Techno-thrillers are a hybrid genre, drawing subject matter generally from spy thrillers, war novels, political narratives, and viral outbreaks, and including a disproportionate amount (relative to other genres) of technical detail on its subject matter; only science fiction tends towards a comparable level of supporting detail on the technical side. The inner workings of technology and the mechanics of various disciplines (espionage, martial arts, politics) are thoroughly explored, and the plot often turns on the particulars of that exploration.
One of the earliest techno-thrillers is thought to be The Satan Bug (1962) by Alistair Maclean. Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy are considered to be the fathers of the "modern techno-thriller"; Crichton's book The Andromeda Strain and Clancy's book The Hunt for Red October set out the type example which defined the genre, although many authors had been writing similar material earlier, such as Craig Thomas, whom BBC News also credits as an early innovator.
Techno-thrillers focus strongly on details, especially on the technology, which is frequently of military origin. Techno-thrillers tend to have a broad scope in the narrative, and can often be regarded as contemporary speculative fiction; world wars are a common topic. Techno-thrillers often overlap, as far as the genre goes, with near-future science fiction. To the extent that technology is now a dominant aspect of modern global culture, most modern thrillers are "techno-thrillers", and the genre is somewhat diffuse. Techno-thrillers blur smoothly into the category of hard science fiction; the defining characteristics of techno-thriller are an emphasis on real-world or plausible near-future technology. There is often a focus on military or military-political action. Techno-thrillers also overlap with conspiracy fiction and apocalyptic fiction.
- "Techno thriller writer Craig Thomas dies". BBC News. 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2014-04-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Kaltenbach, Chris (2013-10-02). "Clancy invented 'techno-thriller,' reflected Cold War fears". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-04-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Minzesheimer, Bob (2013-10-03). "Appreciation: Tom Clancy mastered the techno-thriller". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-04-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>