Back in the '80s, I read a story - novel length for the time (would probably be a 'novella' now) - with the following aspects that I can recall:

  • The world had been 'drowned'; except for outcroppings from the highest mountains, there was no natural land - only 'cities' anchored in place somehow.

  • The world was divided into a number of "Thassalarchies", sections of ocean ruled by a strongman who commanded a fleet.

  • Technology seemed to have regressed to more-or-less early Renaissance

  • There was a race of modified humans, the 'Seaborn Ones', who lived under the seas.

  • The viewpoint character was a peon of the time, and wanted to go to sea and become one of the Thassalarch's men.

  • At the end, the viewpoint character had managed to ascend to being the Thassalarch of two territories, and had learned how to communicate with the Seaborn Ones, more-or-less just in time for the "return of the Star Beasts", who supposedly caused the drowning of Earth. In the end, the Star Beasts were defeated.

I will be d$$$ed if I can recall the title or author of the story. Help, please?

  • 4
    I assume it's "thalassarchies", after thalassa, the Greek sea spirit. A "thalassarch" would be a "sea-ruler" (from thalassa + archon, king or ruler), and a "thalassarchy" would be a "sea rulership" or a "sea realm". See also Thalatta! Thalatta! Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 16:50
  • Yes, it is, and my use of "Thassalarch" was a definite thinko (cf typo). When I typed out "Thalassarch", it didn't look right, and "Thassalarch" did. One of the rare times my "picture memory" failed me. :) Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 17:03
  • Looks like this is a duplicate: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/123907/…
    – eshier
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:11
  • @eshier - Yes, you appear to be correct. Not sure why my google-fu didn't turn that one up before I asked this one. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:14
  • Eh, I just stumbled on it. Figured I'd comment so they are linked in the system now.
    – eshier
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


Based on this entry, it's Conquerors from the Darkness by Robert Silverberg.

Conquerors from the Darkness

A thousand years in the future, the earth has been conquered by an alien race and covered by a single sea. Dovirr Stargan, who is disgusted with the servility of his life on the floating city of Vythain, longs to become one of the Sea-Lords, who roam the sea as powerful protectors of the cities.

Dovirr gets his wish, but the return of the alien race brings unexpected and critically dangerous crises to his new life as he learns the real, sometimes terrible, significance of power.

This review has more details and an older cover:
Older cover of Conquerors from the Darkness

As noted by you in your comment, a very green cover does exist. It corresponds to the 1968 Mass Market Paperback:
Green cover

The novella that the book is based on, "Spawn of the Deadly Sea", can be found in the April 1957 issue of Science Fiction Adventures, available here, and indeed the word is "Thalassarch":

Howyn, Thalassarch of the Western Sea, was a tall, heavy man with the thick, brutal jaw of a ruthless leader.

  • I have to give this a 'BINGO!', as the name "Dovirr" rang an immediate bell on this. The cover I vaguely recall was principally in greens, but who knows how many reprints the story had gone through... Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:31
  • And it might be "thallasarch". At the least, that gets more Google hits. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:34
  • That was my initial inclination, too, but somehow it looked wrong in print... Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:36
  • As regards my previous comment re: Green cover, I found this image which more-or-less matches my memory. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:43

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