Friday, August 16, 2013

Spotlight: Spycraft

When I say "spy" what do you think of? James Bond? The NSA? Chuck? There's no shortage of spy stories from the comic to the thrilling, from pure fantasy to real life. This means that there's likely to be an espionage book, movie, or tv show to suit your every mood and taste.

Today we've gathered together mix of movies, television shows, and books to suit most any fan of the spy genre. Did we miss your favorite secret agent? Be sure to leave a comment (anonymous commenting is enabled, to protect your cover)!

The second season of Homeland will be out on DVD at the end of August. This tense and suspenseful series is set in a fictionalized (and rather dramatic) world that is recognizably based on reality. The main character, Carrie, may be based, loosely, on an actual CIA operative or operatives.

The BBC series MI-5 (originally aired as Spooks) explores the hidden world of the spies in MI-5, the British equivalent to our FBI, meaning they deal with domestic intelligence. This is a serious take on the spy world, and isn't for viewers who don't care for violence.

Chuck is a far more comic look at the spy world. Starring Zachary Levi as an average nerd who has a wealth of super spy information downloaded into his head, turning him into a super weapon. Hijinks and romantic tension abound.

Covert Affairs features Piper Perabo as a new CIA recruit, gifted with languages, who rises quickly through the ranks. There's romance and action, without being overly violent. 

Archer is a comic animated series for adults that takes popular spy tropes, pop culture jokes, and an anachronistic setting. 

The story of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Ladin, Zero Dark Thirty is certainly not a documentary, but it's very much based on real events, requiring viewers to have familiarity with current events of the past 15 years to appreciate.

Tom Cruise is no stranger to the spy genre. You can watch him as super spy Ethan Hunt in the action-packed Mission Impossible film series. Or for more of a romantic-comedy twist, check out Knight and Day where he plays a super spy on the run, who sweeps Cameron Diaz's character along for the ride.

The star-studded R.E.D., based loosely on a comic book series, is an action-packed comedy romp starring Bruce Willis as a retired spy drawn back into the game to save the civil servant he has a crush on. A sequel came out in July, but the DVDs won't be out until at least November.

Matt Damon stars as amnesiac super spy Jason Bourne in the series of movies based off of Robert Ludlum's novels. Although the most recent film, The Bourne Legacy, stars Jeremy Renner. 

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
How can we not include Ian Fleming's James Bond? The resourceful British spy, and the inspiration many modern spy stories, both literary and big screen. Fast-paced, action-packed, with exotic locations, and les femmes fatales, Fleming's gritty novels will grab your attention. The first book in the series, Casino Royale, was the source for two film adaptions, including Daniel Craig's first turn as Bond.

Queen and Country by Greg Rucka
Rucka has written for some of the big names in comics (like Batman and Wonder Woman), but his creativity isn't limited to superheroes. His suspenseful Queen and Country series features Tara Chance, Lead Agent for Special Operations of the British Secret Intelligence Service. This tense, gritty series will appeal to fans of Daniel Craig's Bond, and titles are available both as traditional novels and graphic novels with a variety of illustrators.

Once a Spy by Keith Thomson
Charlie's father, Drummond, lived an average life before his diagnosis with Alzheimer's. An assumption that is blown to pieces, along with his house, one night by assassins. This father/son spy-thriller is a lighter in tone look at the world of spy craft, while still maintaining an action-packed plot.

Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre
Conman Eddie Chapman trained as a spy for the Germans, but when given a mission to destroy a British airplane factory, he became a double agent for MI5 instead. A fast-paced and suspenseful true story of WWII espionage.

Charles Cumming
Mr. Cumming writes delightfully twisted novels of modern espionage. His books are full of cunning twists, international locations, and gritty politics. You can read his novels in any order, and expect to find a careful attention to character and the political landscape of spycraft.

Alan Furst's The Night Soldiers series
Alan Furst’s suspenseful and carefully researched loosely connected series of novels about espionage in the Europe of the 1930s and 40s. From the ghettos of Warsaw to the streets of Paris, these books give a glimpse into the dark shadow world of WWII spies.

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