Eulogy to Tom Clancy

The literary world was dealt a devastating blow this week as Tom Clancy, the author of hard hitting espionage novels such as The Sum Of All Fears, passed away near his home in Maryland aged 66. 

An almost cult figure, Clancy rose to fame in later life when he published his first novel The Hunt For Red October. He soon became a publisher’s dream as he began to produce diverse and thought provoking best sellers. Clancy’s works quickly gained a large military following for their gritty cold war style delivery and his work even gained the approval of President Regan, who called it his “type of yarn”. 

One of the wealthiest authors to date, Clancy aimed to publish a book a year and, even in his absence, his fans will eagerly await the posthumous publication of his final novel Command Authority, which is due for release in December. Though the release of the novel is somewhat shrouded in secrecy, fans of his earlier work will not be disappointed as the new release promises to be another hit for the late novelist. 

Clancy’s stories were also the stuff of Hollywood gold and kept viewers teetering over the edge of their seat as they watched the seemingly calculated world of the military unfold in a nail biting and spontaneous conclusion. There was a sort of intricate realism in his work (though he famously stated that fiction had to make sense where reality didn’t). He knew exactly what devices to use to keep his readers hooked. 

What set his work apart from other espionage books such as Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, was that he went beyond internal affairs and delved into military combat in a way that didn’t appear over patriotic but clever and organised. Few military writers will ever match him on terms of intellect. As a political figure Clancy wasn’t afraid to voice his views as a Republican and often tackled controversial subject matters within his works. 

In his later years, Clancy had by no means lost his touch and chose to branch out into more current means of electronic media. Games such as Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six were much more than war games. They had realism unparalleled by other strategy games on the market. In doing this, he found new means of reaching out to younger audiences beyond his works of fiction. 

Tom Clancy was a pioneer of his genre and it is with great sadness that we say goodbye, but he has left us with arguably one of the best repertoires of espionage novels to date. May his fan base continue to grow, and we hope his final novel will once more leave us on the edge of our seats.

Words by Hannah Dodd