The Politics of THE DESTROYER

075924085x01_sclzzzzzzz_My friend Warren Murphy clued me in to this National Review article about why his right-wing superspy Remo Williams, aka THE DESTROYER, has become more liberal:

So how does a highly successful 34-year-old book series that was once firmly
grounded in patriotic and good old-fashioned Right-leaning American values end
up listing Left-ward and, at least as a partial consequence, now find itself on
the verge of cancellation? Blame Canada, says series creator Warren Murphy
(co-creator Richard Sapir died in 1987). Since 1994, the once-great series has
been published in Toronto by Gold Eagle, a subsidiary of Harlequin Enterprises,

The novels’ leftward lean began in the 1980s with the death of co-creator Sapir,
which was then followed by the retirement of Murphy from the series. It was at
that point that a ghostwriter was brought aboard who, while prolific (there are
four Destroyers published every year), lacked the conservative
convictions of the original authors. The humor became sophomoric, turning off
many longtime readers, and the political jabs frequently began to strike against
the right.

A publisher of standard guns ‘n’ guts action novels, Gold Eagle has never
been certain what to do with a series that doesn’t conform to the expectations
of the genre. Is The Destroyer action, humor, political and social
satire, mysticism, or science fiction? (At times, it is all of these.) A
hands-off editorial approach has developed which, although conforming to the
dreams of every writer, has allowed too much freedom in several important areas.
One of these areas of freedom — politics — has allowed new writers to undermine
one of the founding principles of the series.

The article goes into far more detail than the excerpt here. It’s well worth reading, particularly for the glimpse into business behind ghost-written series.

7 thoughts on “The Politics of THE DESTROYER”

  1. I used to love the Destroyer series. I haven’t read any of the books in 15 years, but those early Murphy/Sapir stories are absolute gold. I’d read them in two days. It would be neat to go back and read them again. In fact, I think I will! Thank you, Lee, for posting this article.

  2. The article makes some good points but also scores high in weaselry, considering that Mullaney wrote many Destroyer novels, not something that he makes clear.

  3. Maybe we can look forward to a few more ghost written touchy feely lefty revampings of old heroes.
    The Estate of Ian Fleming okays a new slew of Bond books where our hero becomes a muesli munching metrosexual in therapy.
    The much awaited follow-up to Lord of the Rings introduces the UN Council of Elrond where the Orcs, Sauruman, Sauron and Wargs vote against Elvish Imperialism, as they all struggle to just “get along together in a spirit of non-judgemental Middle-Earthish co-opertion.”
    Jack Ryan gives up defending the free world to open a multi-cultural Arts & Crafts Emporium that tolerates all-comers, except conservatives.
    And so on.

  4. Along with what Mr. Askegran says, there’s also some factual problems with what the article states: The Will Murray Destoryer novels were the best selling in the series overall. Murray took shots at anyone who was in power, had solid plots, and built on the mythology of the early novels like a good series fiction writer should. If he were to come back, I would imagine sales of the series would rise again.
    The other problem with the article is that Gold Eagle has had distribution problems for at least the last 5 years, and it’s been harder to find the novels than ever before, as well as their other action series (Executioner, Stony Man, etc…).

  5. You know the National Review has run out of worthwhile topics to occupy its attention when it wastes time with a nonsense piece like this one. And Warren Murphy needs a firm smack on the back of the head for referring to Canada as “Canuckistan.”

  6. Dear Lee,
    I see that one of your faithful got upset because I referred to Canada as the Province of Canuckistan and good manners demands a response.
    First of all, I love Canada. I vacation in Canada. And with the exception of a handful of editors, I have never met a Canadian I didn’t like.
    On the other hand, I have never met a Canadian prime minister or a member of their wondrous kackalooney legislature, and not even that nitwit government functionary who called Americans “bastards” to the roaring approval of the intellectually unwashed.
    Nor have I met any members of the Canadian press, although I am subjected to their work regularly while on vacation. Just this summer, while lounging near the Bay of Fundy and smoking a $9 pack of cigarettes, I recall reading a think piece by one of the resident journalistic brains in which he lamented the unprovoked attacks on western civilization by Islamic radicals. He listed the sites of all their atrocities, including Madrid, and London, and Indonesia, among others. He did not mention the World Trade Center, presumably operating under the notion so prevalent among Canada’s big thinkers that no matter what America gets, we had it coming.
    So I draw a distinction between Canadian citizens whom — except for the draft dodgers welcomed into residence — I truly regard as our “neighbors to the north” and the power elite of Canada whose fixed position seems to be: call on America when we need something; the rest of time, chip away at the USA, thus perhaps endearing ourselves to the benighted and buying peace and security on the cheap.
    Sorry. All you have to do is read the Canadian papers which quite often make the BBC sound like Rush Limbaugh.
    So, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I generally believe it’s a duck. Ditto Canuckistan which sounds just about right to me.
    all best,
    warren murphy


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