QSP Forum

Favorite "Thoughts"

Penny Fielding

I know I speak for many others in recording my thanks to Rick for keeping us informed, amused and challenged by his "Thoughts of the Day."  And I'd like to take this opportunity to say publicly what I've been telling him off-list for months:  it's through his generosity and inspiration that the Quiller world can meet on the Quiller Scholar's Page to share our specializations and further our understanding of our favorite author.

Rick has kindly given me the chance to pick five of my favorite "Thoughts."  To use a favorite Quillerism of mine, no one will be shooting down the chandeliers with amazement to learn that this was no easy task, but I finally whittled them down.  I've tried to spread them over the novels and to choose them for their representative quality as well as their personal appeal.  Here they are; I know everyone will enjoy them as much as I do.

  "Who's Hunting Who Here?"  [The Sinkiang Executive]

I have a personal interest in this "Thought" because it confirmed in my mind that The Sinkiang Executive can be read as a stunning modernist novel (and it gave rise to a lot of thoughts of my own).  Rick really brings out the strangeness and resonance of this text, Quiller's relationship with Kirinski being a good example.  I also like the way Rick assumes that a text's being thought of as popular culture is no bar on anyone's pointing to the intelligence of the writing.

  "Silence"  [The Sinkiang Executive]

Sinkiang is such a good novel that I've chosen a second "Thought" which shows just how complex its construction is.  Rick's extended meditation on the concept of silence brings out the novel's wonderful lyrical quality as well as the subtleties of its metaphoric power.  It was a toss-up between this one and the excellent "Mirror Images" from Quiller KGB [05/13] which is a similarly acute reading of the window-ledge scene.

  "Unidimensional Q"  [Quiller's Run]

I chose this one as a representative of the way Rick helps me formulate my suspicion that Q is actually a real person who might be that guy on the other side of the plane, or the person in the car behind me!  You can't read Adam Hall for as long as I have, and not think of Q as an old friend, quirky, irritating at times, dangerous at others, but one with whom a long familiarity has built up.  Here I think Rick carries to perfection that uncanny feeling that Q is both possessed of competencies to which we could never aspire, and drives which we don't share, and yet also someone we know intimately.

  "Karasov the Invisible"  [Northlight]

Northlight is my favorite novel, but I thought I'd got the measure of all its complex and haunting qualities...until I read this.  Rick brings out each telling detail in the way Hall represents Q's interaction with even a minor character to construct not only a sense of the moment, but also a more general speculation on identity.  We also get a feeling for the way Hall can handle so many elements within a scene without ever letting go of the narrative drive.

  "Croder's Status and the Bureau Hierarchy"  [The Scorpion Signal]

Regular TOTD readers will know Rick's vexed relationship with Croder!  This post starts the whole thing off and it's also a good example of the way he brings to bear on the Q-orpus his professional skills in the study how organizations function.  As someone whose reading skills are not very adept in understanding these larger pictures, I always find Rick's "Thoughts" on this topic a great resource.

Well, I'm conscious of how many I had to leave out!  Even the titles give me a buzz when they show up during my working day!  Remember "Fane!  I want to live for ever!"?  But you know where the Quiller Q-alendar is, so everyone can pick his or her own!