Today I, and the world, lost a treasure. Tom Clancy has passed.
Most writers can look back and find that moment where they absolutely fell in love with books. I'm no different. Born in the late Seventies, my childhood was a never-ending battleground for my attention. Atari was this new thing, and I spent hours playing Pitfall and Pac Man. Cable television appeared with like, eighteen channels. Then Nintendo. Even with that at home, we'd spend days at arcades, playing the big machines, wasting god knows how much money on tokens. And the movies - Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T. They stayed in the theaters forever and we'd see them over and over and over again. Of course, there was playing in the woods with my friends, reenacting the adventures we'd seen on screen. There just wasn't enough time in a day.
To be honest, I wasn't a reader. Having summer reading forced on me every time school was let out probably associated the experience to schoolwork. And I hated schoolwork. So unless it was a comic book, I just didn't bother.
At some point in my childhood I developed a love of all things WWII. My grandfather, Lyman Cleveland Duncan had been a B17 pilot, flying out of Foggia, Italy. I remember him staying with us during the holidays - Christmas, I believe. He was just finishing The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. At this point, my grandfather was pretty much the most interesting person I knew and while he didn't like to talk about The War often, when he did let loose a story, I was transfixed. So when he finished the book, he suggested I should read it.
The book opened my world in a way I did not expect, and afterwards I was officially a reader.
I read other things from Clancy - Red Storm Rising, Clear and Present Danger - but I was reading other authors as well. It's a strange thing having such a technical, detailed writer be the author responsible for making me fall in love with books.
So when I learned of Clancy's passing today, I couldn't help but reflect on the debt I owe him. No words do justice for the gratitude I feel for what The Hunt for Red October did for me, so I guess the best I can say is Thanks, Tom.