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Literature: Raise the Titanic!
Raise the Titanic! was an early novel by Clive Cussler and his first best seller. The book was published in 1976, a full nine years before the wreck of the RMS Titanic was discovered, and as such, the plot unintentionally takes a few liberties with the plausibility of salvaging the doomed ocean liner (until the wreck was found, most experts assumed it remained intact after sinking rather than breaking in two).

Gene Seagram, top scientist for a heavily funded top secret government think-tank designs a defence system that would make it impossible for Russian missiles to hit any target in the continental United States, rendering the ICBM obsolete and shifting the balance of world power in America's favour. Unfortunately the device will only run on some Unobtanium, the only known supply of which went to the bottom of the ocean on April 15th, 1912 during the sinking of the Titanic. There's only one thing to be done...

Unfortunately, the Russians have caught wind of the true motivation behind the American's attempt to find and salvage the Titanic, and they're not exactly happy about it. Partly because the ore in question was originally mined in secret from territory that Russia had a claim to at the time, but mostly due to the aforementioned balance of power. They set out to sabotage the operation with the aim of reclaiming the stolen ore, or at least denying possession of it to their enemy.

The book was a notable success, launching Cussler's writing career. There was also a film made which is far more infamous and far less successful. The raising sequence is still worth a look.


This book provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: Andre Prevlov
  • Canon Discontinuity: After the Titanic was discovered in real life to have broken in half, and that raising it was impossible, the whole incident is erased from canon.
  • Deflector Shields: The Sicilian Project, for which the titular mission is launched.
  • History Marches On: This story assumes the R.M.S. Titanic sank as a single piece, remaining intact enough to be salvaged. In Cussler's defense, this was the official position on the sinking until the ship was actually found, which was in 1985, almost 10 years after the book was written.
  • Karma Houdini: Andre Prevlov's ultimate fate ends up being forced to defect to the United States.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: Byzanium.
  • Unobtanium: The ultra-rare byzanium, the only known deposit of which is on a remote Russian Arctic island, had been mined out in the early 20th century, and the entire output shipped out on a certain ocean liner to the United States.
  • Vehicle Title
  • Wicked Cultured: Prevlov

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RagtimeLiterature of the 1970sRendezvous with Rama

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