A Gun and a Bad Attitude

Another post I tripped over recently was Ian Coates’ “High-Tech & the Modern Thriller“.

He raises some good points about the difficulty of thriller writers these days who must stay abreast of all technology that can be used for intelligence work (not a small amount), and how it works, while incorporating it into their work, because it’s no longer the 1930s when an author (such as Christie) could simply stick everyone on an isolated island and let events play out.

I dunno about that.

I think about James Bond in his heyday, when the gadgets were four-fifths of the finale.  He even got into space in one movie (at which point, I stopped watching them).

On the other hand, the best James Bond move of recent date is Casino Royale, where Bond gets by pretty much with a gun and a bad attitude.  It took another 1.5 movies for Q to pop up.

Tech for the sake of it is boring, no matter how cool it is (and some of it is, I admit, pretty fucking cool).  They can overwhelm the story and blinker the reader into missing the fact that there is no character arc going on.

Tech with character, though, hell yeah.   I point to James Cameron for a really good example of getting the balance right.  The Abyss is a case in point.  Aliens, too.

Anothing thing about tech in thrillers.  Ever noticed how every gadget, program, app and device works flawlessly?  Outdated software never jams things up, caches never fill, apps don’t mysteriously slow down.  Files are never lost.

The super-advanced, beyond cutting-edge apps should  break down, because most of them are beta-stage only, or else so freaking new, no one has put them into situations the creators never anticipated and reported back to the designers on the meltdown of said device.

On top of that–not every government has an unlimited budget to let their intelligence operatives loose in toyland.

Even if they did, if espionage is out of favour with the powers-that-be, the money for cutting edge tech still isn’t going to appear.

Then there’s the bad guys.  They usually have money falling out of their pockets, yes.  But it’s not endless.  The richest man in the world still has to make a decision about this fifteen million dollar helicopter over here, or that new shiny gadget there.

They can’t have everything, even if they can afford it because those so-new-you’ve-never-heard-of-them gadgets are in limited supply.  Sometimes only one or two exist in the entire world.

So high tech is cool ‘n all, and it’s fun trying to keep up, but not everyone can.  It’s impossible.  Just as it’s impossible that every spy in the world has access to every peice of tech in the world and it all operates flawlessly.

Unless it is James Bond, in which case, geek out.