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RIP Tom Clancy

Was saddened to read yesterday that author Tom Clancy passed away, aged 66, after a “brief illness”. Guess it must have been sudden, as he had a new novel at the end of the year, and a new Jack Ryan movie directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine (a “reboot”, I guess).

His passing does have some resonance for me. While I’d totally gone off his work in recent years — something about the real world turning into a bad version of one of his books since 9/11 had something to do with it — in my mid to late teens he was probably my favourite author. Or at least the one I read most avidly.

I was introduced via the excellent Hunt for Red October movie, then I quickly read the original book, then in the space of just a couple of years all his other earlier books. I did particularly like “Clear and Present Danger” at the time, though I enjoyed them all. I think as a teenager (this was before YA books really existed as a genre) I was past kids books but not really keen on “literary” books. I wanted something dense and intelligent, but also readable and exciting. I got right into Clancy’s books, though even then I couldn’t get into other similar authors. Something accessible and modern about his style, I guess.

Even as I became aware of politics more, the politics of Clancy didn’t worry me much. While I discovered he was quite conservative (though in modern times I think he was more an “old school” conservative, and certainly not a neo-con), I never could see his books as conservative particularly. He was always a “soldiers first” guy, and had a severe distrust of the bureaucrats and politicians, which isn’t hard to agree with most of the time. And of course I appreciated his technical knowledge and the tech in the books — what else would a tech-savvy teenager read?

Would also mention his contribution to the gaming world with Red Storm Entertainment and the various titles they produced. I was a big fan of the Ghost Recon series on PC.

Somewhere between his Rainbow Six novel (with its terrible “eco-terrorist” villains and deus-ex machina ending) and the real world wars of 9/11 and beyond, I moved on to other authors and other fiction, but I would admit and remember to the years that I was a big fan of his work. They must have had a bit of influence on what I like to write, as well. Always remember your origins.

RIP Mr Clancy.


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