Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Tom Chaney: Ice Cold Thriller
Of Writers And Their Books: Ice Cold Thriller. Tom declares, if a land based novel can have swashbuckling, then Athabasca buckles swash to a fare the well. This column first appeared 19 July 2009.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Chicken Necks and Gizzards
By Tom Chaney
Ice Cold Thriller
Every now and again I run across a book by an author with whom I was once familiar, and whom I liked once, but neglected, only to find he is now dead.
Such effrontery for a man to shuffle off his mortal coil (Shakespeare, by the way) 'ere I am finished with him.
Faulkner did that to me. So did Hemmingway. I regarded their leave taking as a personal affront. At least their going was marked by enough fanfare to cause me to take note.
Others, such as John D. MacDonald, snuck away, silently slithering off an unlit way to dusky death (Shakespeare again -- how erudite!) without my being aware. Eternally I hoped for another book in vain.
Such is the case of Alistair MacLean.
I enjoyed his far north adventures -- Ice Station Zebra (1963); his war thrillers -- The Guns of Navarone (1957) and Where Eagles Dare (1967); and his sea stories -- H.M.S. Ulysses (1955) and The Lonely Sea (1985).
And a slew of fine actors romped across the movie screen bringing those thrillers to life -- Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, and Charles Bronson, to name a few.
MacLean, who died in 1987, was born in Scotland in 1922. According to one biographical essay, English was his second language. At home the family spoke the Scots language -- no English allowed.
He enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1941 and served in a variety of fleets. Much of the time he was on the Russian convoy routes. Thus he gained experience which served him well in his novels.
Following the war MacLean took an English Honors degree and taught for a while before devoting himself to writing.
Producer Carl Foreman bought the screen rights to his second book, The Guns of Navarone. Foreman observed MacLean's "gift for keeping his audience enthralled by the pace and drive of his tale."
That pace and drive is certainly true of the novel I picked up the other day. Athabasca (1980) is filled with "Adventure, sabotage and murder in the unforgiving Arctic environment."
Set in the tar sand fields of Canada and the oil fields of Alaska, Athabasca roars to life when the operator of an oil company in Prudhoe Bay receives an anonymous threat of sabotage.
Jim Brady Enterprises is called in to investigate, and Dermott and Mackenzie arrive on the scene. No progress is made. The operator is killed. A pump station is damaged. Bodies pile up.
Damage is done to the oil sand fields in Canada. Murder by gun and by cold holds sway.
The Mounties and the FBI arrive. Internal sabotage is suspected. This is proved to be the case, but other evil forces are at work as well.
If a land based novel can have swashbuckling, then Athabasca buckles swash to a fare the well.
Where the novels of Alistair MacLean differ from those of, say, Ian Fleming is in the absence of, or at least the down playing of, the romantic interests. A couple of women are kidnapped in Athabasca, but the plot does not hinge on that kidnapping.
In fact, the movie makers have performed romance enhancements on MacLean's tales when they are translated into movie-ese.
But for a fine, fast paced adventure, check out his tales. Good summer reading from the frozen north.
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney
This story was posted on 2014-07-20 06:31:40
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney: Chicken Necks and Gizzards
Tom Chaney: Not As Seen By God Looking Down
Tom Chaney: Kudzu and Thistles
Tom Chaney: A Lincoln Friendship Transformed
Tom Chaney: A Snell Wind and Occasional Smirr
Tom Chaney: 1876
Tom Chaney: What we need is here
Tom Chaney: So Open to Infinity
Tom Chaney: Robert B. Parker Yet Again
Tom Chaney: A Frisky Little River
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Click for Info
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
Columbia in the Movies
from the archives of
Click for Stories
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.