What is a techno-thriller anyway?

Puppet Master is a “techno-thriller” – but what is that exactly? What is the genre that has been said to include everyone from Tom Clancy to Jim DeFelice?

Technos are most often compared to either science fiction or military-adventure. While my work almost always blurs differences – I love nothing better than genre hopping – even I observe differences.

To sci-fi: While Puppet Master is big on techno – robots, AI, that sort of thing – it’s set in the present/very near future, which is one of the things that separates techno-thrillers from science fiction. Themes for technos tend to be chosen from recognizable present-day situations; if that happens in sci-fi, they’re usually transmuted into unfamiliar settings. Technos take the present and burrow in; sci-fi takes it and goes outward.

To military: A lot of technos – Clancy is the prime example – involve combat and the military: it’s a good way to show off the tech. But there are plenty that aren’t – many of Michael Crichton’s works are technos, with nary a soldier in sight. And there’s this – in a techno, the tech is generally one of the main characters; it’s hard to imagine the book without it. It pushes along the plot, and in some ways has its own personality. That doesn’t happen in traditional military-adventure.

But really the best way to define the genre is to read. I’d start with Dale’s books – Flight of the Old Dog is a classic, but you can hop in anywhere.

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