Hank Searls (born Henry Hunt Searls August 10, 1922) is an American author and screenwriter. His novels included The Crowded Sky (1960), which was adapted as a film with Dana Andrews and Rhonda Fleming, The Penetrators (1965, writing as Anthony Gray), and The Pilgrim Project (1964), which was adapted as the 1968 film Countdown. Searls also wrote the novelizations for the films Jaws 2 (1978) starring Roy Scheider and Murray Hamilton and Jaws: The Revenge (1987) starring Michael Caine and Lorraine Gary.
Set in the corridors of power of the USAF's Strategic Air Command, the 1965 novel The Penetrators is the story of a maverick Royal Air Force exchange officer who leads a mock Avro Vulcan bomber attack on the USA. Replete with quotes from Curtis LeMay, Robert S McNamara and other key figures of the Cold War era, The Penetrators foreshadowed the kind of richly detailed, political-military thriller which later became the trademark of Tom Clancy. The book also strongly argued the case for the US's manned long-range bomber force, which was then in danger of being phased out in favour of ICBMs.
Based on his own novel of the same title, Searls wrote the screenplay for the 1978 Angie Dickinson television film Overboard. He wrote a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. The Lost Prince: Young Joe, The Forgotten Kennedy. This became the basis of the 1977 television film Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy, with Peter Strauss in the title role.
Searls' other military and aviation-themed novels included: The Astronaut (1962), Pentagon (1971), Hero Ship (1969), The Big X (1959), and Altitude Zero (1991). His other writings were Firewind (1981), Sounding (1982), Blood Song (1984), Kataki (1987), and The Adventures of Mike Blair (1988). He also wrote the novelisations of the films Jaws 2 in 1978 and Jaws: The Revenge in 1987.
In the book "Console Wars" (2014) by Blake Harris, the popular Sega Genesis game Ecco the Dolphin (1992) is said to be inspired by Searls' novel "Sounding", though the reference is anonymized. Ed Annunziata, designer of Ecco and its sequel, allegedly came up with the concept for the game while reading the novel.
Film and television adaptations
- Overboard (1978) (TV) (novel) (screenplay)
- Jaws 2 New York : Bantam, 1978
- Jaws: The Revenge New York : Berkley, 1987
- Wheels (1978) TV mini-series (writer)
- Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy (1977) (TV) (biography: The Lost Prince: Young Joe, The Forgotten Kennedy)
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury "Operation: Offset" (1971) TV episode (writer)
- Countdown (1968) (novel The Pilgrim Project)
- Felony Squad "A Date with Terror" (1966) TV episode (writer)
- Convoy "The Man with the Saltwater Socks" (1965) TV episode (writer)
- Kraft Suspense Theatre "Streetcar, Do You Read Me?" (1965) TV episode (teleplay) (as Henry Searls)
- The Fugitive "Never Wave Goodbye: Part 1" (1963) TV episode (writer); "Never Wave Goodbye: Part 2" (1963) TV episode (writer)
- The New Breed "No Fat Cops" (1961) TV episode (writer)
- The Crowded Sky (1960) (novel)
- Hank Searls at the Internet Movie Database
- Hank Searls' bibliography at Fantasticfiction.co.uk
- Hank Searls at SciFan