Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Random thought on technological progress

The classical thriller authors of the past loved to put people into an isolated position, then do terrifying things to them as they were entirely cut off from the world. Cutting the telephone lines was almost the first thing done, the victim hears someone trying to break into the house, picks up the phone, and ... no dial tone!

But recently I read about a home invasion where the burglars cut the telephone wires going into the house, burst in with guns, demanded all the money... and the kids ran off and locked themselves into a bathroom and called 911 on their cell phone. Can you think of some other boilerplate plot points of the classics in mystery and thriller fiction that have been rendered obsolete by technological progress?

-- Badtux the Literary Penguin


  1. No of the top of my head. I'll just say it's a damned good thing that bathroom had a bulletproof door.


  2. NOT OFF the top . . .

    The bad typing fairy has it in for me.


  3. Actually it didn't have a bullet proof door, the bad guys kicked it in and pointed their guns at the kids, the oldest of whom was 7 years old. Then one of them saw the phone in one kid's hand and asked, "Who are you on the phone with?" and the kid said, "911." At which point the gunmen decided it was time to leave, without killing anybody or stealing anything.

    - Badtux the Technology Penguin

  4. It's not so much a plot point: more of a set piece. The phone booth: used for so many things. Superman's changes. Someone making a call, unaware that the villain is barreling down on them in a large vehicle. A demonstration of just how bad the 'bad' guy is, as he yanks someone away from the phone so he (tough guy) can make his call. The bad guy making the hero run from phone booth to phone booth to get to the ransom drop.

  5. Ah, the pay phone in general. They are very rare now, and few will accept incoming calls (to keep drug dealers from using them as de-facto offices), so the plot point where the good guy tries to keep people from using the pay phone so that he can get a call from the bad guy on it to know where to drop off the ransom for the adorable 5 year old girl is no longer viable. Good catch, Se!


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