The Beast of Cretacea
Candlewick Press, 2015
Even with more than 100 novels for children and teens under his belt, Todd Strasser has broken new ground with The Beast Of Cretacea, a work of science fiction—or as he prefers to call it “cli-fi” (climate fiction) because it speaks to real climate and environmental issues.
In this celestial reimagining of Herman Melville’s eternal classic, Moby-Dick, 17-year-old Ishmael goes to the fictional planet of Cretacea, a marvel of endless ocean. It is here that Ishmael, set to be working with a crew headed by the one-legged Ahab to harvest ocean-dwelling creatures for resources to be sent back to Earth, learns of a mysterious, elusive beast that lurks beneath the waters.
This dark, dangerous, and highly imaginative retelling of Melville’s masterpiece has already garnered praise from the School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.
The book is also partially inspired by Strasser’s time at Beloit, when he studied with Professor Robert J. Ray, a former English teacher. A noted Moby-Dick fan, Ray left a lasting impression on Strasser. “To this day he remains one of the most vivid figures from my years at college: intimidating, demanding, and yet, underneath that sometimes prickly exterior a sympathetic and understanding gentleman,” Strasser says. “Much like the sailors who cleaved whales in Melville’s novel, he flensed the book for us, discarding the blubber he deemed unnecessary to help us uncover what is truly awe-inspiring and essential. Without his influence I can only wonder if my book would ever have come to be.”