Monday, 7 December 2009

Clive Cussler – Mayday!

Mayday by Clive CusslerHere is what Wikipedia (that source of all empirical knowledge) says about Clive Cussler.

Cussler's novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strives for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean's novels. Pitt himself is a three-dimensional, larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines.

Here is what I have to say about Clive Cussler.

Cussler’s novels are batshit insane. The Pitt novels are written almost as an aquatic James Bond. If James Bond was Batshit insane and even more arrogant, superhuman and Mysonganistic son of a bitch. One that has eaten an entire dictionary…in fact ALL of the players have eaten a dictionary.

One real example is Cusslers ability to use 1000 lines of dialogue to describe something that most other authors would simply fit into the text. Take this gem here…

“Now  I Know where the yellow Albatros (sic) materialized from,” said Pitt. “An old Japanese I-Boat, capable of launching a small scout plane. They haven’t been in use since World War II.”

“Yes, a handsome specimen,” von Till said jovially. “I’m honoured you could identify it. Sunk by an American destroyer off Iwo Jima in 1945, raised by Minerva Lines in 1951. I’ve found the combination of submarine and aircraft a most useful method of delivering small cargoes into areas that demand extreme discretion.”

Now this in itself makes the book strangely funny, not what i really expect from a pulp thriller. Where it really pays off is Cusslers depiction of women…

Pitt grinned at her, grinned at the other girls sitting awed in their chairs, felt self-satisfied at the admiring expressions from all twenty-four eyes, the bovine, adoring gaze reserved for celebrities and movie stars. It inflated his male ego.

Yes! Bovine! (if you noticed I am now typing in the style of Cussler naming conventions! Cool eh!

Of course Dirk knows how to treat a woman, this bikini clad beauty has just told of how her husband died…

Pitt felt dazed. Then anger set in. What a waste, he thought. What a rotten waste for a beautiful woman like her to grieve over a dead man for nearly nine years. The more he thought about it the angrier he became. He could see tears welling in her eyes as she lost herself in remembrance, and the sight sickened him.

Oh what to do?

He reached over and gave her a hard backhand slap across the face.

Yes hit her better! It works, by the end of the page he has had her (intimately).

Of course women only want one thing, this happens when he is captured.

Pitt climbed from the car and turned, offering his hand to Teri through the open front door. She looked up at him seductively for a moment and squeezing his hand gently, slowly uncoiled from her sitting position. Then quickly, before Pitt could react, she threw her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to her level. Both pairs of eyes were open, Pitt’s mostly from surprise, as she brazenly covered his sweating face with kisses.

It never fails, Pitt thought in detached fascination, no matter how cool or sophisticated they act towards the world, show a woman danger and adventure and they’ll always turn on. It’s really a pity, she's ready but it’s the wrong time and the wrong place. He forced her back.

This all happens by the way after he and a colleague kidnap her by tying her transparent negligee over her head!

Don't get me wrong, Cusslers Mayday! (or The Mediterranean Caper in the US) is a perfectly entertaining romp. Its just one of the most poorly written books I have ever read. Now as it is the first Cussler the question is, does his writing improve? We can but see. Stay tuned.

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