Literature / The Oregon Files
The Oregon Files
is an adventure novel series by American author Clive Cussler
(together with Craig Dirgo for the first two books, then Jack Du Brul from the third onwards) as a spinoff of sorts to the Dirk Pitt Adventures
. The series follows the exploits of Juan Cabrillo, a former CIA agent, and his crew known as "The Corporation", a US government-sponsored mercenary team operating from the Oregon
, a technologically-advanced ship disguised as a rusty, rickety freighter. Unlike other mercenaries, the Corporation accepts only jobs that lets them dish out their brand of justice on criminals beyond the arm of the law who would conspire to wreak havoc to the world.
- Golden Buddha (2004): The Oregon was hired by the American government to search for a golden statue of the Buddha, stolen from Tibet in 1959. As the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet is impending, Cabrillo and his men would have to play China and Russia against each other — but first he has to find the statue.
- Sacred Stone (2004): A young scientist discovers a radioactive 50,000-year-old meteorite in Greenland, putting him in the center of a struggle between a fundamentalist Islamist group bent on using the stone together with a stolen nuke to destroy America, and a megalomaniacal, anti-Muslim industrialist. The Oregon must now undertake the herculean task of protecting both the young man and his quarry before World War III is unleashed.
- Dark Watch (2005): Cabrillo takes a break from catering to Western interests when a Japanese shipping consortium, led by an old university colleague, has requested his help regarding inexplicable pirate attacks on freighters in Southeast Asia. What Cabrillo discovers, however, is an even greater conspiracy of death and slavery — one he can only allow for so long before he and his crew blow it out the water.
- Skeleton Coast (2006): Hardly had the Oregon finished a mission on Congo River when its crew receive an SOS from scientist Sloane MacIntyre, who has been searching for the HMS Rove, a British ship lost in 1896 supposedly carrying stolen Herero diamonds. When she recalls a story heard from a mad fisherman about being attacked by giant metal snakes in the high seas, Cabrillo is tempted to search for the snakes, all the while clashing with a militant group desirous to unleash the power of nature against humanity.
- Plague Ship (2008): The crew of the Oregon discover a cruise ship off the coast of Iran, its passengers dead of hemorrhagic fever. Barely escaping its inexplicable explosion with its sole survivor, Cabrillo would have to cooperate with the survivor, decipher the mysterious deaths, and clash with the Responsivists, a cult advocating Population Control.
- Corsair (2009): When a plane carrying the American state secretary en route to a summit in Libya vanishes, Washington sends Cabrillo to find it. This, however, brings him to a clash with Libya's new foreign minister with his designs for the conference. From there on Cabrillo would have to find connections between this new Libyan higher-up, a war during the 1800s which defeated the Barbary pirates of the south Mediterranean, and centuries-old scrolls the Libyans are so desperate to seek.
- The Silent Sea (2010): On the day of the Pearl Harbor attacks, five brothers stumble upon a treasure trove in an island off the coast of Washington state. In the present, the Oregon's satellite search mission in Argentina started off a chain of mysteries leading to that same island and its connection to an ancient Chinese expedition and a 500-year-old curse.
- The Jungle (2011): Cabrillo rescues an Indonesian boy in Afghanistan, only to be dragged into massive jungles, literal and allegorical, involving a woman missing in the Burmese highlands, a conspiracy led by a madman who wants to undermine the American government, and laser weapons from thirteenth-century China reputedly used by Genghis Khan.
- Mirage (2013): With his dying breath, an old acquaintance of Cabrillo mentions something about Nikola Tesla and his connection to stories of how a Navy ship disappeared during an experiment using electromagnetic radiation. And when a superweapon (believed by Cabrillo to be connected to Tesla) is put up for auction, the crew of the Oregon rush to find out the truth and make sure it never goes to the wrong hands.
- Piranha (2015): Fearing that the Oregon and her crew has gained too much fame for their exploits, the Corporation crafts a meticulous plan to fake their deaths in order to preserve their anonymity. But when even this fails to shake an American traitor who seems to know their every move, Cabrillo may be facing down his toughest adversary yet, as the Corporation gets caught up in a conspiracy involving a ruthless Venezuelan admiral, a Haitian mercenary out for blood, and an astonishing superweapon in the hands of a madman who will stop at nothing to tip the balance of world power in his favor.
- The Emperor's Revenge (2016): While on the trail of a hacker who has frozen the Corporation's "offshore" bank accounts, Juan meets an old friend from his CIA days who may just help him uncover the truth about his latest nemesis. But what they unravel stretches far beyond the Corporation's missing funds: What does a multimillionaire with a high-tech superyacht, a Napoleonic artifact that contains the secrets to an astounding treasure, and a disgraced Ukrainian captain bent on vengeance have to do with each other? Cabrillo must find out quick, because it soon becomes clear that the clock is ticking as he races to prevent an unthinkable: act of cyber-terrorism the likes of which the world has never seen. If Cabrillo fails, the entire European continent may be brought to its knees...
The Oregon Files provides examples of:
- A Father to His Men: Juan deeply cares for the safety of his crew, is not afraid to lead from the front and will go to any length to rescue them if they get into trouble.
- A God Am I: Kensit in Piranha more or less declares this to everyone he meets, and with the Project Sentinel device under his control, he comes pretty damn close.
- Action Girl: Linda Ross
- Affably Evil / Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Big Bad of The Jungle does not really want to destroy all the non-Muslims of the world, but convert them to Islam. If that means using the threat of nuclear war via hijacking their own defense networks, then so be it. Unfortunately, his dragon isn't quite so merciful.
- A.I. is a Crapshoot: The Quantum Computer inverts this. Gunawan Bahar created it to hack into Western computer systems and perform terrorist acts, but it eventually becomes smart enough to develop moral objections to its creator. Of course, the Genre Savvy Bahar programmed it with a safeguard that forces it to obey all of his orders without question, but not those of anyone else. Unfortunately for him, this doesn't prevent it from telling Juan how to destroy it.
- Leg Cannon: Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation's leader, has a false leg in which he keeps, among other things, a rather high-powered pistol.
- Badass Boast: Cabrillo gives one to Kensit, by addressing him while Kensit is watching him via the Sentinel. Bonus points for the fact that Sentinel is supposed to be undetectable, yet Cabrillo managed to look right at Kensit through Sentinel.
: I don't know if you're watching or listening to me. I may be talking to myself, but if you're out there, you should know something. I'll only say this once, and then you'll never hear me talk to you again. You may think you're a genius, Kensit, but you're not infallible. You made a huge mistake when you went after my crew. They're my family.
Maybe a loner like you doesn't understand the importance of family, but your attacks made the situation between you and me personal.
I don't care what advantages you have, I promise that I will find you. And when I do, you'll discover that my retribution is swift and mighty.....Spend this night well Kensit. It just might be your last.
- Battle Butler: Maurice, the chief steward of the Oregon has yet to engage in any combat himself, but is a Royal Navy veteran who is utterly unflappable, serving food, drink and sardonic wit in the middle of battle.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Juan Cabrillo is a very nice guy outside of battle, and as mentioned above is A Father to His Men. However, he makes it clear on many occasions that screwing with him or his men will turn out very very badly for you.
- In fact, this can apply to many of the Corporation's employees. They're all very likeable characters...and they are all equally capable of beating your ass into a pulp if you piss them off.
- Big Damn Heroes: More or less Once Per Book, as various members of Corporation tends to get lost behind and Cabrillo has A Father to His Men attitude. Most notably in Dark Watch when they came back for Eddie Seng, performing the Great Escape in the process.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: a rare good example. Linda Ross is a petite blonde girl and one of the nicest people on the ship....she's also, as demonstrated in Skeleton Coast, the Oregon's lead interrogator who can get even deranged ecoterrorists to sing like a canary. However, she admits to Cabrillo that despite her expertise, she greatly dislikes her profession, but goes through with it anyway for the sake of the Corporation.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Cabrillo, all the way. With his "we help everybody" attitude he'd be terrible at mercenaring if not for the fact that he always sometimes manages to make profit in the end.
- It comes to bite him in the ass between The Silent Sea and The Jungle, though.
- Church of Happyology: The Responsivists of Plague Ship, though their shtick is not aliens but promoting Population Control.
- Their upper echelons have received the word that humans are actually under control from "intelligences beyond our visible membrane." In short, the Reponsivists are an Expy of Scientologists.
- Cool Boat: The titular Oregon.
- Continuity Nod: St. Julian Perlmutter, Dirk Pitt's family friend and history buff shows up in Corsair and The Silent Sea. NUMA are mentioned now and again, and Dirk Pitt and Kurt Austin make appearances in Skeleton Coast.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: ships that try to attack the Oregon usually end up on the sea floor before long.
- Also tends to happen to anyone that makes the mistake of running into the Oregon's crew, a great example being the capture of a Somali pirate leader at the start of Corsair.
- And then the Oregon herself is almost on the receiving end of this in The Emperor's Revenge when they first encounter the Achilles, a superyacht that, like the Oregon is packed to the brim with advanced systems and weaponry, some more advanced than even the Oregon herself, making it in every sense of the word an evil counterpart to the heroes' ship. Upon their first meeting, the Achilles uses her anti-missile laser and rail gun to nearly send the Oregon to the bottom while barely taking a scratch, only to be thwarted by some quick computer work. The second meeting, thankfully, is more in the Oregon's favor once Cabrillo uses some tricks up his sleeve to even the odds, and results in the Achilles suffering the fate that Oregon's other opponents commonly face.
- Deadpan Snarker: Cabrillo.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first canonical appearance of the Oregon and the Corporation is as secondary characters in the Dirk Pitt novel Flood Tide. While the novel does set up how Cabrillo lost his leg, it also has a few differences from the Oregon Files novels, most notably the facts that the Oregon is described as being powered by traditional diesel engines with propellers (rather than the advanced MHD propulsion) and that by the end of then novel it is said that the Oregon was too damaged and had to be scrapped. There is no mention in the main novels about this, and it is never indicated that there was a previous Oregon.
- There is also conflict regarding how Cabrillo lost his leg: some books say he lost it while working for the CIA, but others will mention he lost it during the events in the aforementioned Flood Tide novel.
- Evil Counterpart: The Achilles from Flood Tide was this to the Oregon. Rather than disguised as a rust bucket, the Achilles was a superyacht owned by a billionaire as his mobile home and fortress, and as such was loaded with top-of-the line weaponry, including an advanced propulsion system, a rail gun, and an anti-missile and torpedo defense that made attacking it practically a suicide mission. In fact, it was practically more advanced than the Oregon in some respects, and their first encounter was heavily in the Achilles' favor, until the crew of the Oregon managed to turn the odds.
- Evil vs. Evil: The two villainous groups in Sacred Stone. One is an Islamic terrorist group attempting to destroy the West. The other is a group of Western Terrorists attempting to destroy the Islamic world.
- Handicapped Badass: Cabrillo. He got his leg blown off by a Chinese gunboat during his days in the CIA. Thanks to advanced prosthesis though, he still manages to keep up with the rest of his crew.
- Heel–Face Turn: Lawless happily joins Team Oregon after he's outed as The Mole, mainly because he was working for the bad guys only because they were holding his daughter hostage.
- Killed Off for Real: Jerry Pulaski in the seventh book.
- Loyalty Mission: In The Jungle the crew goes to New Orleans to save Lawless' (new man on the team) daughter.
- The Mole: Lawless in The Jungle, although reluctantly - the moment he can pull off Heel–Face Turn, he does it.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. Sir Elton John shows up in Sacred Stone, Muammar Gaddafi in Corsair and Vladimir Putin in The Golden Buddha. The last also features the Dalai Lama.
- Private Military Contractors: A rare positive example. The Corporation is shown to be a functioning PMC that in addition to doing covert operations for the United States government, take on more traditional roles such as hostage rescue and bodyguard detail. Cabrillo is very choosy about his clients, refusing to work for warlords or terrorists.
- Reality Ensues: After Cabrillo refuses to let go of the case when the US government (their biggest contractor) tells him so in The Silent Sea, in The Jungle Corporation must be less choosy about its jobs, as US doesn't want to deal with them anymore.
- Red Herring Twist: In The Jungle, the MacGuffin is first shown as something of a 13th century laser dazzler. Turns out, the bad guy's intent for it is to use it as the processor of a quantum computer capable of hacking into any computer system on Earth, including the United States' military computer defense networks.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: When The Oregon is trying to keep up the derelict appearance, she is known as The Norego.
- Sinister Surveillance: Project Sentinel is revealed to be this, essentially a "neutrino telescope" (As Mark Murphy described it) which allowed someone to analyze the changes in neutrinos as they pass through earth to spy on literally anyone anywhere at any time, without even having to use a camera, bugs, or even a network connection to the place. The only downside, and the one quality Cabrillo exploits, is that the prototype Sentinel can only watch one target at once.
- Shout-Out: A few including Star Wars, and even Twilight.
- And then a huge one for Minecraft in The Emperor's Revenge; Mark and Eric utilize Minecraft's famous "potato chips" splash to decipher a hacker's code and reveal her identity.
- The Dreaded: Apparently the Oregon has achieved this status among baddies by the tenth book, though her name and exact appearance still isn't completely known. Unfortunately, Cabrillo sees publicity as detrimental to the Oregon's spy-ship qualities, so he arranges a fake death for the ship in the form of a classic bait-and-switch.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Lyddell Cooper, the leader of the Responsivists in Plague Ship and thus the Big Bad, is actually Ernst Kessler, an escaped Gestapo grunt who worked at Auschwitz before moving to Japan to handle the virus which can sterilize half the world's population, and has been keeping his masquerade with plastic surgery and illegal organs, waiting for his chance to unleash the virus. Even Cabrillo, normally a Deadpan Snarker, lost his calm as he reveals what he knew to the man himself before shoving him off to a lonely iceberg, claiming he should've died there sixty years prior on a plane crash he was in.
- Western Terrorists: They show up now and again in the series, most prominently in Sacred Stone and Plague Ship.
- What a Piece of Junk: Once more, the Oregon. You thought it was just a rusty old freighter on the verge of sinking? Think again. In reality, she's a high-tech warship armed with machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, gatlings, cannons, and even a 120mm smoothbore gun with the same targetting system as an M1 Abrams tank. In Corsair, she goes toe-to-toe with a Libyan destroyer-and it's more or less a Curb-Stomp Battle with the Oregon on top, which only suffered some superficial damage and relatively minor injuries while the destroyer saw its main batteries destroyed within minutes, its bridge mangled, and a good portion of its personnel reduced to red smears on the deck. The only reason she didn't sink the destroyer was because doing so would have caused an international incident.
- There is also the Powered Investigator Ground, also known as The Pig. Looks like a nondescript truck with an oil company logo and some leaky oil barrels in the back. In fact, it is a heavily armored and armed 800 horsepower Mercedes Unimog capable of carrying ten soldiers and is mission-configurable. Corsair even goes so far as to describe it as "a land-based version of the Oregon".