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"I went back to science fiction to try a few experiments …and my first experiment was a disaster…"
- Alfred Bester

Whale Waldo  
  An electromechanical whale "suit" that obeys and amplifies your body's motions.  

With a half muttered prayer to the Dreamer, he touched a switch releasing the amplifiers on both Makakai's waldo and his own, then cautiously turned his arms to set the fins into motion. He flexed his legs, the massive flukes thrust back jerkily in response, and his machine immediately rolled over and sank.

Jacob tried to correct but overcompensated, making the waldo tumble even worse. The beating of his fins momentarily made the area around him a churning mass of bubbles, until patiently, by trial and error, he got himself righted.

He pushed off again, carefully, to get some headway, then arched his back and kicked out. The waldo responded with a great tail-slashing leap into the air.

The dolphin was almost a kilometer off. As he reached the top of his arc, Jacob saw her fall gracefully from a height of ten meters to slice smoothly into the swell below.

He pointed his helmet beak at the water and the sea came at him like a green wall. The impact made his helmet ring as he tore through tendrils of floating kelp, sending a golden Garibaldi darting away in panic as he drove downwards.

He was going in too steep. He swore and kicked twice to straighten out. The machine's massive metal flukes beat at the water to the rhythmic push of his feet, each beat sending a tremor up his spine, pressing him against the suit's heavy padding. When the time was right, he arched and kicked again. The machine ripped out of the water.

Sunlight flashed like a missile in his left window, its glare drowning the dim glow of his tiny instrument panel. The helmet computer chuckled softly as he twisted, beak down, to crash into the bright water once again.

From Sundiver, by David Brin.
Published by Not Known in 1979
Additional resources -

The word "waldo" and the basic idea are taken from the Robert Heinlein story of the same name, published in 1942. See the entry for waldo. Take a look at the T52 Enryu Support Dragon Hyper Rescue Robot, a telefactoring device big enough to tear the doors off cars.

Also, compare with the dolphin's hands by Larry Niven from his 1967 short story Handicap and the cyborg dolphin by William Gibson from his 1981 short story Johnny Mnemonic.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sundiver
  More Ideas and Technology by David Brin
  Tech news articles related to Sundiver
  Tech news articles related to works by David Brin

Whale Waldo-related news articles:
  - Bionic Dolphins And Whale Waldoes
  - Innespace Dolphin Boat Breaks The Surface
  - Performance Improving Self Contained Exoskeleton for Swimming (PISCES)
  - Oceanwings For Underwater Human Flight

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