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How Did Clancy Know?

 
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How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:35:38 AM   
Canoerebel


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I've read many Tom Clancy novels over the years. His early works were outstanding. His later works left much to be desired. His major character - Ryan - becomes Vice President of the United States. Is this just a coincidence?
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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:48:21 AM   
John 3rd


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...and then becomes President when nearly ALL of Congress is killed in a Kamikaze attack during a Joint Session. What are you saying here Dan?

Executive Orders is my favorite. Required it in my Political Science courses due to the questions of how would one reconstitute the Government? How would one pick the ENTIRE Supreme Court? GREAT stuff!

< Message edited by John 3rd -- 8/30/2012 2:49:58 AM >


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:50:26 AM   
wdolson

 

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The election isn't over yet.

Discussing Tom Clancy is OK, I think we should steer away from any opinions about current US politics (or anybody's current politics). It's been over a month since a thread was locked and I'd like to keep the streak going.

That said, I did like many of Clancy's early books, but I lost interest after the 6th or 7th book. Something was missing that I can't put my finger on.

Bill

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:55:23 AM   
Canoerebel


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This absolutely isn't intended as a political thread, but would be fine for discussing Clancy books.

I think many successful authors write with passion early on.  Then, big contracts are thrown at them, meaning that they are "forced" to write something, anything, quickly.  Rather than the story coming from the heart it comes somewhere that the writer's muse doesn't hang out.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 3:11:11 AM   
Fallschirmjager


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I think Rainbow Six is my favorite. The Bear and the Dragon was where things began to go downhill. It was overly long, and his attempts at erotic writing made for dozens of consecutive pages where I cringed.

That was also the point where he and his published began to rely on his name to promote 'co-authored' books which listed his name first along with a co-author. In reality the co-author would come up with an idea, write the book and Clancy would sign off after reading the manuscript.

I also remember some years ago he was a guest on Conan O'Brien. He seemed to have an ego the size of some of his novels.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 3:21:18 AM   
JeffK


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Canoerebel

This absolutely isn't intended as a political thread, but would be fine for discussing Clancy books.

I think many successful authors write with passion early on.  Then, big contracts are thrown at them, meaning that they are "forced" to write something, anything, quickly.  Rather than the story coming from the heart it comes somewhere that the writer's muse doesn't hang out.


Were they "Contractual Obligation " books rather than his normal output??

He should have dropped Jack Ryan and headed somewhere else.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 3:28:56 AM   
Fallschirmjager


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK


quote:

ORIGINAL: Canoerebel

This absolutely isn't intended as a political thread, but would be fine for discussing Clancy books.

I think many successful authors write with passion early on.  Then, big contracts are thrown at them, meaning that they are "forced" to write something, anything, quickly.  Rather than the story coming from the heart it comes somewhere that the writer's muse doesn't hang out.


Were they "Contractual Obligation " books rather than his normal output??

He should have dropped Jack Ryan and headed somewhere else.



I don't know. Most authors live hand to mouth and scratch out a living. But when you get to the level of a Clancy, Grisham or Steele you might possibly be able to dictate terms to your publisher.

All I know is that I purchased two of them while on vacation a few years ago and they were awful.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 4:30:29 AM   
Commander Cody


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Clancy lost the plot a while ago. His first two, the WWIII one and "Hunt for Red October," were his best. Then slightly less good and then the last one I read, can't remember which, not so good. I think a lot of writers have that issue.

Cheers,
CC

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 4:37:42 AM   
ny59giants


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I still remember asking myself while reading "The Sum of All Fears," what does a couple of trees headed from the Pacific Northwest to Japan have to due with a nuclear weapon found in the Golan Heights?? He did this very well in his earlier books but it got lost to some degree in his later books. The seemingly irrelevant thread ending up big by the end.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 6:19:16 AM   
JocMeister

 

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I´ve also read a lot of the Clany books. All in fact up till "The Bear and the Dragon" which was just tedious. I think his earliest books are by far the best. "Red Storm Rising" and "The hunt for the red October" are very good and I really enjoyed them.

I also really liked "Clear and present danger" (the movie sucked). I think that was the first Clancy book I got. I also think there is a hidden gem in the "Cardinal of Kremlin". That book was an excellent spy novel. Havn´t read it for 10 years but I do remember thinking it was one of the best spy novels I had ever read.

To be honest the whole "Ryan saga" became a bit to tedious after a while. He is not really that interesting as a character after a while. The stereotypes in his books also become a bit too much after a while. Always the incompetent official that is one of the bad guys. The badass Latino that is also a loving father. The badass Vietnam veteran that are struggling with his own ghosts. The evil "power" that wants to attack the US in some obscure way... the list goes on.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 6:26:57 AM   
wdolson

 

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Clancy's characters are sort of cardboard cutouts. It wasn't as obvious in the early books that were event driven. When he tried to flesh out the characters more, it didn't really work that well. Some other authors have had the same problem.

Some other authors are great at character creation and their work often get better with time.

Bill

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 7:10:17 AM   
danlongman

 

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I felt that he was one of those guys who had one or two stories that he built
up in his mind over a life time of selling insurance. Good stories but when they
got out that was pretty much it. I never cared much for Jack Ryan his alter-ego.
(Tom Clancy = Jack Ryan, get it?) One of those do anything/everything guys.
And you're right his attempted porn was almost as embarassing as Heinlein...

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 7:12:53 AM   
Biggus63


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quote:

ORIGINAL: wdolson

Clancy's characters are sort of cardboard cutouts. It wasn't as obvious in the early books that were event driven. When he tried to flesh out the characters more, it didn't really work that well. Some other authors have had the same problem.

Some other authors are great at character creation and their work often get better with time.

Bill

Have to agree on the cardboard cutout thing. The aspect of the early novels that worked was that he did his homework on the military side of things. The characters though have always been laughable stereotypes indeed. At least when you cast the film there's no problem filling it with handsome American men, stunning female intelligence experts, toad-like Russians, a father figure Chief of Staff, etc. It's characters are no more interesting than Biggles and his adversaries. Everytime those guys found a foreign cigarette butt they rightly knew there was trouble afoot, and Clancy's not a lot more subtle.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 8:02:18 AM   
Roger Neilson 3


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There are very few authors who actually can come up with more than two or three books before they start to become formulaic. Some do better as their chosen field offers a greater range of possible manipulations but I do generally find I discover an author and at some point am going to start to despair of them......

A big problem has been the publishing house who keep plugging the famous author rather than looking for new talent - the growth of e-publishing may help with this, though it does also, i gather, permit all manner of dross - some book about the shades of a shade comes to mind.

Roger

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 8:53:10 AM   
Sardaukar


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IIRC, "Jack Ryan" character was property of his ex-wife and he lost rights to use the character after divorce.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 9:31:32 AM   
YankeeAirRat


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According to an article that I read when the "Sum of All Fears" came out, Clancy admitted that he had always intended to write that one first. However, he hit a quandry because he needed find a successful way to introduce the "Jack Ryan" character and in turn that lead to "Hunt" which was begun with a little known incident in the 1970's with a Soviet Naval Vessel named: Storozhevoy where the political commisar locked away the Captian and XO of the ship and any of the crew that didn't want to go along. The Commisar wanted to protest against the current Soviet Leadership. After a 30 day period on the run the ship was stopped by gun boats and Spetnez stormed the ship and the Commisar was executed after a trial a year later. There is a pretty good book about it. After that Clancy admitted he needed to find a way for some ex-Marine to get into the CIA and then become the National Security Council member. Which lead to Patriot Games (which he admitted to also writing as a protest against some of Baltimore Neighbors of Irish background who supported the IRA), Cardinal, Clear and Present and then Sum.
As to Red Storm Rising he admitted and talking to the other author Larry Bond, that it all came from play testing a supplement for the Harpoon Board/Miniatures game. I use to have a link to an AAR which lead to the "Vampires" chapter of the game and it looks just like any of our early war incidents with the KB. Here is a web page with some of the AAR posted, linky.

As to everything after "Sum of All Fears" it is, IMHO, strictly contracted output and then as he became bigger he tried to get out of the "Ryan-verse" first with the R6 novels and then with his non-fiction stuff. The problem as I see it; he allowed a sterotype to be painted of him (see this linky for all the tropes attached to him) and even have a genre of fiction be defined by him, "Techno-Clancy" or something to that effect. Which has lead his name being used by his own entertainment company "Red Storm Entertainment" which really took off with thier R6 games and his name being used by a couple of publishing houses to pump books out based on either the games (see EndWar, HAWXs, Splinter Cell, Politika, SSN) or take an original idea (see Op-Center) and spin a series based on them.

After Bear, I have sworn off Clancy simply because the damn books have gotten to the point of being like trying to carry the full Oxford English Dictionary around or my own tastes have progressed since then. I don't know.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 12:05:52 PM   
MBF

 

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Can we mark this sort of conjecture OT in the title in the future ?

thanks

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 1:07:57 PM   
StK


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I liked Cardinal and The hunt for Red October.. the rest I red was.. hmm mediocre his characters seem to turn out a little flat in the end and I dislike this "one hero for all situations" thing that seems to be going on with Clark and Chavez.

@MBF.. hmm yeah giving threads an OT-tag might be helpful most of the times, but here? The title kind of lets you know that it won't be about the game.

< Message edited by StK -- 8/30/2012 1:08:27 PM >


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 1:10:05 PM   
JeffK


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quote:

ORIGINAL: MBF

Can we mark this sort of conjecture OT in the title in the future ?

thanks

Why??

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 1:44:02 PM   
Bullwinkle58


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sardaukar

IIRC, "Jack Ryan" character was property of his ex-wife and he lost rights to use the character after divorce.


Not true. The character came up in the divorce, as it should have, but he continued using it. I assume she was compensated in the setlement.


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 1:49:47 PM   
Sardaukar


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Bullwinkle58


quote:

ORIGINAL: Sardaukar

IIRC, "Jack Ryan" character was property of his ex-wife and he lost rights to use the character after divorce.


Not true. The character came up in the divorce, as it should have, but he continued using it. I assume she was compensated in the setlement.



Ah, I stand corrected for that part. Just remembered that the character was property of ex-wife. But then, I stopped reading his books after Rainbow 6.


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:15:55 PM   
bushpsu

 

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Like most everyone else here I enjoyed the first 2. Personally, I hate recurring characters in books - you know they will be surviving whatever impossible situation they seem to be in. For those of you that did enjoy Red Storm Rising, pick up the other books by Larry Bond. The technology is a little dated now, but they were fun books to read,

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:21:35 PM   
JocMeister

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: bushpsu

Like most everyone else here I enjoyed the first 2. Personally, I hate recurring characters in books - you know they will be surviving whatever impossible situation they seem to be in. For those of you that did enjoy Red Storm Rising, pick up the other books by Larry Bond. The technology is a little dated now, but they were fun books to read,

quote:

Larry Bond


Any particular one you would recommend? They are still somewhat expensive!

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:28:58 PM   
Sardaukar


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JocMeister


quote:

ORIGINAL: bushpsu

Like most everyone else here I enjoyed the first 2. Personally, I hate recurring characters in books - you know they will be surviving whatever impossible situation they seem to be in. For those of you that did enjoy Red Storm Rising, pick up the other books by Larry Bond. The technology is a little dated now, but they were fun books to read,

quote:

Larry Bond


Any particular one you would recommend? They are still somewhat expensive!


Red Phoenix was good. If one liked Red Storm Rising, one will like Red Phoenix too, it's situated to Korea.


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 2:33:05 PM   
Mundy


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I liked Cauldron, which was sort of a EU centric WWIII situation. Vortex, I think was the name, was about a South African war.

Ed-

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 3:24:34 PM   
Lcp Purcell

 

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An interesting note, back when I was in the Marine Corps, the Commander of Charlie Company came back from leave, then let it slip that he had spent the entire two weeks in a bar drinking with Tom Clancy. I believe this is his M.O. for getting secret info.


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 6:07:54 PM   
Biggus63


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lcp Purcell

An interesting note, back when I was in the Marine Corps, the Commander of Charlie Company came back from leave, then let it slip that he had spent the entire two weeks in a bar drinking with Tom Clancy. I believe this is his M.O. for getting secret info.



I heard a story, possibly apocryphal, that after one of his early books came out he was invited to have a chat (the word I originally heard was 'debriefed') by one of the security agencies and asked to divulge where he'd come across much of the more esoteric information in the book. Maybe just a BS urban myth, who knows? I'd also heard about him picking that sort of info up hanging around in bars frequented by defence personnel.

< Message edited by Biggus63 -- 8/30/2012 6:09:24 PM >

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 6:20:54 PM   
praetor1944

 

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After Cardinal in the Kremlim, I think Clancy went downhill quickly. Overall, I liked Red Storm Rising best.
However, the best NATO war novel was The Third World War by Hackett. It had nuclear strikes which is probably what would have happened in real life if the USSR attacked.

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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 7:02:33 PM   
Bullwinkle58


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mundy

I liked Cauldron, which was sort of a EU centric WWIII situation. Vortex, I think was the name, was about a South African war.

Ed-


I have the Larry Bond books; haven't looked at them in more than a decade. The South African war is going to very dated to current readers. Cuban troops there in force and the apartheid government.


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RE: How Did Clancy Know? - 8/30/2012 7:18:50 PM   
Bullwinkle58


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quote:

ORIGINAL: bushpsu

Like most everyone else here I enjoyed the first 2. Personally, I hate recurring characters in books - you know they will be surviving whatever impossible situation they seem to be in. For those of you that did enjoy Red Storm Rising, pick up the other books by Larry Bond. The technology is a little dated now, but they were fun books to read,


I just about lived in the Tom Clancy newsgroup on Usenet for much of the 1990s and early 2000s. I was writing my own technothriller and read pretty much the whole genre. The ng was a world-wide collection of mostly men, of many different backgrounds. We only infrequently talked about the books (after awhile they were beat to death), and, given it was unmoderated Usenet, most of the threads were about domestic politics, economics, geopolitics, and women.

Clancy lurked and sometimes came in to chat. I had a few exchanges with him from what I recall, especially in the Rainbow Six timeframe. The issue of his sources and methods came up a few times. I believe he said there, and has elsewhere, that he uses only open source material, but applies normal intel methods of piecing together stories from disparate scraps. He has said he was visited officially after HFRO to show his sources for some of the sonar detail. The visitors were satisfied with his retained notes on his sources and left him alone. I do know that some USN nuclear-trained officers were surprised at how much he was able to learn about the inner working of a cold-water accident in a submarine reactor, a sequence which appears in the climax of HFRO.

He had a very successful 1980s-1990s, and took a lot of pride at his sales records, at that time world records. JK Rowling has since far surpassed them, but for a time he was on top. His personal life took some twists and turns, and he had a major heart attack some time ago which derailed his production. He had a major launch in the past two years ( a "real" Clancy, not co-written), but it was a short-term blip. I think the novel scene has moved past what he has to offer. There were calls in the old days for him to try his hand at science fiction, but nothing ever came of it. Part of the problem these days with technothrillers is the lack of heavy-duty bad guys. The USSR was a credible opponent for the USA and NATO. When they went away you have your drug cartels and your terrorists, but it's hardly a fair fight if you're a technology whore and not a spycraft novelist. The plots IMO got both increasingly outlandish on the villain side and exposed, as others have said, the cardboard nature of his major characters on the softer side. If he had been hungrier I think he would have started new characters instead of taking Ryan and Clark to several times too many proms. But he hasn't been financially hungry since the 80s, writing is very hard work, and he has a new family and a new lease on life post-heart attack. I'll be interested to see if there is ever another novel from him.

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