I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Clancy, and his work since I was a teenager, and yesterday’s news of his death hit me hard. Later in the day, I was having coffee with a friend, who mentioned Clancy during our conversation. Something told me he didn’t yet know of the news, and I asked, “You do know he died today, right?” His face fell, and he said, “No, I hadn’t.” We both shared a spontaneous moment of silence. It felt pretty crummy to break the news to someone, but at least we weren’t alone.

For those of you who might not know Clancy, he was an author of espionage fiction. Many of his books were about his protagonist, Jack Ryan, a CIA agent who went on to much bigger and better things in later books, including becoming President of the United States. Clancy did have a number of books with other characters, including two starring Ryan’s bodyguard, John Clark (my favorite Clancy character). Later books focused on Ryan’s son. Many of Clancy’s books have been made into movies. The Hunt for Red October is still one of my all-time favorite films.

Tom Clancy was the first author I owned in paper format whom I re-purchased in electronic format, when Fictionwise finally got his entire back list. I spent many a happy hour re-reading all my favorites on, I think, my Palm TX ( remember those?). Oh, this was after pirating all his books when they weren’t yet available in legal e-versions. So, yeah, piracy doesn’t automatically mean lost sales. I was happy to acquire them legally when I could.

I didn’t like some of his later works, and I never read the books he co-wrote with others, but I loved his early books about Jack Ryan. My dad encouraged me to start with Patriot Games, saying The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising would be “too technical,” and I wouldn’t enjoy them. Yeah, right, Dad. Read ’em. Loved ’em. Kept reading him.

It was ironic that a man with such a love of technology was a bit of a Luddite when it came to e-books. I found an old TeleRead article from 2004 which discussed his views. Apparently he was afraid of piracy. Well, he was both right and wrong as my story shows.

No matter his views on e-books, he was a great author who has entertained millions. He will be sorely missed.