Inspiration has struck me!
I have become host to a grand idea and I hope that it will take root during my writer’s retreat of the next two weeks. Unlike my short stories thus far, this will be a sweeping epic that will trace the lives and happenings of the characters through at least five decades. It will weave back and forth through time but ultimately converge in the same space. And yes, it will be about aliens.
One strand element that I intend to incorporate into the story is that of “SpyFi.” It won’t be a heavy presence by any stretch of the imagination, but it will be there and hopefully it will be fun. To think, it all came about via a discussion of The Six Million Dollar Man with Chris Helton. Well, that plus a blog post review that he did of an RPG. Perhaps first I should help define “SpyFi.”
It is a loose definition to be sure, but then again so are most genre descriptions. As one might infer, SpyFi is espionage fiction with science fiction elements interwoven in the narrative fabric. For example, the antagonists in a SpyFi story may be a sophisticated, secret army that is plotting to take over the world via a fantastic device. There may be futuristic technology involved all around on both the good and bad sides. That brings up another point. These are not realistic stories of spies, such as the work of John Le Carre or even the Bourne series by Ludlum. These are high adventure tales that are full of escapism and wacky hijinks.
I realize that this describes just about all mass media espionage franchises of the past fifty years or so.
I’ve tried to look backward for more literary roots to this subgenre, aside from the Bond books by Fleming of course. One book series is Agent of T.E.R.R.A. with Hannibal Fortune as superspy of the title. I have the first in the series, The Flying Saucer Gambit. Eagerly wishing to get to it on my ever-growing list.
There are multiple examples of SpyFi. Bond, The Avengers (the British series, not the movie or comics series), The Prisoner, and on it goes. One great example of this subgenre is the television series, The Six Million Dollar Man. If you are “of that generation,” you undoubtedly can recite the voiceover for the show’s intro by heart:
"Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive.
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better...stronger...faster.”
Undoubtedly you now have the distinctive Oliver Nelson theme music running through your head.
Steve Austin, played by Lee Majors, became a cyborg. Both of his legs plus his right arm and one of his eyes were replaced with bionic parts. He, as the intro states, became super strong, extraordinarily fast, and possessed of keen sight. All of these abilities were usually demonstrated through slo-mo photography and an inimitable sound effect. He worked for Oscar Goldman of OSI, the Office of Strategic Intelligence.
A basic catch-all spook for OSI, Steve was eventually given a female bionic counterpart named Jamie Sommers (Lindsey Wagner) aka “The Bionic Woman.” Together they fought such menaces as a cyborg John Saxon, a Russian Venus probe run amok, and...my favorite...a bionic version of Bigfoot.
So will my new book have a bionic man superspy? I'm leaning towards "no" only because it would probably lesson the "real" feel that I'm attempting to establish. Then again, it is fiction. Anything can happen.
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