Clive Cussler Remixed Vol. 1 – Douglas Adams

March 25, 2010

"Have the printers add 20% more boat and shove it on the shelves."

As many of you are aware (or will be, once I finish this sentence), Clive F. Cussler has a bevy of cowriters, all working diligently to ensure he is credited for their work. While the names Paul Kamprecos and Jack DuBrul are hardly household names (thanks to their 10-pt appearance on book covers, sandwiched between a boat and CLIVE F. CUSSLER), some other authors have been approached for possible co-author duties.

This new series will deal with some that never made it off the cutting room floor, to mangle analogies. Presented below is a small section of Clive Cussler’s work and the resulting piece.

This volume features sci-fi humourist Douglas Adams’ contribution to the Cussler canon. Enjoy.

The original work:

“Sandecker flashed a barracuda smile, but an icy coldness crept into his authoritative blue eyes as he prepared to rip Tingley to shreds.”

From Douglas Adams:

As Sandecker stepped into the hall, the lights came on automatically, a positive sign that meant things were indeed Working, in a way that most things he had encountered so far were not. He continued down the extremely lengthy hallway as did the lights, brightening as he approached and dimming as he passed.

At the end of the hall was a door covered in indecipherable symbols.

Sandecker flashed a barracuda smile that edged briefly towards “wolfish” before jumping completely out of the animal kingdom and into “puzzled.” This is where it stayed.

He gazed at the door, regarding the strange symbols, odd smoothness and lack of handle or hinges, roughly in that order. He shifted his weight as he puzzled over the impasse, and the lights shifted with him in equal puzzlement, attempting to guess his next movement.

Soon a popular tune crept through the air, synched to the now strobing lights. Sandecker hummed along, despite his puzzlement and even began to dance a little.

The door opened briefly, assaulting Sandecker’s ears with the cacophonous wails of a million damned souls seeking relief from their torment. Sandecker screamed too, although it was not until the door slammed shut that he realized it. He kept it up for another minute or two just to assure himself that he was the only one still screaming. The door remained closed.

He felt something behind him and froze. Sandecker struggled to contain his fear and panic, finally subduing them with promises to let them run wild in the near future, quite possibly in the next few seconds.

He turned around and levelled an icy glare at the interloper. Or rather, he attempted to level it. His icy glare which, despite years of intermittent practice in the bathroom mirror (frequently after watching gangster films), had failed to coalesce into something intimidating.

In fact, rather than conjure up images of a frosty demeanor and preternatural calm, the gaze reverted to its usual form, which tended to remind those on the receiving end of a cold mist or the type of heavy, slushy snow that, within moments of touching the ground, absorbs its weight in auto exhaust, soot and the surrounding dirt and soon resembles nothing more than a weak and possibly rheumatic stone that would erode to nothing during the next rain or be hurled casually into the street by passing schoolchildren.

Sandecker’s slushy gaze went unmet. There was no one there.

He blinked heavily, trying to dislodge the remains of his icy glaze, which had dissolved nearly immediately into pools of tepid and non-threatening water and the beginnings of a headache. He weighed his options slowly, taking into account his fear and panic, both now pacing in the foyer of his psyche and threatening to urinate right on the expensive Oriental rug of his better judgement.

On one hand he had a million damned souls with only a door between them. On the other, he had an unknown, invisible force and the hollow comfort of a strangely familiar pop tune and the now-irritating strobing lights.

He mentally flipped a coin, called it in the air and promptly forgot whether he had chosen “heads” or “tails.” He flipped again. Heads. Through the door.

He reached out to touch the symbols, feeling the sudden warmth of fear and panic relieving themselves before heading to the living room to tear up the expensive leather sofa of his instincts.

The door opened and the screaming began. As he stepped forward, the nothing behind him promptly tore him to shreds.



  1. Having never read a single Clive Cussler book, yet having a neighbor generously offer to give me a box full of Cussler books last year (I declined), I’m at a disadvantage at fully appreciating this post. I did take a peek at the wiki entry though so I could ‘bone up’ as I knew you had done something brilliant (my, that word continues to sound trite, but still describes you to a ‘t’). So, with a weak ass perspective, I was able to glean some goodies.

    …pacing in the foyer of his psyche and threatening to urinate right on the expensive Oriental rug of his better judgment.

    As a psych nurse, you have no idea how much I relished that sentence and the whole synethesia theme. As a matter of fact, I plan to incorporate that sentence in a tweet (consider it stolen, but I would not be so brazen to attribute it to myself, rather it will be ‘quoted’ by a twitter account I fictitiously created last night, “doctorofmindmd” who is an actual fringe-y Nevada state psychiatrist [with his own YouTube channel] who is currently being investigated by the state for being, well, too ‘fringe-y’…and fringe-y does not quite encapsulate the ‘way out there’ factor he is being accused of…FASCINATING character!!). I’ve got to sit the fuck down now before I start bumping into doors with indecipherable symbols and risk having John Malkovich pop out and scare the bejesus out of me.

    P.S. Google “Capitalist Lion Tamer” and “brilliant” = 8,450 hits.

    • The beauty of this potential series is that you’ll never actually have to read a Cussler book. I’ll do that dirty work and then rewrite in the style of another, with varying levels of success and clarity.

      I really don’t mind you borrowing or stealing lines from this blog, especially when they are as emminently quotable as that one would appear to be. It fascinates me to no end that some real fringe-y doctor being played by an anonymous twitterer would utter something so randomly descriptive.

      Thanks for the compliments and vanity-by-proxy Google search, e3h. If you haven’t read anything by Douglas Adams, do so at the next possible opportunity. Start with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” or “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” You shan’t be disappointed.

  2. I am without speech, CLT.

    Mr. Adams’ contribution (for Mr. Cussler’s profit) is captivating on so many levels, some of which I can’t even reach. (Not even with a stepladder and ten-foot pole, made entirely out of popsicle sticks recycled from my “Unique Abstract Sculptures That Didn’t Quite Make The Creative Cut” gallery.)

    I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for something so profoundly inspiring, not because you don’t always deliver (which you do), but because I had already psyched myself up for “A History of Music Media Vol. 3: The Digital Age… and Beyond!”

    So needless to say, when this wonderment showed up instead, out of nowhere, like a neon orange-faced dive watch protruding from the hand of a hitchhiker headed to that planet “roughly 0.3 AU from Mercury, give or take a few hundred thousand miles,” I needed time to collect my thoughts.

    Seeing as it is impossible to dissect an excerpt that has already been dissected to perfection, all I can say is I need Mr. Adams contact information. The emotions he could possibly evoke by re-writing my entire Reader’s Digest “More Bemusing Than Amazing Stories Of Survival” (thx CLT) collection…well, let’s just say it blows my currently over-evocated mind.

    Two opposable fingers up for you, CLT. And an enormous baraccuda/wolfish hybrid-like smile for Mr. Adams.

    ps. “CLT” + “brilliant” = 8,451 hits

    • Bschooled, thanks for typing out your thoughts as your speech seems somewhat impeded. Also, a huge thank you for making your way thru this post despite your obvious disappointment at not seeing the History of Music Media piece promised days ago by none other than myself and my lazy editors. Rest assured, it is on its way.

      I would love to give you Mr. Adams contact information, but most correspondence would be exceedingly one-way, as he left this world permanently for parts unknown in May of 2001.

      Thanks also for adding to the ridiculous amount of “brillants” (plural for “brilliant”) associated with my handle. Much appreciated, as are the “opposable fingers” which hopefully are thumbs.

  3. Haha, well all I can say is that this is ‘brilliant’…I know it must get tiresome, Richardvillian even, but this is your mantle of suffering (all great artists have this btw).

    If only Eric Lynch could see this!! And honestly man, your mind is a steel trap…literally.

    • Thanks very much, FJ. I have equipped the Mantle of Suffering +4, and taken its attendant status alterations (+2 Charisma; -2 Popularity [Cussler]). It fits like a non-prosecutable glove.

      And I agree: if only the Erics could be here to over-appreciate this and sell me snail-free dog food. Alas. But the night is still young… To the Eukanuba Brand Pet Foods LOLMobile!

  4. I don’t know who this guy is but I love him like a literary brother. And I don’t normally enjoy sci-fi, I get too confused when the author goes into things like voltage, horsepower, engrams and thetans. I just don’t understand what the fuck they’re talking about, no matter how much money I give them. Shit like that almost makes Jonah and the whale, or David the foreskin mercenary seem almost plausible.

    But this guy I like. His verbose style of projectile ass vomiting speech suits me perfectly. And we both share diarrhea (the good kind, but still messy) of the typing fingers.

    I think you should give Cussler a brief reprieve as a reward for having the good sense to hire Adams. I think it’s high time you went after that god damned James Fucking Patterson. What the hell kind of author (and his trained monkeys) puts out 6 books a year? And what really pisses me off is that I always end up reading them.

    • Scott, you would love him. Absolutely. He’s dead though. However his works are still in print.

      Far be it from me to suggest purchasing the whole shooting match (and thus rewarding his heirs, who managed, like most heirs to creative fortunes, to do two things in life: outlive their benefactor, and jackshit), but the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy (which I believe numbers 6 books) is a terrific start.

      He did have a way with words. And quite often, apparently. He taught me (not directly, of course, but rather in an osmosis-thru-repeated-reading sort of way) that the English language is not nearly as boring as your professors would have you believe.

      He also taught me that you can make up your own words, especially if the one you need doesn’t exist. Have fun with prefixes and suffixes. Play role reversal with common adverbs and adjectives. Never worry about run-on sentences.

      He was also the master at combining sublimely absurd comedy with incredible darkness, often within the same paragraph.

      As for giving Cussler a break… I think I sort of am doing that. I will try to limit my introductory slander to no more than two paragraphs. I appreciate the suggestion for abusing James Patterson, but I’m not sure I’m at the point in my life where I can take on two heavily co-authored authors.

      Oh, and if you’re checking out Adams, don’t sweat the sci-fi jargon. He certainly doesn’t. Spaceships run on Improbability Drives. Intergalactic languages are all easily translated via the Babelfish, which fits conveniently in your ear. Hugely popular rock stars spending a year dead for tax purposes. 6 x 9 = 42.

  5. Having read the early Cussler, and finding Dirk to be a bit of the hair of the dog, I can say with total satisfaction the end of Sandecker is indeed a glorious moment. Now if Adam can write the fat guy into a scene where he explodes after eating a gourmet croissant, I will be able to put all his books down and limit myself to the complete works of Ronald Reagan. Pass the Quaaludes.

    • Ah, J5: I see you’ve subjected yourself to FIRE ICE, another boat-related book of which I own an autographed copy. Indeed, seeing Sandecker ripped to shreds (in a clear reversal of Kamprecos’ original text) is satisfying in a very metaphysical sort of way. Between the two versions, Sandecker has become like Schroedinger’s Cat, existing in two states simultaneously.

      Good luck with Reagan’s various tomes. I understand they can be particularly tough to read while under the influence of hindsight.

  6. Oh shit, I have read the first two Hitchhiker’s and loved them. My wife is British after all. Now you’ve reminded me how much I enjoyed them. I can’t believe I forgot the name.

    So long, and thanks for all fish!

  7. I’d imagine you taking offense to this comment, but I’ve often wondered if you have ghost-writers employed at ‘Fancy Plans’ given the high caliber and consistent work delivered and all this Clive stuff was a method deployed for confusion and distraction. Hold on a minute, someone’s knocking on my door with a gun and a CLT, black-ops, leather uniform… BLAM!

    • Sorry to get you out of bed just to shoot you, RR. But we can’t let the secret out or everyone will want a ghostwriter or two to help pad their output.

  8. No problem.

  9. […] is remarkably specific.] […]

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