Archive for the ‘Classic Thrillers’ Category

Tom Clancy: from the Cold War to counterterrorism…

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

I read most of Tom Clancy’s books until he started writing about a secret, privately financed, vigilante organization…a bit over the top for even this old thriller writer.  Up to that point and independent of his politics, I thought he could spin a good yarn backed by enough techno-babble that it all seemed real (see the Clancy quote running across the banner of this website).  In fact, I’d wager that some higher mucky-mucks in the Pentagon weren’t happy at times with his description of U.S. and Soviet military capabilities.

More importantly, Clancy covered an era from Cold War to counterterrorism.  His first two books, Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising, portrayed anti-Soviet operations featuring the U.S. Navy (the latter is an interesting Tolstoy-length account of what World War III might have been like).  The last books I read focused on terrorism (did the Japanese pilot who flew his aircraft into Congress in Debt of Honor provide ideas for the 9/11 terrorists?).  In between, he even touched on the emergence of China (The Bear and the Dragon), although he didn’t predict the kind of fascist capitalism that has taken over in that country.


Are we too tough on corporations?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The evil corporation is a common element in literature, both fiction and non-fiction.  From the bank that forecloses on a poor widow, to the corporation that participates in a government conspiracy, corporations play the part of villains probably as often as human beings in today’s fiction.  Even if the corporation isn’t evil, it’s often portrayed as greedy in its dealings with the public and exploitive in its dealings with its workers.  The abuses of capitalism without control make corporate hanky-panky a part of today’s fact as well.  However, is it fair to smack corporations around in fiction or non-fiction?  Are writers too tough on them?


Harry Potter and quantum mechanics…

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I assume the new Harry Potter movie is doing its reliable job of making J. K. Rowling the richest living author in the world (for the first weekend, $125 million in the U.S., $330 million world-wide).  I’m not sure how the screen rights to a book are negotiated, but I’ll bet that the movies have helped Ms. Rowling’s bank account.  No envy here—well, maybe a little.  But she has a good product and showed perseverance in marketing her first book.  She deserves all the fame and fortune that have come her way—and a lot of credit for rejuvenating the fantasy genre.


Using the first person…

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Most short stories or novels are written in the third person for the simple reason that this allows the author to develop different characters and show how they react in different situations.  In other words, using the third person provides variety, complexity, and breadth.  Yet writing in the third person still requires conveying to the readers what each character thinks, at least to some extent, so the readers often find themselves in an omnipotent role that they feel uncomfortable with as they transition from character to character.


The new Odd Thomas

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

At times I will include in the writing category of my blog a post corresponding to a review of a book I’m adding to my bookshelf.  While not every book in the bookshelf has a review, when they do, there is something special about the book-or, I just felt like reviewing it!

Elsewhere I have remarked that Koontz is a much better horror story writer than King.  His one consistent theme is that there is evil in the world and good people can stand up to it.  We only have to read recent headline stories to know the former is true: the killing of Hudson’s mother, brother, and nephew; the brutal murder of the anchor woman in Little Rock; the killing of a NJ woman by her husband; the beheading of tourists by the Taliban in Afghanistan; the threat by a pair of skinheads to kill a presidential candidate.  We have become insensitive to the evil because there is so much of it.  Some of the people in Hudson’s neighborhood heard the shots but did not react-they hear shots often in that neighborhood.  The tourist bus incident in Afghanistan went out of the news as fast as it went in-we expect horror stories from that part of the world now.


Top 5 Thrillers

Friday, July 25th, 2008

My top 5 thrillers of all time:

Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal – Frederick mixes true events with fictional ones in a real page turner.  I often study this one!

Jeffery Deaver, Garden of Beasts – This didn’t seem to take off as well as the Lincoln Rhyme novels, but I think it’s Jeffery’s best work.  Again, it hooks you fast.  It’s in the historical context of World War II, though, so maybe a lot of young readers can’t relate to it.  Too bad.

Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October – Sorry, Tom, this is still your best!  And the movie was probably the best submarine movie since Das Boot.  Tom managed to make the boring life on a nuclear submarine adventurous and dangerous.  Quite a feat!

Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas – Dean has created a really memorable character in our friend Thomas.  And this is a great story too!  I’ll take Koontz over King any day.

David Baldacci, The Winner – David is at his best here.  While the Oliver Stone series is very entertaining, this is story is damn scary with a damn scary villain.  Great writing!