Discussions over Tea (Of course, cutting maar ke)

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

BOOKS : Best served Cold

War has always spurred the Industrial revolution. But unintentionally, what it also spurred was a literary revolution. Literary, not in the way, current literature is interpreted by the so-called critics, but rather by the way in which it inspired a completely new genre of books and authors who were experts at that sort of thing. People in the diplomatic services, people who were subject matter experts in the military, all of a sudden were writing books expounding theories of espionage, counter-espionage, plots and sub-plots.
After the WWII, the masters that were Desmond Bagley, Jack Higgins, James Patterson, etc.
And so it was when the USSR collapsed, it not only had economic or global power repercussions. The biggest losers were those thousands of novelists who thrived on that genre of spy novels, the Cold War novelists as they are called.
The ideal spy novel mastered by John le Carré, Tom Clancy, Ludlum and needed to have that just-right mix of suspense, drama and action which would keep the reader enthralled through the gripping drama. Recalling back those days on which I used to thrive on such books, here are some of the ingredients for that perfect book.
  1. Base the book around a significant political event, and the plot around the assasination attempt on some of the key contributors to peace.
  2. One defector - a highly placed nuclear scientist or a sympathetic diplomat would be ideal. A double spy, though a good idea, would be an overkill considering that the reader expects it coming.
  3. One retired American soldier/CIA agent/war hero, preferably well equipped in Russian.
  4. One Russian woman, extremely good looking, devoted - also incidentally a middle-level USSR Government official - to fall madly in love with the abovementioned American.
  5. One plotting highly placed Russian government official, who has maniacal plots to destroy America, without the knowledge of his Prime Minister. Also, has a pro-Communist clique within the Kremlin who secretly support his cause.
  6. Of course, if you do want to make it an international conspiracy, you have to include rogue cells working for the Communists in the Eastern Bloc countries - they're the folks who actually do the dirty work for the KGB.
  7. As the Cold War progressed, the USSR's importance declined and the threat of Communist China arose, conspiracy theories abound with alliances between the Reds in Russia and China act as a breath of fresh air. In the recent past, the restlessness in the Middle East and some dictatorial Shah and his ardent followers will be trying to import sophisticated weaponry from the European powers too.
  8. An author with a sound financial background, can also introduce conspiracy theories abound with the imminent collapse of the world financial markets, esp. Wall Street, engineered by the wizards of Europe.
  9. On a more personal front, there should be the common man who had lost his loved one a long time ago to an operation in the secret war, who's now resolved to take his revenge and make his peace.
  10. Mix these ingredients well, for about 300 pages, add some mistakes to the English spoken by the Russians or the Chinese, show the Russians crumble under pressure, while the US/British spy keeping his head and figuring out that missing piece which has been that niggling feeling at the back of his head for the last 100 pages and voila! You have a bestseller! Or not?
If I believed in conspiracy theories, wouldn't it be crazy if the Middle-eastern trouble was being brewed by a highly-placed group of novelists?

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