Clive Cussler Writing Styles in Cyclops

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This section contains 1,613 words
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Point of View

The story, Cyclops by Clive Cussler is a limited omniscient third person point of view, with multiple narrators. The main protagonist, Dirk Pitt, is not in every scene, and in order for the story to move forward the reader is actually given information that Pitt does not have. This is a traditional story-telling technique that actually increases the sense of crisis and suspense. Each chapter has several scenes that often take place at exactly the same time, just in different parts of the world or different parts of the universe. The entire story takes place in four short weeks, and the survival of the world as it is hangs in the balance for much of that time. The reader is part of the story, experiencing it exactly as each event unfolds. Because this is a plot-driven story, there is minimal intrusion into the thoughts and ideas of the characters.

The story begins in 1918 with a single night in history where a Navy Collier experiences an encounter with a rogue wave that engulfs the ship and her secrets. One of her secrets is able to stand the test of time, the La Dorada, the golden woman. She is a treasure of untold value, and treasure hunters have searched long and hard for her. Dirk Pitt is brought into the story entirely by accident. He simply is in the right place at the right time, and is unable to turn down the invitation. He continues to assist, believing that he is looking for the wreckage of the Cyclops and the treasure, La Dorada. He is not aware that he is deeply embroiled in subterfuge and espionage that is so covert that only a handful of people really know what is going on.

Russia is the main antagonist, personified by General Velikov. The U.S. is the main protagonist, personified by Dirk Pitt. Russia and the U.S. vie for both the moon and Cuba. Russia attempting to take both by force. The U.S. has a colony on the moon, but a colony so secret that only the Inner Core know of its existence. Not even the President of the United States is aware of its existence. The U.S. also has no desire to rule Cuba, but is interested in opening talks toward a peace treaty between the two countries. As is typical with Cussler's novels, he has an enormous cast of characters and keeping track of them all is a challenge. As for which side they are on, that is not quite an easy task either. On a large scale, it is the U.S. against Russia, but it is also the U.S. government against the Inner Core as well.


Cyclops begins on the open ocean and three thirty in the morning in 1918. The Navy Collier is bound from Rio de Janiero to Baltimore, Maryland. Aboard is a treasure beyond measure as well as some secret passengers. The ship sinks off the coast of Cuba and her story remains a ghost of a story until the Prosperteer shows up in the Bahamas, manned by three corpses. In this way, Cussler brings the story to 1989 with all the difficulties of world politics completely exposed.

The story moves around from the Bahamas to Washington, D.C.; from Kazakhstan, USSR to the surface of the moon; from the bottom of the ocean to the countryside and harbors of Cuba. Pitt enters the story in the Bahamas when his board-surfing marathon is interrupted by the flight of an out of control blimp. He returns to his home in Washington and is invited to meet with Jessie LeBaron, Raymond LeBaron's rich widow at her expensive home. Jessie's treatment of Pitt is a personal affront to the man, and it takes quite a bit of convincing to get Pitt to help Jessie look for her husband by going over the last known route of the Prosperteer, just off the coast of Cuba. A hurricane and unfriendly fire from Cuban military helicopter and boat knock the Prosperteer out of the air and Pitt and crew end up on the bottom of the ocean. This is not a problem for skilled scuba divers, and as luck would have it, they are right over the Cyclops. La Dorada is not there.

Back on the surface, fighting the hurricane, the four make their way to an island that turns out to be the most secret Soviet military installation outside of the USSR. Once on the island, General Velikov is determined to keep his guests, torturing them for information, then promising to kill them. Pitt has no desire for this end, and escapes back to the United States where he joins forces with a military unit and leads them back to the island just off the coast of Cuba. While all this is happening on the earth, the colonists on the moon in the secret Jersey Colony are fighting a Soviet attack from Selenos 8. Russia wants the colony on the moon, but are overcome. Repeatedly, the Soviets try to gain the upper hand. They lost the moon, so they want the Gettysburg. When they lose the Gettysburg, they want Cuba. Once they lose Cuba, it looks as though the unthinkable will happen; peace talks between Cuba and the United States will open.

Language and Meaning

The language of Cyclops depends very much on who is speaking. When it is an American, the language is clearly American. The nature of Americans is one of independence, and this is demonstrated throughout the story when individuals are given a task and often they do not obey. For example, when the moon colony is warned of a possible Russian invasion and that they should prepare for battle, the colonists are unwilling to shoot unarmed scientists. Then, when the danger becomes more clear and urgent, the President asks them to just give up the colony and avoid bloodshed. Again, the colonists ignore the request.

When the pilot of the space shuttle is bringing Gettysburg back to earth he realizes that they are off course. Even though the people he has been trained to trust implicitly tell him that everything is fine, he ignores their assurances. He thinks for himself, and decides to take control of the spacecraft. Because he is an independent thinker, the Russians did not get their hands on the treasure trove of information that the Gettysburg carries. Major Gus Hollyman is ordered to shoot down the Gettysburg to prevent the Russians from taking control of her and obtaining all the space age secrets of the United States. Because he doubts the validity of the order and wishes not to be remembered as the executioner of the Gettysburg, he delays shooting for a moment. That brief moment is long enough to save the lives of all the astronauts.

Americans are outspoken, sarcastic, optimistic, and independent thinkers. When the Russians are portrayed, their language is stiff, formal, and almost antiquated. They think what they are ordered to think, and expect the Americans to do the same. Comparing the two countries by comparing their people is an interesting exercise.


The novel, Cyclops, consists of eighty chapters and a prologue and is divided into five parts. Part I, The Prosperteer, deals with the blimp by that name owned by financier Raymond LeBaron. He evidently took off from the Florida Keys in order to locate the wreckage of the Cyclops, a Navy collier that sank off the coast of Cuba in 1918. Rumored to be aboard the Cyclops is one of the greatest treasures ever created by man, La Dorada, the golden woman. Raymond LeBaron and his crew disappear and the Prosperteer reappears with three dead men aboard who really are Russian Cosmonauts.

Part II deals with the Cyclops and the search for her. The search is really a cover for Jessie LeBaron to get close to Fidel Castro, but no one else on board the blimp is aware of this. When they are all captured on Cayo Santa Maria, they are tortured by General Velikov's orders because he suspects that Castro is in communication with the United States. Because no one but Jessie is aware of the truth of this, no one gives up any information.

Part III deals with Selenos 8, and the Russian desire to take control of the moon colony. They have found evidence that there are men on the moon, and because they believe that the colonists have shot down their cosmonauts, they believe that they are justified in going up to the moon armed for battle. Part IV handles all the portion of the story that is involved with the Gettysburg, the space shuttle that is to bring all of the lunar colonists home. Again, the Russians make a play to take control of the shuttle and everything on board by forcing the spacecraft to land in Cuba. Everything is taken down to the very last second, but the Gettysburg lands safely on American Soil. Part V is entitled the Amy Bigelow, one of the Rum and Cola Operations ships. She is loaded with 25,000 tons of fertilizer, enough to create a tremendous bomb. The Russians intend to use the Amy to start a series of explosions designed to devastate Havana, kill most of her people, assassinate Fidel and Raul Castro so that they can replace Castro's regime with one of a more Soviet friendly influence. Then Part VI handles the treasure that was part of the very beginning of the story. La Dorada is found, off the coast of Cuba, where the Maine sank, a ship whose sinking started the Spanish American War. The entire book has come full circle.

This section contains 1,613 words
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