Clancing thoughts

I just heard, this morning on my way in to work, that Tom Clancy had passed away earlier this week. First of all, I was very surprised that I hadn't heard about it earlier.

Then I started to think about his work. We actually had to read 'The Hunt for Red October' as summer reading for Ninth Grade. And I must admit that I liked it. So much that I read 'Patriot Games' and 'Cardinal of the Kremlin' soon after. I read 'Red Storm Rising' in there somewhere as well, although that was not read straight through (I read a chunk of it, put it down, read another big chunk, put it down, then finally finished it. Oddly, given the vast scope and cast, I didn't have trouble remembering who was whom upon picking it back up).

I was surprised to find out, shortly after reading Red October, that Clancy was an insurance agent in Crofton, MD, (long) walking distance from where I was living at the time, in Davidsonville (I only walked it once; the roads were not conducive, to put it mildly). It was cool to see someone so local succeeding so grandly. And it was neat that it was published by the Navy, with the Naval Academy so close (I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence). Clancy, I'm told, soon after bought a huge place on the Chesapeake (and, of course, stopped selling insurance).

Of those books, Patriot Games was actually my favorite of the group, perhaps because it was the most personal for the hero, Jack Ryan. I wonder what it says about me, though, that the character I most identified with in Cardinal, was the geek doing SDI work. I also wonder if that would still be the case, if I reread it.

Anyway, once it came out, I read Clear and Present Danger. It wasn't bad; I ended up reading it a couple of times. The idea of the invincible sniper was a cool one for me, at the time.

Then my dad got me Sum of All Fears when I was still a freshman in college. Again, I read it and enjoyed it. Jack Ryan's promotions seemed borderline on silly, but it still wasn't too bad.

I think I might have read one more (I have a vague recollection of Jack becoming acting President, and can't remember if that was in Sum or the next one), but I basically lost interest in him around that time. I guess maybe I finally saw through the 'gear X spins cog Y, which touched button A, to disastrous effect' elements. Or maybe Jack became uninteresting as a character? Or maybe the plots were just too ridiculous? I really don't remember (though it wasn't politics; I've become far more liberal since I stopped reading him, and I don't think there's any connection there).

But I knew he went on to write many more books. And some were made into movies (I think Red October, a very quotable movie, and Patriot Games were the only two I watched. I liked RO. The lack of authenticity in Patriot Games (places quoted were, for the most part, not the actual places) bugged me enough that I don't remember thinking much of it. And, of course, many were made into video games. Surprising that, as much as I was into video games during and after college, I never played any of them. I suspect that's where he made the most money (NPR, where I heard about his passing, only talked about the video games).

Despite how long it's been since I've read one of his books, I'm very sorry to hear about his passing. I think I'll reread Red October, and maybe Patriot Games, in memory of him.

Resquiescat in Pace, Mr Clancy (ironically, it was probably also in ninth grade that I learned the conjugating necessary to fully understand that phrase in the Latin).

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