Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Hunt for Red October
The novel is sometimes referred to as the first real example of the techno-thriller, a hybrid between the spy thriller and science fiction in which attention to technical and operational detail about military and intelligence activities is paramount.
The Hunt for Red October was inspired by a real incident. On November 8, 1975, the Soviet Navy frigate Storozhevoy attempted to defect from Latvia to the Swedish island of Gotland. The mutiny was led by the ship's political officer, Captain Valery Sablin. The mutiny was unsuccessful; Sablin was captured, court-marshaled and executed. The novel was originally published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press—the first work of fiction they ever published, and still the most successful.
Many of the characters in the novel appear throughout Clancy's subsequent works, particularly Ryan, who is the central character of many of Clancy's novels.
The novel was made into a commercially-successful movie in 1990, starring Sean Connery as Ramius and Alec Baldwin as Ryan, and featuring James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Peter Firth, Courtney B. Vance, and Stellan Skarsgård.
The novel also served as the basis for a computer game, as well as a board game.
It should be noted that while the Red October was real, the movie's "revolutionary" magnetohydrodynamic drive that acts as the main driver of the plot did not exist. In fact, both superpowers experimented with MHD propulsion but neither ever used it for a warship's engines. In the book the Red October uses a normal propeller system or a propeller placed within a tube for quiet operation. The real Red October was, instead, a standard Typhoon class submarine.
Ramius, a Lithuanian who has risen to high levels of trust in the Soviet Navy, intends to defect to the United States with his officers and the experimental submarine Red October. The Red October is equipped with a revolutionary stealth propulsion system (in the movie, a magnetohydrodynamic drive), making it extremely difficult to detect with regular methods. Ramius' defection is spurred by several factors, including the death of his wife (while he was at sea), the first-strike capabilities of the Red October, and the callousness of the Soviet establishment towards its sailors. Cold War tensions are rising, because of fleet maneuvers and the dangers of a rogue submarine equipped with nuclear weapons. Ryan, an expert on submarines and men such as Ramius, deduces Ramius' plans. However the admirals argue to play it safe and to destroy Ramius before he could launch his missiles; meanwhile, the entire Soviet Atlantic Fleet tries to kill Red October. To prevent the loss of a decisive technological advantage, Ryan must reach the one ship whose crew have found the secret to detecting Red October. Through a combination of circumstances, Ryan becomes responsible for seeing the sub, and Ramius, to safety from the pursuing Soviet naval fleet.
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