SF Masterwork of the Week: The Godwhale

Born in Iowa in 1932, Thomas Joespeh Bassler was a doctor and, under the pen name T. J. Bass, an  SF writer, principally known for his ‘Hive’ stories; the first of these, published in Galaxy Science Fiction and If, were combined into the novel Half Past Human which was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1972. The loose sequel and our SF Masterwork of the Week, The Godwhale, was nominated for the same award three years later.

Rorqual Maru was a cyborg – part organic whale, part mechanised ship – and part god.

She was a harvester – a vast plankton rake, now without a crop, abandoned by earth society when the seas died.So she selected an island for her grave, hoping to keep her carcass visible for salvage.

Although her long ear heard nothing, she believed that man still lived in his hive. If he should ever return to the sea, she wanted to serve.

She longed for the thrill of a human’s bare feet touching the skin of her deck. She missed the hearty hails, the sweat and the laughter.

She needed mankind.

But all humans were long gone … or were they?



The Godwhale is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook. You can find more of T. J. Bass’ work via his author page on the SF Gateway website and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.