A Sentient Animal

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A Sentient Animal (Un animal doué de raison) is a 1967 science fiction thriller novel by French novelist Robert Merle.[1] The plot concerns dolphins that are trained to communicate with humans, and their use in warfare. The central character is a government scientist with similar ideas to those of John C. Lilly.[2]

The novel was the basis for the film The Day of the Dolphin,[3] though the film's plot was significantly different from that of the book, even in inconsequential details. For instance, in the book, the dolphins are named Ivan ("the terrible") and Bessie and call themselves Fa and Bi; in the film, they are instead named Alpha and Beta and call themselves Fa and Be.

The book was published in English in 1969 under the title The Day of the Dolphin, ISBN 0-671-20182-4, translated by Helen Weaver.


Joanna Russ described The Day of the Dolphin as "pure commodity: written by the yard to be bought by the yard." and dismissed it as a "vast, contentless, commercial megathere."[4]