Tom Clancy, R.I.P.

Tom Clancy

It’s been a sad year for thriller fans. First, we lost beloved thriller master Vince Flynn to cancer at age 47. Today comes news of the untimely death of the inventor of the “technothriller” — Tom Clancy, at age 66.

Clancy propelled himself virtually overnight from an unknown insurance salesman to bestselling author with the release of The Hunt for Red October. Rejected by numerous publishers, it was finally accepted for publication by the obscure Naval Institute Press in Annapolis, which had never before released a single work of fiction. But that suspenseful tale of  Cold War cat-and-mouse submarine warfare was packed with authentic military technical detail, and it captured the public imagination.

Other memorable Clancy titles from among his many thrillers included Red Storm Rising, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and Without RemorseMany of Clancy’s tales became popular movies, as well. In all of his tales, the U.S. military, CIA, and special ops communities — represented by such fictional icons as Jack Ryan and John Kelly (“Mr. Clark”) — were portrayed as honorable heroes and American patriots.

Fearlessly outspoken and opinionated, Tom Clancy, too, was an American patriot. He also was a literary pathbreaker. We who write in the thriller genre owe him much. Rest in peace, sir.

UPDATE: I like this profile, including a video, in USA Today.

UPDATE #2:  I was quoted in The Capital Gazette, the Annapolis newspaper, on the death of Tom Clancy:

“It’s been a sad year for thriller fans and for thriller writers like me,” said Robert Bidinotto, author of the best-selling Amazon thriller “Hunter” and a Grasonville resident.  “First, we lost Vince Flynn to cancer at the tragically young age of 47. Now, Tom Clancy — also far too young at 66.”

Clancy was considered the founding father of the “techno-thriller” genre, Bidinotto said. “He set the bar higher for all of us, bringing a new sense of realism in his big, geopolitical stories,” Bidinotto said. “And in all of his tales, the U.S. military, CIA, and special ops communities were portrayed as decent, honorable heroes.

“This was a refreshing departure from the jaundiced cynicism that colored so many political thrillers … We who write in the thriller genre owe him much, and will miss him greatly.”

UPDATE #3: An outstanding tribute in The American Thinker to two seminal thriller authors who died this year, far too young: Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy. Definitely worth your time.

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8 Responses to Tom Clancy, R.I.P.

  1. Anna Rolen says:

    Thank you, Robert. What a writer was Tom Clancy, Requiesat in pace.

  2. Guy Portman says:

    What a legend, he will be remembered forever.

  3. Kevin Pickell says:

    I read a quote from Clancy that said Naval Institute was the only publisher he submitted the Hunt for Red October manuscript to, and that it was accepted. And so he said that he was lucky to have never received a rejection letter. But he will be missed, and I’m considering going back to read some of his classic thrillers, starting with: The Hunt for Red October

    • RobertBidinotto says:

      I had read in a number of places that he couldn’t find a publisher, and settled on the Naval Institute Press. But lately, I’ve been hearing what you just said, Kevin, so I’m not sure what is true. Either way, I’m sure glad that he found his way into print! He has given us some great tales.

  4. Kevin Pickell says:

    I think he has a new novel due in December – his last gift, so I’m gonna put that one on my wish list.

    • RobertBidinotto says:

      Yes indeed. I believe Mark Greaney, author of The Gray Man (a fabulous novel) and its sequels, will once again be listed as the collaborator on the novel.

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