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Criticism Of Perfect Characters And The Passing Of Tom Clancy


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One of my favorite authors.  Patriot Games, Hunt For Red October, Red Storm Rising, all very excellent works of historical fiction.

 

About writing:

 

“I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,” he said. “You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.”

 

Criticism:

 

The critical reception to his novels was gushing from the start. Reviewing “Red Storm Rising” in The New York Times in 1986, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote that the book “far surpassed” Mr. Clancy’s debut novel. “Red Storm Rising” is a “superpower thriller,” he wrote, “the verbal equivalent of a high-tech video game.” (Mr. Clancy would eventually venture into video games, which were easily adapted from his novels.)

 

Other critics questioned the unwaveringly virtuous nature of many of Mr. Clancy’s heroes, particularly his protagonist Jack Ryan.

 

All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country,” Robert Lekachman wrote in the Times in 1986.

“Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/books/tom-clancy-best-selling-novelist-of-military-thrillers-dies-at-66.html?_r=1&

 

This article about the passing of Tom Clancy reminded me of the criticism about the book "The Not Even Once Club". 

 

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfaithblog/56851977-180/book-lds-christ-club.html.csp

 

What is wrong with characters who are virtuous and perfect?  What does it say about a society that worships flawed and damaged characters, especially those that come to "realize" that such flaws can't be helped or are natural instead of overcoming them?

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It is not so much we worshipped flawed heroes. that From beginning to end, a Seemlessly unchanging and Seemlessly perfect characters(heroes or villains) are bad and unrelateable.  Without Flaws and growth, there will be no true conflict. Well On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs Cynicism will influence the type of characters will show in the work. I do favor more cynical tropes myself but a good redemption story is always good.

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One of my favorite authors.  Patriot Games, Hunt For Red October, Red Storm Rising, all very excellent works of historical fiction.

 

About writing:

 

 

Criticism:

 

 

This article about the passing of Tom Clancy reminded me of the criticism about the book "The Not Even Once Club". 

 

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfaithblog/56851977-180/book-lds-christ-club.html.csp

 

What is wrong with characters who are virtuous and perfect?  What does it say about a society that worships flawed and damaged characters, especially those that come to "realize" that such flaws can't be helped or are natural instead of overcoming them?

 

The problem I see is that sometimes we fantasize about being that character while acting just the opposite.

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I liked Tom Clancy's novels a lot. His work was a fascinating introduction into high tech military gadgets and current geo-political scenarios. It was about what could happen. If the thrilling stories he wrote were implausible, then he was all the more gifted as a writer because he made them believable. I read all of his novels through Cardinal of the Kremlin. My favorite was Red Storm. I couldn't put it down. I am not sure why I stopped with Cardinal.

 

I wouldn't understand criticism about Jack's perseverance for a cause. I wanted to see more of Jack's interior life and some growth therein. I would have liked more versatile characters that didn't use a lot of the same idioms, with too much foul language that was stupid for the situation. But Clancy wasn't Thomas Hardy, and I salute the man who succeeded at what he aimed for in his writing. 

 

3DOP

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I do favor more cynical tropes myself but a good redemption story is always good.

 

I don't mind bad, evil, or imperfect characters, I just don't understand the criticism of having virtuous ones. 

 

Maybe in the case of Tom Clancy, they didn't like the "American "Exceptionalism" (A lot of British Exceptionalism as well) )which frankly I don't mind either because America IS exceptional (according to the doctrine and scriptures) and therefore those that live in it not only have a greater chance to be exceptional but have a greater responsibility as well...

 

...so long as we worship the God of the land.

 

;)

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I don't mind bad, evil, or imperfect characters, I just don't understand the criticism of having virtuous ones. 

 

Maybe in the case of Tom Clancy, they didn't like the "American "Exceptionalism" (A lot of British Exceptionalism as well) )which frankly I don't mind either because America IS exceptional (according to the doctrine and scriptures) and therefore those that live in it not only have a greater chance to be exceptional but have a greater responsibility as well...

 

...so long as we worship the God of the land.

 

;)

 

 

To many, virtuous characters are unrelatable and many do consider them to be Mary Sues. A poorly written character that has "virtue" or "perfect" can be consider to be a Mary Sue.

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So, it may sound shallow, but I am extremely disappointed that I won't find out what happens with Jack Ryan, Jr.

Unless Mr. Clancy anointed a successor? I haven't heard.

I have held Tom Clancy in great awe for years. I am so bummed that he will be writing his future novels in another place entirely. Are there novels in heaven? Gosh, I hope so.

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I think Clancy's characters are plenty human ... plenty flawed ... and that they try to do their best in trying situations, humanity notwithstanding.  I'd like to write some characters like that myself one of these days (and I'd settle for a fraction of the success he had ... at least monetarily and marketing-wise.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jack Ryan, looking at the D.C. Temple:
 

A decidedly odd-looking building, it had grandeur with its marble columns and gilt spires.  The beliefs represented by that impressive structure seemed curious, but the people who held them were honest and hardworking and fiercely loyal to their country because they believed in what America stood for. And that was what it all came down to, wasn’t it? Either you stand for something or you don’t. Anybody could be against things, like a petulant child claiming to hate an untasted vegetable. You could tell what these people stood for.  The Mormons tithed their income, which allowed their church to construct this monument to faith, just as medieval peasants had taken from their need to build the cathedrals of their age, for precisely the same purpose.  The peasants were forgotten by all but the God in whom they believed.  The Cathedrals—testimony of those beliefs—remained in their glory, still used for their intended purpose.  Who remembered the political issues of that age?  The nobles and their castles had crumbled away, the royal bloodlines had mostly ended, and all that age had left behind were memorials to faith, belief in something more important than man’s corporeal existence, expressed in stonework crafted by the hands of men.  What better proof could there be of what really mattered?

 

Clear and Present Danger

Tom Clancy

 

http://mormonlifehacker.com/tom-clancy/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MormonLifeHacker+%28Mormon+Life+Hacker%29

 

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Jack Ryan, looking at the D.C. Temple:

 

 

Wow B.C. That is a great quote! Thank you. I know I liked Tom Clancy when I was a patriotic American Protestant. But maybe there was even more to Tom Clancy than I remembered.

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I vaguely remember a book that I thought was written by Tom Clancy years ago. Can't remember the name but the setting was in Magna, Utah and it talked about families living there most were LDS, and some drank coffee even if it was against the WoW. Cannot even remember the plot, but I loved the book so much I made my family drive there for a little Sunday drive. I could have sworn it was Tom that wrote the book, but when I look at the books he wrote I don't see it. Could he have been interested in LDS life?

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I vaguely remember a book that I thought was written by Tom Clancy years ago. Can't remember the name but the setting was in Magna, Utah and it talked about families living there most were LDS, and some drank coffee even if it was against the WoW. Cannot even remember the plot, but I loved the book so much I made my family drive there for a little Sunday drive. I could have sworn it was Tom that wrote the book, but when I look at the books he wrote I don't see it. Could he have been interested in LDS life?

 

He mentioned Mormons favorably from time to time, and one of the characters who showed up in a couple of his novels was a US Senator from Utah.  Another one was a fairly important character in "Without Remorse", a downed LDS pilot in a North Vietnamese POW camp..

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What is wrong with characters who are virtuous and perfect?  What does it say about a society that worships flawed and damaged characters, especially those that come to "realize" that such flaws can't be helped or are natural instead of overcoming them?

 

If done well a perfect character is usually unrelatable or an ideal and not actually a person. If done poorly then perfect characters are facile tributes to mediocrity (looking at you Ayn Rand).

 

I can sympathize with Nephi lamenting his sins or Captain Moroni losing his temper or Alma missing corruption in the Church due to his naivete. While I can empathize with the Savior and his suffering I cannot understand it and I cannot fathom a mind operating on that level.

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