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Transcript of I spy, you spy - · PDF file I spy, you spy spy noun 1. an agent employed by a state to obtain...

  • 1 Have you ever

    discovered a secret

    and passed it on?

    2 Who do you think is

    the most famous

    fictional spy?

    3 In the last few years,

    many books and films

    have been released

    featuring teenage

    spies. Do you think it

    would be possible for

    a teenager to be a spy

    in real life? Explain.

    Those who enjoy the spy

    genre give a variety of

    reasons for their

    devotion. Some like the

    mystery and intrigue;

    some like the gadgets;

    others enjoy the exotic

    locations and incredible

    exploits of the cult

    heroes and villains.

    What are the techniques

    that their creators use to

    allow us to experience

    the thrills and spills of

    the spy story?

    In this unit • Spies in narrative texts

    • Spies in short stories

    • Spies in computer


    • Spies in film

  • 110 english alive 3

    I spy, you spy spy noun

    1. an agent employed by a

    state to obtain secret

    information, especially of

    a military nature,

    concerning its potential or

    actual enemies: He was

    captured inside enemy lines

    and shot as a spy.

    2. one who secretly keeps

    watch on others: My little

    sister is such a spy, always

    trying to see what my friends

    and I are doing in my room.

    spy verb

    1. to find out by looking

    closely: He was sent to spy

    out the land before the


    Word history: From German

    spähen, to scout, reconnoitre

    Word family: espionage, espy

    Technology: spyware is any

    software application that is

    planted on a computer hard

    drive, without the owner

    knowing, and that can ‘see’

    the Internet sites visited. Its

    purpose is to send that

    information back to another

    source, such as a marketer.

    nce you enter the tangled web of espionage, there is no escape. A spy story twists and turns, keeping the protagonist

    and the audience guessing until the end. Like most literature, spy

    fiction often reflects the preoccupations of its time. During the post–

    World War II period, when famous spy fiction writers included Ian

    Fleming, John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum, the USSR was the big

    enemy. Fictional Russian agents were pitted against those of the UK

    and the USA in a never-ending spy game that reflected Cold War

    politics. So what does the future hold for the genre? Only one thing

    is certain: as long there are battles for ‘world domination’ and secrets

    to be kept and revealed, there will be spies; and while

    there are spies, there will be spy fiction.

    Reading and writing about spies in narrative texts Spy novels A good spy story draws the reader in with fast action and a

    series of puzzling clues to a mystery. Often the clues will lead

    the reader and the protagonist to one conclusion, only to discover that they have

    been tricked — led astray by a clever double agent or spymaster.

    Below is an extract from the spy novel Sleeper by Luke C. Jackson. Set in present-

    day India, Sleeper centres around 15-year-old Sara Gray, a student at Calderstone’s

    International School. In this extract, Sara is catapulted into a dramatic situation

    that sets in motion a series of events which will make her question her past and

    fear for her future. The margin notes will give you some tips to consider when

    writing your own spy stories.


    Wordplay 20

    A single sentence, ending in a cliff-hanger,

    immediately pulls the reader into the story.

    Implied violence adds to the sense of impending danger.

    t the bottom of the stairs, she steps into the living room

    and freezes.

    In the middle of the room, her mother is sitting in a chair,

    her hands behind her back. The telephone cord has been used

    to bind her hands to each other, then to the chair’s frame. Her

    mouth is covered with electrical tape, its silver surface stained

    with blood that trickles from her nose.

    Two men stand in the room, both of European appearance,

    one dressed in a suit, the other in a black shirt and leather

    jacket. She doesn’t recognise either of them, but they both

    wear the same almost-blank expression as they turn to face



  • unit 5 • Alive with . . . spies 111

    ‘You must be Sara,’ the man with the leather jacket says. He

    has the trace of an accent that Sara can’t identify.

    Sara says nothing.

    ‘Why are you just standing there? Aren’t you going to help

    your mother?’

    Sara’s mind reels. Should she make a run for it? She could

    probably make it upstairs, lock herself in her room, then call the

    police on her mobile. But without a lock on her door, it would

    only be a matter of time before they broke in.

    ‘Come in,’ the man in the suit says, motioning for her to move

    to her left, further into the room.

    For the first time, Sara notices that he holds a gun, its long

    barrel reflecting the light from the kitchen. As she takes three

    shaking steps to the left, she’s surprised the gun wasn’t the

    first thing she saw. ‘My father will be home any minute,’ Sara

    says, her voice quaking. Then she thinks about Aparna’s

    father, and bluffs, ‘He’s in the computer business. He’s impor-

    tant. And he has guards who go everywhere with him. They

    have guns, too.’

    ‘We’ll take that chance,’ the man in leather says, smiling.

    For a few seconds, nobody says anything. The only sounds are

    the drip of a tap in the kitchen, her mother sniffing softly, and the

    distant whine of an auto-rickshaw. Then the man in leather

    speaks again. ‘So Sara, your mother tells us you’re an intelligent

    girl. Is that correct?’

    Sara doesn’t know what to say.

    ‘I’m going to make you an offer, one intelligent person to

    another. Would you like that?’

    Sara’s heart is hammering. Her legs feel like they’re about to

    collapse beneath her. But she nods.

    ‘Very good,’ the man says. ‘If you answer my questions cor-

    rectly, we’ll make sure no more harm comes to your mother.


    Again, Sara nods, and the man continues. ‘Who are you

    working for, Sara?’

    Sara shakes her head. ‘What do you mean? I’m not —’

    She stops as he produces his own pistol and shakes his head

    sadly. ‘I thought you loved your mother.’

    ‘I do!’ Sara cries out. ‘I do. Please, I’ll help you, if I can.


    Now the suited man is speaking in a foreign language. His

    words are short and clipped. Sara has no idea what he’s saying,

    and stares at her mother. Mrs Gray’s nose continues to bleed, and

    her chin is cut, her forehead rising in a lump, but her eyes are sur-

    prisingly calm. Taking heart from her bravery, Sara forces herself

    to relax. She hears a voice inside her, whispering.

    The guy in the suit doesn’t want to use his gun.

    A description of a number of sounds

    makes the scene more vivid for the reader.

    The question of who Sara is working for is

    raised. This question is a common one in spy


    The only escape route is considered and dismissed immediately, heightening suspense.

    Sara demonstrates her ability to think quickly.

    Through her interior monologue, it is clear that Sara understands more about the men, and the use of weapons, than she realises

  • 112 english alive 3

    Sara doesn’t know where the thought comes from. She shakes

    her head in confusion.

    Look at the way he holds it, with his finger so far from the

    trigger. He’s afraid to fire.

    Her vision clouding momentarily, Sara feels a stinging sen-

    sation in her temples, then forces herself to breathe more slowly.

    Now the leather-jacketed man is speaking again. Sara tries to con-

    centrate, but catches only the tail end of what he’s saying, ‘. . . our


    ‘Okay,’ Sara bluffs. ‘I’ll tell you what you want to know.’

    He smiles. ‘Tell us how much you remember about the


    The men relax slightly. For the first time both are holding their

    guns in plain sight, and Sara knows that their pistols contain tran-

    quilliser darts, designed to stun rather than kill. She doesn’t know

    how she knows it, but she does.

    If you’re going to do something, do it now, the voice whispers.

    As Sara springs forward, the man in the suit raises the pistol,

    but Sara ignores it, punching him once in the solar plexus. Then,

    using her own body to keep him upright she slips her hand

    beneath his, her right forefinger finding the gun’s exposed


    Spinning in the direction of the man in the leather

    jacket, she aims the gun and presses the trigger,

    feeling three small, gas-powered explosions, each

    shot sending a dart into the man’s broad

    chest. Even as he takes a step towards her

    his eyes roll upwards, before he crashes

    to the ground unconscious.