Bad naval/military fiction

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Bad naval/military fiction

Postby Coiler12 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:34 pm

Now, I have a strange obsession with bad books. So I'll share my experiences with them.

The War That Never Was by Michael Palmer is good as a C:MANO scenario idea maker, but is terrible as a novel. The action is devoid of human cost and reads like a very literalist, dull Let's Play/AAR of Command or another naval wargame. No, I don't need hundreds of pages of "and then the Charlie launched its Starbrights and sank two frigates and damaged a third", even if it's more grounded and accurate than Red Storm Rising.

The Carrera series by Tom Kratman is also horrible, and not in a dull way. If you know the history of him it becomes slightly more understandable, but not excusable. Basically, it goes like this: Started off as Mary Sue semi-fanfiction he wrote to get through a career he wasn't suited for, then became a post 9/11 revenge fantasy. Then after editorial nudging (some of the very little editing done in the series), he changed it to the most un science-fiction-esque "Science Fiction", with a "colony world" that's the same only upside down and backwards and the names replaced by bad puns/references

Mary Sue loses his family to "9/11" but inherits a fortune that he uses to build a mercenary army in "Panama" complete with bizarre training. After they almost burn an "American" observer with the backblast from a rocket launcher, they go off to "Iraq". After two really long books that were originally one book, it shifts back to the conventional defense of "Panama" against the "EU" and "China".

What distinguishes the books isn't the crude barbaric politics, the horribly cumbersome writing, or even the pettiness (multiple internet opponents were written in to be killed). No, it's that Kratman's writing fails at even the simple task of making an always-wins Mary Sue, simply because the tactics he supports are so out-there, driven by "toughness", and bizarre that they still come across as bad even when he's trying to show them as good. (Kratman said, and this is shown in the books, that the best counter to a large mechanized attack is to just sit there and fire back).

Finally, the Carrera books are ridiculously "researched". One example the author gave was weeks for one side paragraph. There's also logistics, where logistics is defined as "Stay below an arbitrary number, and the initial sticker price is all that matters" (So of course Panama can buy an aircraft carrier for scrap prices and get it to work as a helicopter ship).

Slightly above Carrera in the "science-fiction" category is the Starfist series. Where yep, every branch of service but the protagonists is bad, and it's Vietnam on other worlds, and tanks are introduced in a dumb fashion. Readable and short unlike Kratman's, but still quite horrifically terrible.
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Re: Bad naval/military fiction

Postby SSN754 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:40 pm

Well, the War That Never Was was never meant to have much a human factor in it. If you read the first few pages it tells you that it is a AAR of a actual Naval War College wargame that was played out. Those wargames they do are pretty dull affairs and dont make much for the "human element"
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