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Tom Clancy Is Dead At 66 236

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bummer dept.
guttentag writes "The author of The Hunt for Red October and many military and espionage novels which inspired a number of movies video games died last night in a Baltimore Hospital. The news was first reported by Publishers Weekly's Twitter account this morning and confirmed by New York Times Book Reporter Julie Bosman's Twitter account."
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Tom Clancy Is Dead At 66

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  • by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:50AM (#45014793)

    Although his writing was pretty mechanical, his stories were real page turners. It's sad to see him go.

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:54AM (#45014843)
      Without Remorse was one of the better modern fiction novels I've read, and totally accessible to those not looking for military porn
      • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:01AM (#45014927)
        One of my favorites, as is Red Storm Rising (at one point I may have had 3 copies of Without Remorse, and 4 copies of Red Storm Rising). The juxtaposition of the 2 jungles (one an actual jungle, Vietnam; the other an urban jungle, the poor/drug areas of Baltimore) was really well done, especially how Clark has to transition each way pretty much overnight. And Red Storm Rising is classic military porn, yes. But as a standalone novel the characters were pretty well developed, the plot was believable, and the combat seemed spot on and realistic, both in the technologies/tactics used and the outcomes.
      • by oobayly (1056050) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:02AM (#45014945)

        Definitely, thought the Jack Ryan universe got a bit stupid in the end. I did however enjoy tying up various characters from all the books, even the minor ones (Bondarenko, Ozo). I have to say that Red Storm Rising was probably my favourite.

        Shame to see him go, even though I haven't read any new of his for absolute years.

    • They made some pretty good movies out of his books, but I confess the few that I read I really struggled through.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      his are some of my favorite books.

      i just wish he hadnt put his name on those "co-authored" series, never cared for most of those.

      I liked the movies, but really the books had so much more going on. like Red October, they completely leave out the near conflict and nuclear war that almost starts, like the jets attacking or threatening each others fleets, and so on.

      but i love most of his books. and his nofiction was pretty fascinating too.

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:08AM (#45015053) Homepage

        i just wish he hadnt put his name on those "co-authored" series, never cared for most of those.

        But, really, can you blame him?

        When someone comes along and says "hey, we'll give you big piles of money if we can crank out pulp associated with your name and based in and around your fiction", it's hard to turn them down when they add enough zeroes.

        I suspect he was happy enough to get the money.

        • by osu-neko (2604)
          Bingo. And some people liked them. You're always free to buy or not buy what you like or don't like.
          • by tepples (727027)

            You're always free to buy or not buy what you like or don't like.

            Unless the cartel bundles what you don't like with what you like, such as the cooking channels with a cable channel that shows film adaptations of Tom Clancy novels.

        • i just wish he hadnt put his name on those "co-authored" series, never cared for most of those.

          But, really, can you blame him?

          When someone comes along and says "hey, we'll give you big piles of money if we can crank out pulp associated with your name and based in and around your fiction", it's hard to turn them down when they add enough zeroes.

          I suspect he was happy enough to get the money.

          I don't think I ever read Clancy. He was the last of the Cold War novelists, and that kind of stuff isn't up my alley. But the '90's were full of "co-authored" books. Apparently the publishers no longer had the courage to introduce new authors so they attached up-and-comers to well-established big names.

          As it happens, most of the authors I read on a regular basis who are new since about Y2K didn't originally show up as co-authors, for whatever that ploy was worth.

          • by dywolf (2673597)

            ill be fair to "coautheroed" guys. some i like, some i dont.

            NetForce (clancy's coauther series) i didnt care for, because it seemed liek it was obviously written by the other guy, cause the comptuer stuff was just so....bad...and Clancy is really good at the research and realism side of things. so i read half ot two, and dropped both.

            Jack Du Brul is an author i like. bit pulpy and predictable, but still entertaining. and he got his start (i thik) doing coauthors with Clive Cussler before couple of his serie

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Sometimes, it's not about the money. Sometimes, it's about giving an aspiring author that shot at the big money. Publishers might not want to take a chance on an unpublished author's own work, but if the author produces a work that's tied to an existing money-making series, one that can't go wrong, then they'd be more willing to take a look at the author.

          Only if the co-authored series is successful would the aspiring author then gets his or her own deal.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        I liked the movies, but really the books had so much more going on. like Red October, they completely leave out the near conflict and nuclear war that almost starts, like the jets attacking or threatening each others fleets, and so on.

        My "favorite" part of the Red October movie is when they are in the CIC of the carrier and Thompson says one of the F-14s clipped a Soviet plane, but the video they show of a plane crashing to the deck of the carrier(which is obviously real footage) is clearly NOT of an F-14. But otherwise a good movie. And it's still weird to see Baldwin so young and skinny

        • I also liked the part in the movie when Tim Curry as the medical officer shows up after the political officer "slipped on tea".
          IIRC, the medical officer said "Don't be upset. It was a mercy killing. He had a certain naive charm, but no muscle."

      • by Loether (769074)

        Couldn't agree more on the co-Authored books sucking. Talk about the definition of sell out. I love Tom Clancy and I have most of the "co-authored books" I got them as gifts from well meaning family. I don't even consider them TC books.

        Cardinal in the Kremlin is one of my favorites. I love the old soviets for bad guys and space lasers whats not to like.

    • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#45015209)

      Although his writing was pretty mechanical, his stories were real page turners.

      That's certainly true of the earlier books that he actually wrote. I think I read and enjoyed all of them. One thing I've always disliked is when authors needlessly inject their own politics, left or right, into fiction, but Clancy was no worse with that than many authors.

      It's another story when you start talking about the later books (after 2003) that said "by Tom Clancy" in gigantic type, and "with so-and-so" in little type. In other words, books not really written by Clancy. Why a successful author would do that is beyond me. Even if he didn't feel like ever writing another book, he didn't need to, as I'm sure he'd already made a fortune from his books and the movie rights.

    • by guises (2423402) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:04PM (#45015819)
      Setting aside his writing for the moment, he impressed me back in 2001 on September 11. He had a book where some terrorists hijacked a plane and crashed it into the capital building, so the news drones had him on so they could say things at him about that. Meanwhile, he had a message: "Don't make the mistake of blaming Islam or Muslims for this. This was a specific group of terrorists, not representative of Muslims in general." (I paraphrase.) The talking heads tried to redirect him, ask him how he "felt" about this or that nonsense, but he stayed on message.

      He was the only one for at least a couple of days after 9/11 (that I saw on TV at least) who both recognized that this would be a problem and who called for consideration in the face of bigotry. I have trouble believing that he was the only one who recognized that this would be a problem.
      • by kermidge (2221646)

        What also struck me at the time was Condoleeza Rice saying that "no one could have imagined" using planes to hit buildings. On my bookshelf at the time were three books with just that plot element, Clancy's "Debt of Honor" among them.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @01:14PM (#45016905)

      Although his writing was pretty mechanical, his stories were real page turners.

      I guess that the people who claim that Tolkien's writing in LoTR progresses very slowly haven't read the six or so pages (forming an entire chapter) that Clancy spends on the first thirty nanoseconds of the nuclear explosion in Sum of All Fears. ;-)

    • Although his writing was pretty mechanical, his stories were real page turners. It's sad to see him go.

      I enjoyed reading a number of his books, but they sure felt like they were basically the same book, over and over, with just some different plot twists thrown in.

      And he kind of jumped the shark when his main character became POTUS (to use the shorthand he is largely responsible for bringing into popular culture).

  • Write the story for Ghost Recon 17: Invade Cuba Again?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm guessing a Ghost writer.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Whoever is behind the David Michaels pseudonym. Probably Peter Telep.

      Ghost Recon is among the Tom-Clancy-as-a-brand-name properties.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:53AM (#45014831) Homepage Journal

    n/t

  • A Blue October (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kingtet (3360659) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:58AM (#45014895)
    The technical detail and intriguing blending of military tactics and politics engrossed me as a child. Perhaps more importantly, his political views that often shone through his writings challenged my own, which are often contrary to the ones he held, in a way that did not make me instinctively defensive or unreasonable. He was a great writer, indeed. RIP.
  • Very tech oriented (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:01AM (#45014929)

    He was very tech oriented and worked extensively with people in the field to try to make his novels sound as accurate on the details as he could. He was good enough at taking non-classified data and extrapolating where things could go from there that he received visits [clancyfaq.com] from the FBI and CIA to find out how he knew what he knew.

    He certainly made things up (caterpillar drive for the sub etc), but the point is he worked tirelessly to get technical details right in as many cases as he could, and to try get them as plausible as he could get away with in those cases where he needed to make the up. He put a lot more effort into getting the details right than most authors and far more than Hollywood ever did and for that his passing is very relevant for Slashdot. He took creative license, but he took it far less than a lot of other authors (Bourne Ultimatum series etc) and used it far more selectively.

    He wrote 17 number one selling books and had three of his books turned into blockbuster movies. He was active in having games made about his books even back in the 80's and made sure a series of games was made ever since then. He came up with ideas for terrorism like flying a civilian airliner into a government building before 9/11.

    • by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Slight correction...he had 4 movies made after his books. The press releases keep skipping Clear and Present Danger with William Dafoe and Harrison Ford. Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and Sum of All Fears.

    • I'd rather read nonfiction. Real history is more interesting IMHO.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "..for terrorism like flying a civilian airliner into a government building before 9/11."
      genius, thinking up things DECADES after other people did.

    • by unitron (5733)

      Please be very careful to differentiate between the three books written by Robert Ludlum featuring the Jason Bourne character and any and everything else that's come along since involving a character with the same name.

    • He wrote 17 number one selling books and had three of his books turned into blockbuster movies.

      More than 3 books became movies. Off the top of my head, Hunt for Red October, Sum of All Fears, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Red Storm Rising. Would not be surprised to see several more of his works become movies at some point.

    • He was very tech oriented and worked extensively with people in the field to try to make his novels sound as accurate on the details as he could.

      ...with the glaring and amazingly stupid exception of the physically implausible "life signs detector" in Rainbow Six. In fact, the whole Rainbow Six book felt a bit weird, even though the plot was cool. The Brain Eater must have gotten him too in the end, it seems.

  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:02AM (#45014941) Homepage

    So the passing of an author who is popular amongst nerds and geeks gets mentioned here (all due respect to Clancy) while the obituaries of much more significant pioneers of geeky, nerdy things are routinely dropped from consideration after submission. It happens again and again. It seems like popularity trumps significance. How about an Obituary Section?

    • by onyxruby (118189)

      He popularized technology and did a damn sight to try to get it right in the media. Remember watching the Matrix and seeing the use of Nmap and being excited because they got a single piece of tech right? This guy worked hard to get as many of those pieces right as he could.

      Most authors don't get visits from the FBI or CIA because they managed to get the tech that spot on. Clancy worked to incorporate tech day in and out for decades and did it books, movies and games, arguably to a greater extent than any o

    • With a sig like 'Freshly Exhumed' you could curate the thing. I'd vote for you as section editor. What a great idea!

      • That is his name or handle, not is sig. His sig is: I deny that I have not avoided attaining the opposite of that which I do not want. Which may also be relevant to the discussion.

      • I would do it but I don't want to have to go through the elaborate, horrible hazing rituals to which I've heard all new Slashdot editors are subjected.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      the obituaries of much more significant pioneers of geeky, nerdy things are routinely dropped from consideration after submission

      Whom are you talking about?

  • by Zedrick (764028) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:03AM (#45014959)
    I've always wondered what kind of audience his books are intended for. I really liked Red Storm Rising when I first read it at the age of 14-15, Patriots, Hunt For the Red October and something else were also fun. Then I (and my classmates) kind of outgrew him, and the later books just seems bizarre - greens are terrorists?

    I can still enjoy re-reading some stuff, just like I can kind of enjoy watching teen-movies like Pacific Rim (ok, that's not totally true - stopped watching after 4/5th when I got tired of all pointless robot battles). But I get the impression most of his readers are adults?

    Anyway, thanks Tom for at least providing the inspiration for Red Storm Rising the sub simulator! One of the best C64 games ever.
    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Some authors improve with time and exposure, others are a flash in the pan. Some produce their greatest works young, and other old.

      The Tom Clancy I will always remember is "Red Storm Rising" (not a great novel, but a great page turner) , "Red October" and "Patriot Games". Tom Clancy's early books were fantastic page turners, not high art but highly entertaining and quite well thought out. I wish that all of his works were of the same quality, or better.

      Now we will never know if there was the potential for g

    • ... the later books just seems bizarre - greens are terrorists?

      Some of them, yes.

      Domestic Eco-Terrorism Has Deep Pockets. And Many Enablers. [forbes.com]

      The combined damage in North America alone from eco-terrorism was estimated by the FBI to exceed $100 million.

      These terrorists did not limit their actions to the destruction of property. They planted pipe bombs, mailed packages booby-trapped with razor blades, and physically assaulted scientists at public events. By 2001 the FBI had characterized them as the nation’s most active domestic terrorist group. One ELF member remains at large and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list today. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, these radical domestic acts of violence against agriculture slowed as public tolerance for these crimes wore thin, but the attacks continued overseas with the support of groups like Greenpeace.

      • The article you link includes destruction of GM crops in what it calls terrorism. It is unsurprising that the investor class's journal of choice thinks this way. (Forbes)

        Most reasonable people think of terrorism as acts threatening human life/lives.

        Why would slashdotters support GM crops? The goal of such research is to make plants into intellectual property - not usually the favourite kind of property around here.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          "The goal of such research is to make plants into intellectual property "
          false. The goal it to make better plants. SOME company want to use that to control seeds, but it isn't the goal of GM.

          "not usually the favourite kind of property around here."
          I"m a big fan of reasonable intellectual property. As is every one to some degree; whether they admit it or not. It would be the rare person who would write something and then let someone else take credit for it.

        • Why would slashdotters support GM crops? The goal of such research is to make plants into intellectual property - not usually the favourite kind of property around here.

          Goals for GM food vary, and include increased yields, resistance to disease, and other properties. One important one is to better the lives of the people eating them by combating disease. Consider "golden rice." [npr.org] I would think (hope?) most people on Slashdot aren't big fans of disease and starvation of other people.

      • At a $100 million dollars, you're at the level of taxicab drivers stealing loose change in NYC. It probably cost the FBI more than that in tech support for the email system to get the number fudged up between various departments.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I've always wondered what kind of audience his books are intended for.

      For me, Tom Clancy books were always the ones I brought on vacation with me. In fact, they still are. Most of the books are pretty long, so you only need to bring one or two with you.

      His books are pretty much geo-political/military/espionage thrillers, usually have a very complex plot presented from multiple angles involving a lot of events and characters, and make for a very satisfying (if admittedly escapist) read.

      Since there was cont

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      A lot of his fanbase seems to be political - hardcore conservative types. He really seemed to be pandering to them (or perhaps to himself?) later on. I'm talking past the green terrorists - there's a scene in the last book I read (maybe his last, or second-to-last?) where Jack Ryan, running for President once again, announces in a debate that if he captures the book's thinly-veiled bin Laden analog, he will *not* give him a trial and keep him locked up in Gitmo - to which he gets a standing ovation.

      If you b

  • by wernercd (837757) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:03AM (#45014965) Homepage
    Obamacare starts. Tom Clancy Dies. Coincidence? I think not.
    • Is this the Splinter Cell guy?
    • Just like a spy... die one day to live again on another with a new name.

    • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:24AM (#45015249) Journal

      Oh come on, you can do better than that. How about this: NSA spy thriller manuscript found partially written in dead author's home. Contained too much truth. Experts say it may have gone beyond Snowden's revelations, and pulled in numerous undisclosed sources. Cause of death remains unknown.

    • by MTEK (2826397)
      Yikes, I realize cost-controls are an unfortunate reality, but someone needs to slow down those death panels.
    • Months later, it would become obvious to us that Putin had had the KGB assassinate Clancy as the first move in a complicated plot to restore the Soviet Union. But by the time we realized that it was already to late to stop it. Will it be up to one agent to save a planet teetering on the brink of world war?

  • by saveferrousoxide (2566033) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:05AM (#45014985)
    Am I the only one who finds it sad that such an influential author's death warranted only a tweet by his publisher and that it was "confirmed" by a NYT reporter's tweet as opposed to say, Clancy's estate or an official family statement? Tom Clancy dies and he gets two tweets. I suppose there's a bit of irony there. Now get off my lawn.
    • Sorry for talking to myself here, but I just realized it was "Publisher Weekly's" twitter account, not "his publisher's weekly" twitter account. My mistake!
  • CRAZY IVAN (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I shout this every time I see someone fake right then flip around for a u-turn at a 4-way stop in San Francisco, which is like every day.

  • Where I am going, you cannot follow.
  • The Hunt for Red October was made into at least two video games; I played the more complex "simulator-style" game on the Amiga, and it was actually a fantastic game.

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Clancy and gaming is an interesting topic.

      Much of Red Storm Rising [wikipedia.org] was modeled largely on naval combat simulations using a table-top minatures game that evolved into the Harpoon video game franchise [wikipedia.org].

      The wikipedia article about Red Storm Rising specifically state that the Soviet invasion of Iceland and the huge airborne anti-ship missile attack on the American carrier task force were played out tabletop before being written.

      I found this fascinating writeup [futureofthebook.org] of the gaming sessions that led up to some of the m

  • *toasts* (Score:4, Informative)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:41AM (#45015477) Homepage

    [R]ed Storm Rising
    [I]nto the Storm
    [P]atriot Games

    Tom Clancy :'(

    ***

    And lets not forget his depicting an aircraft being crashed into the capitol building years before it was attempted in real life.

  • Seemed like a decent guy (nice stuff with that kid Kyle in the 90's).

    When they talk about delaying social security to improve your payments, need to keep this in mind. For the most part- taking social security early or late still results in a break even between 82 and 84. If you take it early, you start losing your bet at age 82. If you take it late, you start winning your bet between 82 and 84.

    If you think you are likely to die prior to age 82 (when did your parents and grandparents die, what kind of he

  • Way back when John Grisham's first book had hit it big Clancy was being interviewed on one of the morning shows. They asked him with the popularity of Grisham's book would he ever write a book with a lawyer as a hero. His answer was, "I think I'm a pretty good fiction writer, but I'm not that good." (Paraphrase from a 20 year old memory.)
    • Way back when John Grisham's first book had hit it big Clancy was being interviewed on one of the morning shows. They asked him with the popularity of Grisham's book would he ever write a book with a lawyer as a hero. His answer was, "I think I'm a pretty good fiction writer, but I'm not that good." (Paraphrase from a 20 year old memory.)

      Michael Connelly, "The Fifth Witness". Quite good until just before the end. On the last pages it suddenly gets a lot better.

  • I loved the early Red Storm Entertainment games of Rainbow 6 and the original Ghost Recon. Still haunts me that a game released circa 2000 predicted a Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. And then it happened.

  • I first heard about Hunt for Red October. I still have my first edition copy.

    I had lots of questions from friends and family about how Nuclear Reactors really worked, and until that book came out, I was really scared about what I could and couldn't say without jeopardizing my security clearance.

    After I read that book, I would reference people with questions to that book. It answered their questions.

  • Truly an American icon.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:27PM (#45016201)

    It used to be you could read Tom Clancy and identify with the characters, exult in the common mission, and marvel at his technical details. It didn't matter what part of the political spectrum you hailed from, you could still read his books and feel good about being an American. Then at some point, I think it was "Debt of Honor," his schtick slid beyond to a right-wing crazyland fantasy where I could not follow.

    I come from a military family. I come from a family with deep roots in America, half native-American, half-original European settlers. I could not stomach the jingoism that defined his later writing. America is not a destination, it's a process. If you forget that, and kick everybody who you don't see eye-to-eye with off the bus, then you forfeit your own seat on the ride, as far as I'm concerned.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Well, all his best-sellers were earlier in his career, so I'm sure you weren't the only one. Military techno-fetishism was a lot more relevant when conflict with a technological peer seemed close at hand. When that ended, hawks kept being hawks, but with less righteous justification.
  • Does anyone know the cause of death? 66 is pretty young when you consider the average lifespan.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @01:14PM (#45016891)

    His early books, (all in the Jack Ryan) series, up to and including Cardinal of the Kremlin, were excellent, as was Red Storm Rising and some of his non-fiction books were excellent. Well-written, tightly-plotted, thrillers with interesting characters. I think Sum of All Fears was the start of the slide (Clear and Present was borderline...)

    I was first introduced to his books when reading a copy of Hunt for Red October in my high-school library. In retrospect, I should have stolen it, as it was a first-edition copy from the Naval Institute Press. (His jacket photo was of him as a dorky clerk in his Father-in-law's insurance office.)

    I think his later books suffered from his success, as they were written like he no longer paid any attention to his editor (I once saw the same sentence repeated on consecutive pages), and his books become overlong, sloppy, and too packed with rambling polemic. (Although I suppose you can argue that for the audience that enjoys polemic, they were too mild.)

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