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Derek Robinson is an English writer. He wrote three novels about World War One, three about World War Two, and several more about spies and secret agents. All are Black Comedy edging toward Satire.


Tropes in Derek Robinson's Books:

  • Ace Pilot: Moggy Cattermole certainly, though he's just as much a Magnificent Bastard, with emphasis on the bastard. Also the Maverick Major Wooley, a foul-mouthed and insubordinate Ace who rose from the ranks.
  • Anyone Can Die: In just about all of his books. Frequently, nearly everyone ends up dead.
    • Although it is hinted that the initially Biggles-like pilot, Barton, survives the war to fly the first of the jets.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: In A Good Clean Fight, George the Greek is picked up by Bedouin after crashing in the desert.
  • Black Comedy: Pitch black, and very, very funny.
  • Deconstruction: Most of his books could be read as deconstructions of military fiction.
    • Goshawk Squadron tells us that a successful fighter pilot's job basically involved sneaking up behind an unsuspecting enemy and blowing his head off. Word of God is that these were deliberately intended to subvert the Biggles philosophy.
    • Piece of Cake makes the point that, despite what Churchill said, the pilots of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain were very much "daunted by odds".
  • Death by Adaptation: Two of "Piece of Cake"'s more prominent pilots survive the novel only to be killed off toward the end of the TV adaptation. There's no sign of them in "A Good Clean Fight," however, suggesting that at least one might be a Type 2 Db A.
    • The Real Life pilot that CH 3 was based on, Pilot Officer Billy Fiske, died quite shortly after the point where Piece of Cake ends.
  • Disabled Love Interest: In Hornet's Sting, Cleve-Cutler's girlfriend has one leg.
  • Insufferable Genius: Skull Skelton, the intelligence officer who's too intelligent for his own good.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: In just about every book. Each ensemble usually consists of the pilots in a fighter squadron - about a dozen to begin with - and their replacements.
  • Running Gag: Owing to the chaos caused by the retreat out of France, the consequent scattered postings of squadron personnel to other jobs, and the frequent moves between bases in the South of England, the military bureaucracy has lost all the paperwork and none of the Piece of Cake pilots is, at the moment, even being paid for putting their lives on the line. This situation persists for a good five months. This leads a character to put an alternative meaning on Churchill's big speech: Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few...

  "He must be talking about our back-pay, then."

  • Series Continuity Error: Quite a big one. In A Piece of Cake, the bluff and energetic Air Commodore "Baggy" Bletchley appears to die a painful and embarrassing death - he is trapped in the toilet when a German fighter raids the airstrip, and the portable lavatory is seen bowling across the field in a hail of machine-gun and cannon fire. While it is not expressly stated that Bletchley dies, the circumstances would seem pretty conclusive. He would have to have been an immortal Houdini to have got out in time. Yet he re-appears, seemingly undamaged, in A Good Clean Fight to carry on delivering impractical, confused, contradictory and pilot-killing orders to Squadron Leader Barton...
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Surprisingly few, considering that six of the books take place during the war.
  • Toilet Humour: In A Piece of Cake, Steele-Stebbing's way of getting back at his tormentor Moggy Cattermole is to wait until Moggy is in the portable lavatory, and then connect it with a chain to a large truck. Which he then drives around the airstrip. The results are a bit messy.
  • Shoot the Dog: Squadron Leader Rex's dog Reilly receives a mercy killing halfway through Piece of Cake while pining for his dead master. Although it might have been because Reilly was constantly pissing on everyone's legs.
  • Spot of Tea: They're British, after all.
  • World War One: Goshawk Squadron, War Story, and Hornet's Sting. All feature the exploits of the Royal Flying Corps.
  • World War Two: Piece of Cake, A Good Clean Fight, and Damn Good Show. Mostly about the Royal Air Force, with cameos from the Special Air Service, the Afrika Korps, and several reporters.
    • Also, Kramer's War, The Eldorado Network, and Artillery of Lies, though these are about noncombatants. Has since written a novel about the Vulcan Bombers of the 1960's, then Britain's primary nuclear deterrent, and the sort of pilots who would have nuked Russia.
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