Monday, July 20, 2009

Thrillers for the Times - the Techno-thriller

That same Wiki article (entitled Thrillers) that I mentioned in the first post about Medical Thrillers defines the Techno-Thriller as a work “that usually focuses upon military action, in which technology (usually military technology) is described in detail and made essential to the reader’s understanding of the plot.” This article calls Tom Clancy the "father of the Technothriller" and the Hunt for Red October as the work which defined the genre.

I confess I am not “thrilled” with this definition. It seems to me too narrow and leaves out a whole host of other works I would have considered a techno-thriller. So – going back to our online search, I picked up a few other definitions that are briefer but more accurate.

Our friends at Merriam-Webster simply state that a techno-thriller is a thriller that relies on technology. Seems rather straightforward. But then I discovered another (separate) Wiki article entitled Techno-Thriller that did a much better job than the first article I quoted. Techno-thrillers, according to this Wiki article, are a “hybrid genre, drawing subject matter generally from spy thrillers, war novels and science fiction.” I suggest reading the entire entry, as it is very interesting. But I want to get on to recommending authors.

Read the Hunt for Red October if you haven’t read it already. The movie, starring Sean Connery, was excellent, but the book is brilliant. And as long as we are talking about the military side of Techno-thrillers, I also recommend Nimitz Class by Patrick Robinson. He writes about the near-future Navy and the technology that keeps the shores of the US safe. But his characters (do check out Admiral Morgan) are a treat and his plots are always multifaceted and intriguing.

Dan Brown is more famous for his religious thriller, The Da Vinci Code, but his earlier works, especially Digital Fortress and Deception Point are also edge-of-the-seat techno-thriller reading.

And just for fun – and to honor Michael Crichton, who just recently passed away - pick up The Andromeda Strain. Written in 1969 this is a story about an deadly alien germ that causes havoc and death in a small town in Arizona. Crichton was way ahead of his time with the kinds of dilemmas he envisioned, and even though a bit dated, Andromeda Strain is still frightening today. Meg



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