You may notice this blog has a new tagline. It used to be “Reviewing the Third World War on the page and screen.” That was made way back in last August when I thought it’d be a very narrow review site. Of course, now it’s anything but narrow. So I felt a new tagline was appropriate. Now it’s the more appropriate “Reviewing the Third World War and much, much more.”
I’m proud to say that my first “Boom Boom Goes The Tank” column has been published on Sea Lion Press. The debut column is a “brief, opinionated chronology of the [technothriller] genre”.
Happy New Year
Happy New Year. My rough Fuldapocalypse plans are as follows.
- Northern Fury will hopefully release soon, and I eagerly await the chance to review it thoroughly.
- My military science fiction collection has grown and I’m in that kind of mood, so expect to see a lot more of that.
- Finally, I’m looking to review some “classics”-the earlier books that helped create and forge their respective (sub)genres. You’ll know them when you see them.
Getting this blog going was one of my favorite things of 2018, so here’s to 2019 in Fuldapocalypse!
So, here’s the new formal scale. The older one was a little too restrictive.
Who and What
This is the new introduction part, replacing both Icelands and “The Wha?'”. First it gives me a chance to summarize the plot, and I can point out if it’s cliche or not, formulaic or not. Second, I can say the exact subgenre it belongs. Third, I can talk about the characters and flow.
DEEP HISTORY OF TEM
This is a joking reference to the game Undertale, where going to a bizarre town of dog-cat-rabbit thingies leads to the talk of a “Deep history” that is never explained or elaborated on further, save for one picture.
So, what information included in the book is actually relevant to it? It replaces “Rivets” in that it (hopefully) doesn’t just say that infodumps exist, but how smoothly they’re integrated into it.
Unchanged. They’re still keeping the nukes from detonating and setting up weird situations post-1991.
How good is the action (if there is any) or the conflict? I figured this deserved its own category, since cheap thrillers need good action to succeed and any story needs conflict.
The Only Score That Really Matters
Unchanged. This is the only score that really matters.
Fuldapocalypse has been very, very effective for me. Going in, I expected to be reviewing on a very narrow continuum from Hackett/The War That Never Was on one end to Red Army on the other. To distinguish the works in this one narrow, specific, subgenre, my formal scale would be useful in determining just how they differed.
Then I started branching out. I think it was my review of Axis of Evil that proved surprisingly good-while I didn’t think that highly of the book itself, I liked that I branched out from the “classic 198X WWIII” genre. This was coupled with me realizing that military/techno/action thriller fiction was a lot more varied than my previous narrow perspective had indicated. And that was a problem for my scale. It’s wonderful for me, but it’s not so much for a very strict scale.
Obviously, “The Only Score That Really Matters” is fine. So is “The wha?”, although some stories are meant to be more character-based than others.
I have a little bit of an issue with “Zombie Sorceresses”, although I’d think it’s a matter of bias. I think a contrived scenario is more easily “swallowed” by me if the surrounding story is good or if the reveal is handled well. And I think a problem happens, as has happened in this blog, a story that’s explictly paranormal happens.
Then there’s “Rivets”. I think my biggest problem with “Rivets” is that this genre tends to be very infodumpy, and almost everyone already knows this. It’s like going shopping for giant SUVs and being told that they don’t get the best gas mileage. Yes, it’s true, but it’s also not exactly shocking. I feel like I’m repeating myself. “Yes, this has a lot of infodumps in it”. “Yes, this also has a lot infodumps in it.” “Yes, this also has a lot of infodumps in it”.
But the biggest and most jarring one is “Icelands.” It’s both too prescient and too inaccurate at the same time. At one end, it can be like “Rivets”, where I’m repeating that a book in a genre has most of the cliches from that genre. Not exactly shocking. At the other, well, the Iceland Scale itself feels irrelevant if applied to a genre other than “Red Storm Rising knockoff.”
Then there’s the lack of an ‘action’ category in the scale. It’s kind of folded into “The ‘Wha?'”, but given that cheap thrillers live and die based on how good the action is, I figure it deserves more focus.
So I might change some scale categories and see what works, and I also want to do some “unstructured reviews”, particularly of books where the scale categories may not apply. (For instance, if I was doing a review of an outright science fiction novel, both “Icelands” and “Zombie Sorceresses” would be out of place, the former for not really applying and the latter for being redundant.)
Which brings me to…
Book Review Plans
I’ve been mostly winging it with Fuldapocalypse. I’ve figured that since I want to have fun first and foremost and would probably get sidetracked anyway, I wouldn’t make a rigid “review schedule”. But I’ve become more selective about what I want to review here. If my reaction to it is formulaic, I don’t want to just instantly review the latest blog-suitable book I read.
Thankfully, I have a pile of previously read and accessible books I can use to tide me over until the new releases emerge soon (fingers crossed). There’s a few cheap thrillers, including one by an author I like (you’ll know if/when I review it) upcoming, and there’s also the biggie. The real biggie.
Northern Fury. I’ve been following the Command scenario set for a while, and seeing a novelization of it is amazing. However I personally feel about it (and it’s obviously too early to judge a book that hasn’t been released yet), I wish its creators the absolute best of luck. A weird part of me even wants to deliberately hold back on reading “conventional” WW3 books before Northern Fury H-Hour’s release so that I can be more unbiased.
That’s probably thinking too hard-after all, my mind is heading towards less “Icelandic” books already, and the goal is to have fun here.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with Fuldapocalypse, and hope to have even more fun with it as I experiment and read more and more!
Hi. I’m Coiler. What made me start up this separate blog when I already had one? Well, part of it was just to get the experience setting up a new, different, less casual-looking blog. But another part of it was to keep my reviews of military fiction stories from being “cluttered” amongst the various topics I like to talk and blog about on my own page.
In the past, I’ve done plenty of book reviews and comments on WWIII/wargame-friendly stories at my existing blog and elsewhere. But the hope is for these to be more “structured”. I’m aiming for specific categories:
-Icelands. This is based on an old thing I did called the “Iceland Review Scale”, to determine how formulaic this kind of WW3 fiction is. This examines how formulaic it is.
-Rivets: From the “Rivet-counting” description/insult, this examines how much technical detail is in it.
-Zombie Sorceresses. This is a weird one. Zombie sorceresses (they’re a reference to one of my childhood favorites, a Fire Emblem game), are a kind of catch-all for “handwaves”. In alternate history, this is known as “Alien Space Bats”, or “Random Omnipotent Beings” on Spacebattles. This determines how plausible or contrived it is-ie, how hard the zombie sorceresses had to work to set things up.
-The “wha”? This examines the plot and characters, and literary quality of it overall. It’s a slight poke at dry AAR-Let’s Play style stories.
-The Only Score That Really Matters.
How much I enjoyed it. The whole of a story can be a lot more than the sum of its parts, and vice versa. It’s possible to have a tale that’s formulaic even at the time, has lots of technical descriptions, has the zombie sorceresses working extra-time, and is imperfect in plot and characters-and that I still enjoyed.
So, a few things I want to say to set the tone. One is that criticizing a work, even harshly, is not the same as telling a writer to stop. I do not want any sincere, well-intended writer to stop at all, no matter how I rate their work. First, there’s always room for improvement-a lot of authors started out poor (in my mind) and got better from criticism. Second, even if I didn’t enjoy something, many other people will. Criticism should never be a signal to stop writing altogether. I know how it feels to hate one’s own writing-it is an absolutely horrible feeling. Don’t hate your own writing.
Another is my own tone. I’m trying to be somewhat lighthearted, but not too snarky. Hopefully I’ll get the tone right-I do want to experiment, after all. Trying in with the above, I tend to be very critical even of stuff I like, and can articulate what I don’t like about something more easily than I can about what I do.
Another is what I’m including.
-REVIEWS: Reviews are of either “cold war gone hot” narratives or other similarly big-scope military stories involving tanks, aircraft, and warships en masse. The lines will be a little blurry, but stuff like special forces or otherwise irregular thrillers probably won’t make the cut. The stories, or at least installments of them, have to be complete. I WILL BE INCLUDING SPOILERS IN THE REVIEWS YOU ARE WARNED.
-ESSAYS: Short (hopefully) posts on this kind of fiction, generally examining it from a literary point of view rather than a technical one. My perspective has been slanted (as everyone’s has) by several factors, so hopefully it can become a more valuable one.
With that being said, it’s time to launch the missiles at the gap.