I'm trying to remember a few stories that I read back in High School (in the USA, English-language), so this is pre-1993, likely older than that.

The first story was a short story, most likely from a short story collection that I got at a library. Maaaaaaaaaybe I read it in a magazine like Amazing Stories, but I feel like it was probably in a book. I have the vague impression that it was written in the 1950s or '60s, but that's only an impression — I can't back that up with any specific evidence.

It was about a future where human overpopulation had basically ruined the planet, and even all the fish in the sea had been caught and eaten.

I'm fairly sure that one of the opening paragraphs described how the world's fishermen had just caught the very last of the big schools of fish that was left in the ocean, and how the fish were now all gone.

Humanity was starving, and so the giant squids rose up out of the depths of the ocean. They surprised humanity by being sentient, and then offered themselves up to us as food, but only if a certain percentage of humanity would agree to swim into the sea to feed the giant squids in return.

I do not remember for sure if they called themselves "Kraken" or not. I'm fairly sure that the communications with the giant squids took place mostly or entirely "off-screen", and was reported to the characters in the story rather than witnessed by them.

The story ended with a really creepy scene of people on an Island (Hawaii?) walking into the ocean to drown and be eaten.

The story is definitely not The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham, and it is not Spider Legs by Piers Anthony. Those are both full-length novels, and I'm 99.95% certain that this story is a very short story.

Thank you for any assistance!

  • 3
    My goodness, what a story. I hope someone finds it! Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 20:03
  • 3
    This is kinda similar, with giant lobsters instead of squids. There is an overpopulation message, but there are definitely key differences. Probably not correct but it's worth a shot. Oh also apparently this book is terrible. Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 20:20
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    Hmmm... it is definitely not "Spider Legs", although those reviews were fun to read! The monsters in the tale were giant squid, and it was a short story - very short, if I recall correctly.
    – Alex Bates
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 11:37
  • I looked pretty hard but couldn't find anything with google. It's much more difficult to find short stories than books. Good luck though! Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 15:11
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    Cross-posted here: goodreads.com/topic/show/… SBC thinks it's "Judas Fish" by Thomas N. Scortia
    – Ayshe
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


It is "Judas Fish" by Thomas N. Scortia. I was able to read "Caution! Inflammable!" on archive.org. You just sign up for a free account and read the book online. It's a great resource.

The short story is presented as log entries from Jefferson Boyer (a deep sea station worker). Jefferson's job is to harvest schools of fish by creating "Judas Fish" which are fish who lead the other fish back to the station for slaughter. Jefferson is hindered by large squid who keep showing up at the station and scare the fish away. Eventually he captures one and decides to eat it. It tastes like "oily tuna", and it also gives him really weird dreams. He comes to realize the dreams are genetic memories passed to him by the squid he ate. He realizes that the memories are compelling him to "join" with the squid (who are called the Ilat). The squid begin to offer themselves up for harvest and he sends them to the processing plant. Humans then eat the squid, have the dreams, understand the message and begin to offer themselves back to the squid. The balance is restored. "In the end we will be one, and the old cycle of killing and endless bloodshed, the loss of self will be gone. I will take the servosuit and leave the station. Outside I will join them and we will go to Kuwalua Deep where they wait in their millions to join us. There will be pain, that I am sure, but only for an instant. After that we will make our plans..."

The story ends with a communication between the head psychologist and chief of Pacific foods operations. They talk about Boyer and conclude he must have lost his mind down there under the sea. His rants about "the Ilat" are discounted at first. But... The fish harvests are all squid now and afterwards "ten thousand people in Osaka walked down to the coast off Wakayama and walked into the sea"

The letter concludes "I keep thinking Arthur; I haven't been to the beach in years. Why not join me this weekend?"

  • 1
    That is definitely the correct story! That part about the ten thousand in Osaka walking to the coast cemented it for me.
    – Alex Bates
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 4:57

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