Saturday, November 9, 2013

Best Seventies Adventure

The of posts will list my favorite 21 adventure novels from each of the 20th Century's first eight (socio-cultural) decades. Plus, I kicked off the series with a list of the ; in total, then, I aim to list 200 of my all-time favorite adventures.


MORE LIT LISTS FROM THIS AUTHOR: | (1805-1903) | (1904-13) | Best (1914-23) | (1924-33) | | | | | . ALSO: | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

20 ADVENTURE THEMES AND MEMES: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | The EscapadeThis is the ninth post in the series. Here you'll find a list of my Top 21 Adventures from the Seventies (1974-83).

This is the era of the mega-bestselling thriller, the fat airport novel with the embossed cover. I will mostly ignore these

If adventure novels in the Sixties troubled their readers' faith in fixed, universal categories, and in certainty, Seventies adventure replaced these relics with difference, process, anomaly. The science fiction of the era -- Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed, Samuel R. Delany's Trouble on Triton, Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, Christopher Priest's Inverted World, Olivia E. Butler's Kindred and Wild Seed -- was , the final flourish of New Wave before the advent of cyberpunk. All binary oppositions (past/present, liberal/conservative, innocent/guilty, utopian/anti-utopian) are overthrown. Ambivalence, indeterminacy, and undecidability of things: In Seventies adventures, these are the anti-anti-utopian new normal.

Postmodernist adventure first began to flourish in the late Fifties (1954-63), although it was invented earlier than that by Flann O'Brien. The trend reached its apex in the late Sixties (1964-73). In the Seventies, postmodern lit rallies for a last hurrah. Several great Seventies adventures foreground the eclecticism and hybridity lurking beneath the illusion of conceptual unity and institutional integrity. In Gilbert Sorrentino's Mulligan Stew, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Philip K. Dick's VALIS, Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, Alasdair Gray's Lanark, Ishmael Reed's Flight to Canada, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, and John Crowley's Little, Big, we discover, e.g., the author as character; plots which are self-contradicting or which blur reality and fiction; form and language being disrupted or played with; and fiction that overtly references other fictional works. PS: Although postmodernist literature is still produced in the Eighties, it's no longer as funny. Unfunny postmodernismwhy bother?

Even non-sf, non-postmodernist adventure novels of the Seventies -- Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers, William Goldman's Marathon Man, Richard Condon's Winter Kills, James Grady's Six Days of the Condor, John le Carr 's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, Paul Theroux's The Mosquito Coast, Brian Garfield's Hopscotch, Richard Condon's Prizzi's Honor -- express the sense that something's gone awry with the technologically advanced, prosperous, contented, triumphalist liberal democracy that is postwar America. Even the bad guys are dissatisfied.

During the Seventies, adventure becomes more and more absurdist (Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, Erica Jong's Fanny, T. Coraghessan Boyle's Water Music, Gregory Mcdonald's Fletch, Thomas Berger's Who Is Teddy Villanova?), and at the same time more apocalyptic (Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer, Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker). In a few sublime cases -- J.G. Ballard's Concrete Island, High-Rise, and Hello America; Gary Panter's Jimbo; Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Seventies adventure strikes the perfect balance of absurdist and apocalyptic.

A note, finally, about YA adventures. I do enjoy quite of bit of Seventies YA lit -- it's what I grew up reading. Ellen Raskin's The Tattooed Potato and The Westing Game are good fun; so are Peter Dickinson's The Blue Hawk, Joan Aiken's Midnight is a Place, Katherine Paterson's The Master Puppeteer, Elizabeth George Speare's The Sign of the Beaver, Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, and everything by Susan Cooper and Daniel Pinkwater. HoweverYA fiction gets exceedingly dark ("realistic") in the Seventies. When I was a teen, I liked the apocalyptic YA that Scholastic Books peddled via their catalog, but re-reading it now -- Robert O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, O.T. Nelson's The Girl Who Owned a City, Ben Bova's City of Darkness, Ian Macmillan's Blakely's Ark -- I find it too terrifying and twisted to be charming. William Sleator's House of Stairs is about torture and mind-fucking; Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War is about bullying; Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia is way too sad; Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet is about nuclear war; Monica Hughes's The Keeper of the Isis Light has a tragic ending. I'm not even happy about Tintin and Asterix comics from 1974-83. NOTE TO PARENTS: I'm not suggesting these books should be banned! Let your kids read them, if they want, when they're in their late teens. Before then, though, might I suggest you introduce them to YA from the Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, and Sixties?

As in each post from this series, I've appended a list of 29 second-tier favorites -- for a grand total of 50 Top Adventures of the Seventies. Plus a third-tier list that features, among other thing, many obscure adventures. These ought not to be thought of as "third-rate" (I wouldn't mention them if they weren't worth reading) but instead as Most Deserving of Rediscovery. Please leave suggestions and feedback.

PS: I wrote this entry here in Boston, Mass., during the 2013 World Series. Please excuse typos and screw-ups.

If you're interested in reading re-discovered science fiction adventures, check out the 10 titles from -- available online and in gorgeous paperback form. And please (I'm the Club's editor).THE TOP 21 ADVENTURE NOVELS OF THE SEVENTIES (1974-83)

In chronological order:

* 1974. Robert Stone's crime adventure Dog Soldiers. Set in Vietnam and the United States, it concerns a heroin deal that goes violently awry. Its theme, meanwhile, is the decline of the promise of the Sixties: the death of the counterculture in America, mistrust of authority figures, and the end of youthful American optimism. Published in the cusp year of 1974, Stone's book signals the emerging tone of Seventies-era adventure.

* 1974. John le Carr 's espionage adventure Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. George Smiley -- the pudgy, cuckolded, anti-James Bond -- is recalled to the British Secret Intelligence Service to hunt down a double agentone of his own ex-colleagues. After The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, this is the second-best novel by the authorwho worked for MI5 and MI6 in the '50s and '60s, when Kim Philby was exposed as a KGB mole. The 2011 movie version, starring Gary Oldman, was pretty good; so was the the 1979 miniseries with Alec Guinness.

* 1974. 's anarchistic science fiction adventure The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, a pointed critique of typical utopian narratives. It's set on Annares, a planet whose inhabitants value voluntary cooperation, local control, and mutual tolerance -- but who have preserved their grooviness through an entrenched bureaucracy that stifles innovation. Le Guin's protagonist temporarily abandons Annares for a nearby world, one that is superior in certain respects because its inhabitants value the free market. How to reconcile?

* 1975. 's atavistic adventure High-Rise. An ultra-modern apartment block in London populated by well-to-do yuppies who rarely leave the premises gradually becomes a self-sustaining vertical city. At which point social relations between different groups of tenants worsen; they stratify into three castes -- depending on which floor you live on. A new social order emerges, one in which "all life within the high-rise revolved around three obsessions -- security, food and sex." Sardonic inversion of the atavistic sub-genre.

* 1975. Peter Matthiessen's frontier adventure Far Tortuga, an impressionistic, minimalistic novel concerning the events leading up to the death of the crew of a turtle-fishing boat in the Caribbean. The author, best-known today as a highly decorated nature and travel writer, has said: "I was feeling my way toward a spare form, with more air around the words, more space: I wanted the descriptions to be very clear and flat, to find such poetry as they might attain in their very directness and simplicity."

* 1975. Jack Higginson's WWII commando adventure The Eagle Has Landed. An IRA operative and team of disgraced -- because they're too kind-hearted, and anti-Nazi -- German commandos are recruited to infiltrate an English village, where Winston Churchill is going to spend a weekend. Their objective is to kidnap him and smuggle him out of the country. Adapted in 1976 as a movie starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Duvall.

* 1975. Edward Abbey's anarchistic adventure The Monkey Wrench Gang. Four ecologically minded misfits team up to use sabotage (bulldozers and trains) as way of protesting environmentally damaging activities in the American Southwest. The Monkeywrench Gang despise liberals -- particularly the Sierra Club. The book, which is very funny and exciting, inspired the formation of the direct-action environmentalist group Earth First!

* 1976. Samuel R. Delany's Foucauldian science fiction adventure Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia. A post-structuralist novel set on a Neptunian colony where no one goes hungry and everyone is sexually confused. The subtitle signal's the author's critique not only of utopian narratives but of Le Guin's vestigial nostalgia for pastoral communes. Political tensions between Triton -- where one can change one's physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and even specific patterns of likes and dislikes -- and Earth lead to a destructive interplanetary war.

* 1977. 's science fiction adventure A Scanner Darkly. Set in a barely futuristic suburban LA of 1994, Scanner tells the story of "Fred," a disillusioned narc who enjoys the company of the addicts with whom he lives as "Bob" -- whose own drug intake contributes to a toxic brain psychosis complicated by Fred's new assignmentto spy on Bob. The book ends with a dramatic dedication to Dick's many friends who'd been killed or permanently damaged by drug abuse; the author's own name is on the list.

* 1977-ON. 's comic Jimbo. Panter's "ratty line" illustrations helped define the style of L.A. punk. But the appeal of Jimbo -- an all-American, freckle-faced punk wandering through a post-apocalyptic social order on Mars known as Dal Tokyo -- is timeless. The first Jimbo comics appeared in the zine Slash and in Spiegelman/Mouly's Raw; they have been collected in Jimbo (1982), Invasion of the Elvis Zombies (1984), Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise (1988), and Jimbo's Inferno (2006). Panter is Jimbo adventures today!

* 1979. 's meta-fictional adventure Mulligan Stew. On loan from Fitzgerald, O'Brien, Joyce, and Hammett, the characters in a "new wave murder mystery" rebel against its author. The book turns into an improvised soup of journal entries, erotic poetry, parodies of all kinds, love letters, interviews, lists, and -- above all -- intentionally bad writing, from incoherent ideas to clich s to stupid metaphors.

* 1980. Geoffrey Household's occult adventure The Sending. When Hollaston, an ex-Indian Army colonel, inherits a dead friend's polecat, he discovers that he has suppressed shamanistic powersand what's more, he's being targeted -- via psychic transmissions -- by a cult! Four decades after Rogue Male, another great yarn from the great Household.

* 1980. 's Patternist science fiction adventure Wild Seed. Anyanwu, a 350-year-old shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss, is lured from an African jungle to the colonies of America by the ruthless Doro, an immortal entity who changes bodies like clothes -- and who wants to use Anyanwu for his breeding experiments. The history of slavery, recapitulated as alien abduction! The prequel to Mind of My Mind (1977), Clay's Ark (1984), Survivor (1978), and Patternmaster (1976).

* 1980. Umberto Eco's historical/hermeneutic adventure The Name of the Rose, set in the early 14th century. As the Sherlock Holmes-like Franciscan friar William of Baskerville (get it?) arrives at a Benedictine monastery in Italy, several monks die under mysterious circumstances. William and his novice, Adso, explore a labyrinthine medieval library containing forbidden literature, discuss the subversive power of laughter, and confront the intolerance of the Inquisitionbut is there a mystery to be discovered, after all?

* 1980. T. Coraghessan Boyle's semi-fictional historical adventure Water Music, which follows the parallel adventures of Scottish explorer Mungo Park and a London criminal, Ned Park, in 19th-century London, Africa, and the Scottish highlands. A riotous, erudite, imaginative yarn loosely based on the real-life Mungo Park's Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa. The author's first novel.

* 1981. 's postmodernist fantasy adventure Lanark. In two of this epic tome's four sections, a young Glaswegian is driven mad by his inability to form relationships; in the other two sections, Unthank -- a Glasgow-like fantasy civilization -- disintegrates for the same reason. Are the two narratives connected? Perhaps, perhaps not. In the Epilogue, the author himself tells the protagonist: "A heavy book will make a bigger splash than two light ones."

* 1981. Jean-Patrick Manchette's "neo-polar" crime adventure The Prone Gunman. Martin Terrier, a young hitman eager to retire, returns to his home town. There, he loses the woman he loves, the money he's saved, the one friend he has left, and finally, his marksmanship. A violent, existentialist exploration of the human condition and French society; the author's last completed novel. French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's adaptation of The Prone Gunman is great; check out Fantagraphics Books' 2011 English-language edition.

* 1981. John Crowley's fantasy adventure Little, Big. The complex, sprawling, quasi-mythic story of an eccentric family's relationship with the occluded world of faerie. The family's members believe that they are each part of a grand supernatural Tale, and that their fates are intertwined with the faeries' hidden universe. According to Harold Bloom: "A neglected masterpiece. The closest achievement we have to the Alice stories of Lewis Carroll."

* 1982. Alan Moore's graphic novel adventure V for Vendetta, set in a near-future United Kingdom, ruled by the fascist Norsefire Party, which came to power after a nuclear war. An anarchist revolutionary, who wears a and calls himself "V," begins a campaign of terrorism designed to bring down the government -- and revenge himself on the scientists whose experiments led him to develop superhuman abilities. Illustrated mostly by David Lloyd.

* 1982. Paul Theroux's The Mosquito Coast. A sardonic inversion of a cozy-catastrophe-type Robinsonade The patriarch of a would-be Swiss Family Robinson tells his family that civilization has been destroyed -- although it hasn't. Before that, he tries to bring an ice machine to the natives of a Central American jungle village; so it's also a sardonic inversion of a frontier epic.

* 1983. Terry Pratchett's comical fantasy adventure The Colour of Magic, the first book of the Discworld series. Caught up in a boardgame played by the gods of Discworld, the incompetent wizard Rincewind journeys across the Disc with wealthy tourist Twoflower. A sardonic inversion of fantasy; Pratchett has described the book as "an attempt to do for the classical fantasy universe what Blazing Saddles did for Westerns."


* 1974. Gregory Mcdonald's satirical crime adventure Fletch.

* 1974. Len Deighton's espionage adventure Spy Story.

* 1974. Robert B. Parker's crime adventure The Godwulf Manuscript, first of many Spenser for Hire novels.

* 1974. Peter Benchley's horror adventure Jaws. The most successful first novel in American publishing history.

* 1974. James McClure's crime adventure The Steam Pig.

* 1974. Nicholas Meyer's crime adventure The Seven Per-Cent Solution.

* 1974. Stephen King's horror adventure Carrie.

* 1974. M. John Harrison's science fiction adventure The Centauri Device.

* 1974. Richard Adams's atavistic fantasy adventure Shardik concerns a lonely hunter, Kelderek, who pursues Shardik, a giant bear he believes to embody the Power of God; both of them become unwillingly drawn into the politics of an imaginary region called the Beklan Empire.

* 1974. Philip K. Dick's science fiction adventure Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

* 1974. Ivor Drummond's crime/espionage adventure The Power of the Bug. Features a crackerjack team of wealthy adventurers: Colly Tucker (Coleridge Tucker II), Lady Jennifer Norrington, and Sandro (il conte Alessandro di Ganzarello).

* 1974. Duncan Kyle's espionage adventure Terror's Cradle. In Shetland, hunted by helicopter and powerboat, a journalist pits his wits against both CIA and KGB as he barters desperately for his girlfriend's life.

* 1974. Eric Ambler's political thriller Doctor Frigo.

* 1974. Clive Egleton's political thriller The October Plot.

* 1974. Robert B. Parker's crime adventure God Save the Child.

* 1974. Michael Moorcock's science fiction adventure The Hollow Lands.

* 1974. Suzy McKee Charnas's science fiction adventure Walk to the End of the World.

* 1974. Francis Clifford's The Grosvenor Square Goodbye.

* 1974. Joan Aiken's YA historical adventure Midnight is a Place.

* 1974. William Sleator's YA adventure House of Stairs.

* 1974. Robert Cormier's YA adventure The Chocolate War.

* 1975. Barry N. Malzberg's science fiction adventure Galaxies.

* 1975. Adam Hall's espionage adventure The Mandarin Cypher.

* 1975. Joanna Russ's science fiction adventure The Female Man. An underground classic. Multiple heroines from different times.

* 1975. Bob Shaw's science fiction adventure Orbitsville.

* 1975. Mary Higgins Clark's crime adventure Where Are the Children?.

* 1975. Elizabeth Peters's crime adventure Crocodile on the Sandbank.

* 1975. Len Deighton's espionage adventure Yesterday's Spy.

* 1975. Geoffrey Household's espionage adventure Red Anger.

* 1975. Robert O'Brien's YA science fiction adventure Z for Zachariah.

* 1975. William Kennedy's historical/crime adventure Legs. First in a series of novels set in Albany, NY.

* 1975. Joseph Wambaugh's crime adventure The Choirboys.

* 1975. O.T. Nelson's YA science fiction adventure The Girl Who Owned a City.

* 1975. Robertson Davies's adventure World of Wonders, final installment in his Deptford Trilogy.

* 1975. Sj wall and Wahl's crime adventure The Terrorists.

* 1975. Clive Egleton's adventure Skirmish.

* 1975. Peter Dickinson's YA historical adventure The Blue Hawk.

* 1975. Katherine Paterson's YA adventure The Master Puppeteer.

* 1975. Ellen Raskin's YA adventure The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues.

* 1975. Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising YA fantasy adventure The Grey King. The fourth in a series of five.

* 1975. Suzanne Martel's YA science fiction adventure The City Under Ground.

* 1975. Gerald Seymour's political thriller Harry's Game. A British cabinet minister is gunned down by an IRA assassin, leaving an undercover agent to track down the killer.

* 1976. Kingsley Amis's fantasy adventure The Alteration. Set in a world where there has been no Reformation; Rome is still the spiritual ruler of Britain. Hubert, a 10-year-old soprano, is threatened with castration to prevent his voice from changing.

* 1976. Lionel Davidson's The Sun Chemist.

* 1976. Len Deighton's espionage adventure Catch a Falling Spy.

* 1976. Adam Hall's espionage adventure The Kobra Manifesto.

* 1976. Duncan Kyle's's extreme-conditions adventure In Deep (released in paperback as Whiteout!). Set in the Arctic Circle, where Harry Bowes is testing an advanced hovercraft. A lethal blizzard traps him in an Arctic station with soldiers -- who are dying one by one.

* 1976. Ruth Rendell's crime adventure A Demon in My View.

* 1976. Rosemary Sutcliff's children's historical adventure Blood Feud. An orphaned child of a Celtic father and Saxon mother is caught up with the Vikings and journeys all the way to Constantinople.

* 1976. Marge Piercy's science fiction adventure Woman on the Edge of Time. A feminist utopia in which women are free of reproductive responsibilities, and property does not exist. Therefore, the concept of gender is moot.

* 1976. Daniel Pinkwater's YA adventure Lizard Music.

* 1976. Anne McCaffrey's science fantasy adventure Dragonsong.

* 1976. Ben Bova's YA science fiction adventure City of Darkness.

* 1976. Frederik Pohl's science fiction adventure Man Plus.

* 1976. Ann Rice's horror adventure Interview with the Vampire.

* 1976. Tom Robbins's comical adventure Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, a sardonic inversion of the Western.

* 1976. Clive Egleton's adventure State Visit.

* 1976. Gerald Seymour's adventure The Glory Boys. An Arab terrorist, the only survivor of a three-man hit squad ambushed by Israeli Intelligence in France, plans to murder Israel's leading nuclear scientist on a visit to London.

* 1976. Ira Levin's political/sci-fi thriller The Boys from Brazil.

* 1977. Fritz Leiber's fantasy adventure Our Lady of Darkness.

* 1977. Ruth Rendell's crime adventure A Judgement in Stone.

* 1977. Ann Tyler's Earthly Possessions. Not just another housewife-leaves-home novel.

* 1977. Algis Budrys's science fiction adventure Michaelmas.

* 1977. Thomas Berger's satirical crime adventure Who Is Teddy Villanova?. A sardonic inversion of the detective novel.

* 1977. John Varley's science fiction adventure The Ophiuchi Hotline.

* 1977. Ellis Peters's crime adventure A Morbid Taste for Bones.

* 1977. John le Carr 's espionage adventure The Honourable Schoolboy.

* 1977. Eric Ambler's adventure Send No More Roses.

* 1977. Stephen King's horror adventure The Shining.

* 1977. Geoffrey Household's adventure Hostage London: The Diary of Julian Despard.

* 1977. Daniel Pinkwater's YA adventure Fat Men from Space.

* 1977. Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising YA fantasy adventure Silver on the Tree. The fifth in a series of five.

* 1977. Terry Brooks's fantasy/sf adventure The Sword of Shannara.

* 1978. Paula Gosling's crime adventure A Running Duck.

* 1978. Ross Thomas's crime adventure Chinaman's Chance.

* 1978. Paddy Chayefsky's science fiction adventure Altered States. Altered states of consciousness lead to instant alteration of the way our genetic heritage is manifested.

* 1978. Christopher Koch's adventure The Year of Living Dangerously. A male Australian journalist, a female British diplomat, and a Chinese-Australian male dwarf interact in Indonesia in the summer and autumn of 1965.

* 1978. Ian Watson's science fiction adventure Miracle Visitors.

* 1979. Thomas M. Disch's science fiction adventure On Wings of Song.

* 1978. Andrew Garve's political thriller Counterstroke.

* 1978. Adam Hall's espionage adventure The Sinkiang Executive.

* 1978. Madeleine L'Engle's YA science fiction adventure A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

* 1978. Ellen Raskin's YA adventure The Westing Game.

* 1978. Clive Egleton's adventure The Mills Bomb.

* 1978. Geoffrey Household's adventure The Last Two Weeks of Georges Rivac.

* 1979. John D. MacDonald's crime adventure The Green Ripper.

* 1979. Tim Powers's fantasy adventure The Drawing of the Dark.

* 1979. J.G. Ballard's The Unlimited Dream Company.

* 1979. Justin Scott's sea-going adventure The Shipkiller.

* 1979. Brian Stableford's science fiction adventure The Walking Shadow.

* 1979. John le Carr 's adventure Smiley's People.

* 1979. Daniel Pinkwater's YA adventure Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars.

* 1979. Trevanian's Shibumi. Details the struggle between the "Mother Company", a conspiracy of energy companies that secretly controls much of the western world, and a highly skilled assassin, NicholaHel.

* 1979. Charles McCarry's political thriller The Better Angels. It was poorly received at the time of its release, because the premise of terrorists using passenger planes as instruments of destruction seemed implausible.

* 1979. Len Deighton's espionage adventure S.S.--G.B..

* 1979. Kate Wilhelm's science fiction adventure Juniper Time.

* 1980. Monica Hughes's YA science fiction adventure The Keeper of the Isis Light.

* 1980. Gregory Benford's science fiction adventure Timescape.

* 1980. Jean Auel's atavistic adventure Clan of the Cave Bear.

* 1980. Robert A. Heinlein's metafictional science fiction adventure The Number of the Beast.

* 1980. Damien Broderick's science fiction adventure The Dreaming Dragons.

* 1980. John Sladek's science fiction adventure Roderick.

* 1980. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's science fiction adventure Oath of Fealty. Same plot as Ballard's High-Rise. First time as farce, second time as tragedy.

* 1981. Ian Macmillan's YA science fiction adventure Blakely's Ark.

* 1981. William S. Burroughs's Cities of the Red Night.

* 1981. Martin

* 1982. Robin McKinleys's YA fantasy adventure The Blue Sword.

* 1982. L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction adventure Battlefield Earth, in defense of which .

* 1982. Thomas Perry's crime adventure The Butcher's Boy.

* 1983. John Sladek's science fiction adventure Roderick at Random.

* 1983. John le Carr 's espionage adventure The Little Drummer Girl. Sardonic inversion.
Full Post

No comments:

Post a Comment