Ryanverse

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Blayne » 2012-10-19 01:02pm

I own Red Storm Rising and Hunt for the Red October and plan on reading them (and possibly Cardinal) as frequently they're listed as "when Clancy was good." But I've only ever read Bear and the Dragon. Which as a China Watcher made me go Hrrrrrrngh essentially every chapter. Here's what I vaguely recall since reading it a few years ago.

1. China is apparently a "30 foot nation" where everything looks good from 30 feet away but shit when you get up close to it.
2. Apparently a million Chinese soldiers died in the Korean War. Interesting.
3. Clancy thought it important to quite a few times paint the Politburo as unsympathetic old creepers, which might be true but seems to me as increasingly unlikely where "not being an embarrassment" seems to be an important qualification to be picked by the Selectorate. And apparently Mao's a pedo, Clancy just felt like bringing that up; strange I've read at least three different books on Mao and I've never heard of that before, I guess Clancy is a better Chinese researcher than actual China researchers?

4. China has no concept of UAV's, or drones; they are "round eyed magic."
5. The Chinese government deliberately decided to give no fucks about a policeman killing a diplomat.
6. All non Christian Chinese are mindless automotons who will drive you automatically to the hospital instead of where the customer actually asked and paid you to bring them.
7. the PLAN sends their only(?) Boomer out in the middle of the ocean even though it should be obvious it would be easily sunk.
8. The PLA decides to just sorta mass all of their tanks and attack across a big open plains, even though by this point the PLA had I'm pretty sure reorganized into smaller 'brigades' for high tech war under local conditions.
9. The US could effortlessly sink most of the PLAN's surface fleet berfed in harbor and only lose 1 F-18.(?)

I'm going to agree with that web review I saw where it felt that the discovery of oil and gold in Siberia was the most realistic thing that happened in the novel.

Although I wonder, if an enemy is trying to disable your nuclear deterrent (another problem, doesn't China have road mobile ICBM's still capable of hitting the US mainland circa 2000?) it seems vaguely reasonable to me to use them or lose them if it seems like the enemy might be doing it to prepare for their own first strike? Otherwise why bother going after the Chinese silo's in the first place?

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby PeZook » 2012-10-19 01:29pm

Myself I couldn't help but wonder how a bunch of commandoes managed to leisurely helicopter into a Chinese ICBM base on short notice and not get torn up by the security troops? Maybe I don't remember some crucial detail about the whole action :D
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Danny Bhoy » 2012-10-19 02:17pm

Clear and Present Danger was for me the best, with Sum of All Fears sort of a plateau or even a slight dip. But from Debt of Honour onwards, the (post-ODS?) triumphalism got increasingly worse. Having not read the 9/11-based stories (apart from a quick run through of Teeth of the Tiger at the bookshop), Bear and the Dragon was horrendous. I heard that he's got a new one again with the Yellow Peril but in the context of the South China Sea. Having actually dealt with the Chinese in that particular context, I wonder what horseshit he's actually cooked up. If he's consistent, he's probably got the Philippines (democracy etc.) lined up as the defenceless victim and a chunk if not all of the SCS is theirs.

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby PeZook » 2012-10-19 02:21pm

Clear And Present Danger at least recognized the entire invasion to be rash, unthinking and ultimately counter-productive, rather than a perfect and surgical solution that worked without a hitch, but...that's not saying a whole lot, is it?
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Danny Bhoy » 2012-10-19 02:32pm

thejester wrote:
PeZook wrote:Oh, come on. It's not that the US wins at all, it's that it wins effortlessly and easily and without any setbacks whatsoever against enemies too incompetent to ever feel threatening, whether it is fighting a set-piece battle against an overwhelming enemy force, tries to run off the Soviet Navy or attempts a deep penetration special op to destroy Chinese ICBMs.

You need drama in fiction ; Clancy writes technothrillers which stopped thrilling decades ago.

How many of his books have you actually read? Clancy got progressively worse, and the general political themes of the books are terrible (lowpoint IMO being the American girl raped and killed by those damn dirty slant eyes) but it's nowhere near as one sided as you suggest. Debt of Honour and the disabling or destruction of most of the USN's Pacific fleet. The arrogant F-14 pilot getting his comeuppance in Red October; the US boomer being hunted and sunk in Sum of All Fears, or the Berlin Brigade getting torn up by its Russian equivalents; the FBI getting outfoxed by the terrorists in Patriot Games. I understand bashing Clancy is a nerd past time, but at least try and be semi-accurate.


What arrogant F-14 pilot in Red October? IIRC that F-14 pilot was Ryan's buddy and the one arrogant pilot in it was Russian (incidentally the Forger pilot who backshot that F-14). The Berlin Brigade in Sum of All Fears was gutted in a surprise attack (in Clancyverse, US casualties are acceptable in surprise attacks - the only way to beat them apparently) but the survivors still managed to maul the Soviet Guards tank regiment. Debt of Honour the US had two carriers crippled and two subs sunk in the Jap surprise attack but the only reason why this was a crippling blow was because he had two CVNs stuck in the IO because of some harebrained notion that the Indians would want to invade Sri Lanka and the rest in SLEP/COH (hmm, I wonder what happened to the Yokosuka homeport CV/CVN in that scenario...) Basically, I reckon most of your examples are mostly from the early books which weren't quite as over the top.

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Danny Bhoy » 2012-10-19 02:50pm

Blayne wrote:I own Red Storm Rising and Hunt for the Red October and plan on reading them (and possibly Cardinal) as frequently they're listed as "when Clancy was good." But I've only ever read Bear and the Dragon. Which as a China Watcher made me go Hrrrrrrngh essentially every chapter. Here's what I vaguely recall since reading it a few years ago.

1. China is apparently a "30 foot nation" where everything looks good from 30 feet away but shit when you get up close to it.
2. Apparently a million Chinese soldiers died in the Korean War. Interesting.
3. Clancy thought it important to quite a few times paint the Politburo as unsympathetic old creepers, which might be true but seems to me as increasingly unlikely where "not being an embarrassment" seems to be an important qualification to be picked by the Selectorate. And apparently Mao's a pedo, Clancy just felt like bringing that up; strange I've read at least three different books on Mao and I've never heard of that before, I guess Clancy is a better Chinese researcher than actual China researchers?

4. China has no concept of UAV's, or drones; they are "round eyed magic."
5. The Chinese government deliberately decided to give no fucks about a policeman killing a diplomat.
6. All non Christian Chinese are mindless automotons who will drive you automatically to the hospital instead of where the customer actually asked and paid you to bring them.
7. the PLAN sends their only(?) Boomer out in the middle of the ocean even though it should be obvious it would be easily sunk.
8. The PLA decides to just sorta mass all of their tanks and attack across a big open plains, even though by this point the PLA had I'm pretty sure reorganized into smaller 'brigades' for high tech war under local conditions.
9. The US could effortlessly sink most of the PLAN's surface fleet berfed in harbor and only lose 1 F-18.(?)

I'm going to agree with that web review I saw where it felt that the discovery of oil and gold in Siberia was the most realistic thing that happened in the novel.

Although I wonder, if an enemy is trying to disable your nuclear deterrent (another problem, doesn't China have road mobile ICBM's still capable of hitting the US mainland circa 2000?) it seems vaguely reasonable to me to use them or lose them if it seems like the enemy might be doing it to prepare for their own first strike? Otherwise why bother going after the Chinese silo's in the first place?


A lot of BATD seemed like a bad Taiwanese novel. People have accused the PRC of being overbearing and arrogant in recent years and its not unfounded, but in 2000? Please. And Clancy certainly underestimates how much more nationalistic the ordinary Chinese can be compared to the Communist leadership.

As for the Chinese ICBMs, yes I'm sure the general intended to use them or lose them hence firing them off when the base was under commando attack. But they obviously didn't know that the Yanks had their intel source into the minutes of Politburo meetings and so were aware that the Chinese leadership had ordered the ICBMs to be prepared. I don't think the Chinese had mobile ICBMs that could hit CONUS then and even now, although I could be wrong.

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Norseman » 2012-10-19 08:25pm

I should mention one thing about Markus Ramius: He was a member of the party and would always encourage his officers to join the party and to be actively involved with the party. Further he was known for his own "occasional brilliant speeches at party meetings" where he would always present meticulously orthodox views (he was very careful to always follow the ruling political orthodoxy). The officers that he handpicked were those who he had advised to become party members in order to promote their careers.

That of course makes him seem very politically reliable and certainly no one suspected his officers of being dissidents.

Mind you the idea that the wife of a very high ranking officer and the niece of the commander of the northern fleet would get bad treatment... IT just shows that Clancy is unable to really grok how a political crony state works, or the difference between in-group and out-group treatment.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that it apparently was very easy to make brilliant speeches at party meetings, "Just take what the party said, change the words around a little, and repeat it back to them." No idea if that would actually work.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Blayne » 2012-10-19 09:59pm

The problem is that having your missiles being prepared... When in a conflict with the worlds largest nuclear power is reasonable military and political decision, its something the United States always did themselves.

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Skgoa » 2012-10-20 11:40am

So I looked at this Coonts guy's books and found this:

THE DISCIPLE


Product Description:

In this new novel by the New York Times bestselling author, Stephen Coonts, Iran is weeks away from acquiring nuclear weapons and has every intention of using them to strike first? only Tommy Carmellini and Jake Grafton can stop a nuclear nightmare

Iran is much closer to having operational nuclear weapons than the CIA believes, and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a plan. Iran will become a martyr nation, and Ahmadinejad will lead the united Muslims of the world in a holy war against the non-believers.

But the Americans have a secret weapon in a group of Iranian dissidents, including a brother and sister determined to avenge the death of their beloved grandfather at the hands of the religious police. They are funneling information to Carmellini. They want to stop the attack before their leader launches a new world war. But will the U.S. government believe the information they are providing, and can the Americans prevent the Israelis from taking matters into their own hands, which could prove disastrous?

Returning to the kind of military and espionage story that made Cuba one of his most successful novels, Coonts weaves an unforgettable tale of men and women at war, with the sort of dramatic military action and undercover technology for which Coonts is known.

Really? This seems less crazy than Clancy? Or might it be that pulp authors will write whatever bullshit fits into the narrative their target audience adheres to?
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-10-20 12:01pm

It's got Ahmad-i-Nejad as a cackling maniac. On the other hand, it apparently has the Israelis as trigger-happy nuts, and possibly the US government cast as the big unfeeling thing that doesn't pay a lot of attention to intelligence about upcoming attacks (like 9/11).

Not great, but it's better than making all Westerners smart and all non-Westerners evil and crazystupid. At least some of the smarter readers will notice that it's a bit more complicated than "Heroic White People against Evil Brown People," which is all too common a narrative in this kind of book.

weemadando wrote:I re-read the Jack Ryan chronicles recently as a study in my own patience (and as a break from reading horrific histories of colonialism and the like). It's hilarious how as time goes on not only do his politics become more overt, but his writing degrades horribly, he reuses the same words and phrases over and over throughout the book. Literally the same phrase. Again. And again. And again. Sometimes it's because I think he's learned a new word and is trying to show it off as much as possible.
Do you mean that he's doing this in descriptive prose?

I've seen recycling of phrases be tolerable when it's deliberately set up as a mantra for the series- over and over, characters come back to this essential truth, which is repeatedly expressed the same way. But I bet that's not what you're talking about.

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby K. A. Pital » 2012-10-20 12:17pm

It is also strange that a PB member would have more clout than the Soviet Navy people, who basically forced the PB to sign off enormous amounts of money and industrial effort to build a massive Navy that was not a top priority for a continental power such as the USSR. The Brezhnew PB was much more ready to spend loads and loads of money on the military and the "revolving door" system in the USSR was often connected to the military - high-ranking officers were also high-ranking CPSU members at the same time, and it couldn't be any other way considering the level of military-civilian power fusion in World War II. It was a lot greater than in America. Having no antibiotics to treat the daughter of a Fleet commander is out of the question too.

EDIT: Shit, the discussion already went way beyond this.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Lord Relvenous » 2012-10-20 08:11pm

Ahriman238 wrote:I think it was Teeth of the Tiger where I realized quite suddenly that the books weren't fun anymore, and hadn't been for a while.

Same here, actually. Even 16 year old me couldn't stomach the message of that book.

Edit: Whoops, didn't see more pages. A question: am I remembering correctly that one of Clancy's Ryan books has a Japanese pilot fly a 747 into Congress?
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Norseman » 2012-10-20 08:26pm

Stas Bush wrote:It is also strange that a PB member would have more clout than the Soviet Navy people, who basically forced the PB to sign off enormous amounts of money and industrial effort to build a massive Navy that was not a top priority for a continental power such as the USSR. The Brezhnew PB was much more ready to spend loads and loads of money on the military and the "revolving door" system in the USSR was often connected to the military - high-ranking officers were also high-ranking CPSU members at the same time, and it couldn't be any other way considering the level of military-civilian power fusion in World War II. It was a lot greater than in America. Having no antibiotics to treat the daughter of a Fleet commander is out of the question too.

EDIT: Shit, the discussion already went way beyond this.


Actually there's one other item that struck me:

To those with political doubts, those with just grievances, he gave the same advice: "Join the Party." Nearly all were already Komsomol members, of course, and Marko urged them to take the next step. This was the price of a career at sea, and guided by their own craving for adventure most officers paid that price. Ramius himself had been allowed to join the Party at eighteen, the earliest possible age, because of his father's influence. His occasional talks at weekly Party meetings were perfect recitations of the Party line. It wasn't hard, he'd tell his officers patiently. All you had to do was repeat what the Party said - just change the words around slightly. This was much easier than navigation - one had only to look at the political officer to see that! Ramius became known as a captain whose officers were both proficient and models of political conformity. He was one of the best Party recruiters in the navy.

...

On the other hand, his father had been a model Party member and a hero of the Great Patriotic War. Certainly he had been well thought of, Lithuanian or not. And the son? Years of letter-perfect performance, as many years of stalwart Party membership. He was known for his spirited participation at meetings and occasionally brilliant essays.


Now I don't know the USSR or Communism, but I do know theology and fandoms, and I know that simply repeating the party line in a slightly different tone may get you accepted, but won't earn you great accolades as an original thinker. Basically even if you think that the subject matter is pure nonsense (as Tom Clancy does of Marxism) there is a strong difference between someone able to bring new understanding to the subject, or simply to simplify and popularize a difficult or oblique concept.

The rest of it however seems very much geared towards making him seem extremely politically reliable.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Skywalker_T-65 » 2012-10-20 10:21pm

Lord Relvenous wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:I think it was Teeth of the Tiger where I realized quite suddenly that the books weren't fun anymore, and hadn't been for a while.

Same here, actually. Even 16 year old me couldn't stomach the message of that book.

Edit: Whoops, didn't see more pages. A question: am I remembering correctly that one of Clancy's Ryan books has a Japanese pilot fly a 747 into Congress?


Yep...said book being Debt of Honor.

EDIT: Found it! :D
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Thanas » 2012-10-21 12:48am

Skgoa wrote:
Really? This seems less crazy than Clancy? Or might it be that pulp authors will write whatever bullshit fits into the narrative their target audience adheres to?
Coonts is better. Look for example at "under siege" which is IMO his best book.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2012-10-21 02:59am

PeZook wrote:Myself I couldn't help but wonder how a bunch of commandoes managed to leisurely helicopter into a Chinese ICBM base on short notice and not get torn up by the security troops? Maybe I don't remember some crucial detail about the whole action :D


That's perfectly reasonable, most ICBM silos are completely unmanned and unguarded, security is based on reaction forces to deal with minor threats, and the book attack had one of those represented and blown up. Some Soviet silos had a very small security detachment on site, which wouldn't survive the first missile fired into the building anyway, but it was not typical. Doesn't really work to secure point sites miles apart against a full scale special forces attack unless you wish to employ tens of thousands of men with armored vehicles doing it. Main issue being, if you have hundreds of silos who cares? China really does only have a handful you might dream about attacking, but in real life they also have mobile ICBMs weapons of known number plus they'd be able to fling around all kinds of IRBMs and bombers which could make life from the US and Russia unpleasant. The lack of on site silo security is the least problem in that book.

On Red Storm Rising, every time I think about that book I wonder if Clancy wrote more then 20% of it. Very few pieces fit his style, while huge tracts are Bond Bond Bond, and he of course fully acknowledged Larry Bonds contribution. Putting Clancy's name alone on the book was plainly marketing.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Thanas » 2012-10-21 05:18am

I think Clancy wrote the parts of the novel where the guys treck through Ireland. That felt most like him.
Same for the opening sequence of evil muslim terrorists blowing up the oilfield.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby weemadando » 2012-10-21 05:49am

I'll support Under Siege being a great Coonts book. A nice, prescient picture of how quickly society will turn on itself in the name of "security and safety".

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Havok » 2012-10-21 06:29pm

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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Pelranius » 2012-10-21 11:42pm

Larry Bonds has really fallen off the cliff recently too. His current series has China invading Vietnam (to get Vietnam's food, apparently Mr. Bond doesn't realize that climate change screwing with Chinese agriculture will fuck up Vietnam even more. It would be more plausible for Vietnam to invade Cambodia after the Mekong Delta gets screwed by rising sea levels).
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2012-10-22 03:06am

He really never had that many good books, and all the recent ones are coauthored with Jim DeFelice who also did awesome work helping Dale Brown churn up piles of bad books. I dunno what DeFelice's work with Stephen Coonts is like. The Enemy Within is the last good Bond one I read, and its in no small part a rehash of stuff covered in Under Siege anyway, though in my mind with a more plausible background. Vortex was his best book, along with Red Phoenix, though both had the fairly typical problem of that kind of book of reading like a war game scenario, which they were, and running out of space for a decent ending. At least though they covered places rarely touched in a remotely plausible manner.
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Re: Ryanverse

Postby Skgoa » 2012-10-26 07:47am

Simon_Jester wrote:It's got Ahmad-i-Nejad as a cackling maniac. On the other hand, it apparently has the Israelis as trigger-happy nuts, and possibly the US government cast as the big unfeeling thing that doesn't pay a lot of attention to intelligence about upcoming attacks (like 9/11).

Not great, but it's better than making all Westerners smart and all non-Westerners evil and crazystupid. At least some of the smarter readers will notice that it's a bit more complicated than "Heroic White People against Evil Brown People," which is all too common a narrative in this kind of book.

Oh, I totally agree with you. What I was getting at was something different though. The situation you summarize is exactly the narrative many people subscribe to nowadays. Clancy's newer books are a near perfect reproduction of the narrative many other people subscribe to. (i.e. tea partiers) E.g. Red Storm Rising and Red October were seen as realistic back in the day and now seem ridiculous in some aspects, because they fit what the narrative in the West was back then. For a more immediate example, compare how The Sum of all Fears (shot before 2001 but delayed due to 9/11), 24 (running 2001 - 2010), Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), and Homeland (2012-?) portray terrorists/counter-terrorism. Or how Black Hawk Down (2001) and Generation Kill (2008) portray US foreign millitary expeditions.
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