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Jack Ryan on the mainland


On 6 August, translations of six Tom Clancy novels will hit shelves at the Shanghai Book Fair.

The books are mostly the originals of the Hollywood adaptations that have been popular with Chinese fans - The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears - along with the latest Jack Ryan novel The Teeth of the Tiger and the non-fiction Shadow Warriors.

While this is the first large-scale release of Tom Clancy's military fantasies on the mainland, most of these books have long been available in pirated extraterritorial and fan-produced editions. Red October even had an authorized translation two decades ago, done by Zhang Zhaozhong, professor of military strategy at the PLA University of National Defense. Zhang also participated in the retranslation.

The novels did not come through unmolested. In response to a reporter's question, "We all know that Tom Clancy is a right-wing author; how do the Chinese translations address his political leanings?" the series editor Li Yuyao said:

There really isn't that big of a problem with the other books, but in The Hunt For Red October, there were a few places in which the treatment of the former Soviet Union was troublesome, so we made some necessary cuts. No more than a few hundred words, though.

Danwei makes the bold prediction that SSN and The Bear and the Dragon will not be appearing in your local Xinhua bookstore anytime soon.

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