Tom Clancy probably never dreamed that he’d enjoy a mid-life career change as one of the most successful novelists alive. And he probably never dreamed that he’d go from being a successful novelist to one of the most beloved names in video gaming. Truthfully, Clancy always seemed like the kind of guy who’d kick our ass for lounging around and playing Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell. Tom Clancy didn’t have time to sit around. He was almost 40 years old when he sold The Hunt for Red October to a small press for $5,000. Even that had to feel like a financial windfall for the struggling writer. Clancy’s debut novel had great timing, though. It was full of military jargon that was carefully researched. A lot of genre fans had become frustrated with bad military fiction, but Clancy really nailed his Cold War setting. In fact, he nailed it so much that Washington got nervous.
Ronald Reagan was a famous fan, though, and endorsed The Hunt for Red October from the Oval Office. Clancy’s career took off. By the time of today’s sudden death at the age of 66, Tom Clancy was a literary brand overseeing an army of ghost writers. And, of course, there’s that video game empire. Clancy may not have seemed like a gamer, but it’s hard to think of a game with the Tom Clancy branding that’s been a disappointment. You know why? Because anyone who ever worked on a Tom Clancy project probably expected Tom Clancy to come and kick their ass if he disrespected the Tom Clancy brand.
Frankly, That ’70s Show probably owes Clancy some kind of royalties for the character of Red Forman.
Anyway, a good capitalist like Tom Clancy would be proud that Paramount Pictures has jumped on his death as an excuse to market the movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. That’s the upcoming movie where Chris Pine steps in as the latest movie star to play the character Clancy created in Red October. Alec Baldwin started things out as the thinking man’s spy, followed by Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. Now it’s Chris’ turn, and he sure seems thoughtful on the cover. Or maybe we should think of it as Jack Ryan saying a little prayer for Tom Clancy. Which might seem corny, but so was Clancy, and he died as a friend to military men and stoners alike…