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Ludlum, Robert

Entry updated 16 August 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1927-2001) US stage and television actor, theatrical producer and author whose first novel, The Scarlatti Inheritance (1971), skirts the actual fantastic, as do most of his Technothrillers; in this case, the eponymous millionaire, in his search for world influence, surgically transforms himself into an intimate of Adolf Hitler named Heinrich Kroeger. The Gemini Contenders (1976), about a secret document claiming that Jesus Christ was not crucified, plays with Paranoias often since articulated; The Chancellor Manuscript (1977) describes the assassination of J Edgar Hoover (1895-1972); The Holcroft Covenant (1978) is about an attempt to re-create the Third Reich, a scenario reprised, with different characters, in The Apocalypse Watch (1995). The short Matarese sequence, comprising The Matarese Circle (1979) and The Matarese Countdown (1997), inexplicitly presents in the first volume a Near Future world, after the assassination of the heads of state of America and the USSR, and moves twenty years on in the second, though without any real sf entailments. Several Sequels by Other Hands, plus titles unconnected to his earlier work, have appeared since Ludlum's death.

Of more direct sf interest is the Bourne sequence – comprising The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986) and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990) – whose Amnesia-stricken Antihero protagonist, armed with Cyborg-like enhancements so that he is effectively invincible, is a genuine sf adventure figure. All three novels were filmed with great success, as The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007); for discussion of all three see Bourne Films; a Videogame spinoff is The Bourne Conspiracy (2008; vt Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy). The sequence closes after Bourne learns his secret identity. After Ludlum's death, though, Eric Van Lustbader continued the series in the form of Ties, without a terminus seemingly in view, beginning with The Bourne Legacy (2004). [JC/DRL]

Robert Ludlum

born New York: 25 May 1927

died Naples, Florida: 12 March 2001




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