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Cussler, Clive

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1931-2020) US author, some titles in whose Dirk Pitt sequence of Technothrillers are of sf interest, beginning with The Mediterranean Caper (1973; vt May Day 1981). Supremely competent, irresistible to women, slightly sadistic, the James Bond-like Pitt is Special Projects Director for the (fictional) American National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which engages in spectacular underwater salvage operations involving exotic technologies, frequently deployed Under the Sea. Some of the more interestingly sf-like titles include Raise the Titanic! (1976), filmed as Raise the Titanic! (1980) directed by Jerry Jameson (see Titanic), Vixen 03 (1978), which deals with the hunt for a "Doomsday virus", Pacific Vortex! (1983), which features human divers with artificial gills, Cyclops (1986), in which a secret Moon colony figures, Treasure (1988), a tale of Near-Future political manoeuvrings, Dragon (1990), Sahara (1992), Inca Gold (1994), Shock Wave (1996), set partly in a mysterious tropical-Island Keep deep in the Pacific, whose owners are responsible for a diamond-mining Technology which emits a sound-pulse fatal to animals and humans within a wide radius, and Atlantis Found (1999). But all titles contain some element of the fantastic.

An associated sequence, the Kirt Austin books written with Paul Kemprecos, features a very similar (though younger) near-Superhero protagonist, who is also a member of NUMA. Of these books, the most interesting in sf terms may be Lost City (2004) with Paul Kemprecos (1968-    ), featuring a several-thousand-year old Secret Master family of arms dealers whose members are on a long Immortality hunt, hints of an Atlantis-like Lost World at the bottom of the Atlantic, where a life-prolonging enzyme is discovered, and environmental disaster (in Cussler's work, Ecological Disasters are normally threatened by foreigners plotting against America). The Oregon Files sequence, written initially with Craig Dirgo and subsequently with Jack Du Brul, is similar but less complexly plotted.

It cannot be denied that Cussler's simply-conceived patriotism, as expressed in almost all of his novels, gave a somewhat twentieth-century tone to his work; on the whole he seemed to make relatively little adjustment to a more complex world as the new century continued. [NT/JC]

Clive Eric Cussler

born Aurora, Illinois: 15 July 1931

died Scottsdale, Arizona: 24 February 2020

works (selected)


Dirk Pitt

Kurt Austin/NUMA Files

Oregon Files

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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