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RIP Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, the legendary novelist, died in Baltimore yesterday at the age of 66. Most famous for writing the Jack Ryan series of novels, Clancy got us through more plane trips and days at the beach than any other author. Sure, his stories weren’t exactly Shakespeare, but they never pretended to be. They were man books for men about manly things. I first became aware of him after my grandfather and I went to see the film version of The Hunt for Red October in 1990. Besides the fact that that movie is totally badass, I remember my grandfather giving me his copy of the novel when we got home. It was one of the first times I remember comparing a movie to the book it was based on and seeing how the architecture of the story was so tight that it held its own when transferred to film.

His stories never had a dull moment. I had a writing teacher once tell me that even if you don’t want to write the kind of spy thriller stuff that Clancy wrote, it was good to study his use of pacing. That’s why his movies translate so well to film. Jack Ryan is our American answer to James Bond. But unlike the invincible British super spy, Ryan is basically a pencil pusher that gets thrust into all kinds of harrowing situations. I always liked the fact that Ryan’s main weapon was that he was really smart AND knew how to kick some butt. Also like Bond, Jack Ryan has been played by a pretty amazing line-up of actors in the movie versions of the books. Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Scott Bakula, Ben Affleck, and now Chris Pine have all played Ryan on the big screen. I for one am going to watch Clear and Present Danger tonight and bask in the manly awesomeness.

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