• Tom Clancy, the former insurance salesman who virtually created the techno-thriller with his first novel, "The Hunt For Red October," and went on to write or co-write a number of novels, seventeen of which went to number one on best-seller lists, passed away yesterday. He was 66. He reportedly had been admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital, but the cause of death has not been divulged.
- KC's View:
Clancy reportedly had a love-hate relationship with Hollywood, where four of his novels were adapted into movies: The Hunt For Red October, with Alec Baldwin as his CIA hero, Jack Ryan, and Sean Connery, Patriot Games and A Clear And Present Danger, with Harrison Ford as Ryan, and The Sum of All Fears in which Ben Affleck as Ryan. (A fifth movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow One, featuring Chris Pine as Ryan, is slated to be released on Christmas Day. And a new Ryan novel, "Command Authority," is to be published on December 3.)
Clancy used to complain that the movies did not show enough fealty to his plots, but I've always thought he was wrong about that, that in many ways (at least for people like me, who tend to view techno-thrillers as being full of too much techno-babble) the movies were superior to the books ... or, at the very least, expert examples of how to adapt big books into two-hour movies. (I've also thought that the movie versions of Ryan were better than the books', because Clancy had almost too much reverence for his hero.)
But I think that Clancy was a great example of an author who understood his brand, and was expert at creating brand extensions that included video games and TV shows. And he knew how to write a best-seller ... and there are publishers and booksellers who will miss him. A lot.