Reader Daniel Kibblesmith requested this item about how I’d treat an expanded universe from Robert Ludlum’s espionage novels. Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m about responding to you readers. I had sprinkled my reviews of Robert Ludlum’s Top Seven Novels with observations of what I would have liked to see in terms of offshoots or spin-off stories. So, since Expanded Universes are becoming all the rage in recent decades here’s an outline of my fan fiction-style view of an Expanded Robert Ludlum Universe.
I. BEOWULF AGATE – Series of short stories or a made for cable series. The tales would be set from the 1950s to late 1970s, ending just before the events in The Matarese Circle. Ludlum’s fictional intelligence organization Consular Operations would take center stage.
Brandon Scofield, codename Beowulf Agate, one of the main characters of The Matarese Circle, would be shown pulling off his highest level defections from the Soviet Union in his best “Cold War version of the Scarlet Pimpernel” style. Every so often he would clash with his archenemy – KGB Agent Vasili Taleniekov. To up the suspense level sometimes Taleniekov would win their clashes.
II. OPERATION: MEDUSA – Another series of short stories or a made for cable series. Ludlum’s Operation: Medusa was his fictional version of the Vietnam War’s real-life Phoenix Project. Operation: Medusa was the top-secret, paramilitary Black Operations outfit in which David Webb aka Jason Bourne got his first covert experience.
Officially disavowed by the U.S. government, Medusans spent the final few years of the Vietnam War pulling off assassinations, abducting and torturing information out of North Vietnamese movers and shakers, committing acts of sabotage AND facilitating escapes from POW camps. David Webb, his brother Gordon, D’Anjou (Codename: Echo), Alexander Conklin and “The Monk” himself, David Abbot would be the main characters but we would meet new Medusans, too.
Moral ambiguity would be the theme, with Spaghetti Western levels of violence and brutality, but with a Vietnam War setting.
III. ANVIL – This series would be set in the alternate, dystopian future set forth at the end of The Holcroft Covenant, in which Johann Von Tiebolt’s Fourth Reich rules the world through their “new” U.N. – the fascist organization called Anvil.
Noel Holcroft, Helden Von Tiebolt (Johann’s anti-Nazi sister) and Yakov Ben-Gadiz, the survivors of the original novel, are running a covert rebel organization, which we’ll call Hammer just to make it an obvious counterpart to Anvil. A radioactive wasteland where Israel, Syria and Lebanon used to be is just one example of the kind of dark world in store.
IV. GROUP TWENTY – From Ludlum’s very first novel, The Scarlatti Inheritance, Group Twenty was a fictional government agency charged with investigating financial hanky-panky and POTENTIAL financial hanky-panky during the Roaring Twenties.
Michael Canfield, one of the main characters in The Scarlatti Inheritance, would be chronicled as he conducts his “Film Noir Gumshoe But In The 1920s” investigations. He and other Group Twenty figures that we meet would experience assorted levels of frustration while they swim upstream against governmental and corporate corruption. Needless to say they’d also clash with growing organized crime outfits thriving under Prohibition.
CONS OP – This series would be set in the present-day. As Brandon Scofield’s facilitations of defections in Consular Operations (Cons Op) took place in Europe and the Soviet Union, Cons Op would feature Asian-American Consular Operations agents – male and female – pulling off high-level defections from China, Vietnam and North Korea.
CONS OP: APOCALYPSE WATCH – In the tradition of the many Law & Order and CSI shows Cons Op would have its own spinoffs. This series would use only the title of Ludlum’s Apocalypse Watch, since I was bored with the neo-Nazi villains in that novel.
Instead of Cons Op vs Nazis I would have this series set amid the years in which the former Soviet nations were all breaking away. With defections now less crucial than trying to keep track of the assorted Soviet nukes and other WMDs during those chaotic years, the main priority for Consular Operations in Europe would be preventing them from being used or even just falling into the hands of the emerging Russian crimelords, many of whom used to be in the KGB.
CONS OP: KHALELA – This Cons Op spinoff would be set in the Middle East during the 1980s. The lead would be Ludlum’s female Middle Eastern agent from The Icarus Agenda.
This series would deal with her actions both as a U.S. operative facilitating defections from assorted Middle Eastern nations AND as a Free Agent pursuing her own secret agendas. Audiences would often be left guessing if Khalela was serving as a heroine or a villainess from story to story.
THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION – Mini-series or one-off movie version of Robert Ludlum’s prescient look at Zuckerbergian techno-fascists working with repressive governments to bring on a global dictatorship.
The hero of the novel was a former Cons Op agent and one of the main villains was the latest figure serving as Genesis, the leader of the sinister oligarchs of Inver Brass.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE TOP SEVEN ROBERT LUDLUM NOVELS CLICK HERE
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