Saturday, December 27, 2008

Alistair MacLean spin-offs cover gallery

Following on from the Alistair MacLean gallery, the following covers a number of novels credited to MacLean and various collaborators, although as with most of these kind of "collaborations", MacLean's involvement went no further than writing an outline.

The main series featured the United Nations Anti-Crime Organization, created by the United Nations to tackle international crime. The series was originally developed for television and the first story extensively outlined under the title Air Force One is Down, about the President's Boeing being hijacked by terrorists. In 1978, scriptwriter Burt Nodella was dispatched to the south of France to work with MacLean. The two developed the idea of UNACO and came up with six or eight storylines. Another story, rather than the Air Force One tale, was thought better to introduce the series, and Hostage Tower (the tower being the Eiffel Tower), starring Peter Fonda and Maud Adams, was the first TV movie put into development, filmed in Paris and broadcast in the USA by CBS in May 1980.

Although reasonably entertaining, the series was not picked up by CBS and no further films appeared until Death Train, starring Pierce Brosnan and Alexandra Paul, was broadcast in April 1993, followed by Night Watch in October 1995 (a month ahead of the release of GoldenEye, Brosnan's debut as James Bond).

Back in 1980, Hostage Tower had been novelised by John Denis. Denis was the pseudonym of John Edwards and Denis Frost (not, as stated elsewhere, John Edward Muckle, who used the name John Edwards as a pen-name) who had then recently penned a thriller (with a MacLean-like oil rig setting), The Moscow Horse. Although a second film did not appear, the outline for Air Force One is Down was also expanded by 'John Denis' into a novel.

MacLean is said to have been embarrassed by correspondence from readers who accused him of misleading his followers and would not allow any further titles to be produced during his lifetime.

It did not, however, stop the rumours that some of his later novels were ghosted for him. For example, Ian Hamilton, writing in The Observer in 1995, said: "In his last sozzled years he employed ghost writers to flesh out his plot-outlines." I've not found any evidence that MacLean used ghosts for the novels that appeared under his own name and the rumours may have derived from the two early UNACO novels, which were clearly identified as being "written by John Denis".

Following MacLean's death, the UNACO series was relaunched with Alastair MacNeill writing the novels. HarperCollins were taken to court in 1991, charged with five offences under the Trades Description Act regarding the novels Death Train and Night Watch. The prosecutor in the case said that "these books were commonly displayed in the same section as Alistair MacLean's novels in bookshops. They were so designed as to mislead buyers looking for Alistair MacLean books."

Although MacNeill's name only appeared in much smaller lettering at the bottom of the cover, the magistrates accepted that "there was no intention of misleading by the company, but there is a duty of care on publishers to ensure the public are not misled." From the third novel, MacNeill's name was printed equal size to MacLean, if not larger.

With no further outlines to develop, MacNeill based his next novel on a short story by MacLean for Rendezvous, after which MacNeill went his own way to write novels of his own. This was not the end of the UNACO series as HarperCollins had author Hugh Miller pen two further original novels.

A second series developed from an Alistair MacLean movie outline. MacLean had written The Golden Girl to be the basis of a movie or television series in the 1970s. When MacLean divorced his second wife, she had been granted the rights to the script but had failed to make any headway with it. The rights were bought back by MacLean's estate in 1989 and a series of five novels was written by Simon Gandolfi. (Gandolfi has his own blog with details about his latest novel.)

Sam Llewellyn, the last author to write a MacLean spin-off to date, was an already established writer of thrillers. In 1996, Storm Force from Navarone picked up the story of the three survivors from Force 10 From Navarone as they were sent on a perilous mission to the Pyrenees. Oddly, the novel doesn't get a mention on Llewellyn's website.

UNACO series

Hostage Tower by John Denis (London, Fontana, 1980; New York, Fawcett Books, May 1983)
Fontana 0-00616984-0, Jul 1980.
---- [8th imp.] Apr 1984, 191pp, £1.50. Cover: still.

Air Force One is Down by John Denis (London, Fontana, 1981; New York, Fawcett Books, Feb 1984)
Fontana 0006-16335-1, Aug 1981.
---- [7th imp.] May 1990, 224pp, £2.99.

Death Train by Alastair MacNeill (London, Collins, Jan 1989; New York, Fawcett, Dec 1989)
Fontana 0-00617650-X, 1989. Cover by Kevin Tweddell

Night Watch by Alastair MacNeill (London, Collins, Dec 1989; New York, Fawcett, Mar 1990)
Fontana 0-00617743-3, Dec 1990. Cover by Kevin Tweddell?

Red Alert by Alastair MacNeill (London, Collins, Dec 1990; South Yarmouth, Mass, Curley, Aug 1992)
Fontana 0-00617849-9, Dec 1991. Cover by Kevin Tweddell?

Time of the Assassins by Alastair MacNeill (London, HarperCollins, Dec 1991)
Fontana 0-00647006-8, Dec 1992. Cover by Kevin Tweddell

Dead Halt by Alastair MacNeill (London, HarperCollins, Dec 1992)
Fontana 0-00647310-5, Dec 1993. Cover by Kevin Tweddell?

Code Breaker by Alastair MacNeill (London, HarperCollins, Dec 1993)
HarperCollins 0-00647622-8, Dec 1994. Cover by Kevin Tweddell?
HarperCollins 0-06100984-9, Nov 1996.

Prime Target by Hugh Miller (London, HarperCollins, Dec 1996)
HarperCollins 0-00649934-1, Dec 1997. Cover by Chris Moore

Borrowed Time by Hugh Miller (London, HarperCollins, Dec 1997)
HarperCollins 0-00649933-3, Nov 1998. Cover by Chris Moore


Golden Girl by Simon Gandolfi
(London, Chapmans, Jul 1992)
Orion 1-85797148-5, Sep 1993.

Golden Web by Simon Gandolfi
(London, Chapmans, Sep 1993)
Orion 1-85795429-8, Apr 1994.
Orion 1-85797511-1, 1994.

Golden Vengeance by Simon Gandolfi
(London, Chapmans, Nov 1994)
Orion 1857-97524-3, Oct 1994.

White Sands by Simon Gandolfi
(London, 1995)
Orion 0752-80372-7, 1996, 311pp.

Aftermath by Simon Gandolfi
Orion 0752-83753-2, 2000, 465pp.


Rendezvous by Alastair MacNeill
(London, HarperCollins, Dec 1995)
HarperCollins 0-00647623-6, Nov 1996.

Storm Force from Navarone by Sam Llewellyn
HarperCollins 0-00649625-3, 1996. Cover by Chris Moore

1 comment:

  1. Will there ever be a writer that writes a 'new Alistair Maclean'? Or has the world moved on and is MacLean a relic of the past?



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