Dean Koontz and heroism

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I have a profound interest and unnatural obsession when it comes to all things Dean Koontz. He’s just awesome. His mind is fabulous.

Honestly, if I could trade minds with one person, for just one day… it would definitely be his.

I recently finished reading ‘Icebound’ which was re-released and retitled after a previous novella written by the author, under the pen name of David Axton and initially titled ‘Prison of Ice’.

It was reissued because he was inundated with thousands of requests to bring back into print some of his older works. ‘Prison of Ice’ however was in a much rougher form [apparently], and hence was revised by Koontz and updated according to newer technology and cultural references while still trying to maintain the entire plot line and original feel of the overall story.

I enjoyed it tremendously as it was a refreshing change from his ‘normal’ work, but after reading the “Note to the reader” at the back – it was duly noted that this was because he had wanted to pay homage to a man he deemed as ‘the master of adventure-suspense’, Alistair MacLean, who penned The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and Ice Station Zebra. ‘Icebound’ was written using the genre predominantly used by MacLean to see if he ‘could pull it off’. I would say he succeeded, as it was suspenseful and tense – definitely fast paced and contained heavily detailed information on a number of topics ranging from submarines, polar ice caps and communism. The also thorough portrayal of his characters, accompanied by their ‘indepth’ histories [which I believe is one of Dean’s best tools in immersing the reader into his believable characters and hence almost believing that such ‘devilish’ things could possibly exist].

Upon reaching the end of ‘Icebound’, I was profoundly struck by pages 150-151 and feel that a direct quote is in order to convey this message that obviously only Koontz fanatics will have the pleasure and privilege of reading…

…The theme would definitely be heroism. He had come to see that there were two basic forms of it.  Heroism that was sought, as when a man climbed a mountain or challenged an angry bull in one of Madrid’s rings – because a man had to know his limits, heroism sought was important.  It was far less valuable, however, than heroism unsought.  Harry, Rita and the others had put their lives on the line in their jobs because they believed that what they were doing would contribute to the betterment of the human condition, not because they wanted to test themselves.  Yet, although they would deny it, they were heroes every day of the week.  They were heroes in the way that cops and firemen were heroes, in the way that millions of mothers and fathers were quiet heroes for taking on the ominous responsibilities of supporting families and raising children to be good citizens, the way ministers were heroes to dare talk of God in a world that had come to doubt His existence and to mock those who still believed, the way many teachers were heroes when they went to schools racked by violence and nevertheless tried to teach kids what they would need to know to survive in a world that had no mercy for the uneducated. The first brand of heroism – heroism sought – had a distinct quality of selfishness, but heroism unsought, was selfless.  Brian understood now that it was this unsought heroism, not the tinsel glory of either politics or bullrings, that was the truest courage and the deepest virtue.  When he had finished writing the book, when he had worked out all his thoughts on the subject, he would be ready to begin his adult life at last.  And he was determined that quiet heroism would be the theme…

 

You’ve got to love it. How profoundly true is that.

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