Jack Ryan/Setting

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

  • Alternate History: Clancy tried his best to avert this as much as possible concerning world affairs, and largely succeeded during the Cold War era. During the nineties onward, several considerable elements of divergent history crept into the canon, forcing him and later writers who picked up his trademark after his passing to Retcon them away. Some notable stuff includes (in chronological order):
    • Red Rabbit - diverges with history on the actual death of Mikhail Suslov in January 1982; frequent references to "Transformers" which did not appear until 1984; the fact that the Orioles played the Phillies in the World Series in 1983; the Baltimore Colts' relocation to Indianapolis not occurring until 1984; a reference to "Coke Classic" which did not debut until the summer of 1985. Also, Reagan is referenced in all but name as President, which directly conflicts with the unnamed president who was in office at the same time in earlier books, who is established to be a different person entirely. Red Rabbit was published much later and all the other historical character referenced made Reagan's presence in the story necessary, but it still creates a contradiction.
    • The Sum of All Fears - Israel partially cedes sovereignty over Jerusalem to the Vatican and Saudi Arabia, and the city becomes a United Nations protectorate policed by Swiss Guards. Residents of Jerusalem can choose between either Vatican, Israeli or Islamic judicial law. Denver is devastated by a terrorist nuclear explosion. The book occurs after the Persian Gulf War and before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is implied that both events occur at the same time in the Ryan universe as in actual history (of the Soviet Union dissolution), 1991. In the earlier chapters it states that it had almost been two Novembers since President Fowler had been elected, making the beginning set in 1990. Interestingly, the Rainbow Six game puts the atomic detonation in Denver as having occurred in 1989.
      • Jerusalem's protectorate status is referenced as having completely fallen apart politically by The Teeth of the Tiger, a Retcon necessary so events in the Middle East in our reality from 2001 onwards could be referenced as backstory.
    • Debt of Honor - North and South Korea were said to be unified at some point between The Sum of All Fears and this book, while Red Rabbit still refers to them as separate nations, set prior. A much later book not only pretends this never happened, it also replaces the Kim dynasty with a clear stand-in that otherwise fulfills the same role, likely done for legal/political reasons.
    • Executive Orders Saddam Hussein is assassinated; Iran and Iraq merge forming the United Islamic Republic; the UIR launches a biological attack on the U.S. using the Ebola virus; the United States launches the Second Persian Gulf War against the UIR and defeats them; the Ayatollah is killed in a smart-bomb attack by the U.S.
      • Saddam's death is never written out, but whomever was leading Iraq since was purposely left vague so as to not conflict with references to our reality, while real world events from 2001 onwards in that region are otherwise referenced from The Teeth of the Tiger onwards. Iran and Iraq reformed back into unique countries again at the end of this book, meaning real world events could otherwise have taken place, though there is no calling the 2003 Iraq War the THIRD Persian Gulf War in the books, much like how the 2003 War was not called the Second Gulf War in reality.
    • The Bear and the Dragon - Russia is admitted to NATO; China and Russia fight a major war, in which the U.S. intervenes on its NATO ally's side. It implies that the British Prime Minister is Tony Blair.
      • Russia's admittance to NATO is later undone in future books, Retconned away as an alliance that disintegrated when non-American friendly Russian strongmen took over from the former leadership willing to ally with the US in later books. The gold and oil reserves Russia discovers in Siberia in this book also turn out to be much smaller than expected, further aiding the retcon of Russia no longer being part of NATO and resuming an antagonist role.
    • The Teeth of the Tiger The U.S. is now engaged in a global war on terrorism, in response to the September 11 attacks, which occurred in the Ryan universe as they did in the real world. It is mentioned that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq occurred in the Ryan universe continuity, and that the Jerusalem Treaty signed in The Sum of All Fears was not entirely successful as some Israelis and Palestinians continue fighting each other.
      • To some extent the events of Executive Orders are still referenced, particularly the Ebola plague attack.
    • Dead or Alive — The Umayyad Revolutionary Council (the Ryan universe version of Al-Qaeda) and its leader "The Emir" (based on Osama bin Laden) plan a string of major attacks on the U.S. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, as in our timeline, and President Kealty is in the process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
    • Threat Vector - The Red Chinese start a shooting war for control of the South China Sea. Using their cyber-warfare superiority, they have compromised US civilian, military, and intelligence systems (including the Campus) and Jack Ryan Jr.'s girlfriend.
      • It bears noting this novel was essentially a gigantic Author's Saving Throw to The Bear and the Dragon, which had portrayed the Chinese as massively incompetent on all fronts, and even mentions their failures from that novel explicitly encouraged them to be much more competent the second time round.
    • Command Authority - Valeri Volodin, an anti-American Russian leader and his like minded cronies have taken control of Russia from the formerly Russian friendly Grushavoy and his successors, and they have designs on the Ukraine.
      • This story introduces a number of retcons to return Russia to its former antagonist role, such as revealing the oil and gold reserves they found in Siberia in The Bear and the Dragon were not as large as they anticipated, as well using the earlier books foreshadowing of a strong coalition of former KGB men and criminal elements essentially finding their ways into the corridors of power (after reasserting their power after the fall of the USSR destroyed most of it) and effectively silencing or removing pro-American reformist elements. Most of these retcons are centered around making Volodin's rise to power more plausible, as he's based on real life Russian leader Vladimir Putin. However, an extreme issue occurs because there are no references to Andrey Narmonov, the effective stand-in for Mikhail Gorbachev, though Gorbachev is clearly referenced by name as running Russia in the flashbacks to the Cold War Soviet Union, which causes a major continuity error unless he was a transistory leader at one point before Narmonov. Sergey Golovko does appear as a major character, though he dies in this story, one of the last members of the pro-America figures Volodin's goons forced from power (and he later is killed by them by means of radiation poisoning), which makes the total absence of Narmonov nor any references to him at all incredibly puzzling.
  • CIA: A frequent setting, though Clancy only really ever gave it an in-depth description in Patriot Games.
  • Commie Land: Clancy often went to great pains to describe how this would look like during any book set in a communist country or during the Cold War in general.
  • Moscow Centre: A majority of Clancy's fictional works involve the KGB or its successors. Until the last few Ryanverse novels, people of Moscow Centre were always cast as the antagonists, though infrequently as outright villains.
  • Moscow Metro: Featured in The Cardinal of the Kremlin and Red Rabbit. First mentioned in The Hunt For Red October.
  • The New Russia
  • Qurac: Surprisingly, given the subject matter, averted. Clancy seems fairly cognizant of the region and its people. In Debt of Honor, he mentions that Iraq can get pretty cold in the winter.

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