The current Domestic Warrior series by Ryder Stacy is setnone hundred years in the tuture with the United Statesnhaving been occupied by the Red Army and the KGB,nwhile a tiny resistance movement fights underground.nLess given to pessimistic futures, and mildly morencredible, are recent novels of small-squad military action.nThese are also unremittingly, brutally violent. The combatnis covert, the time the present, the scene most often thenThird World. Members of these fighting teams, Able Squadnand The Hard Corps, among others, appear mildly invulnerable.nTheir opponents are not, and die graphically and innhuge numbers. Communist fanatics and terrorists to a man.nThe salient operating characteristics of each weapon used isnlovingly cited. The prose tone is harsh, contemptuous, andnwell informed of death in its more disagreeable forms.nContemporary adventure fiction has fervently embracednthe practice of alternating bursts of action with burstsnof technical and insider information. This emphasis onndetail, particularly technical detail, is not merely to enhancenthe reality of the narrative, for the seeming precision of thisninformation and its aura of exact knowledge is meant tonimpose a measure of order upon the irrationalities andnconfusions of the reader’s present. Indeed, contemporarynadventure fiction employs technical description as an incantationnagainst the instabilities of our current culture.nThe ultimate refinement of this method is found not innthe paperback adventure fiction but in the novels of TomnClancy. Characteristically, his work depicts the complexnreality of the technical system and its impact on the humannworld. That world is, itself, subject to social, psychological,nand emotional protocols (including those laws by whichnhuman activity is organized and directed). The world ofntechnical systems is equally subject to rigorous laws, andnfunctions in parallel with the human worid; but the reality ofnthe physical conditions within an operating system — thenpulses and transients and deep harmonies of the couplednsystems — remains nearly always unseen. By demonstratingnthat invisible interaction, Clancy discloses an additional levelnof reality, deepening and enriching the novel’s effect.nEach of his novels gives an insider’s view of contemporarynproblems and the social mechanisms designed to deal withnthem. Each establishes a central situation to be solved bynplanning and use of specific technology within realisticnconstraints of time, funding, and human ability. His pagesnbrim with devices of advanced technology, described in thenlinguistic shorthand of the insider. His Patriot Gamesn(1987) is a prime example:nOn opening the clipboard he revealed antypewriter-style keyboard and a yellow LiquidnCrystal Diode display. Outwardly it looked like annexpensive clipboard, about an inch thick and boundnin leather. “It’s a Cambridge Datamaster Model-CnField Computer. A friend of mine makes them.nIt has an MC-68000 microprocessor and twonmegabytes of bubble memory . . . [meaning]nthat the memory stores up to two millionncharacters — enough for a whole book—and sincenit uses bubble memory, you don’t lose theninformation when you switch it off.”n18/CHRONICLESnnnIn Patriot Games a radical IRA splinter group targets a CIAnanalyst for assassination. The planning, logistical movement,ntechnical equipment, and emotional stress of both sidesnclimax in a fury of realistic suspense. The Cardinal of thenKremlin (1988) involves a top American spy in the Kremlinnwho has secured information on Russian defenses againstnStar Wars technology. As the KGB closes in on the cardinal,na rescue effort is mounted, again described with richnprecision of detail. In the 1989 novel Clear and PresentnDanger, Colombian drug lords have murdered three U.S.nofficials and a covert team of two hundred men is organizednto plunge into the jungles and perform an interdicting strike.nThe genre’s emphasis on detail, however, is not limited tonthe technological world. At times the subject is the intricateninner workings of powerful organizations, clandestine ornotherwise, such as the Mafia. Recognition of the Mafia as anninternal Empire of Evil began with The Godfather, MarionPuzo’s 1969 novel of social and moral corruption. Thatnsame year saw publication of War Against the Mafia, thenfirst volume of The Executioner series by Don Pendleton.nHere Vietnam veteran Mack Bolan returns from war to findnthat the Mafia has destroyed his family. Bolan begins anone-man battle of vengeance. For 12 years and nearly fortynpaperback books, he has used military hardware and militaryntactics against the Mafia leaders and gunmen, its hiddennfortresses and pleasure palaces. One of the most violent andnsuccessful of adventure paperback series, it continues today.nVariations followed as variations will in the series bookntrade. Not long after the first Bolan adventure came StuartnJason’s series. The Butcher. The hero, a Mafia hit man, quitsnthe organization (which promptly offers a huge reward fornhis death) and becomes a special undercover agent for thenFBI. Thereafter he battles not only the Mafia but terroristsnand others who would subjugate the world, a crescendo ofnmenaces narrated in plain brown prose.nAlthough Mafia and Cold War themes continue to fillnseries books, repetition has slowly dulled their edge. Aroundn1980 a new enemy, terrorism, flashed to prominence. EvennThe Executioner, after nearly forty novels and a dozen years,nturned from slaughtering the Mafia to leading a covertnnational security force. As in volume 39, The New War, hisnmission is to attack terrorism wherever it appears:nThe crazed animals called terrorists would likenus to believe they are motivated by a highernpurpose — religious fervor, patriotism, concern fornthe oppressed, the redressing of old wrongs done toncolonial peoples. But in fact they are no more thanncommon criminals, motivated by a madness fornpower, for self-aggrandizement. They’re ruthless.nAnd dangerous . . . like mad dogs they must beneliminated to protect the rest of the world.nWhile the subject matter of a Tom Clancy novel isnmuch the same as that of the action adventure series,nsignificant differences exist in levels of detail and developmentnof situation and character. In part those differencesnresult from the concentration that is required in paperbacknadventure fiction, which is shorter, offers a simplified reality,nand pares away nearly all else but the action line. As a result,nthe principal characters of a paperback series tend to ben