Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon

You know, science fiction fans, I sometimes wonder. I read an old science fiction (or even scientifiction) story, and I ask myself "Is it worth it to include this off-the-wall idea?"

Such was my concern when I read about the torpoon, a somewhat ungainly portmanteau of "torpedo" and "harpoon" from H.G. Winter's 1939 short story Seed of the Arctic Ice:

The inner catapult door closed behind Kenneth Torrance, and he slid into his torpoon. Twelve feet long, and resembling in miniature a dirigible, was this weapon that made practical an underwater whaling craft. The tapered stern bore long directional rudders, which curved round the squat high-speed propeller; its smooth flanks of burnished steel were marked only by the lines of the entrance port, which the torpooner now drew tight and locked...

Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers. A harness was buckled all around him, to keep him in place. His gray eyes, level and sober, peered through the vision-plate at the outer catapult door.

Suddenly a spot of red light glowed in it; the door quivered, swung out. A black tide swirled into the chamber. There came the hiss of released air-pressure, and the slim undersea steed rocketed out into the exterior gloom, her light-beams flashing on and propeller settling into a blur of speed as she was flung.

Ken turned on her full twenty-four knots, zoomed above the dark bulk of the slower mother ship, whose light-beams flashed across him for a second, and then straightened out in a long, slight-angled dive after the great black bodies ahead.


(The torpoon)

And yet - here it is!


I did a story on an earlier version of this vehicle in 2006; see Innespace Dolphin Boat Breaks The Surface .

See more at the Seabreacher website.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/25/2019)

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