In real life, the ship didn't make it, but in Clancy's book, the defection is a success.
By a stroke of luck, President Reagan got "Red October" as a Christmas gift and quipped at a dinner that he was losing sleep because he couldn't put the book down — a statement Clancy later said helped put him on the New York Times best-seller list.
It led to a string of hits, both on the page and in Hollywood blockbusters. He even ventured into video games with the best-selling "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier," ''Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction" and "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent."
"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time," Penguin Group (USA)'s executive David Shanks said in a statement Wednesday.
Clancy continued to play off — and sometimes almost anticipate — world events, as in the pre-9/11 paranoid thriller "Debt of Honor," in which a jumbo jet destroys the U.S. Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress.
The latest Jack Ryan movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine, is set for release in the U.S. on Christmas Day. Keira Knightly plays Jack Ryan's wife and Kevin Costner plays his mentor at the CIA.
Clancy resided in rural Calvert County, Md., and in 1993 he joined a group of investors led by Baltimore attorney Peter Angelos who bought the Baltimore Orioles from businessman Eli Jacobs.
Clancy also attempted to bring a NFL team to Baltimore in 1993, but he later dropped out of the effort.