Tom Clancy’s passing came as a blow to the writing community. The author of such novels as The Hunt For Red October, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of all Fears, and Patriot Games redefined the way that technological thrillers were written. The novels not only had to have a compelling narrative, they also had to be accurate in today’s world. In that, Clancy set a standard. Quietly, Clancy also lent his name to a series of video games that gave other first person shooters and soldiering games a measure to go against. Clancy’s passing will leave a hole in the literary community. As a country song was fond of asking “Who’s going to fill their shoes? Who’s going to stand that tall?” We have a list of answers.
10. Mark Greaney
In any discussion about successors to Tom Clancy, you would have to include Mark Greaney. Why? Greaney helped Clancy write the 2011 novel Locked On. In Greaney’s own right, he has written the Gray Man series of novels starting appropriately enough with The Gray Man. The Gray Man is actually a nickname given to former CIA operative Court ‘The Gray Man’ Gentry. Gentry is known for hitting a target and then fading away. The Gray Man series focuses on situations in which Gentry has outlived his usefulness to employers possibly more lethal than Gentry himself is. It certainly sounds like Clancy because Greaney and Clancy were collaborated in Clancy’s later life.
9. James Rollins (James Paul Czajkowski)
James Rollins is the pen name of James Paul Czajkowski. Czajkowski is a former veterinarian who now makes his living as a full time writer. It is notable that Rollins wrote the novelization to the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Beyond that, Rollins is the author of a series a novels that have been dubbed the SIGMA Force series. In Rollins’ world, SIGMA Force is a division of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) that takes on missions from a subterranean basement in the Smithsonian Institution. For example in the Judas Strain, the novel reads like what a potentially good G.I. Joe movie might look like. The action follows the team of Special Forces and scientists throughout the world to battle the release of a plague. The locations even include the Vatican. Imagine the team as a bunch of your Lucius Fox’s from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The Jack Ryan-analogous character is named Painter Crowe. Rollins work may one day translate into the silver screen on its own.
8. Matt Reilly
Matt Reilly is an Australian author who self published his first book Contest at the age of 19. Reilly then took out a bank loan in order to get 1000 copies of Contest onto the shelves. Contest caught the attention of a book publisher and Reilly was on his way to a career in writing suspense novels. Reilly’s Clancy-esque go-to action hero is named Shane Schofield. Schofield is a former United States Marine officer who basically fills the “military tough guy on an adventure” mold. Through Schofield, Reilly wrote Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. Schofield is referred to as Scarecrow because of scars as a result of torture to his eyes. In Army of Thieves, Schofield is portrayed as being broken and reluctant. However, the threat of a “Tesla Machine” which could unleash a hemisphere wide firestorm. Reilly is definitely writing in the Clancy mold.
7. Ralph Peters
Ralph Peters (who sometimes writes under the pen name Owen Perry) is the real deal as far as Clancy-esque writers. Peters is a retired Army Colonel. Peters states that the United States is in a constant mode of belligerent engagement with the rest of the world. Peters has also personally been involved in most of the US’s major military conflicts for the last 25 years. In 1991, Peters wrote the book The War in 2020 which envisioned an alliance between Russia and Japan threatening freedom everywhere. In some ways, Tom Clancy may have envied Ralph Peters. Two years ago, Peters advocated the assassination of Julian Assange for the documents in the WikiLeaks website and treason.
6. Ted Bell
Ted Bell is mostly a writer of time travel novels as evidenced by his signature novel Nick of Time. For a period of time, Bell was also an advisor to the United States State Department. Bell has written a series of suspense novels starring the character Alexander Hawke. His writing is mostly based in an English background and not military. Bell did write the novel Tsar which postulated about the re-rise of the KGB as well as a new “Evil Empire”. Tsar is not only the type of novel that Tom Clancy could have written. It features a conspiracy that Clancy may well have thought had the potential to be real. Bell’s Hawke is a spiritual successor to Jack Ryan but time travel adventures may overshadow this aspect of Bell’s work.
5. Brad Thor
Brad Thor is another person who would fall into the category of “true believer”. When Thor is not writing techno-suspense novels, he is a contributor to Glenn Beck’s radio program and news network. Thor also regularly blogs for Andrew Breitbart’s website network. Thor uses the genre of techno-suspense to issue warnings to the American people on the dire fate that awaits them if they do not turn away from liberalism. On the flip side, Thor can tell a rollicking action adventure yarn. This is evidenced by the fact that Warner Brothers has bought the rights to his character Scott Horvath as well as his Athena Project series of novels. The Athena Project, in Thor’s Universe, is a group of elite female warriors tucked away in a remote corner of Ft. Bragg.
4. Nelson DeMille
Nelson DeMille is a native New Yorker. DeMille served in the Vietnam War. DeMille is also a member of MENSA. DeMille has created several characters who are in the mold of Jack Ryan. One of the characters that DeMille created was a military investigator named Paul Brenner. Paul Brenner was the main protagonist in the novel The General’s Daughter. No less an actor than John Travolta would play Brenner the cinematic version of The General’s Daughter in 1999. DeMille often sets his novels in New York. DeMille will also often tell his stories in the first person. Many of DeMille’s lead characters are investigators of some sort of military or terrorist crime.
3. Larry Correia
In the world of Larry Correia, there are werewolves, vampires, and monsters of every shape and size. Why on Earth would Correia’s writing rank so high on a list about spiritual successors to Tom Clancy? The reason is that in Correia’s novels (especially the Monster Hunters series), there is an accuracy demanded in everything that has a human element. The places are real. The guns down to the make, model, and ammunition are real. If there ever was a Zombie Apocalypse, the novels of Larry Correia should be required reading as a field guide. It is that type of accuracy in the real world leading to a confrontation with a fantastic situation that are really the best part of the Tom Clancy experience in novels. In Clancy’s work, there may not necessarily be a renegade sub, but the information about the sub had absolutely better be technically correct. In that aspect, Correia absolutely gets the detail right.
2. Tom Kratman
Tom Kratman was a native of Massachusetts. Kratman served with the 101st Airborne division in Panama. Kratman also served with the 5th Special Forces group during the Iraq War. Kratman is also a lawyer in addition to being a militaristic science fiction writer. Kratman often writes in a type of futuristic universe of war based on real principles. If Tom Kratman had written about the Space Marines in the movie Aliens, he would have probably written a training manual and put the actors through basic training. Kratman will often use futuristic settings to address issues of the day. The difference is that Kratman will often use it to espouse conservative views such as in his Polseen War sidestories of the Legacy of Aldenata series by John Ringo. Try to think of Tom Kratman as kind of an anti-Gene Roddenberry. If Tom Clancy had been born in about 200 years, he would be Tom Kratman.
1. Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter approaches novel writing from a journalistic background. Hunter was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun in the 1970s. Hunter also was a film critic for the Washington Post. Hunter’s great Clancy-eque character is former sniper Bob Lee Swagger. Swagger stars in Hunter’s work Point of Impact. Point of Impact was made into the movie Shooter starring Mark Wahlberg. Unlike the movie, Swagger was a Vietnam war veteran in the novels. Vietnam was almost a character in the books. Hunter possesses a techno-geek level inaccuracy when it comes to weapons as well as political intrigue. Many of the Swagger novel could have Jack Ryan on the same case. Of course, Swagger has a greater distrust of the government. Ryan has more reason to distrust the government having worked in the CIA. Hunter also shares Clancy’s somewhat hit and miss representation by Hollywood.