Pigeon graphic

By Sound Alone

A free and open-source novel
with cargo submarines.
Also a pigeon.



The back-of-the-book blurb:

In a slightly skewed-off timeline of mid-20th-century Earth, the surface of the ocean has become a contested place. International shipping is forced undersea, carried out by subs fitted for transporting cargo. Captain Sylvia Percy and her small crew run one such boat, the "Prospect". They fight a daily battle to keep their rusting submarine from dropping into the depths. It's just another grimy job until they find themselves pursued by a military sub driven by some inexplicable violent purpose. To survive, the crew of the Prospect push the machine that is their home to the very edge of its capabilities, while still trying to make their delivery on time.

Read the book:

E-book versions (complete book, open-source, free and non-commercial):

mini cover


paper book with Pawpaw


More information:

A complete novel: 118k+ words, 380+ pages. The content is entirely free, released under a Creative Commons open-content non-commercial license. I encourage you to download and share the e-book files. (For a paper version you have to buy it from one of our coporate overlords. Sorry. I still encourage you to share the paper books though.)

What's it like?

Fundamentally, it's a mashup of 1970s trucker culture and 1960s submarine movies. In broader terms, it's kind of a well-stirred slurry of Patrick O'Brian, Road Warrior, Deadliest Catch, Das Boot, Smokey and the Bandit, Motörhead, and Bikini Kill.

It is undoubtedly speculative fiction — but not science fiction. The story is driven by heavily-researched realistic mid-century submarine mechanics, and framed by the confined spaces and dangerous operations that have always been at the heart of good submarine tales. The speculative fiction part takes our protagonist submarines from an underwater docking bay for the transshipping of cargo, to a city built on pylons out over the ocean, to a garbage gyre of ghost ships.

What more specific genre that it might belong to beyond "speculative fiction" is a little fuzzy, maybe "grimepunk" if that's a thing?

But rest assured, whatever genre it is, it is also a page-turner full of exciting submarine action! (At least after you get past the first few pages.)

Tell me even more

"Source code" for the novel:

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