is a series of technothriller novels developed by Tom Clancy
and written by Steve Perry and Steve Pieczenik, chronicling the work of an FBI
cybercrime unit tasked with protecting the world from terrorists and hackers.
The original novel begins with the original Director of the unit being assassinated, and unit member Alex Michaels being promoted to Deputy Commander and tasked with discovering the plot behind his friend's death. Along with team members Assistant Director Toni Fiorella, programmer Jay Gridley and Net Force military commander General John Howard, Michaels discovers a Russian hacker's plot to wreak havoc on cyberspace and buy governments using illicit money from security contracts, along with an assassin who is trying to kill him.
In total, 10 books were written in the series, along with a Spin-Off
series called Net Force Explorers
, which followed a group of young hackers who protected cyberspace from various threats.
The series has several similarities to Clancy's other licensed series like Op-Center
, although it was aimed at adult audiences (whereas Explorers
was aimed at the young adult market). An made-for-TV adaptation of the first novel was produced in 1999, starring Scott Bakula as Alex Michaels, and changing many elements from the original book.
The Net Force series contains examples of:
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer : Part of the duo in "Point of Impact".
- Ass in Ambassador: Subverted in one novel, where the antics of the usual types at an embassy are used as cover by the intelligence agents there. A covert intelligence agent's wish is to be dismissed by opposing counter-intelligence as a drunken fratboy, so he plays dumb to determine who's drunk and who is just pretending to be.
- Big Applesauce : The origin of Toni Fiorellia.
- The British Empire : Bringing it back is the goal of the villain in "Night Moves".
- Changing of the Guard: The name of one of the novels, and Exactly What It Says on the Tin - every main character retires from the agency, except for Jay Gridley.
- Cool Gun: Played With: A Cold Open on a military operation plays out realistically, until the squad commander shoulders his decidedly non-regulation Thompson submachine gun. A Proscenium Reveal occurs soon after.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: In the original novel, the action stops so that Net Force Commander John Howard can lecture his son on the dangers of digital piracy.
- Everybody Owns A Ford: In the online virtual reality, everyone drives a Dodge Neon by default. One character idly wonders how much it cost Chrysler to set that deal up.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Jay and most of the Explorers.
- Hollywood Hacking: Throughout the series, characters use virtual reality to demolish code, bypass filters or crack firewalls in a simplistic fashion.
- Hope Spot: In the original novel, Director Steve Day gets the idea to make a big heroic run after most of his entourage is slaughtered, due to being a great sprinter on his high school's football team. It looks like he's going to make it...and then he gets sniped in the head.
- I Have This Friend: A variation: Jay Howard has a crush on a girl in school, and is tutoring her in math. She is dating a short-tempered football player. He asks his father, John, a hypothetical question about a small country receiving non-military aid from the US, and how one would go about convincing said country to break an alliance with a powerful rival and join the US instead. John knows exactly what his son is actually asking about, and tailors his answer accordingly.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It
- Little Useless Gun: The Selkie carries one in the original novel for discretion and concealability, and makes up for its size and weak stopping power by shooting someone in the eye with it.
- Playful Hacker : Jay Gridley.
- Production Foreshadowing: The concept of the "Net Force" is hinted at in the third Op-Center novel, Games of State.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The ending of "Breaking Point" - everyone involved in the exchange of the spy list gets killed, and the secret of the list is never discovered.
- Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Invoked by a minor character. He realized something was fishy, and burst into a room holding a pen to look like a gun. The would-be assassin turns to shoot him, and is taken down by her original target in turn.
- Shout-Out: One of the Explorers books has a character mention a "spy from a 'flat-film'" who has an assistant who makes gadgets for him.
- Spinoff: Net Force Explorers, a series aimed for younger audiences that follows a group of teenage hackers affiliated with the organization.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Most of the books are stated to be happening ten years in the future (the original book, released in 1999, sets the story in 2010), and integrates virtual reality elements that influence the plot.
- Two Decades Behind: Toward the end of Breaking Point (2000) which takes place in 2011, Jay rents a "six-year-old Datsun". Datsun has been Nissan since 1987, meaning this hasn't been possible since 1992.
- Western Terrorists