While Superman will never leave this site (wait until later this week), it’s time to read a brand new book, and one I don’t think I ever read. When I worked in the grocery store we used to sell books off of a spinner rack or at one point a book rack. Eventually that was phased out, which was too bad because I ended up picking up a few books I might not have. That was back when I had more money than expenses and could afford a few luxuries. Which are now the reason I have a clutter-organizing and eliminating site so in hindsight that didn’t work out so well.

But while The Black Stallion’s Ghost didn’t quite work out for me, it doesn’t mean other books not involving sci-fi or superheroes won’t interest me. The next book in our series doesn’t have any hard science fiction elements, although given what I know of one of the co-creator’s works I’m sure it will at least feature tech slightly more advanced than we had at the time. It won’t have superheroes but it may end up with a few slightly larger-than-life characters. It’s also a book that comes at me with some confusion when it comes to the book’s creation and who did what when. Finally, it is a book where chapters can be as long as five pages or as short as one, which means I’ll actually be reviewing multiple chapters each article instead of one. Otherwise we’d have 88 of the shortest articles I’ve had outside of the Morning Article Link and that would be a waste of all our time and money. So let’s cut through the confusion and check out the twelfth installment of Chapter By Chapter (although “Chapter” will be plural for this one):

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center

created by Tom Clancy & Steve Pieczenik

Written by…Jeff Rovin?

At least that’s what the internet tells me. It’s not what the book cover tells me. Rovin’s name only comes up in the acknowledgements, where he’s credited for “his creative ideas and his invaluable contribution to the preparation of the manuscript”. And yet every site but the Random House entry on the book Jeff Rovin gets sole credit for writing the novel while Clancy and Pieczenik share creation credits. If Isaac Asimov can have books crediting him as creator but not author (someday we may get to the few Robot City books I own) why can’t Clancy and Pieczenik? I know Clancy’s a big name but he gets this huge credit on the cover but shares the creation credit with someone else, while the internet is telling me they pulled a move out of Bob Kane’s book and didn’t credit the writer. Something seems off here and if someone who knows what’s going on could explain in the comments I would be very grateful. But before we get into the book let’s look at the creative team.

Tom Clancy’s name is very famous. This is the man who created Jack Ryan and inspired video game series like Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. Many of his books have become movies since The Hunt For Red October, which is where most of you know Ryan from unless you’re heavy readers. He’s mostly known for his political and military tales, sometimes pushing the tech a bit ahead by being slightly in the future. What he comes up with is based on actual tactics and gear used by the military and government agencies, although how much accuracy is missing for the sake of the narrative I’m the wrong guy to ask. He’s also done some non-fiction books about the military.

Steve Pieczenik I’m not as up on. Apparently he has an MD and a PhD and is also an international crisis manager and hostage negotiator. He’s helped create this series and the Net Force series (I have the first book in that series and I don’t think I read that either) with Clancy. He has written a few of his own novels. However, he may not be your favorite person. He got in trouble with the psychiatric ethics board for saying President Bush senior was “clinically depressed” and apparently agrees with Alex Jones that Sandy Hook is a scam, which wins you no favors here in Connecticut. But he only co-created this book and if I can praise Mark Waid’s writing I can praise someone’s creation. While I may take personal issue with a creator’s words and actions BW Media Spotlight is interested solely in the end product and if it’s any good. But since I know someone is going to bring this up (and this does come from Wikipedia, so question the source) I wanted to get that on the record.

Finally there’s Jeff Rovin. This is a guy whose work goes all over the place. He’s done video game guides, novelizations for movies ranging from Re-Animator to Cliffhanger, and everything from science fiction to war stories to Civil War stories to fantasy. He’s done humor books, trivia books, co-written with actors and worked under the pen name Jim Grand. He’s also written and edited for DC Comics, so I guess there’s still a comic book connection with this one. Rovin has written (or whatever he does with this book) the first twelve Op-Center novels and since this isn’t the only book in the series I own (plus the comic reviews and I have one of the video game strategy guides he wrote) we’ll be seeing him again in the future.

So that’s the pedigree but what is the book about? Let’s check the back cover:

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center is a beating heart of defense, intelligence, and crisis management technology. It is run by a crack team of operatives both within its own walls and out in the field. And when a job is too dirty, or to dangerous, it is the only place our government can turn.

But nothing can prepare Director Paul Hood and his Op-Center crisis management team for what they are about to uncover–a very real, very frightening power play that could unleash new players in a new world order…

So the National Crisis Management Center (or NCMC for short, the official government name of Op-Center) is…what, the stand-in for the CIA? How many different organizations does the US government need to battle the bad guys? I’m sure this will be explained in the book itself so I’m going to bypass Wikipedia’s explanation for now. This does set up the title organization as well as the book series up to the 2014 reboot. It also gave a plot I found interesting. I had heard of Tom Clancy and this seemed like a good book to start on. My mom thought the same way as she borrowed I think this one if not one of the later ones, but I don’t know if she got to read it before she passed. I managed to get it back as we were going through her books, most of which were ones I wasn’t interested in. (In hindsight I should have saved the Erma Bombeck books but I have so many of my own books to read and sort through and I’m not sure I would have gotten to them.)

A powerful profile of America’s defense, intelligence, and crisis management technology, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center is the creation of Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik–inspiring this novel, as well as the special NBC Television presentation.

And yet right under it reads in all caps “FIRST TIME IN PRINT!” So it inspired a TV movie before it was even printed? This is “AN ALL-NEW, ORIGINAL NOVEL” according to the top of the cover. Was this developed at the same time, like the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series and movie? Is Clancy’s name that big? Is that why Pieczenik gets a small credit and Rovin only gets an acknowledgement?

As I said, there are eighty-eight chapters in this book, and some of them are super-short, only one page long (and not even a full page) because whoever wrote this apparently changed chapters at every scene rather than every story beat. Was this the author’s plan to make sure you didn’t put it down rather than reading a chapter or two then going to do other important things and come back to the book when the reader had spare time? If that’s the case that’s kind of annoying. So what I’m going to do is read four chapters per article. I think this will add up properly and we’ll be reading this into next year. We start on Monday so read along, comment, but don’t jump ahead and spoil anything. Save it for next week because I haven’t read this yet.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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