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Stone and Silt
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Big Al's Books & Pals 2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Young Adult Nominee

A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

Author Topic: Technothriller versus Thriller  (Read 495 times)  

Offline baldricko

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Technothriller versus Thriller
« on: November 13, 2017, 06:41:25 PM »
Two questions. One for those who read technothrillers and one for those who write. I am sure though authors of a genre typically read books of the same.

For those who like to read technothrillers. What for you sets them apart from thrillers, the addition of hard science, or science fiction, or what?

For those who like to write technothrillers. Why not simply call them thrillers? Wouldn't there be a wider market with the less specific 'thrillers'? Okay, that's two questions I snuck in there.

I am beginning to think I should just call my SF novels, Science Fiction Thrillers.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 07:32:05 PM »
I don't write technothrillers, but I've read a few (although I wouldn't say I'm a avid technothriller reader).

What probably sets technothrillers apart is the use of technology as a central plot device. Instead of the thrills coming from a bank heist, they come from a swarm of nanobots (eg Prey by Michael Critchton). I'd say they also "fetishize" technology to an extent, basically meaning that the readers are really into technology and they like getting all the cool details that might not be so relevant to other readers.

As for just calling them thrillers... sure, it's a wider market, but if you're putting technology front and centre in your book, a lot of thriller readers may be turned off. Someone who loves historical thrillers or police procedurals may not care for techno-thrillers (of course they may be equally happy to read one - it's not like comparing science fiction and historical romance).


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Offline Abalone

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 09:14:48 PM »
Technothriller would be along the lines of someone like Snowden, to a point, or better yet, the show Person of Interest.

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 04:39:55 AM »
Technothriller would be along the lines of someone like Snowden, to a point, or better yet, the show Person of Interest.
This.

In Body Rentals (my technothriller series of short stories), the "techno" is the addition of the device that allows the villains to swap bodies, and ultimately steal the protagonists' identities. I would say that the technology has to be a character unto itself for it to be a technothriller, and not just a scifi thriller.

Offline Saul Tanpepper

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 08:48:26 AM »
For those who like to write technothrillers. Why not simply call them thrillers? Wouldn't there be a wider market with the less specific 'thrillers'?

Accurate targeting of the market is vitally important, especially early on in a book's life cycle. Going broad with a technothriller may get you more sales initially, but a lot of traditional thriller readers may not want the "techno" part and so you risk poor reviews, which can cripple a launch. This doesn't mean one has to limit a book to the technothriller category. I prefer to target more broadly, but I make it clear in my product descriptions that the reader should expect to find a fair amount of scifi.
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Offline baldricko

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 12:33:41 PM »
Interesting. I think we all shoot for various categories to see which ones our books work best in, particularly if we mix genres. And really in SF who doesn't to some degree mix genres?

For a while there Amazon was running a test ranking where they had a 'Readers rank this book 35,000 in Science Fiction' and one for Technothriller and so on, depending what categories you were running it under. This was definitely helpful to the author. A pity they still don't do that, or at least supply similar to the author, perhaps among the Report data.

I like the idea that the genre is strong enough to appear as a character. But what about those of us who don't write to a specific genre?

In my book, the techno side in my trilogy is particularly strong because it underpins the grand conspiracy based as it is on hidden technological marvels well ahead of most people understand.

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Offline Rachel W

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 01:04:22 PM »
I think it's a bit of a grey area - I originally marketed my book as a thriller, but so many reviewers labelled it a 'Cyberthriller' that I changed both the sub-title and the keywords to reflect that.  The story is based around hacking but I never thought of it as a techno-thriller, and I am certainly not an expert in computer hacking and I wrote the hacking scenes so that they would be understood by non-geeks (i hope - there is a hacking scene in the 'look inside' on page 22 if anyone cares to look and comment).

Offline baldricko

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 02:01:17 PM »
I think it's a bit of a grey area - I originally marketed my book as a thriller, but so many reviewers labelled it a 'Cyberthriller' that I changed both the sub-title and the keywords to reflect that.  The story is based around hacking but I never thought of it as a techno-thriller, and I am certainly not an expert in computer hacking and I wrote the hacking scenes so that they would be understood by non-geeks (i hope - there is a hacking scene in the 'look inside' on page 22 if anyone cares to look and comment).
I agree. It's definitely a grey area. BTW It's a good start to your thriller and the series sounds interesting. I read the sample.

Fact check on two points in that opener though. Acid usually fumes like hell in a reaction. Hydrochloric acid fumes can kill, and especially so if the killer takes a shower at the same time she disposes of the clothes in the acid bath, and especially if the chapter is set in the confined space of an apartment. I would suggest including a bit about ventilation since you are going for realism here.

Reconsider also the killer using hydrochloric acid in the plastic container. I think you mean hydrofluoric acid.

---you can get fact obsessed reviewers making such points on the book page.

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Offline Rachel W

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 02:14:55 PM »
I agree. It's definitely a grey area. BTW It's a good start to your thriller and the series sounds interesting. I read the sample.

Fact check on two points in that opener though. Acid usually fumes like hell in a reaction. Hydrochloric acid fumes can kill, and especially so if the killer takes a shower at the same time she disposes of the clothes in the acid bath, and especially if the chapter is set in the confined space of an apartment. I would suggest including a bit about ventilation since you are going for realism here.

Reconsider also the killer using hydrochloric acid in the plastic container. I think you mean hydrofluoric acid.

---you can get fact obsessed reviewers making such points on the book page.
Very good point about the acid and I'm surprised no-one else picked that up.  I did actually mean hydrochloric acid (the stuff in your stomach? - My father used to mix it with aluminum milk bottle caps to make hydrogen filled balloons when we were kids!!  And yes we played with them inside, and no we didn't have a fire alarm!   (it was the 70's)).  Acid doesn't dissolve plastic does it? (aka breaking bad - not very robust research but I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere else!!).  In the story she uses the acid in a plastic container in the kitchen so maybe turning on the extractor fan would cover that issue although in real life it probably wouldn't be strong enough. 

Offline baldricko

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 06:09:06 PM »
Very good point about the acid and I'm surprised no-one else picked that up.  I did actually mean hydrochloric acid (the stuff in your stomach? - My father used to mix it with aluminum milk bottle caps to make hydrogen filled balloons when we were kids!!  And yes we played with them inside, and no we didn't have a fire alarm!   (it was the 70's)).  Acid doesn't dissolve plastic does it? (aka breaking bad - not very robust research but I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere else!!).  In the story she uses the acid in a plastic container in the kitchen so maybe turning on the extractor fan would cover that issue although in real life it probably wouldn't be strong enough.

That was hydrofluoric acid on breaking bad I heard, and it's nasty nasty on the scale of acid nastiness if you get splashed. So on reflection maybe not. I think Breaking Bad writers just thought it sounded right.

But showing she's a pro I thought you'd want to have it precise and some plastics don't do well with hydrochloric acid at all.

Here's a goodie (gotta be an author of thrillers to have a conversation like this), potassium hydroxide (KOH). Mixed with water its pretty damn good at dissolving fabrics and lots of things. The crystals can be carried in plastics... For what it's worth KOH is used in Green Cremations.

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Offline DarkScribe

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 08:18:47 PM »
Technothriller would be along the lines of someone like Snowden, to a point, or better yet, the show Person of Interest.

Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather is an example of a true Techno Thriller. Currently with more than 7000 mostly positive reviews. About to become a movie. Free if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle unlimited.  Well worth a look.

Offline Felix R. Savage

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 09:55:56 PM »
"Thriller" is too broad. I call my first contact series, Earth's Last Gambit, "technothrillers" because the books are largely about building and operating spaceships with real technology, whilst being driven by thriller-style plots. Several reviewers have said things like "yeah these really are technothrillers!" and I figure they're responding to the heavy science quotient. If a book is NOT heavy on the science the technothriller label would be misapplied IMO.

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Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 11:58:11 PM »
These days, the more you can accurately target your niche category the better, so if you qualify as a technothriller that's a plus, whereas just "thriller" puts you in an enormous pool of titles.
As a reader I hate wading through technical stuff that ultimately has no bearing on the narrative, it's just geeky stuff. But plenty of readers like it and if you can target them...

It's a bit like all the geneological detail in Lord of the Rings. The first time I read it, I assumed it was all necessary info to know... definitely skipped it during subsequent reads. Tom Clancy is another. His early military books were fascinating in detail, but a later title (can't remember name) about building a suitcase nuclear bomb was mind-numbing - and deliberately incorrect anyway!
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Offline baldricko

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Re: Technothriller versus Thriller
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2017, 02:08:10 AM »
"Thriller" is too broad. I call my first contact series, Earth's Last Gambit, "technothrillers" because the books are largely about building and operating spaceships with real technology, whilst being driven by thriller-style plots. Several reviewers have said things like "yeah these really are technothrillers!" and I figure they're responding to the heavy science quotient. If a book is NOT heavy on the science the technothriller label would be misapplied IMO.

Hard Science Fiction? Isn't that what you mean?

It's tricky using 'heavy on the science' as the defining quality for technothriller. Technothrillers began with Tom Clancy didn't they? I think he was mostly heavy on military machinery and terminology. But might be wrong about that.

I am of the mind what I write are really Science Thrillers. But I don't know this is a sexy genre in the mad field of narrow genres indies find themselves in. So, I call my SF books (thatI have released so far) technothrillers. But I'm not all that comfortable being slotted between Tom Clancy novels and stories specifically about battling star ships and battling gigantic robots and cyberpunks.

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