An ecological sf novel, Louis P. Kicha’s self-published The Deadly Ocean looks at the deadly aftermath of an unplanned disastrous event spurred by the random bombardment of cosmic ray particles off the Florida Keys. When two divers, two years after the event, venture near the coral reefs where oceanic algae has begun to mutate, they suffer from what appear to be chemical burns from the changing waters.
This leads to an extensive scientific investigation by a group of stalwart marine ecologists and scientists at the CDC as the full-blown nature of the ecological catastrophe in the making becomes clearer. The affected waters grow beyond the Florida Keys, leading to a disastrous event in Siberia, and the area around freshwater Lake Bakail becomes poisonous.
As science-fiction, Ocean hearkens back to the earlier days of the genre, when high concept took priority over characterization. The two primary investigators, Professor Ricardo Garcia and Dr. Katherine Gates, are clear-eyed and inquisitive, modern variations on the Heinlein hard-nosed scientist.
The primary antagonist proves not to be any individuals but a system of political and scientific bureaucracy that values short-term status quo and economic expediency over scientific honesty. Those readers who wish to make a comparison to climate denying politicos are hereby invited to do so. There’s a sequence in the book where Garcia and Gates testify before a Senate committee that’s as teeth-grindingly frustrating as watching the real world’s willful scientific illiterates in our presentday government.
At times, reading Kicha’s page-turner of a book, I found myself thinking back to John Brunner’s 1972 s-f novel, The Sheep Look Up, though that classic work provided a full cornucopia of eco horrors not just the one. But as The Deadly Ocean makes clear, you only need one good cosmic cock-up to potentially lead to the end of all things . . .