A book told in limited third-person, following around a depressed naval Petty Officer on a run-down, barely running submarine staffed by a badly mismatched crew of military criminals. Unlike most alternative history fantasies, the crew isn't trying to change the tide of the war, save the world or fix the timeline on purpose. That all happens accidentally, and purely in violation of Murphy's law.
The title refers to the submarine being a pocket of air when submerged.
This book provides examples of:
- Alternate History: As explained by the prologue. Without WWII to fuel a drastic change in the face of the planet, the world took a different path (though America still got into it with the Middle east around the dawn of the 21st century. Some things never change.)
- Berserk Button: Not surprisingly, Tagget and Aaron feel this way about Vicky, as does most of the crew. Tagget, however, proves capable of a level of crazy that scares even the crew.
- Big "NO!": Tagget, at the end.
- Canine Companion: Vicky. This is later lampshaded by Jensen.
- Cast from Hit Points:
- Psionics may work like this.
- In a rare non-magical example, Clase(Mother) uses her body as a buffer against the electronic feedback from a submarine mecha's poor-quality piloting interface.
- Covers Always Lie; Averted: the book is about a submarine. The cover has a submarine.
- Foreign Queasine: Some of the stuff that gets eaten on the submarine while underway. Unfortunately, a lot of what gets served is not too far a cry from what is served in modern times. Different ports of call, in different nations have entirely different ideas on what is or is not edible.
- Future Slang: Played straight and averted, the slang in the book is primarily 1970's navy slang, which makes sense in-universe. The 'new' slang is slight variations on present-day slang. In some parts, it's thick enough that a few conversations become almost Billingual Bonus.
- Genre Blindness Captain Greenwood seems to think this is his chance to relive his glory days.
- Hero of Another Story: Subverted - the heroes are all from the naval prison system and it is very deliberately pointed out in the text that some of them are innocent and some aren't. This means that some of the characters were the Villain of Another Story.
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: The book is supposedly a transcription of a recording. The archivist's personality breaks through in footnotes.
- My Beloved Smother: Aaron, at times, fills this role for Tagget
- Non-Linear Sequel: This book was the first published, but it happens after the second published book in the series.
- Noodle Incident: These are used to suggest backstory between characters that have known each other for a very long time and paint an idea of what bored sailors get up to on long missions. The Word of God is that these are deliberate hooks for fanfiction authors.
- Psychic Link: Tagget and Aaron
- Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Jensen is the CMO on the submarine and he does it all, including, it is suggested, dentistry. This is justified by the fact that he is the only person with adequate medical training on board and for long missions, he'd have to do it all. Jensen is also stated to have worked in an ER, so he likely graduated at the top of his class, making it more believable that he'd have these capabilities.
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: It turns out Stevens is right, after all.
- Used Future: the submarine in question, nearly seventy years old.
- Write What You Know: The main characters are from the Pacific Northwest, where the author lives.