Sea Siege

~ A Novel by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the dustjacket ~

On a bleak little island in the West Indies, Griff Gunston and his scientist father faced many baffling questions. Why were so many small island schooners adrift and abandoned? Why was the scumlike fish disease that Griff’s father was investigating radioactive? Why were the colonies of octopi larger than the islanders had ever known them to be and showing a high degree of organization and an uncanny curiosity about human beings?
Before any answers could be found, the civilized world, which had been in a dangerous state of tension between East and West, blew up. After the first frantic radio reports of atomic attack, the air waves were silent. Then followed a desperate struggle for survival. The Navy personnel at a hush-hush base on a remote part of the island, Dr. Gunston’s scientific group, and the islanders forgot their differences and banded together against atomic fallout. Only when that peril was at length past, did it become evident that another one must be faced, this one not from the sky but from the sea.
This taut and absorbing story sweeps the reader along on a tide of growing excitement to a desperate and dramatic climax. Andre Norton, recognized as one of today’s top-flight science-fiction writers for such books as Star Guard, Star Man’s Son, and Star Rangers, charts a sure and steady course through the perilous scenes she evokes so vividly.


Write-up from the back of the ACE paperback edition ~

“The story of the fight made by Griff and his companions against the perils of the deep, the fury of the elements and the terrors of atomic war is one which has been invested with interest and suspense by this craftsman.” – New York Times
“One chilling aspect of the fast-paced science-fiction yard is its period; it is placed in a time not very distant from our own.” – Saturday Review
“A sensitively written, thought-provoking work for the more imaginative reader.: - Chicago Tribune


Write-up from the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

“…The perils of the deep, the fury of the elements, the terrors of atomic war… invested with interest and suspense.” The New York Times
The worst has happened… or so the survivors of the nuclear holocaust thought. But on an island in the West Indies a small group of American Seebees, scientist and natives knew otherwise, knew that a horror more terrifying than any man had ever known had been unleashed in the seas – and that no one could stop it….
“A sensitively written, thought-provoking work” - Chicago Tribune


Write-up from the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Life was placid on the Caribbean Island San Isadore --- until the American Seabees arrived on a secret construction Project. But the islanders were even more concerned about the sudden rash of boat disappearances and the strange creature that had washed up on the beach. Then came the news of impending nuclear war. Even remote San Isadore was no haven against the fury of man’s ultimate folly, and when the battered survivors emerged from the shelters, they walked out into a world gone mad!
Not only had the island been nearly scoured clean by the tremors and radiation that followed the final cataclysm, but even the sea itself had turned against them. For just below the surface lurked a horror more terrifying than the nuclear war itself – a horror awakened from the ocean depths and determined to destroy the last remnants of the human race.
“…The perils of the deep, the fury of the elements, the terrors of atomic war… invested with interest and suspense.” The New York Times


Write-ups from fans ~

Radioactivity mutates octopi into intelligent man-hating creatures, who then besiege a small island in the Caribbean, the inhabitants of whom have apparently been isolated because of some planet-wide disaster. ~ SL

This book is a product of the Cold War and nuclear fears of the fifties. Young man living at his father's marine life research station in the Caribbean. He wants to join the Air Force, but his dad won't let him. Nuclear testing has been causing mutations in the various species of marine life, the most notable being super-intelligent Octopi and sea monsters of unknown origin. (my guess is something like a plesiosaur). The Navy Seabees land and start building a top-secret base on their island. Then nuclear war breaks out. All kinds of mayhem plus a little voodoo and native medicines and desperate fights and daring rescues mark the rest of the tale which ends abruptly, leaving me to think that maybe she had planned a sequel. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Aug. 1st, 1957
Andre Norton, who wrote Star Guard and The Stars Are Ours focuses her talent for science fiction on the nether reaches of the see this time. Ominous portents on the bleak West Indies Island of San Isadore worry Griff Gunston, whose father is an ichthyologist concerned with a new radioactive scum plague. Shortly after Griff rescues his father, who has been poisoned by a sea monster and returned by air to the States for treatment, all contact with the outer world ceases. Reluctantly Griff faces the fact that atomic war has broken out; then he and the other island inhabitants are surrounded by vicious Octopi Sapiens, a mutation of octopi with advanced brain development. Not for the squeamish, this is the projection of a good storyteller's powerful imagination. A somewhat sanguine note is sounded as the diverse factions of the island unite in an effort to maintain life. 


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1957 by S. E. Cotts in Fantastic, November
1958 by Floyd C. Gale in Galaxy Science Fiction, April
1958 by Henry Bott in Imagination, April
1958 by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction, April, Reprinted in: (UK) by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction, July
1962 by P. Schuyler Miller in Analog Science Fact - Science Fiction, December, reprinted in: (UK) by P. Schuyler Miller, Analog Science Fact - Science Fiction, April 
2015 by James Nicoll
2018 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1957) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 57008586, $3.00, 216pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Blue Cloth Boards}
  • (1957) Published by Longmans, HC, $3.50, 216pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Richard Powers
  • (1962) ACE Double Book containing Eye of the Monster and Sea Siege, Published by ACE, PB, # F-147, $0.40, 80+176pg ~ cover of Eye of the Monster by Ed Emshwiller ~ cover of Sea Siege by Edward Valigursky  ~ Eye of the Monster - “First Book Publication” & Sea Siege - “Complete and Unabridged”
  • (1969) Published by ACE, PB, 0-441-75695, $0.60, 189pg - #75696 1974 $0.95 189pg - #75697 1976 $1.25 189pg - covers by Jeff Jones
  • (1980) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24293-5 $1.95, 222pg ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1987) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-34364-6, $2.95, 214pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger
  • From the Sea to the Stars (2007) Published by BAEN, TP, 1-416-52122-4, $15.00, 416pg ~ cover by Bob Eggleton ~ Omnibus containing Sea Siege (1957) & Star Gate (1958)

View the Original contract

View the 1978 ACE contract

View the 1985 Copyright renewal app.

See Also: Timeline 1 - Andre's Universe entry for this title.



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