Every Gamer Should Read: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (1998)


Penguin Books

You can’t spend 24 hours a day lobbing incendiary grenades at terrorists in CS:GO or waiting in vain for Fortnite’s long-delayed Season 3 to finally start. You’ve got to sleep, for one thing, not to mention eat—and no, chasing a fistful of Flintstones Gummies with a can of Monster Assault does not count as a meal. Reading is optional, of course, but if you can tear your eyes away from the screen for a few minutes, you’ll find that there are some pretty great books out there that even the most die-hard gamer can appreciate, covering topics from the history of video games to the bleeding edge of ESports.

This week’s pick:

Rainbow Six

The cover of the first edition of Tom Clancy’s 1998 novel Rainbow Six.

A fun fact about the 1998 video game called Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: it was actually completed before Clancy had finished writing the novel that it was ostensibly based on, so not all of the plot elements are consistent between the two. Then again, if you’re a devotee of Rainbow Six Siege, you’re not likely to find many familiar elements or characters in the book at all. In other words, don’t go in thinking you’re going to develop any new in-game strategies; you’re reading this strictly for background—and, you, know, entertainment.

Set within the Jack Ryan universe (think Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger), Rainbow Six centres on CIA operative John Clark, who forms a secret multinational counterterrorist unit known as Rainbow.

The team must stop a mad scientist from taking over the world. Yes, really. His name is Dr. Evil.

Dr. Evil

Just kidding. His name Dr. Brightling, and he plans to infect most of the world’s population with a super-deadly strain of Ebola. Only Brightling and his “chosen few” would have the vaccine. They would inherit a new world, which they will have saved from the blight of humanity.

While it’s all very James Bond (or Austin Powers, if you prefer), it implies that extreme environmentalists are secretly plotting to exterminate the human race. This wasn’t received well in all quarters.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson—whom some have branded an eco-terrorist—condemned Rainbow Six as “a vicious defamation of the Environmentalist Movement, embodying, amplifying and packaging all the worst stereotypes and prejudices”.

He was probably right. That, of course, didn’t stop Rainbow Six for debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, or from spawning a series of video games. Coming soon: Rainbow Six: The Movie, starring Mike Myers as both John Clark and Dr. Brightling.

Just kidding. It’s set to star Michael B. Jordan as Clark and someone else as Brightling.

I’m still hoping it’s Mike Myers.

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I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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