Check In: Wow, I’m exhausted. I spent the day reinstalling Windows on a friend’s computer. Moving furniture was involved. My creative reservoir is low so I’m going to jot down a couple of thoughts.
In prior a post in which I discussed Secret Leagues of Mischievous Gentlemen, I mentioned briefly such folks actually exist. There are real people, and sometimes whole organizations of them who commit exactly the sort of civilization-toppling high jinks that might draw the attention of super-spy agencies who might respond to stop them and save the world. In real life super-spies don’t usually exist, and when they do, their supporting agencies are bought off by the too-big-to-fail companies and officers. But the effects are certainly felt when our economies collapse, and the common taxpayer is left to foot the bill.
These are real crimes caused by real criminals. So why doesn’t MI6 send James Bond to stop such shenanigans in novels? Why does the Compact of Sorrow meddle with stealing nukes and intercepting space missions when they could be making bank and crushing empires with securities fraud? Other than it sounding less thrilling, it’s just plain hard to explain.
Go ahead. Try to make sense of the subprime mortgage crisis. Take your time.
Historical dramas often have to simplify their stories so that they can be conveyed in ninety minutes and still make sense. In novels there is a bit more latitude for an author to show he’s done his research. Still, being too authentic will turn your political or military thriller into a technical thriller, which means that the story will only be read by grognards (topic-enthusiast detail-fetishists) and those who enjoy the challenge of a dry read.
On the other hand it might be a great point of comedy that no one is exactly clear why that guy has to get the briefcase to the other guy and bomb the central metropolitan subway hub, and when it all comes out, nobody (but the economist) even understands the bit about the briefcase and the central metropolitan subway hub.
It’s not too difficult to convey to the audience that somehow Dr. Fleetietoes owes the state of France two-hundred billion dollars. (And they really want it back. Really, really.) or that Investigator Foxyglove has uncovered McBankerton’s high-level trading-fraud-gone-awry by which twenty trillion euros of German state assets have just vanished. And this is why he’s just hired twelve mercenaries to hunt down Foxyglove and burn the justice building to the ground before she goes public.
Could an audience get past the bother that some things are just too hard to explain, and instead learn to enjoy that it’s just ridiculously confusing and not meant to be understood?
Because, look! Explosions! Helicopter chases! Gunfights in marble foyers!
Image is of the Windsor Tower fire in Madrid, allegedly caused by an electrical fault and was totally not the result of arson. The 2005 skyscraper fire is sometimes used as an example by truthers to indicate that buildings on fire don’t collapse. Still enough of the building fell apart internally (collapsed) to prohibit repair, and the tower was demolished soon after. The Torre Titania now stands in its place.