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The NUMA series is a large series of novels featuring Adventurer Archaeologist Dirk Pitt and his motley pals in the National Underwater and Marine Agency. The series were created by Clive Cussler, although he has teamed up with other authors to write his books, notably Craig Dirgo and his son, Dirk Cussler.
There are three actual series:
- Dirk Pitt — 21 books have been published so far.
- The Mediterranean Caper (1973)
- Iceberg (1975)
- Raise the Titanic! (1976)
- Vixen 03 (1978)
- Night Probe! (1981)
- Pacific Vortex (1983). Reported written in the 1970s, but not published before.
- Deep Six (1984)
- Cyclops (1986)
- Treasure (1988)
- Dragon (1990)
- Sahara (1992)
- Inca Gold (1994)
- Shock Wave (1996)
- Flood Tide (1997)
- Atlantis Found (1999)
- Valhalla Rising (2001)
- Trojan Odyssey (2003)
- Black Wind (2004)
- Treasure of Khan (2006)
- Arctic Drift (2008)
- Crescent Dawn (2010)
- The NUMA Files- a Spin-Off featuring Kurt Austin and the Special Projects Team.
- The Oregon Files- involving an advanced freighter and the mercenary group known as the Corporation.
There have been two adaptations- Raise The Titanic! and Sahara. Both are considered to be very poor, to the point that Cussler refused to sell the film rights to his novels for some years. Cussler and the producers sued each other over the latter (Cussler for going too far off the book, the producers for his telling fans to boycott it). Cussler lost.
Has nothing to do with guys enthusiastically singing Romanian pop songs on camera.
The NUMA Series novels contain examples of:
- The Ace: Dirk Pitt swings in and out of this trope's territory, usually in.
- Airport Fantasy: Cussler books are a common sight in airport bookshops, and most of them are long enough to last an entire transoceanic flight.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Inverted in one of the Pitt novels.
- Almost Out of Oxygen: used frequently, usually when the character is underwater and their line has been cut or their oxygen tanks are about to run dry.
- America Saves the Day: Well, as NUMA is based in Washington, D.C. and the main characters are patriots ...
- Often Lampshaded by one of the main characters, as the Washington politicians frequently use one of NUMA's achievements to further their own ends.
- In Inca Gold:
- Gunn: The State Department experts and the Congressional Committee on Latin American Affairs think you both should hang around and make the dirty Yankees look good by helping to halt the looting of Peru's cultural heritage.
Pitt: In other words, our esteemed government wants to milk our benevolent image for all it's worth.
- Arm Cannon: Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation's leader, has a false leg in which he keeps--among other things--a rather high caliber pistol.
- Author Appeal: Pitt's large collection of classic cars.
- As well as NUMA's fictional budget. Cussler runs the real-life NUMA, and would kill for the kind of cash that Pitt gets.
- The fictional NUMA is a US Government department. Cussler's real life NUMA is a private organization with no official recognition.
- And the startling number of blue and green eyed people in his works.
- Author Avatar: Ever since Dragon, Cussler is a recurring character in the Pitt series, usually showing up to put the heroes back on track with a minor Deus Ex Machina. May also count as a Self-Insert Fic, although Word of God says it grew out of an attempt to see just how much his editor would put up with.
- Badass Driver: Pitt and Giordino, in cars, boats, submarines, and helicopters. All the novels feature some sort of chase scene in them.
- Battle Couple: Sort of, but Paul and Gamay Trout.
- Big Bad: One in every novel, along with The Dragon, and sometimes The Dark Chick.
- Big Damn Heroes: Used in the very beginning of books. It usually goes like this: The Girl of the Novel and her team has just landed in big trouble. They're in a life-or-death situatipn and no one can help them. Then Pitt and Giordino come along and save them, becoming wrapped up in their problem and kick-starting the plot.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: Used frequently
- In Crescent Dawn, a Byzantine breastplate is used to stop bullets
- Canon Dis Continuity: A number of the early Dirk Pitt books end with sweeping scientific or political changes (the development of a Star Wars system that makes nuclear war impossible, the merging of the US and Canada into a single country) that are then completely ignored by subsequent books since they conflict with the by-and-large real-world setting.
- Also, the Titanic is raised whole in the book of the same name. After it was discovered in real life to have broken in half, and that raising it was impossible, the whole incident is erased from canon.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Pitt and Giordino are masters of this, especially when all the other characters are terrified out of their wits.
- Cool Boat: The Oregon definitely qualifies for this one. The series features lots of these, given that it centers around a marine science agency.
- Cool Car: Pitt owns an entire garage full of them.
- Cool Garage: Pitt lives in a former airport hanger, which he uses to store his car collection.
- Critical Research Failure: There's a few of these scattered throughout the books, with the most egregious ones appearing in Atlantis Found and Trojan Odyssey.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: One of the biggest draws of the NUMA Series is seeing how Cussler will manage to top his previous climax in raw, unfettered awesome. So far, he hasn't failed to deliver.
- Deadpan Snarker: Giordino, but also Pitt, Gunn, and Sandecker
- Dead Person Impersonation: In Inca Gold and Atlantis Found. (Possibly others.)
- Deconstructed Trope: When Dirk wakes up in a hospital in Iceberg, Sandecker's secretary, Tidi Royal, starts hitting on him. He shuts her down. She protests he doesn't even know she exists, whereupon he reels off her vital statistics--including the location of a mole--and informs her he will never "play games" that close to the Admiral. At the end of the book, Tidi has hooked up with a secondary character, and is never seen again. This explains why James Bond only flirts with Moneypenny.
- Defictionalization: As alluded to above, the NUMA organization has existed in Real Life since 1979.
- Disney Death: Pitt and many other supporting characters
- Girl of the Novel (although Pitt has now settled down with Representative Loren Smith)
- Of special note is Summer Moran, who was presumed dead at the end of Pacific Vortex, later turned out not only to have survived (though she later died offscreen), but been pregnant with two kids by Pitt, the grown-up versions of whom would later feature in the novel. Despite the fact that over the course of the book, they spent about two hours in the same room as each other, which weren't used doing the nasty.
- God Mode Sue: Name a protagonist or major good guy. Now try to name a single time they genuinely put a foot wrong or made a bad decision. To Cussler's credit, Rule of Cool makes this somewhat forgivable, but...
- Iceberg. Hunnewell's death. Pitt spends a good portion of the rest of the book angsting about whether he did something wrong.
- There's also his failure to prevent Maeve's death in Shock Wave.
- Green Eyes: Dirk Pitt himself. They are described as "opaline" and "like the sea."
- Guile Hero: Pitt's often a man with a plan.
- Guilty Pleasures
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The new geneticly enhanced salmon trying to get on the market are being called Frankenfish. Sounds like someone is a fan...
- History Marches On: 1976's Raise The Titanic, and the movie based upon it, both assume the H.M.S. Titanic sank as a single piece, remaining intact enough to be salvaged. In Cussler's defense, this was the official position on the sinking until the ship was actually found, which was in 1985, almost 10 years after the book was written.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Most notably the plot to level half of Manhattan, outwards from the World Trade Center, which was thankfully foiled at the climax of Valhalla Rising. This same plot may also count as Too Soon.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Summer Moran and Loren Smith.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. They met in kindergarten and they've been together ever since.
- Karmic Death: Most of the villains get taken out in this manner.
- Played with in Inca Gold with a rapist. Dirk shoots his genitals off, but he survives that. Just not the book.
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Hiram Yeager's computer GUI "Max" is a sometimes scantily-clad representation of his wife.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In Night Probe, it is strongly implied that Brian Shaw (British agent) is really James Bond. Also, in "Cyclops" The CIA agent strongly resembles John Clark, Tom Clancy's favorite spy
- Mineral MacGuffin: Several of the books, including Raise the Titanic and Arctic Drift, hinge on the need to find a supply of some exotic substance which seems to be available only in the sunken ship du jour.
- The Other Darrin: Kurt Austin is more or less a replacement Dirk Pitt.
- Purple Eyes: Loren Smith has them.
- Rule of Cool: what most of the books live on.
- Running Gag: Sandecker never finds any of his special cigars missing, but Giordino always seems to be smoking one.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: Pacific Vortex
- Series Continuity Error: While not exactly an error, Fridge Logic sets in when in one book there is a secret moonbase but in another the moonlandings were faked. Not exactly contradictory but it's an oddity that is never explained.
- Shown Their Work: Very often, sometimes to the point of overdoing it. This predominantely shows up whenever cars, ships, historical moments, or diving equipment is mentioned.
- Stripped to the Bone: Played straight at least once, in Vixen 03. Subverted in Serpent.
- Universal Driver's License
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: No one ever explains how Dirk can afford two dozen antique cars and two airplanes on his salary as a senior employee of an obscure government agency. His father's rich, but Pitt doesn't seem like the type of person to blow his trust fund.
- Technically, he only had to buy one of the airplanes, and most of the non-car portions of his collection (and some of the car portion) were picked up and/or gifted to him throughout his adventures. Still, the point does stand, since his antique car collection is enormous regardless (it actually parallels the real-life collection owned by Cussler, who used his book sales profits to assemble the collection).
- If memory serves, he had received a notable inheritance from either a beloved uncle or grandfather which he uses to buy classic cars at auction. I think it was in the beginning of Dragon.
- You Fail Physics Forever: The plots of many of the books, notably Shock Wave.
Tropes found in Crescent Dawn
- Big Bad: Ozden Celik
- Maria, his sister, is The Dragon
- Banging for Help: Done by the crew of the Dayana
Tropes found in Atlantis Found
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Atlantis Found, a member of the Wolf family looks into Dirk's background. She reports that his background looks like a series of adventure novels.
Tropes found in Inca Gold
Tropes found in Sahara
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: One of the subplots, involving the Confederacy's kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln.
Tropes found in Iceberg
- Something They Would Never Say: Pitt describes a steak to Kirsti, who has spent most of her life in New Guinea, as being wrapped in echidna seaweed. For those of us unfamiliar with the animal-who who haven't played Sonic the Hedgehog recently--he explains to his friend after Kirsti leaves that an echidna is a type of spiny anteater native to New Guinea. He just said he'd eat the equivalent of a "New York steak wrapped in porcupine quills".
- Values Dissonance: One subplot of Iceberg involves Pitt pretending to be Camp Gay to get a potential enemy to underestimate him. Sandecker even asks him why he's acting like a "faggot". Incidentally, the foe in question is a homophobe, and when Pitt reveals the truth, it's in the middle of beating five types of crap out of him. Also, he seems to have no problem with Kristjan becoming Kirsti, and is more concerned with the fact that she seems to have become a sociopath.
Tropes found in The Mediterranean Caper
- Romancing the Widow: Teri von Till in The Mediterranean Caper.
Tropes found in Pacific Vortex
- Prequel: Pacific Vortex was written first, but released sixth.