CAP­TAIN’S BOOK­SHELF

Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Cooper ad­mits a weak­ness for silly page-turn­ers and tales of po­lar ex­plo­ration. Arc­tic Drift, by Clive and Dirk Cus­sler, hits on both.

Passage Maker - - @Rest -

Love or hate nov­el­ist Clive Cus­sler’s brand of ad­ven­ture fic­tion, you have to ad­mire his sheer pro­lifi­cacy. Cus­sler, now 87, un­wit­tingly spawned a fran­chise when, in 1965, his wife started work­ing the grave­yard shift. Bored and lonely af­ter he put their three kids to bed, Cus­sler would spend evenings div­ing into fan­tas­ti­cal worlds of his own cre­ation— ones that would even­tu­ally turn into a long se­ries of nov­els and spinoffs based on a cen­tral char­ac­ter named Dirk Pitt.

Pitt is a dap­per marine en­gi­neer and a deep-sea archeaol­o­gist who shares traits with the world’s other great fic­tional ad­ven­tur­ers like Indiana Jones and James Bond. And like the oth­ers, Pitt also has a good bit of luck on his side to ease out of tight sit­u­a­tions. There are har­poons, guns, boats, clas­sic cars (one of Pitt’s— and Cus­sler’s—weak­nesses), bad guys, in­cred­i­ble tim­ing, and al­ways a bril­liant fe­male sci­en­tist who helps cat­a­pult Pitt to a hero’s wel­come.

Cus­sler’s fran­chise cur­rently stands at 70 nov­els, more than 20 of which have been New York Times best­sellers. For his suc­cess, Cus­sler is said to have a keen sense of hu­mor. As a joke, he now writes him­self a cameo in ev­ery novel, and that is not the only place where fic­tion and re­al­ity have in­ter­play in his world. Cus­sler’s son, Dirk, has been coau­thor­ing books un­der his fa­ther’s tute­lage since 2004.

I won’t go into spe­cific de­tails about 2008’s re­lease, Arc­tic Drift; suf­fice it to say that it now seems ahead of its time. A mega­lo­ma­niac has de­cided to hoard the world’s nat­u­ral re­sources at a time when those re­sources are dwin­dling fast. Na­tions are on the brink, the United States is even pit­ted against Canada (Canada, I tell you!), and only Dirk Pitt and his chil­dren can save the world from apoc­a­lypse. Do they suc­ceed? You’ll have to read to find out.

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