Friday, October 4, 2013

Tom Clancy Passes On

Author Tom Clancy died 1 October 2013 at the age of 66 from an undisclosed illness. He may be best known for his series of novels featuring CIA analyst Jack Ryan, including The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger.

Tom Clancy was born on 12 April 1947 in Rosedale, Maryland. He attended the preparatory school Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland and then Loyola College in Baltimore. He graduated with a degree in English literature in 1969. While in college he joined the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, although his near-sightedness would prevent him from joining the military. Following college he worked as an insurance agent, writing novels in his spare time.

It was in 1985 that he sold his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, for $5000. Tom Clancy had only expected to sell 5000 copies of the book, but sold 45,000. After the book was praised by Ronald Reagan, The Hunt for Red October became a best seller, selling 300,000 copies in hardcover and 2 million copies in paperback. Tom Clancy was a fairly prolific author, writing eight novels featuring Jack Ryan alone. He also wrote eleven non-fiction books and three novels that were not set in series. He created several novel series that were written by others, including "Op-Center", "Net Force", "Power Plays", and so on.

Starting with The Hunt for Red October in 1990, several of Mr. Clancy's novels would be adapted as feature films. In 1996 Tom Clancy and former British Royal Navy submarine Douglas Littlejohns founded the video game company Red Storm Entertainment. The company released several games based on both the works of Tom Clancy and the various series created by him. In 2008 it was bought by Ubisoft.

I will not say that Tom Clancy was a great writer and I didn't agree with many of his views, but he was an author of some talent who carved out his own niche. Indeed, it can be argued that he virtually invented the modern day techno-thriller. Mr. Clancy's novels were tightly plotted tales that were rich in technical detail. It was a successful combination that not only led to films and video games based on his works, but proved a strong influence on yet other writers and even film and television. Arguably the TV series 24 owes a debt to Tom Clancy. Tom Clancy was not simply a highly successful author, then, but a very influential one as well.

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