Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Deep (Nick Cutter)
aka: The Deep

Go To
There's a reason nothing lives down here. Or nothing should.

The Deep is a 2015 Science Fiction Horror novel by Nick Cutter (author of The Troop).

In the near future, humanity faces a terrible disease nicknamed "the 'Gets," a condition that causes people to forget little things like anniversaries, then big things like breathing. Rumored Mad Scientist Clayton Nelson believes he's found a miracle cure in the unlikeliest place: the bottom of the Marianas Trench, eight miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Clayton establishes a cutting-edge research lab in the trench... and then ceases communicating with the surface world.

Enter his brother, veterinarian and all-around Nice Guy Luke Nelson. Luke is recruited to go down to Clayton's lab, the Trieste, and persuade him to return with his research. Accompanied by tough, kindhearted Navy sub pilot Alice "Al" Skyes, Luke descends into a cold, sunless world under the water... and it isn't long before he discovers that the horrors of the 'Gets are nothing compared to what lies waiting in the deep.

Not to be confused with the 1977 live-action film (or the novel it's adapted from), the 2015 animated series (or the graphic novels it's adapted from), or the 2019 novella.

The Deep contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Luke is way out of his depth (pun intended) as an ordinary veterinarian in an underwater military lab crawling with monstrosities. Despite his lack of training he manages to stay calm and determined.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Al is a muscular, tough-as-nails submarine pilot, who's still pretty enough to attract Luke's attention a few times.
  • Arc Words: "The Fig Men are coming."
  • Body Horror: A buffet of it:
    • Clayton's hand after he touches an extradimensional rift with it. His fingers grow long and segmented, the skin hardens into crab-like armor... and then the hand detaches and goes scuttling off on its own.
    • One character is literally disassembled and strung around a room as a human beehive.
    • A scientist who escaped the Trieste is found to have attempted suicide by cutting. Since he's infected with the ambrosia, he heals almost instantly, and his body is left a mass of scars. At least he stopped when rapid ascent turned his bones into jelly.
  • Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Played for drama and eventual horror with Luke's parents, after his mother grows fat following her medical retirement; it's implied the father fetishizes her weight, while she likely keeps him for his slim build (she's attracted to teenage boys, including her own son Clayton).
  • Closed Circle: The Trieste becomes cut off from the surface via an undersea vortex shortly after Luke and Al arrive, trapping them down there. There's no chance of returning by submarine until it passes, and communications are scrambled as well.
  • Downer Ending: Pretty much the bleakest imaginable. The Fig Men allow Luke to merge with the thing they've turned his son into, in exchange for him returning to the surface. Thankfully, we don't see what they turn into, but when the submersible returns to the dock it appears humanity is about to face a nightmare even worse than the 'Gets.
    What shambled forth was unspeakable.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The creatures that call themselves the Fig Men. Described as two sexless, lumpy, deformed beings with translucent skin, growing out of a wall of undulating, living flesh.
  • Fat Bastard: Luke and Clayton's mother, who lets her weight balloon out of control after retiring from her job as a youth prison guard. She's also an arrogant Control Freak who terrorizes her sons (and worse).
  • Fate Worse than Death: What happened to Zach. Abducted by the Fig Men and brought down to their world, where he's slowly been changed into a Humanoid Abomination.
  • Laughing Mad: The still-alive Al, after she's been turned into a hive for mutated bees and begins messily giving birth to them. She keeps laughing even when her head caves in from the pressure.
  • Mad Scientist: Clayton is one, in a very pure sense; he's so detached from humanity that his mind has no philosophical limits (and also no conscience about experimenting).
  • Missing Child: A child abducted from a park in broad daylight, and then no trace of him ever being found. This is how Luke lost Zach.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Enforced by Luke, who first declines a chance to hop in a bunk with Al, then feels attracted to her again on seeing her bare body. He is definitely interested, but senses the things in the lab would use a sexual encounter to drive a wedge between the two of them, and keeps it platonic to maintain their alliance.
  • Parental Incest: Clayton's mother controlled him by rewarding him sexually for doing her dirty work. Eventually it caused him to murder her via slow poisoning.
  • The Plague: "The 'Gets" (short for "forgets"). It causes people to experience short-term memory loss before they begin losing bigger chunks of memory, until their bodies literally forget how to function, resulting in death. When the story begins, thousands of people have already succumbed to it, resulting in the slow breakdown of society.
  • The Watson: Protagonist Luke serves as one, an ordinary veterinarian who has to have many topics explained to him, such as deep-sea architecture and the ambrosia's healing ability.

Alternative Title(s): The Deep