Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Book Review — SSN, by Tom Clancy and Martin Greenberg

Filed under: Media, Reading — Tags: , , , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 7:59 PM (19:59)

SSN by Tom Clancy and Martin Greenberg

Berkley mass-market edition – Feburary, 2000, softcover, 351 pages

ISBN 0-495-17353-4

When Tom Clancy takes a direct hand in writing the books with his name on the cover, they’re usually pretty good. When the writing task is handed off to someone else, it’s a crapshoot as to whether you’ll end up with a good read. Luckily, SSN seems to be one of the former.

SSN was based upon a CD-ROM game of the same name[1]. Both the book and game are concerned with the U.S.S. Cheyenne[2], a Los Angeles class nuclear-powered attack submarine of the U.S. Navy, commanded by a Captain Bartholomew “Mack” Mackey, as the Cheyenne goes into combat against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, which is the naval branch of the People’s Liberation Army[3].

The Cheyenne starts off by engaging a Han class submarine[4] near Hawaii, but most of the book takes place as the Cheyenne goes up against various subs and surface ships of the PLAN in and around the Spratly Islands, as China wants to establish oil-prospecting operations there.

For what it’s worth, the Spratlys are currently claimed by not only China, but also Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. Most if not all of these nations are after the oil and natural gas deposits that are suspected to be under the Spratlys[5].

The “interview” (more properly called a “conversation” or “chat”) at the back of the book reveals that the game the book is based upon offers fifteen (15) different situations for the user to undertake, playing the role of “Mack,” and that while completing all of them successfully won’t qualify the user to actually command an attack sub in rela-life combat, they will get a taste of what it’s like. One of the participants, a Captain Doug Littlejohn, CBE (retired) from the British Royal Navy, says that the main liberty taken with the game (and thus the book) was that of time compression – tasks that take hours or days in real life are squeezed into seconds and minutes for the sake of the game, simply to avoid putting the user to sleep.

All in all, it was worth the 2 that I paid for it at the used bookstore.


  1. Tom Clancy’s SSN (CD-ROM game)
  2. U.S.S. Cheyenne (SSN-773)
  3. People’s Liberation Army Navy
  4. Han class submarine
  5. Spratly Islands


  1. Reposted –
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