One Ping Only – R.I.P. Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, the prolific bestselling author, creator of the Jack Ryan movie franchise and namesake mastermind behind numerous popular videogames, passed away this week at the age of 66. That seems like far too young an age to go. At the same time, I’m a little surprised that he was only 66. It feels like Clancy had been around forever.

The author first shot to fame with his 1984 Cold War submarine thriller ‘The Hunt for Red October’, which was adapted into a blockbuster movie starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery in 1990. Clancy followed that up with a long-running series of books featuring the same Jack Ryan character. Harrison Ford took over the role in the movie versions of ‘Patriot Games‘ and ‘Clear and Present Danger‘, both of which were also sizable hits. Less successful was the prequel/reboot movie version of ‘The Sum of All Fears‘ starring Ben Affleck. (The book that one came from was neither a prequel nor a reboot.) Currently, a re-reboot movie goofily titled ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ (apparently not based on any single specific novel) is in the midst of production with Chris Pine in the lead.

Clancy’s flair for combining crackerjack plotting with frighteningly plausible military and espionage scenarios proved immediately popular. ‘Red October’, his first published novel, was a massive bestseller, and he never looked back from that success. Like many readers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I devoured his first several books. However, I lost interest when his plots settled into repetitious formula, and he started licensing his name as a branding trademark for other authors. In later years, he seemed content to reap the royalties from various book and videogame franchises (the many ‘Splinter Cell’, ‘Rainbow Six’ and ‘Ghost Recon’ games among the latter) created by others but bearing his name above the titles.

Nevertheless, Tom Clancy made an indelible mark on pop culture, influenced countless imitators, and almost singled-handedly reshaped what audiences expected from the military techno-thriller genre across books, movies, videogames and other media. He leaves a significant legacy in his wake.

At the time of this writing, a cause of death has not yet been announced.

Have you read any of Tom Clancy’s books? Rather, I should probably ask how many Tom Clancy books you’ve read?

[Source: CNN. Thanks to Brian for the tip. ]

5 comments

  1. Ted S.

    Read most of the Jack Ryan and John Clark books, my favorites were Without Remorse and The Cardinal of the Kremlin. I too loss interest of his later books, not because of his “sell out” but because of 9/11. Most of his work were about what if scenarios and when the attack happened, I just didn’t want to read his work anymore.

  2. Lord Bowler

    I’m a big reader of Tom Clancy, read all of his novels through “Teeth of the Tiger”.

    My favorites are Cardinal of the Kremlin, Hunt for Red October and Without Remorse. And Red Storm Rising (WW3 Scenario).

    I lost some interest in his later novels like Red Rabbit and Teeth of the Tiger. But the novels that follow these seem to more interesting with the Jack Ryan, Jr. storyline.

    Also, sadly, we lost Vince Flynn at age 46. He has written a dozen books about a CIA/Assassin Mitch Rapp which are really, REALLY good reads! And, soon to be a movie at some point.

    Tom Clancy paved the way for authors like Vince Flynn, Brad Thor and others to follow.

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