Flight of the Old Dog
Dale Brown has always put the “techno” in “technothriller”, and his first book, Flight of the Old Dog, sets the formula while being very enjoyable.
This has the usual technothriller cliches of supervillain Soviets and clunky political wrangling. Where it’s slightly different is Brown’s willingness to take a small leap in terms of supertech and his focus largely on just the titular B-52 and its crew.
The rivet-counting and super-detail I knew from Brown’s later work is there and in full bloom. But it doesn’t feel as bad in this installment, because Brown’s experience as a bomber crewman makes the descriptions feel smoother and creating a sense of immediacy.
The big zombie sorceress intervention in this book is the technology. The super B-52, space station, and the Soviet superlaser it targets are all the biggest contrivances. There’s also the “have a small ragtag team of _________ to take it on” effect, but that’s handled pretty well.
The characters aren’t anything to write home about, but the plot, cliche as it is, is brisk and flows quickly. Flight of the Old Dog remains a good example of how to do a superweapon vs. superweapon story right.
The Only Score That Really Matters
Dale Brown’s first book is, in my opinion, his best. It has the super-aircraft action that’s his trademark, but it also avoids most of the excess that his later novels have. In terms of 80s action technothrillers, his debut remains a rightful classic of the genre.