11 June, 1930. On a ship floating near the Atlantic island of Nonsuch, a curious steel ball is lowered 3000 feet into the sea. Crumpled up inside, gazing through three-inch thick quartz windows, sits the famed zoologist William Beebe. With uncontrollable excitement, he watches as bizarre, never-before-seen creatures flit out of the inky blackness, illuminated by explosions of bioluminescence. He is the first person to witness this alien world.
Beebe's dives take place against the backdrop of a transforming and paradoxical America, home to ground-breaking scientists, eccentric adventurers, and eugenicist billionaires. Yet under the ocean's crushing pressure, scientific expectations disintegrate; the colour spectrum shatters into new dimensions; outlandish organisms thrive where no one expected them.
The Bathysphere Book blends research, storytelling, and poetic experiments, traveling through entangled histories of scientific discovery into the bottomless magic of the deep unknown.
Brad Fox is a writer, journalist, translator and former relief contractor living in New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review Daily and Guernica, among other publications. His novel To Remain Nameless was a finalist for the Big Other Fiction award and a staff pick at the Paris Review. Fox is a certified scuba diver and has been cave diving in central Budapest, wreck diving in Bermuda, and dived a decommissioned oil platform off the coast of Peru.
"Brad Fox knows that the descent into the deep meant a sea-change not just in science, but in aesthetics, philosophy, the sense of what it is to be human. All have been changed, become rich and strange, as this rich, strange book shows so beautifully"
– China Miéville, author of The City & the City and Perdido Street Station
"A work of vaulting ambition, wonder, and peerless technique, with startling ideas and insights on every page, The Bathysphere Book is an exhilarating read and one of the best things I've read in years. Its reckoning with ecology – its refusal to ignore the legions of animal life humanity is tangled up in – is shiveringly exciting, important, and new."
– Martin MacInnes, author of In Ascension and Infinite Ground
"A breathtaking book, full of suspense, revelation, and beauty. Masterful!"
– Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
"Brad Fox blends excursions into science, history, colour theory, sea exploration and language to weave together a genre-defying book about oceans that is imbued with intelligence, curiosity and wonder."
– Joanna Pocock, author of Surrender
"Brad Fox has created a brilliant work of literary art – at once almanac and seance, wonder-cabinet and hallucinogen. The vigor, pluck, and compression of his language turn a linear chronicle into a time-bending, gem-laden constellation, with surprising flashes of wit, gossip, and melodrama"
– Wayne Koestenbaum, author of Ultramarine and The Cheerful Scapegoat