03 October 2013

The Hunt for Patriotic Wish-fulfillment Fantasies

Tom Clancy, the inventor of the techno-thriller, is dead.

I read the first one, 'The Hunt for Red October', in 1985. It was rather novel then, a tonic for the defeatist attitudes that were still prevalent in some quarters in the height of the cold war. It was a relic of the Reagan years, where such a thriller served as a form of morale booster and also a herald of the Reagan military buildup. The subsequent novel, 'Red Storm Rising', was a piece of wishful thinking, self-indulgent third world war wish-fulfilment fantasy, essentially a waste of time, one would be better served by reading Sir John Hackett's 'The Third World War' (1978). After which, I tried 'Patriot Games' which I could not finish. His patriotic ra-ra volumes weren't my cup of tea, they were too much wish-fulfilment books, not unlike those power fantasies (Sandman, superhero comics) that teens indulge in.

Today? Well, I think they are unreadable, perhaps, only as a product and relic of their times. One could find cultural artifacts and attitudes in them.

I guess the surprise is of his sudden and somewhat seemingly early death.

As for Larry Bond, I have read one I think. I have also read some of the new breed of technothriller writers that came later. If it were going to be techno and war thrillers, I would prefer realistic treatments rather than patriotic wish-fulfilment fantasies.


Anonymous said...

RIP Tom Clancy, even if his books aren't to everyone's taste, his influence on the genre is undeniable -as are his sales :)

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Yes, you are right, he started an avalanche of techno-thrillers.

I do wish that he had opted for hard realism like that of Frederick Forsyth. He had the means to do so because of his access to military channels after the success of his initial few novels.