Obit Tom Clancy, the author of techno-thrillers that sold more than 100 million copies and a games franchise that lured in nearly as many software buyers, has died at the age of 66 in Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.
Clancy shot to fame in 1985 with the publication of his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, which was written while he was working in an insurance office. The tale of a nuclear submarine crew seeking asylum in the US was loosely based on a 1975 mutiny by sailors on the Russian frigate Storozhevoy and became a bestseller after President Ronald Reagan described it as a ''perfect yarn."
He went on to write a series of bestsellers, usually featuring his hero Jack Ryan (played onscreen by such actors as Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck) who, over the course of Clancy's works, rose from being a history professor to become the US president. He also co-wrote a series of books under the Net Force and Op-Center brands that explored online crime and spying.
Clancy was one of the first authors to translate big book sales into computer gaming success. His first novel was turned into a computer game in 1987 and the Rainbow 6, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell series of stealthy first-person shooters have proven very popular. In all, the Clancy name has sold over 73 million games, largely in collaboration with French publishers Ubisoft.
"We are saddened to learn of Tom Clancy’s passing and our condolences go out to his family. Tom Clancy was an extraordinary author with a gift for creating detailed, engrossing fictional stories that captivated audiences around the world," Ubisoft said on Facebook.
"The teams at Ubisoft, especially at the Red Storm studio, are incredibly grateful to have collaborated with and learned from him, and we are humbled by the opportunity to carry on part of his legacy through our properties that bear his name."
Clancy was born to a working-class Catholic family in Baltimore in 1947 and studied English at university. While there in 1969, he applied to join the Army Reserve but was turned down due to extreme nearsightedness. His publicity photographs invariably showed him in glasses and usually with a Merit cigarette in hand.
After the success of his first novel, he devoted himself to writing full time and studied both naval and army history and technology extensively. He was also an avid gamer, and he tested out the plot lines of his second book, Red Storm Rising – a speculative history of a non-nuclear third world war – using a Navy wargame called SEATAG.
While he was feted by members of the US military, Clancy always insisted that he wasn't fed inside information for his books, instead taking the technical specifications for weapons systems from publicly available material – although he did express surprise that some of the things he wrote in his fiction turned out to have real-life counterparts.
Clancy is survived by three daughters and a son by his first marriage, which ended in 1996, and by a daughter by his second wife, journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn. ®