A common term, used in this encyclopedia to designate a tale which, though it often makes use of sf devices, in fact occupies an undisplaced, entirely mundane narrative world. Technothrillers may be set in the Near Future and invoke technologies beyond the capacities of the present moment, but they differ from sf in two respects: first, like the unknown in Horror novels, science in the technothriller is either inherently threatening or worshipfully (and fetishistically) exploited; second, a typical technothriller plot evokes a technological scenario whose world-transforming implications are left unexamined or evaded, often through the use of McGuffin plots. Any novel in which future developments in science play a central role is not a technothriller at all: it is sf.
Examples of technothrillers by sf writers are Frank M Robinson's and Thomas N Scortia's successful collaborations from The Glass Inferno (1974) to Blow Out! (1987), Robin Cook's tales of medicine gone awry, and the films loosely based on Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. The latter are examples of the most common variety – the political thriller in which the artefacts of science serve as gear (or fetish) and as a target for the Paranoias of our century. [JC]
see also: Michael Crichton.
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