March 30th, 2006


The Teeth of the Tiger

I just finished reading this tonight. It's a Tom Clancy novel. Generally, I tend to read his stuff fairly soon as it comes out, as long as it's "proper" stuff - the Op-Center nonsense and various other collaborations don't grab me at all. But for some reason, it took me ages to realise this was even available (it's copyright 2004...)

And it's terrible.

The pages slide by with speed, as they normally too; he's a good writer, in terms of the mechanical assembly of words on the page. Where this falls over is in way too many places:

  • Like Op-Center, he's moved away from the establishment of US military/intelligence into Stuff Wot I've Made Up. Far more so than Rainbow Six.
  • All the characters are new. And identical. Okay, so the principals are supposed to be an FBI agent, a Marine, and Ryan's son. They all think, act and speak in the same way. As do all the supporting Good-Guy cast.
  • They get everything right. There's no tension or drama at all. They just walk through a sequence of highly suspicious coincidences, guessing correctly more frequently than Mulder.
  • The plot violates the characters. It's bad enough thinking, "ah, character A is trying to head character B towards a particular line of thinking about character C, because the author needs C in certain situations,", but it's much worse to discover that supposedly, character A wasn't even thinking about this at all, and it's purely the author beating at the plot and characters with a lump hammer, to get C into the climax unnecessarily.
  • No-one - not one of the supposed best-of-the-best minds in this Intelligence scenario consider that having leading-character Ryan in the field as an incognito character might be a bad idea. No, of course, no-one's going to give him a second glance. After all, his father was only the US President for four years, so no bad-guys are going to recognise him, are they?

Finally, the setup - post-9/11 wish-fulfillment through highly illegal means - could make a good story, except that coincidence conspires to make it all work out all right (so, it's justified, then?), when having it all blow up in their faces would have made a much better story. Alas.

Okay, so I know that Clancy is a hugely gung-ho author, for whom all military personnel are heart-of-gold, do-the-right-thing pAtriots, and all politicians bar one or two leading characters are self-serving, good-for-nothing short-sighted scum, but honestly, I expect better than this.
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    disappointed disappointed
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Ogee Rhones

Apparently we have to do something about ours.

Anyone got any idea what the hell they are? They're cast iron, and somewhere on the front of the building...