Flashback 1985. I was much younger than today and started my adventure into reading books in English. Fueled by a stack of Sixties and Seventies classics from Perry Mason via Modesty Blaise to Alastair McLean and Hammond Innes, I browsed on day through Time Magazine and found the review of Tom Clancy's Red October. When I bought the paperback it was a fantastic read. It redefined the genre of military and thrillers, mixing latest technology with high paced adventure, fitting the sign of the times alongside "Top Gun". Clever twists and suspense made the book a fantastic read.
Fast forward. Can you believe it, I am thirty years older? Rereading Red October this winter after taking a long Tom Clancy hiatus. When he died recently I made the effort to recheck the catalogue and rediscovered the reboot of the Jack Ryan universe. I purchased the most recent book, not even written by Mr. Clancy but by Mark Greaney, and was hooked again. A very clever generational development where the hero is still Jack Ryan, but now the son, whereas old Ryan was once more in a second term as President. The president-twist had been the reason why I had abandoned the series altogether. That was a little stretched, right, a plane crashing into the Capitol during the State of the Nation address, catapulting interim Vice-President Ryan to the top chair... I had struggled through Executive Orders but then sworn off the series.
Well, that were the Nineties, pre-9-11, but sometime Science Fiction is overtaken by reality. Many years later, it turns out that the franchise is still working with some back to the basics. This sort of serial reboot happened a lot of times with many of the serial heroes I am following. Patricia Cornwell tried this with Kay Scarpetta, though it has not convinced me fully so far. Jonathan Kellerman had a stretch of very weak Alex Delaware novels, but bought the series back on track by concentrating on cases and the buddy relationship. Stuart Woods has moved Steve Barrington from a cul-de-sac story-line into enjoyable reads, too. Maybe a topic for a different post, anyway, who am I to argue, I am not in the double figures serial space. Yet.
Back to the topic at hand: So I decided to re-read Red October, too, the book where it all began. How does it hold up after thirty years of upheaval, left wing terrorism, right wing terrorism, iron curtain break-down, Russian revolutions, Russian economic development, 9-11? I must say, pretty good! The story of course builds on the cold war blue vs. red paradigm, which feels outdated, but, hey, the Russians are still the bad guys, right? They are no longer in Afghanistan, which is now the US playground, but now they muscle themselves into Ukraine and other states. But the submarine defection, the high-tech hunt, the clever twists and deceptions, all are still absolutely believable—well, in the definitions of the Clancy-verse.