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Literature / Meg

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"Two Words: Jurassic Shark!"
The Los Angeles Times

The flagship series of novels by Florida author Steve Alten — except the "flagship" is actually a really, really big Threatening Shark.

"Meg" is short for "Megalodon", the name of an actual, over-sized, prehistoric shark. (Although its size, strength, intelligent, and probably its ferocity are frequently exaggerated in the books; that, and it glows.) The books detail the adventures of Cmdr. Jonas Taylor (and later, his family), a former member of the Navy who came face to face with the shark while diving in the Mariana Trench, reacted about the way you might expect, and was drummed out of the Navy for allegedly going insane. Later, having become a marine biologist obsessed with proving he isn't crazy, Jonas ventures back into the trench, meets the shark again, and accidentally unleashes it. Terror, thrills, and more all ensue.


And we do mean ensue. These books delight in taking their narrative about humans going up against giant sharks everywhere and anywhere they can think of, no matter how crazy, unrealistic, or controversial it may be. Indiana Jones—caliber exploits by members of the human cast tend to be the result, with a Moment of Awesome or Funny Moment, or both, often capping it all off at the finale.

The series is also becoming notable as one of Steve Alten's outlets for issuing a Take That! against whomever he's mad at, and there seem to be a lot of them. The result may well qualify as Badass Decay for many readers, and although Steve Alten has improved as a writer tremendously since he wrote the first Meg book, the series has arguably declined in quality as Alten continues to supplement the series that everyone still associates with him.


And yet, the series at its peak is affable in its cheesiness to the point of being like an old B Movie—So Bad, It's Good, if you will, and there's just something about a man slaying a shark by letting himself be swallowed and then cutting up the shark's organs using one of its lost teeth or a shark attacking a baseball game, of all things that has the ability to put a smile on readers' faces, even as they shake their heads.

A film adaptation was in some truly memorable Development Hell since 1997 under the now defunct Hollywood Pictures. In the mid-2000s, New Line Cinema held the rights to the series with Jan de Bont (Of Speed fame) and Guillermo del Toro involved. Eli Roth later came onto the project, but it fell through. Principal photography finally began in October 2016, with Jon Turteltaub as director and Warner Bros. scheduled to release the film in March 2018, before being bumped back to eventually airing in August 2018.

The initially unrelated The Loch features another scientist, Zachary Wallace, whose career is nearly destroyed when an expedition to the Sargasso Sea to find a giant squid leads to disaster. Months later, Dr. Wallace, suffering from a crippling fear of the water, is forced to return to his native Scotland in order to support his father, who is on trial for murder and claims the Loch Ness Monster was the real killer. This forces Zach into confronting his own inner demons and, after tracking it down, Nessie itself. The book's sequel brings characters from both Meg and The Loch together, Canon Welding the two series.
Also initially unrelated, Sharkman was made a part of the series when scientist Barbara Becker was mentioned in Meg: Night Stalkers. It features Kwan Wilson, a promising young athlete paralyzed by a car accident, who takes an internship under Dr. Barbara Becker, a scientist working to create cures for cancer and paralysis using shark stem cells. Stealing a supply of the cells for himself, Kwan gives himself the paralysis cure in an attempt to repair his damaged spine. Unfortunately, while it does heal him, it also causes Kwan to develop a triggerable mutation into a humanoid shark-like being, resulting in Dr. Becker's backers trying to use him for their own purposes.

The series' continuity (by in-universe order) includes:

  • Meg: Origins (2011) — an e-book set in 1989, detailing Jonas Taylor's first encounter with the Megalodon.
  • Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (1997); a modest bestseller set in 1997.
  • Meg: Angel of Death 1.1 — Survival (2020); first in a series of e-book novellas set between "Meg" and "The Trench".
  • The Trench (1999) — set four years after Meg.
  • The Loch (2005) — originally a standalone, brought into Meg continuity by its direct sequel. Set between The Trench and Primal Waters.
  • Vostok (2015) — sequel to The Loch. Part 1 of the book is set between The Trench and Primal Waters; part 2 alongside Night Stalkers. Then most of its events are undone by time travel.
  • Meg: Primal Waters (2004) — set eighteen years after The Trench.
  • Meg: Hell's Aquarium (2009) — set four years after Primal Waters.
  • Meg: Night Stalkers (2016) — set six months after Hell's Aquarium; features cast from The Loch.
  • Sharkman (2014); initially unrelated to Meg until one of its characters was referenced in Meg: Night Stalkers.
  • Meg: Generations (2018note ) — sequel to Night Stalkers.
  • Meg: Purgatory (announced in April 2018; to be written after the third Loch novel) — sequel to Generations.
  • The Loch: Heaven's Lake (announced in February 2019)

Revised editions include:

  • Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (2005); a revised edition of the original novel.
  • Meg: Special Anniversary Edition (2015); limited edition hardcover omnibus of a further revised version of the original novel, adding elements from the film version's script, and Meg: Origins.
  • Meg: Revised and Expanded Edition (2015); wide release paperback edition of the Special Anniversary Edition, with all the same content.

The Meg series contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Jonas is an outstanding enough pilot in the Abyss Glider submersible that he's able to outmaneuver Megs, Kronosaurs and all manner of other prehistoric nasties in the water. David is shown to have inherited this ability in later novels.
  • Adaptational Villainy: More a case of Adaptational Jerkassery, but Terry takes being replaced by Jonas for the Challenger Deep dive in the rewritten version far more poorly than in the original novel, trying to freak Jonas out mid-dive by playing loud rock music (so he'll be written off and she can replace him). Later, she tries to kill the Meg by replacing the tracking dart with a 20mm cannon shell, despite the fact that capturing the Meg alive is the only reason JAMSTEC are continuing funding the construction of Masao's lagoon.
  • The Alcoholic: Mac has let himself go in a big way by the time of Primal Waters, and spends much of the book in AA after Jonas forces him to realise the damage it's doing to his personal life and relationships.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Angel is presented as reaching sexual maturity in only four years, a ludicrously short amount of time. Many larger shark species take several decades to reach breeding age, and for a giant shark adapted for the nutrient-poor deep ocean to grow from an infant to a mature adult weighing over forty tonnes within only a few years is extremely implausible.
    • The behaviour of the megalodons is portrayed as unrealistically aggressive and bloodthirsty (such as on numerous occasions when they abandon huge whale carcasses to eat some puny humans that happened to be nearby). In real life, most predators don't immediately and persistently attack competitors with intent to kill on sight (since risk of fatal injury is too high). When mating and reproducing, they are depicted as instantly trying to kill and eat their own mate and pups the moment they separate, making their aggression verge on a species-wide Too Dumb to Live.
    • It's explained the Kronosaurs, as well as other marine reptile, are able to survive in the Mariana Trench because they evolved gills. However, no animals have ever re-evolved gills after having lost them (although some freshwater turtles can absorb oxygen from the water through their cloacal tissue), and in any case, it's heavily implied this change happened very quickly in response to the K/Pg-extinction, when it would probably take millions of years for a chance this reversion could occur. What's even more unbelievable is this happened independently numerous times, as it's stated to be a potential "natural transition" for sea reptiles.
    • Chances are, the amount of morphological and behavioral changes the extinct species underwent over million years would mean they'd be classified as a new species (for example, the megalodons are depicted as now being deep-sea animals with pure white, glowing skin and light-sensitive eyes that have a longer gestation time and slower metabolism).
    • It's very unlikely there'd be enough large prey for multiple species of giant active predators to survive for millions of years in same region of deep-sea (particularly in the case of megalodon, which was a warm-blooded carnivore that preyed predominantly on fat-rich whales).
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • Despite Steve Alten claiming to have done the research, this trope was readily apparent from the opening scene of the first novel, where a megalodon eats a Tyrannosaurus rex that waded into a shallow sea chasing prey. Ignoring the bizarre reasoning for this scene, Carcharocles megalodon didn't exist until tens of millions of years after the dinosaurs went extinct. They also were not twice the length of the largest tyrannosaurs, as the novel claims. Alten poked fun at himself using this trope in the rewritten version, where the whole thing turns out to be a fictitious "clash of the titans" made up by Jonas to give his lecture audience an idea of the Meg's capabilities, going on to present the correct time period information for both (this error was not fixed in the sequels however).
    • Also in this scene, Tyrannosaurus is shown hunting Shantungosaurus. Although the two continents were closer during the Cretaceous, the two dinosaur genera are still only known from different continents (North America and Asia, respectively) and slightly different times (Shantungosaurus is known only from slightly earlier strata than T. rex).
    • As an addition to the error in the original novel, the megalodon is claimed to have existed for at least 70 million years and notably, to have faced absolutely no competition from other predators across that entire period of history. This is an absurd statement, as if it had existed during the Cretaceous, mosasaurs would most definitely have provided serious competition for the shark, and after they went extinct there would have been many other large marine predators to coexist alongside (many of which easily rivalled if not equaled megalodon in size), some of which did indeed live during the real life period of time that the creature existed — one of these, the ancient sperm whale Livyatan melvillei, actually appears in Night Stalkers. That's without getting into the fact that one of the theorised contributions towards megalodon's extinction is that it faced competition from other smaller more adaptable marine predators, such as killer whales and even its distant relative the great white.
      • To be fair, this theory is not especially held to today, as Killer whales did not become big-game hunters until the Pleistocene, after Megalodon went extinct.
    • The megalodons are stated to have six pairs of gills, but being mackerel sharks, they would have almost certainly had only five pairs.
    • Pliosaurs had already become extinct a while before the end of the Cretaceous (the youngest known pliosaurs lived around ninety-million years ago, while the end of the Cretaceous occurred sixty-six million years ago). They had been replaced by mosasaurs by then — all the odder as mosasaurs subsequently appear in Hell's Aquarium and Night Stalkers.
    • Megalodon, being a common name like panda or chicken, doesn't need to be capitalized every time.
    • Shastasaurus/Shonisaurus is presented with large, sharp teeth, chasing after prey like an active predator, while the real animals lacked teeth and probably engulfed relatively small, soft-bodied prey whole.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Hell's Aquarium, which gives us a 122ft, 100-ton Liopleurodon — a good five times the length and 50-100 times the weight of the actual historical Liopleurodon. This is justified In-Universe as being an evolutionary adaptation to cold water living, but this still violates the Square-Cube Law, as a Liopleurodon that size would weigh well over two hundred tons.
    • And finally, Generations gives us a 187-foot Titanoboa. Not only is it a deep-sea predator, it is about 5 times the length of the largest estimates for the real thing, and is large enough to swallow a two-man submersible whole.
  • Asshole Victim: More than a few jerks get eaten by the Megalodon and other predators. Could also apply to Angel and her offspring Bela and Lizzy. All are responsible for a ton of death and destruction before getting killed by the Liopleurodon.
    • Paul Agricola and Fiesal Bin Rashidi, the money-hungry Jerkasses responsible for much of the misery in Hell's Aquarium and Night Stalkers, both get killed by the Liopleurodon pup in Generations.
  • Avenging the Villain: Michael Maren blames Jonas for Celeste Singer's death, which is part of what motivates him in Primal Waters. Allison Petrucci, his assistant and fiancee, has the same goal in Hell's Aquarium, though she's mostly kept in check by her bosses Bin Rashidi and the Crown Prince.
  • Big Bad: Angel's mother could be considered the main villain in the first book, though she wasn't outright evil. Benedict Singer serves as the main antagonist in the second book and Michael Maren in the third.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The two leaders of RAW (a PETA-type organization), could qualify as this in Hell's Aquarium. They form a Big Bad Ensemble with the Liopleurodon.
  • Brains and Brawn: It's stated that Lizzy (the brains) and Bela (the brawn) have this relationship, although it doesn't quite fit this trope because Lizzy (being a fifty-foot great white) has brawn to match.
  • The Brute: From Hell's Aquarium onwards Bela is frequently described this way in comparison to her more calculating sibling Lizzy.
  • Canon Welding:
    • The Meg: Origins prequel novella does this for the first few books, tying in the concept of the Navy wanting the Manganese ores introduced in The Trench, while featuring an appearance by Michael Maren's father spying for Benedict Singer, establishing how Maren came to be working for Singer in The Trench.
    • Scientist Barbara Becker debuts in Sharkman and is subsequently mentioned in Meg: Night Stalkers.
    • The same novel introduces Zachary West (from The Loch) to the main series, paying off the appearances of Jonas, Mac and David in Vostok.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Panthalassa Sea and Liopleurodon are both introduced by Michael Maren (though not using those terms) when he and Jonas meet again in Primal Waters, but do not appear until Hell's Aquarium.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jonas and Mac are both in their 60s by the time of Primal Waters, and still manage numerous death-defying stunts to save people from the megs.
  • Cool Uncle: Mac plays this role to David from Hell's Aquarium on.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Megalodon vs. Kronosaurus in The Trench, and a super-sized (read:bigger than a blue whale!) Liopleurodon vs. Angel in Hell's Aquarium.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Quite a few.
    • Adult megalodons may be a match for anything else in the sea — but their pups are vulnerable when young, as we see when the eldest offspring of the original meg gets brutally shredded by an orca pack in Meg.
    • Kronosaurs may be damn scary predators — but as the finale of The Trench shows, Angel has them outclassed in every possible way.
    • The Liopleurodon in Hell's Aquarium plays it straight but subverts it at the same time — it's shown to easily kill Scarface in the book's opening, but only because it was able to ambush the meg while it was distracted by a kill. When it faces Angel, it almost loses despite greater manueverability and the size difference (Angel is 74ft and 50 tons, the Liopleurodon is 122ft and 100 tons) as Angel has a significantly more lethal bite. It's only able to deliver the killing blow when Angel gets accidentally trapped in the supertanker's netting.
    • In Night Stalkers Bela and Lizzy massacre the orca packs of the Salish sea; with the sisters' mutual support preventing them getting overwhelmed by the killer whales' numbers, their size, power and ferocity do the rest.
    • In the same book the Liopleurodon and Bela face off. Bela is much smaller and less experienced than Angel was, and the Liopleurodon kills her by crushing her skull.
    • Generations sees Lizzy's offspring Luna take on the offspring of the previous book's Liopleurodon — and without the enormous size advantage of its parent, Luna kills it with ease.
  • Death of a Child:
    • In the original edition of the very first book, both of Angel's brothers are killed off, one moments after birth by its mother, the other at just a few days old by a pack of orcas.
    • The Trench has two children dying, one killed by Angel, the other being Jonas and Terry's unborn child, who was stillborn before the events of the book.
  • Demoted to Extra: In Primal Waters Jonas and Terry's daughter Dani is a major character, with one of the book's main plot threads devoted to her and Jonas bonding while avoiding being killed by Michael Maren and Scarface the Meg. She's reduced to a minor character in Hell's Aquarium and has a page of dialogue tops in Night Stalkers.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After all the years of Megalodon-related tragedies, Terry's cancer diagnosis is explicitly stated to be the thing that finally cracks Jonas.
  • Deuteragonist: David fully becomes this from Hell's Aquarium onwards.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The now-land-hopping Liopleurodon charges into Luna's pen to confront her in the climax of Generations, then swiftly realises that the relatively small tank cancels out its greatest advantage against the more efficiently evolved shark — its greater maneuverability with its four flippers. Cue Luna swiftly slaughtering it.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Bud Harris, a friend of Jonas who's also been sleeping with his wife Maggie in the original book. After she's killed by the Megalodon and he fails to kill the shark itself in revenge, Bud blows his own brains out.
    • David Taylor tries this when he slits his own wrists in the two months after his girlfriend is killed by Liopleurodon. Fortunately, the wounds aren't fatal.
    • Jackie deliverately overdoses in Generations out of guilt at misjudging Brutus' awakening, which subsequently sank the Tonga and killed many of her friends note . Fortunately, Monty makes sure she survives.
    • In both The Trench and Night Stalkers characters trapped underwater elect to drown themselves rather than be eaten by the Megs. One luckless character tries it in the original novel when he's trapped in the sinking Nautilus — unluckily the Meg gets him before he can finish the process.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Brutus, the 80ft Livyatan melvillei whale that proves such a headache in Night Stalkers, escapes early in Generations, setting up the possibility it'll clash with either Luna or the Liopleurodon pup — then it turns up dead halfway through the novel, having beached itself in confusion at being away from its natural habitat.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Megalodons will eat almost anything they can catch. However, there is one notable aversion: even Angel's largest male pup, over 60 feet in length and weighing over 30 tons, can't digest a full-grown grizzly bear, as seen in Primal Waters.
  • Eye Scream: Angel's mother is blinded via bright light in book 1. Lizzy is blinded in one eye in Meg: Night Stalkers in a more violent fashion (she gets a shotgun blast in the eye). Bela doesn't fare so well either — her eye is later noted as hanging out of its socket after being on the losing end of a battle with a Liopleurodon.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In Generations Terry is calm and collected after learning she has cancer, being solely concerned with ensuring Jonas and her children are ready for her eventual death.
  • Foreshadowing: In Primal Waters Maren rants to Jonas about encountering a Panthalassa sea monster over 100ft long and over 100 tons in weight that effortlessly shredded one of his drones. Come the following book, it's revealed he was talking about a super-sized example of the Liopleurodon species.
  • Freudian Excuse: Generations reveals that Jackie's reluctance to get close to David stems from her experiences with a deadbeat father that regarded her mother solely as a means of supporting him, then beat her into brain death when she refused to play along.
  • From Bad to Worse: In Primal Waters an unscrupulous property developer attempts to plant mines to blow up the door of the Meg lagoon, so that Jonas will be forced to sell the land to him to turn into profitable hotels and condos. Unluckily for him, he has no idea that Angel's largest male pup (over 60ft in length and 30 tons in weight) has been lured into the lagoon and is attacking the gate in order to get out. He immediately tries to swim away — then the even larger Angel herself shows up...
  • Gender Flip: In the original book, Angel is the only female born to her mother. The 2015 revised edition changes one of her brothers, who is later killed by orcas, to a female.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: In 2015 Alten completely rewrote the original novel, changing numerous scenes, inserting Mac into the narrative much earlier and altering the ending (with Jonas blowing up the Meg from the inside by igniting the whale oil in its stomach, rather than cutting its heart out as in the original).
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Arab conglomerate (including Osama Bin Laden) that backs Benedict Singer's organization. The UAE royals behind Dubai-land are this for the later books, as their drive to create their theme park for profit leads to Megalodons, Liopleurodons and various other monstrosities going on the rampage.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jonas and Mac. David and Monty look to be heading this way.
  • It Can Think: Alten really started playing up the Megs' intelligence from Primal Waters on. In the later books Lizzy is actively portrayed as being able to outsmart the human characters on several occasions.
  • Jerkass: Even in a series where Steve Alten's pet hates are portrayed very negatively, Jonas' fame-hungry ex-wife Maggie in Meg and Paul Agricola from Night Stalkers really stand out.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Jonas' first wife Maggie is manipulative, greedy and openly tries to makes Jonas look like a lunatic in order to get a favourable divorce agreement. But she's also canny enough to use Jonas' findings on Megs and studying Great White behavioural patterns to realise the first Meg is heading towards the Farallon islands long before Jonas does.
    • In Generations Cyel Reed is a traitor conspiring to kill off the last surviving megalodons of Angel's line. He's a sneering, money obsessed No Respect Guy feeling slighted the much younger David is in charge — but makes the excellent point that the megs invariably escape when large enough, killing many people along the way, so why not off the last pups before the cycle repeats? Tellingly, it convinces Jackie, who had been ready to stop him up to this point.
  • Kick the Dog: After seeing Lizzy and Bela butcher the orca packs he loved in Night Stalkers, whale-loving nut Nick Van Sicklen reappears in Generations sending Jonas footage of the resurgent orcas ripping apart one of Lizzy's offspring and taunting him about it. Even worse, later in the book it's revealed the infant megalodon was captured by his employees first and had one of its pectoral fins taken off with a chainsaw before it was thrown to the killer whales.
  • Killed Off for Real: Angel in Hell's Aquarium, at the jaws of the same Liopleurodon that previously killed her son Scarface. The Liopleurodon then kills Angel's daughters Lizzie and Bela in Night Stalkers, and is subsequently killed by David Taylor, but both the sharks and the Liopleurodon have surviving offspring — until Generations, where Lizzy's last pup, Luna, kills its Liopleurodon rival.
  • Large Ham: Mac. Also Monty from Hell's Aquarium onwards.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In Primal Waters, Michael Maren uses an underwater drone discharging special signals in order to lure Angel's son Scarface into attacking. During the final attack sequence (as Maren is provoking Scarface into attacking the reality TV crew and wiping out all witnesses to his crimes) Jonas works out what's going on when he sees the drone, manages to snag it and dumps it in the helicopter cockpit of a very surprised Maren. Scarface attacks almost instantly and drags the entire helicopter underwater, drowning Maren.
    • From the same book, one minor character has his asshole ex-wife and her boyfriend board his yacht so they can catch a home-run record-breaking baseball from a nearby game that they can then sell on for millions. When the ball comes their way, they jump into the water and physically assault him to get it, leaving him to climb out cursing — then Angel arrives, attracted by the vibrations of so many people in the water trying to recover the ball, and eats them.
    • In Generations, traitor Cyel Reed sneeringly proclaims he'll dance on the cancer-stricken Terry's grave as Mac kicks him off the ship. Needless to say, his gruesome Megalodon-related death follows not long after.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Angel. She may be The Dreaded to the human characters for her appearances in the series , but she's frequently shown to be the lesser evil against the kronosaurs (in The Trench), her male offspring (in Primal Waters) and the Liopleurodon (in Hell's Aquarium).
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Benedict Singer is the biological father of his protege Celeste. Given that he's also her lover, she does not react well to learning this.
  • Lost World:
    • The Mariana Trench is a downplayed example, being a poorly explored region with two relict prehistoric creatures still living there.
    • The Panthalassa Sea is a much straighter example, being an actual prehistoric sea cut off from the rest of the world and filled with dozens of prehistoric creatures from multiple eras.
    • Lake Vostok is another straight example, but it is more explored in the novel Vostok.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Zigzagged with the Megalodons themselves, and explained fully in Generations. Prehistoric megalodons were active parents that taught their pups how to hunt. However, when the species descended into the Mariana Trench, the limited food supply led to their perceiving all other megs as threats, even their own pups — Angel's mother devours the runt of her litter of pups shortly after birth, and Angel attempts to do the same when her two male pups are born. Born away from this, Bela and Lizzy are the first megs in thousands of years to return to active parenting, claiming the Salish sea as a nursery and massacring the local orca pods to give their pups a fighting chance. More notably, when Paul Agricola captures one of Bela's pups, the enraged shark and her sister attack his boat in a futile attempt to rescue it.
    • Played straight with the Liopleurodon in Night Stalkers, which follows the supertanker which captured its pup all the way from Antarctica to California to rescue it.
  • Meaningful Name: Several of the megalodons, including Angel (short for "white angel of death") and Scarface (the second-born of Angel's first litter, named by Michael Maren). In addition, four of her daughters are Named After Somebody Famous. Averted with Scarface's nameless brother and Angel's fifth daughter Angelica.
  • Meaningful Rename: Mary-Kate and Ashley, two of Angel's daughters from her second litter, are renamed Afra' (Arabic for white) and Zahra' (Arabic word for "bright" or "shining") after being purchased by the prince of Dubai.
  • Moby Schtick: Occurs on numerous occasions and also lampshaded several times. Bonus points that the megalodons are also albino.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: A recurring theme in the series.
    • The original Meg gives birth to Angel and two other offspring (neither of which survive) in the first book before being killed, while Angel gives birth to two male pups at the end of The Trench — one of whom later impregnates her again in time to have given birth to a new brood for Hell's Aquarium. This becomes a major plot point in that novel when it turns out that the Megalodon species has evolved to the point where the females inseminate themselves, basically disregarding the males to produce genetic clones of themselves.
    • The species of the Panthalassa sea can also do this — the escaped Liopleurodon gives birth mid-way through Night Stalkers.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Four of Angel's five daughters. Runts Mary-Kate and Ashley were named for the Olson Twins. Their older half-sisters are Elizabeth, or Lizzie for short, who is named for Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous "Countess of Blood". Belle, or "Bela the Dark Overlord" (so named for her dark coloration, as she is the only known Megalodon with pigment) is named for American serial killer Belle Gunness.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: For all the death and destruction they cause, all of the PrehistoricMonsters in the series — the various megalodons, the kronosaurs, the Liopleurodon — are simply acting on their instincts to find food, reproduce and survive. Even the Liopleurodon killing Kaylie in the fourth book is portrayed as a total accident, with David's quest for vengeance in Night Stalkers being entirely one-sided. The only exceptions seem to be Bela and Lizzy, and it's not clear how much of their shown intelligence and maliciousness is Jonas projecting onto them.
  • Offing the Offspring: Angel's mother devours one of her own sons moments after birth. Flashbacks in Primal Waters have another Meg female doing much the same. Near the end of that book, Angel kills her own older son after mating with him.
  • One-Word Title: Meg, obviously.
  • Outside-Context Problem: In a series famous for its increasingly large and vicious sea monsters, the Lio pup turns out to be able to briefly survive on land in Generations, something which gets both Paul Agricola and Fiesal Bin Rashidi killed.
  • Parental Incest: Benedict Singer and his daughter Celeste in The Trench. Also Angel and her nameless elder son in Primal Waters, though it's portrayed as less unnatural given the very low numbers of surviving Megalodons.
  • Patricide: Celeste kills her own father in The Trench shortly after discovering he IS her biological father.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Not an actual pet, but Angel and her offspring are certainly regarded as such by the Taylor clan at various stages in the series.
    • Jonas zigzags it: he shows a sense of understanding towards Angel after she saves him and Terry from the Kronosaurus in The Trench, reciprocally saving her from another Meg in Primal Waters and even noting "Angel is my monster." He drops it in Hell's Aquarium after another accident in the lagoon leads to Angel killing several of his employees.
    • David plays it straight with Bela and Lizzy, outright trying to save them from the Liopleurodon in Night Stalkers. In Generations he begins to form a bond with Lizzy's last pup Luna the same way, to the point he's able to freely swim with her in her tank without her attacking.
  • Prehistoric Monster: As the series has gone on, more and more of these have been introduced. Aside from the titular Megalodons, there have also been Kronosaurs, a giant Liopleurodon, Mosasaurs , Livyatan melvillei (an 80ft ancient sperm whale with a lower jaw shaped like an orca's) and most recently a near-200ft Panthalassa variation of Titanoboa. Interestingly, aside from the prologue to the first book, no actual dinosaurs appear.
  • Real Person Cameo: Actress Lana Wood makes an appearance in Hell's Aquarium as part of an animal rights group concerned about the conditions Angel's pups are being reared in. Being a Steve Alten novel, things inevitably go tragically wrong and she's eaten by Bela. Word of God has it that Wood and her grandson are big fans of the series, so she contacted Alten asking him if he could write them both in.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Paul Agricola was introduced in the E-Book Meg: Origins — set prior to the first book but released after Hell's Aquarium. If you've not read it, his sudden prominence in Night Stalkers can come across as a bit forced.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Terry Tanaka wants the female Meg that killed her brother dead; she eventually loses her anger at the creature and winds up surviving the book (though the Meg does not).
    • Bud Harris, Frank Heller and Richard Danielson team up to try and kill Angel's mother after the deaths of Bud's lover, Frank's brother and most of Danielson's crew; none of them survive the attempt.
    • More than a few people who lost loved ones to the Meg attempt Revenge by Proxy, suing the people who tried to capture the beast instead of outright killing it.
    • At the very end of Hell's Aquarium, David Taylor makes it clear that he wants revenge on the Liopleurodon that killed his girlfriend. He succeeds in Night Stalkers, but holds no such grudge against its offspring.
  • Sea Serpents: The Titanoboa from Purgatory are essentially depicted as this, instead of the anaconda-like swamp-dwellers they would have been in real life.
  • Serial Escalation: Each installment tries to top the last with the number of giant marine predators the characters are hunting down.
    • The first novel has just one megalodon (there is another, but the main megalodon kills it off quickly).
    • The Trench has the first megalodon's offspring Angel, who is even bigger than her mother, as well as a family of Kronosaurus.
    • Primal Waters has Angel and her two sons all loose at the same time.
    • Hell's Aquarium introduces the Panthalassa Sea, a primordial ocean hidden beneath the seafloor filled with all sorts of prehistoric sea creatures, including mosasaurs, Dunkleosteus, Shonisaurus, and a one-hundred ton Liopleurodon. And Angel has also birthed a litter of pups, who are growing fast.
    • Night Stalkers has two of Angel's pups, Bela and Lizzy, the Liopleurodon, as well as the ancient sperm whale Livyatan melvelli (with minor appearances by a family of Shastasaurus and a mosasaur).
    • Generations not only introduces a Panthalassa subspecies of Megalodon whose average member is bigger than Angel (who was enormous by the standards of her Mariana Trench genetic line), but near-200ft aquatic Titanoboas.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Over half of the fourth novel sees David, Jonas's son, try to save/protect his girlfriend from the abyss and their less than scrupulous employers. Near the end it looks like he has succeeded as they narrowly escape the abyss. She is then promptly eaten by the Liopleurodon (by accident, no less). It's... jarring to say the least.
  • Shout-Out: Alten clearly binged the Walking with Dinosaurs spinoff Sea Monsters prior to Hell's Aquarium, as virtually every major Mesozoic predator from that series shows up in the book. The illustrations of the Liopleurodon in the book even use the same colour scheme as in the series.
  • Straw Character: Both left and right. The animal rights group in Hell's Aquarium are the most obvious example.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Purposefully invoked in Hell's Aquarium, and with an actual fish to boot — descending into the Panthalassa to rescue David, Jonas is immediately assailed by the legion of prehistoric monstrosities that call it home — and so decides to have Angel, who is significantly bigger and nastier than almost any predator there, accompany him to frighten them off.
  • Threatening Shark: And even more threatening when they're giant sharks!
  • Time Skip: There's an 18-year gap between The Trench and Primal Waters. There's also a 15 month one in between parts 1 and 2 of Generations to explain Terry's cancer being cured, Luna/Belladonna/the Liopleurodon approaching their parents' size and David getting engaged to Dulce among other things.
  • Token Good Teammate: In Hell's Aquarium actress Lana Wood is the only member of the animal rights group to actually give a shit about the ethics of the meg pups being raised in captivity. Every other member of the group we see are motivated by either piggybacking off Angel's notoriety to become stars or financial benefit (one has a lucrative side business based on recovering and selling fresh megalodon teeth).
  • Truly Single Parent:
    • Sharks in general are apparently moving towards reproduction by parthenogenesis. Angel's three youngest daughters (Mary-Kate, Ashley and Angelica) were born this way, and they and their half-sisters Lizzie and Belle are fully capable of it.
    • Night Stalkers reveals that the Liopleurodon is also capable of doing this.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Meg: Origins (and later Night Stalkers) reveals that the reason that Jonas originally encountered a Meg in the Mariana Trench — the event that ruined his career and set up the events of the first book — was because scientist Paul Agricola had accidentally lured it into the area while trying to get it to surface.
  • Villainous Legacy:
    • Celeste dies in The Trench, but her memory is what inspires Maren to construct his elaborate revenge scheme in Primal Waters. And once he dies, his notes on the Panthalassa Sea lead to its exploration and the Liopleurodon getting released into the world's oceans.
    • The memory of Angel's various escapes and the many, many people she killed along the way lead to her offspring (and their offspring) in Generations being targeted for death before they're fully grown and can repeat her exploits.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • There are many examples in the series where a megalodon defeats equally large and dangerous predators, but only the opening scene of the first novel qualifies (where a meg eats a Tyrannosaurus rex) because the marine reptiles are too obscure to the general public to be this trope.
    • In Primal Waters, something similar happens when a megalodon eats a grizzly bear. However, it's subverted when the shark gets indigestion afterwards.
    • The megalodon Scarface is on the receiving end in the first chapter of Hell's Aquarium. Having spent the previous novel terrorising Jonas and Dani, it is swiftly and unceremoniously killed by the Liopleurodon to show how dangerous it is.

The Loch books contain examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Angus when Zach was young, especially when he'd been drinking. In the present he's still this, but largely engages in emotional cruelty now that Zach is an adult and can fight back.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: One is responsible for trapping the largest beasts in the loch in the first place, forcing them to serve as guardians of a silver casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Much like its sister series, it runs into this one a lot:
    • The Purussaurus is described as being over 40 tons. The real species weighed in at about an 8th of that.
    • Leviyatan wasn't really any bigger than modern sperm whales, being more on the order of 50-60 feet long than 80. However, sperm whales have also been known to grow exceptionally large.
    • Perhaps most egregiously, an evolutionary biologist puts forth the hypothesis that whales evolved from giant filter feeding fish like Leedsicthys. While to a casual observer this may seem at least somewhat plausible, one need only take a cursory glance at the skeletons of whales to see why this makes no sense.
  • Asshole Victim: David Caldwell, a self-promoting hack who mostly relies on stealing other people's work to advance his own position. When Nessie eats him, nobody is upset.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Nessie has grown to over 50 feet long due to being trapped in the loch for so long, unable to escape, mate and die like her ancestors did.
  • Break the Cutie: Brandy MacDonald, Zach's love interest, underwent this in the years before Zach's return to Scotland. She's gotten better, but it took some doing.
  • Canon Welding: Vostok brings The Loch, formerly a standalone novel, into continuity with the Meg series.
  • The Conspiracy: MAJESTIC-12 is the main antagonist of Vostok, not only suppressing evidence of alien life but preventing clean energy sources from coming into widespread use and threatening Big Oil, which is a large source of their revenue.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Angus may be an abusive and manipulative alcoholic, but even he draws the line at beating women. This leads him to confront John Cialino about abusing his wife, ending with Angus punching him into the loch, where he's eaten by Nessie.
  • Eye Scream: How Nessie dies — Zachary Wallace faces the overgrown Guivre in its own den and stabs through its eye and into its brain with a sword he finds down there. If that didn't finish it off, the creature's flailing, causing it to crush its own skull against the rocky ceiling, did.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The monster goes on a rampage when the vibrations from dynamite, used during construction, set it off. When oil gets into its brain and damages it, she gets even crazier.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Loch ended with Zach being happy, famous and married. Vostok, starting about three years later, has he and his family almost bankrupt, and he and Brandy are on the edge of divorce. Fortunately, the time reset at the end lets him regain his wealth and repair his relationship with his wife.
  • Irony: By the time of his appearance in Night Stalkers Zach has adopted many of the tactics Angus used on him in The Loch, manipulating Jonas and Terry towards his desired endpoint (keeping Vostok sealed away) without telling them what's going on until it's absolutely necessary. He's even adopted Angus' strong Scottish accent and "Buts are for crapping" line to boot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Angus is a cruel, emotionally abusive ass on his best day and a bitter old drunk on his worst (and admits as much near the end of the novel) — but he's very much not OK with John Cialino's domestic abuse of his wife, is the only one to recognise that Nessie needs to be killed despite his blood oath and escapes prison to help his son when he enters Nessie's lair alone, despite being a total dick to him for most of the book.
  • Lost World: The sequel features Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep located two-and-a-half miles beneath the Antarctic ice cap, home to Mesozoic life forms long thought extinct. And to something responsible for the evolution of modern man.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Angus in The Loch. He plays Zach, the courts and the Black Knights throughout the novel in an effort to reveal the truth about/kill the now-openly dangerous Nessie.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The setting of the sequel.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Purussaurus, a prehistoric species of caiman, is on the cover of Vostok. Several live within the lake itself.
  • Peggy Sue: Zach, during his trip to Vostok, gets seven tries to escape to the surface, each ending in his death; the last time, he's allowed to remember the sixth attempt. When he returns to Vostok again seven years later, following an encounter with his own past incarnation, he returns to the day the book started with full knowledge of the future, allowing him to effectively shut down the Vostok mission and prevent the tragedies that resulted, including the death of his brother-in-law.
  • Stock Ness Monster:
    • Nessie herself is revealed to be part of a species of giant eel known by the Black Knights as the Guivres, kin to the Anguilla (or Conger) eel. Others of her species are known to the public as the Bloop, a mysterious noise initially detected in the Atlantic Ocean by the Navy in 1997.
    • A Purussaurus egg is transported to the Loch in Vostok and subsequently hatches, becoming a new Loch Ness Monster, nicknamed Plessie, but it proves to be a violent killer that, since it's a reptile and can freely go on land, is even more dangerous than Nessie. Fortunately, this is undone by Zach changing history at the end of the book.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: How True attempts to kill the Purussaurus he accidentally let loose in the Loch in Vostok, baiting it with a dead cow stuffed with C-4. Instead, the explosives go off early and kill True. Fortunately, this is undone in the final time reset.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: At the conclusion of The Loch, Zach killed the now-crazed Nessie to save Brandy, True and Angus. The start of Vostok shows that by publicly revealing this he completely tanked Loch Ness' monster-dependent tourism industry, causing severe economic hardship for the locals.
  • Time Skip: There's a seven-year one between parts 1 and 2 of Vostok.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: A huge part of the story of Vostok, eventually encompassing alternate dimensions and multiple timeline resets as Zach gets repeatedly killed trying to access the alien spaceship.
  • To Serve Man: Nessie has developed a taste for human flesh, due in part to its natural food chain being disrupted. Oil is seeping into the Great Glen and has damaged her brain, causing her to become more violent.
  • Trauma Button: The events that lead to Zach's near-drowning on his ninth birthday are his trigger, causing him to suffer from fierce migraines whenever anyone mentions them. He eventually gets over this after being forced to confront his inner demons and the truth about that night.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: After the accident in the Sargasso Sea, Zach develops a crippling fear of the water. Like his migraines, confronting his inner demons (and Nessie) causes him to get over this.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Angus, of all people. Johnny Cialino's death came about when he started getting violent with his wife, and she called Angus for help; in the resulting meeting near Loch Ness, the two men argued until Angus punched him hard enough that Cialino stumbled backward, tripped over a tree root and fell backward into the loch. And then Nessie rose up and killed him.

Sharkman contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Kwan's father, "The Admiral". Before the events of the book, his last interaction with Kwan was to come to the hospital and tell him the car accident that killed his mother was entirely his fault and his paralysis was "God's penance"; Kwan mentions the only reason he came to the hospital at all was to sign a 'do not resuscitate' order. Later, when Kwan becomes the titular Sharkman, The Admiral decides he is useful and manipulates Kwan into trusting him. It seems like his feelings might be genuine, until Kwan uses his enhanced senses to overhear a conversation where The Admiral barely protests against his son's execution, agreeing that he is no longer useful. Overall, he may be one of the worst parents ever put on paper.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: When Kwan begins his transformation, he gains electroreception, which he notes is like "feeling the heartbeats" of people in another room — not hearing them, but somehow able to distinguish them.
  • False Flag Operation: The villains of the book are planning this, intending to set off a nuclear weapon and blame Al Quaeda for it, thus spurring continued warfare in the Middle East.
  • LEGO Genetics: A key element of the plot, as shark DNA is incorporated into Kwan Wilson, resulting in his transformation into the title character.
  • Shark Man: Kwan, the main protagonist, is turned into one. Sabeen Tayfour is also given the treatment, but it doesn't work quite the same way.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: By stealing the shark stem cells and injecting them into himself, coupled with dosages of saline and human growth hormone, Kwan manages to heal his severed spinal cord, allowing him to walk again. Unfortunately, it comes with side-effects (namely, a shark-like mutation).

Alternative Title(s): The Meg


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