The Red Collusion
David Yaron’s The Red Collusion is a tale of rogue Soviets in 1981 attempting to start World War III, leading to a climax where they attempt to attack an American ballistic missile submarine.
This book is mostly pedestrian but has managed to surprise me in one regard-the sheer number of conference room scenes. The ratio of “people talking” scenes to “people actually doing something” scenes is very, very, high.
It’s realistic to have people talking and arguing about a big plan before they (attempt to) carry it out, but it’s also realistic to have cars stopped at red lights. Imagine a travel book where the author described every single red light, stop sign, and gas station the car stopped at, as well as every single argument the occupants of the car had about where to stop for gas or food. And then in the final action, there’s a time limit-so they urgently, reluctantly, and desperately stop at those traffic lights.
This is the technothriller version of that. Much of the book, apart from a few decently-written if generic spy fiction scenes, consists of the conspirators talking. It amounts to chapter after chapter of…
“Let’s do this.”
(cue long explanation of and preparations for what they want to do.)
“Actually, it would be better if we did this.”
(cue long explanation/plot thread)
“No, we should really do this.“
(you get the idea).
Once they finally get going, the rushed “action” isn’t the worst, but isn’t exactly good either. This leaves the book as a strangely amusing novelty. The Red Collusion is saved from simple mediocrity by taking a genre trope to ridiculous excess. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide if it’s a good or bad thing.