This must be among the best science fiction by anyone - not just Clarke. A very realistic story, even if futuristic.
With increasing human population, where do you grow all the food? While the land is limited, 75% of earth's surface is sea - mostly untapped. This is a story about taking farming to sea.
Story summary (spoiler).
Main story is about cattlization of whales - breeding whales for meat.
A subsidiary story is about plankton plantations - both as fodder for whales, & for processing to make it canned food for humans. But this runs only as background.
A small sub-story deals with milking whales - the way cows & buffaloes are milked today. And processing this milk so you won't get abnormal taste or smell when you get your daily packet, or pick up a carton from a shop.
Story traces the career of hero - from trainee "warden" (a kind of whaleherd - as in a shepherd) to boss of the organization involved in raising whales for meat, with a hint towards the end of also getting into using them as milk animals.
In between, there are some distractions to bring in variety - snaring elusive sea monsters - a giant squid & a big sea serpent; rescuing some oil diggers trapped in an accident inside sea; & how can a Clarke's story be complete without some religion! But these side tracks generally enhance the story, rather than get in the way.
This novel is an expansion of a short story of the same name first published in April 1954 in Argosy (UK), according to Clarke's introduction to the short story in "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke". I haven't read the short story yet.
The Deep Range, novel, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
Genre: Science fiction
First published: 1957
- Robert Heinlein's "Ordeal in Space" (1948): That story is effectively a minor plot element in Deep Range - a competent spaceman falls off a spacecraft, is rescued, but is traumatized enough to get acrophobia. Deep Range rehabilitates him as warden; he eventually recovers in Ordeal. Another very good variant of this theme is Clarke's "Maelstrom II".
- "The Ghost from the Grand Banks" is another novel by Clarke that deals primarily with seas.