As if the man and his books needed any defending, Miriam Fransisco has taken up the task in an essay in the Michigan Daily:
There are many reasons not to like Cussler’s books. It’s chock-full of flat female characters (who are always thin and conveniently beautiful and single), and the few non-white characters are either villains, have very small roles or both. Still, there’s something about Cussler’s writing that draws the reader in. It’s not that I really wanted to stay up on Wednesday until 2 a.m. rereading a book about the lost tomb of Genghis Khan, but there I was.
Cussler has a formula, and it works: Charismatic scientist, plus witty sidekick, plus vintage cars, plus beautiful women, plus shipwrecks, plus nefarious criminals plotting something big. It’s like James Bond, but better (I should be honest: I’ve never seen a James Bond movie). It’s got car chases! It’s got nonpartisan political intrigue! The historic and factual foundations are thin at best and often nonexistent! It also has very few explicit sex scenes (Cussler co-authored many of his books with his son), little social resonance and boatloads (get it?) of dramatic tension.
Clive Cussler is not trying to change the world with his fiction. Nor is he concerned about making political points (for either the social justice warriors on the left, or the MAGA folks on the right).
Cussler is trying to write stories that are fun…which is why he has found a consistently enthusiastic audience since the 1970s, despite all of the political and social changes that have occurred in the intervening years.