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Tom Clancy

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WhiteWolf View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WhiteWolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Tom Clancy
    Posted: January/24/2006 at 7:54pm
Actually, this topic's title should read:

"Where are you Tom Clancy? or, The Sad State of the Technothriller"

I posted in the DK forum that Tom Clancy had retired from writing fiction, and that's technically inaccurate. He has retired from writing any more Jack Ryan books, however, so maybe that's what I couldn't remember quite so well.

It was surprising for me to discover that a guy who was essentially responsible for developing and strengthening an entire sub-genre of fiction, usually known as the "techno-thriller," would have such a limited web presence. Now, I'm no 'net genius, but a few simple searches have turned up almost nothing actually related to Tom Clancy the author. Countless references to the Tom Clancy video games, most notably RAINBOW SIX and SPLINTER CELL can be found anywhere. Why would a man who is known to be so technically accurate not have the slickest officail website around? I can't answer that. But he always has been as secretive about his books as the CIA officers he writes about are with their own secrets, so it's possible he just didn't want to have a web site with nothing notable on it. I'm not sure. These days, it's not really like it costs anything, and you'd think a guy like him would even be out there blogging a little.

I did, on the other hand, come up with the Tom Clancy FAQ, which is neither flashy nor regularly updated, but does contain some interesting information and links about a writer who apparently needs no advertising.

Most interestingly is the amazon.com listing of "New Clancy 1," which could be a manual for flossing your teeth for all of the additional information offered about it. After searching around, though, I did discover a few vague comments that point to the notion that Clancy will be releasing this "novel" on May 31st of 2006, but that is will not be a Jack Ryan novel. So it appears that at least that much of the rumor maight be true. It's unfortuanate, because after so many thousands of pages I had become very attached to those characters. But I suppose there is really only so much they can do. It will be nice to see what Mr. Clancy can do when he spreads his wings a little more.

And if you read my other posts about him, I should also note that I got the Jack Ryan chronology wrong (as it is different from the published order). It really goes like this:

WITHOUT REMORSE
PATRIOT GAMES
RED RABBIT
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
THE CARDINAL OF THE KREMLIN
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS
DEBT OF HONOR
EXECUTIVE ORDERS
RAINBOW SIX
THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON



Anyway, I thought this would be a good thread to start, as the date of release will be approaching, and I still have yet to read THE TEETH OF THE TIGER and RED RABBIT. And I know Gem and Gene will be happy we're using this "other" forum a little, when it's not involving group reads. I know I'll be posting here again soon, because I have a lot of "venting" to do about the sad state of the technothriller, and all the crap that some of these authors keep pumping out. Tom Clancy is needed now more than ever, not just so he doesn't get rusty, but so he can save the day and rescue his own floundering genre.

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gemtaur80 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gemtaur80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/25/2006 at 8:06am
Have you read Deaver's Blue Nowhere? It's a techno-thriller, heavy on the techno part. I've never actually read Clancy just seen the movies so I don't know if he's at all comparable in writing style and such.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WhiteWolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/25/2006 at 2:26pm
The only Deaver I know of is Jeffrey Deaver, and no, I haven't read anything by him. But as far as I know, he wrote THE BONE COLLECTOR, which was a decent movie, and I also heard his books are the main inspiration for the CSI TV shows. That would certainly qualify him as a technical writer, but more in the vein of crime writing and forensic science. With the term "techno-thriller," people are more referring to military (and sometimes espionage or international mystery) writing. The Clancy FAQ site lists some authors who bear some resemblance to Clancy (although none of them are nearly as good), including Stephen Coonts, Dale Brown, David Hagberg, Harold Coyle, Larry Bond, WEB Griffin,
Fredrick Forsythe and John LeCarre. Some others I would toss in are Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, and Patrick Robinson.

Out of all of them, I'd say Vince Flynn shows the most promise, although I don't think he's quite hit his stride yet. David Hagberg, in a small sampling (a short novel in the COMBAT compilation edited by Stephen Coonts) is easily the worst of all of these writers. Don't even bother. Patrick Robinson wrote a few great books (NIMITZ CLASS and KILO CLASS), but then suffered from the same problem that forced me to stop reading John Grisham: he just couldn't help repeating himself. Some of these writers reosrt to the same characters so often that you could change their names constantly from book to book and never know the difference (or indifference, as it were). It points to one of many problems with the genre. The writers just aren't very good. Too much focus on events and not enough on story. Too much focus on a type of character, and not enough on an actual character that the reader can learn about and relate to and understand through the course of events.

People may say what they want about Tom Clancy, but the truth is that the man has always been a good writer. His use of language, by comparison, has always been much better than the hacks (like Hagberg) who should never have been allowed to publish a novel in the first place.

A large part of the problem is the publishing industry. Publishers and agents will tell pretty much everyone who wants to get involved in writing "techno-thrillers" that they have to write about the technology well first (the tanks and ships and jets and so on), make sure they have recurring characters (as in, a series), and use short, punctuated sentence structure that is heavy on detail but light on imagination or meaning.

Those boundaries are so restricting that a writer will inevitably fall into the trap that Patrick Robinson found himself in. His "hero" character was an aging National Security advisor. That left him no room whatsoever to move around. Jack Ryan, on the other hand, started as a young CIA analyst and ran the gamit from bottom to top in several long and involved stories. Now it's over and there's nothing more to write about Jack Ryan, but that should be how it's done.

Oh boy, now I'm really rambling. I'll continue later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gemtaur80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/25/2006 at 2:30pm
Eye of the Needle, can't remember who wrote it but it's a name you've probably heard. That was a good one, about a German spy in the UK during WWII.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WhiteWolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/25/2006 at 2:38pm
I don't recall the title, but WEB Griffin, who I mentioned, writes a lot of WWII books, and Robert Ludlum wrote some of the best WWII espionage novels ever written.

There is one novel that I have, but I confess to being a little intimidated by, called CRYPTONOMICON, by Neal Stephenson. It's found in the science fiction section, but technically it's a WWII novel that deals with code-writing and data storage in the present day. It's big, and I mean BIG, and since I'm not too well versed in hacker technology, I'm not sure about it. But I was intrigued enough to buy it, so now I just have to find the time to crack it open and give it a whirl.

I'll look up EYE OF THE NEEDLE and see what I find. Another author in the field (whom I haven't read) that I should mention is Brad Thor. His books look very interesting, and I'll be considering him in the future.
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