Clive Cussler, creator of the Dirk Pitt Adventures, has died on February 24. He was 88 years old.
Cussler happened to be one of the first writers I read in its original English after stumbling about the translation of "Raise the Titanic", his breakout novel in 1976. I was 16 at the time and loved this book. At the time I thought it a great plot, full of twists. A year later I stumbled upon the paperback edition in the tiny shelf of English paperbacks which were avaiable in the bookstore I worked. It was a Sphere edition, which now sits on my desk. My motivation to read in the original back then was mostly the wish to get it "uncut", and it was a difficult process. Mostly I tried reading things like Nick Carter and The Executioner, but as I had liked the Cussler book, I tried this also in the original.
I became a real fan. In the early years the Pitt novels were not only placed in the then near future, they had a strong pulpish vibe with their bizarre villains and their outlandish plots. Especially the underwater scenes read so authentic, which is no wonder as Cussler was indeed a maritime archeologist. And if you ask me, he was the creator of the techno-thriller and not Tom Clancy. Clancy published nearly a decade later.
I read every new Dirk Pitt novel faithfully. But as the years progressed, the usual disillusionment set in. Cussler's hero is admittedly very one-dimensional with his larger then life heroics, the politics painfully simple, and some of the 90s books were not very good, as the formula started to wear thin. Cussler later created some series which then were written by others, but I never read one of those.
I still dutifully bought the Pitt novels for some years, but never read them. When Cussler's son Dirk took over the writing, I stopped buying them as I had such a backlog of novels still unread. Other things had become more important. Also I often was surprised that they still were published, as the whole Indiana Jones subgenre kind of made them old-fashioned.
But the early novels I still have fond memories of. For all the dramatics they established a kind of fun, reminiscent of the old pulps heroes, before everything became either grim'n gritty or just grey. Cussler could share the excitment of diving for treasure under the sea. I will fondly remember him, and he will be missed.