Temple de la science-fiction.

Or, tout ce qu'il a touché avant d'en arriver là n'est pas nécessairement de l'or.

Dans « Le dragon sous la mer », publié en 1956, l'auteur a brassé sur le papier sa passion de la psychologie, de la religion et du monde hyper-technique et cloîtré des sous-marins sur un fond de guerre froide et de paranoïa anti-communiste complètement... imbuvable.

Dans ce récit sans pause
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Frank Herbert was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author.

He is best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power, and is widely considered to be among the classi
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“Each of us is the enemy [...] to the other and to himself. That's what I mean: I'm the enemy within myself. Unless I master that enemy, I always lose.” 2 likes
“What's your definition of sanity, Skipper?’ ‘The ability to swim,’ said Sparrow. Ramsey felt a cold shock, as though he had been immersed suddenly in freezing water. He had to force himself to continue breathing normally. As though from a great distance, he heard Sparrow's voice: ‘That means the sane person has to understand currents, has to know what's required in different waters.’ Ramsey” 0 likes
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