Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tom Clancy Was Right (Again)

I sure hope our counter-terrorism officials are reading Tom Clancy.

Not because his writing is particularly good -- in fact, it's gone into a distinct decline since The Sum of All Fears (which I consider a prime example of science writing as well as of novel-writing). But he has a mind for plot, that is, how things can happen. (On the other hand, he doesn't really have a clue how real people talk or think, but if you can ignore that ... )

With Hunt for Red October, Clancy apparently was so right-on with his reconstruction of how submarines work, using only information from public sources, that some people were sure he had access to classified info. Far as I know, he didn't, he just made the right assumptions for how these things must work.

When I woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001 and saw that two planes had hit the WTC, my first thought was "This is just like the end of Debt of Honor" where a jumbo jet is piloted into the US Capitol, during a joint session of Congress, no less.

Then came the horrific attacks on Mumbai. Those followed the plot of his only post-September 11 novel, The Teeth of the Tiger, in which terrorists coordinate attacks at malls in several American cities using small groups with lots of big guns. The size of the groups, the method of the attacks and the nature of the targets all align with the Mumbai attacks.

Now, of course, Clancy being Clancy, he added a few extra right-wing fluorishes: the terrorists entered the US along an unfenced portion of the Mexican border as illegal immigrants, and one of the attacks was stopped by two brothers carrying concealed weapons! It made for an exciting rescue of innocent civilians, that's for sure.

But if I was charged with stopping these attacks, I'd start by re-reading those books, because (and I say this admirably) Clancy seems to know how a terrorist plan would work.


Eric said...

Flourishes, yes, but not exactly right-wing.

We have, in fact, encountered and intercepted those with terrorist ties attempting to enter the southern US border as recently as the last few years. And that's just one story I found.

And I know people of different political stripes who carry concealed & openly, so I'm not sure it's fair to say that The Right(tm) have a monopoly on that issue.

As for Clancy: he isn't just clever, he's damn near clairvoyant.

BenMc said...

Yeah, but just as a "way people tend to think and plot novels" kind of point, there's no way you'd get the two brothers in a novel by, say, Stephen King! (Of course, with Stephen King the terrorists would actually be killer clowns and the hero who saves the day would HAVE to be a writer who lives in Maine ... )