In myths and legends, squids are portrayed as fearsome sea-monsters, lurking in the watery deeps waiting to devour humans. Even as modern science has tried to turn those monsters of the deep into unremarkable calamari, squids continue to dominate the nightmares of the Western imagination. Taking inspiration from early weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, modern writers such as Jeff VanderMeer depict squids as the absolute Other of human civilization, while non-Western poets such as Daren Kamali depict squids as anything but threats. In Squid, Martin Wallen traces the many different ways humans have thought about and pictured this predatory mollusc: as guardians, harbingers of environmental collapse or an untapped resource to be exploited. However humans have perceived them, squids have always gazed back at us, unblinking, from the dark.
1 Natural Histories from Aristotle to Steenstrup
2 Modern Teuthology
3 Folk Tales and Legends
4 Kinetic Squid
Websites and Organizations
Martin Wallen is Professor Emeritus at Oklahoma State University. He is the author of many books, including Fox (Reaktion, 2006).
"An educational [...] look at squids, in reality and fiction [...] The discussions of squids' diet (they 'prey on almost anything that does not eat them first') and their 'highly aggressive hunting behavior' are especially intriguing [...] Some fascinating passages."
– Publishers Weekly
"John Steinbeck points out in The Log from the Sea of Cortez that "Men really need sea-monsters in their personal oceans." Squid explores this idea by taking the reader on a recurring migration between the mesopelagic darkness of kraken mythology and the epipelagic zone of contemporary squid biology through a fascinating history of literary attempts to entwine these worlds. At first glance this book may seem like a charming Victorian cabinet of cephalopod curiosities, but it is more like a well used tackle box full of intriguing lures, hooks, and strange squid jigs – some beautiful, some ominous, and each with its own story that makes it part of an emergent whole. For anyone interested in squid and the cross-over between natural sciences and the humanities, this book will be a gem."
– William Gilly, Professor of Biology, Stanford University