When I tried to analyse the thrillers [see July post] that I was reading I seem to have missed out the most obvious cliché or stereotype.
The man who can do everything.
Whether he's sexy like James Bond or a paranoid loner (damaged by something in his past) he will have been in the SAS, or some secretive service. He can speak all languages, kill people with his thumb, appear equally at home in an illegal poker game in a warehouse, a Baccarat game in a high-end casino, or a sedate Bridge game in a country house. He can cook, drive fast, fly planes and helicopters, etc. He can hold his liquor, do martial arts, break codes, run fast, etc. You've met him in almost all thrillers aimed at men...
It all sounds a bit like Heinlein's list, which also struck me as odd male fantasy:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
But unlike most of my generation I didn't read Stranger In A Strange Land, because there remained something I didn't like about Heinlein, and I couldn't put my finger on it.