StarDestroyer.Net BBS

Get your fill of sci-fi, science, and mockery of stupid people
Login   Register FAQ    Search

View unanswered posts | View active topics


It is currently 2014-07-29 03:00pm (All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ])

Board index » Non-Fiction » Off-Topic


Quote of the Week: "A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled." - Barnett Cocks, British political writer (1907-)

Let's Examine Crusade

Moderators: Edi, Frank Hipper

Post new topic Post a reply  Page 1 of 9
 [ 202 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 9  Next
  Print view Previous topic | Next topic 
Author Message

Coiler
 Post subject: Let's Examine Crusade
PostPosted: 2011-10-01 11:17pm 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2007-11-05 08:40pm
Posts: 591
The TBO series is interesting in that they're both the most and least ideal books for self-publishing. An honest writer would find them as niche works for the small audience of forumgoers they're originally posted for prior to work. However, the giant egos of Stuart and his fans claim them not as those, but as works that are both technically accurate and deeply meaningful, beyond the combination of weapons fantasy and axe-grinding strawmen that they really are.

As someone who actually enjoys reading Baen sci-fi, I can certainly accept that combination as a guilty pleasure. But Stuart's writing is at the point where the books even fail at that, and given that Crusade has the greatest portion of the latter of any of his books, reading it is one near-continuous groan-either at the setting, the characters, or the prose. Still, I'm going to show this off, so here it goes:

Obligatory Disclaimer: Crusade is copyright by Stuart Slade. All excerpts are fair use for the sake of literary review.

Chapter 1

The year is 1965, and we start in a school in South Carolina, where a crazed Muslim has broken into a classroom, raving about the sins of teaching boys and girls in the same room. He's stabbed the teacher, and is using a girl as a shield. Is he one of many? Is this going to be the beginning of a brutal, tense, American Beslan that will cost many lives and shock the nation to its core?

No. A former Red Army sniper visiting the town with her American husband takes him out, with the stabbed teacher living.

Then we go to the Middle East in the newfound Caliphate, in Palestine, where a mob howls as fair-skinned "Guardians of the Faith" speaking in a "Guttural Language" that isn't Arabic drag a guilty family through them, en route to burning them at the stake. A small statement is made about how this isn't a Muslim punishment, but no one is either brave enough or intelligent enough to ask questions. The real inaccuracies about the Middle East will come soon.

Then it's revealed that a U-2 recorded the whole thing, and we cut to President Lyndon Johnson in a meeting with his cabinet and advisors. There's a huge infodump about the Caliphate, the fictional Muslim state that serves as the antagonist in this book.

Suffice to say that the Caliphate makes about as much sense as American Southern Baptists, Russian Orthodox Christians, and Scandanavian Lutherans creating a government ruled by a council of popes. I could go on for hours about how militant Islam in its modern form didn’t have much going for it in the time the book's set in, that exposure to WWII Germany would make them more secular, not less (and result in Baath-esque regimes ruling), that secular nationalism would persist longer without the rude awakening of defeat in the Arab-Israeli wars, that Arab nationalists or Sunni Islamists would want nothing to do with Iranians or Shiites, but never have logic stand in the way of a good strawman foe.

Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan united in the Caliphate, supposedly a loose confederation that only lasts because its members hate the rest of the world more than they hate each other, but which in practice seems like a unified state.

We also meet Robert McNamara. Stuart really doesn’t like McNamara. He’s referred to as “McNorman” in the printed book because McNamara was alive when it was self-published to avoid a lawsuit, and for good reason. Why such hatred?

Well, McNamara was a part of getting the US into Vietnam (hardly the only one, though, and McNamara himself admitted he’d made a huge mistake in doing so). Stuart also slams McNamara for his technocratic managerial mind-set, although he’s ignoring the planks in his own eye, one of which was that the USAF of the time was equally guilty of that mind set as well. But another reason is that McNamara cancelled Stuart’s beloved high-performance aircraft, and that StrawMac must be punished for this horrific crime!

(Stuart has even called McNamara a traitor. Not just an incompetent, but an outright traitor.)

StrawMac is literally sneering about how “your precious bombers can’t help us now, can they?”, and talking about how without the wonder-gizmos that are the real main characters of the TBO series, the US could “afford a proper army”.
Of course, rather than answering the debate, Stuart simply answers with “The missiles vs. bombers argument had been fought and won years ago.”

Then we get a bunch of scenes of useless subplots involving India, Marines on a fleet in the Mediterranean, an excuse to show off the TSR-2 airplane that got cancelled in real life, before concluding inside the Caliphate, with Walther Model and his army of German refugees providing an excuse for another infodump on the Caliphate. Stuart says it’s “nowhere near as homogenous or unified as it appeared”, but that’s all told, rather than shown. What is shown is a strawman government that rolls up a very difficult problem with no easy answers in real life into a nice bullseye for Strategic Air Command’s bombers.

Buried into the subplots is the first talking bomber. Stuart has the bombers talk. It’s metaphorical, but the fact that he puts more attention into developing the character of the bombers than he does to the people crewing the bombers is simultaneously telling and disturbing.

Also, the pacing and formatting is absolutely terrible. It's obviously copied from forum posts and given a tiny trim before being published, and the myriad perspective shifts and subplots make it sound like a clunky "this happened, then this happened, then this happened", rather than a coherent flow.

One chapter down, many more to go.
   Profile |  

Darksider
PostPosted: 2011-10-02 01:14am 

Sith Acolyte


Joined: 2002-12-13 03:56pm
Posts: 5213
Location: America's decaying industrial armpit.
Jesus christ. This sounds worse than that Tom Kratman book they're MSTing on Spacebattles.
   Profile |  

Bakustra
PostPosted: 2011-10-02 01:18am 

Sith Devotee


Joined: 2005-05-12 07:56pm
Posts: 2822
Location: Neptune Violon Tide!
Any connoisseur of Slade's work must eventually come to terms with the ideology that lies at the core of his work, one that reinforces his ineptitude so that it will remain in place while his hands can type; namely, that he must have absolute realism in the machines of war, but when it comes to the actions of people, the characters, they get tossed by the wayside. This is not unique to him, but he is on the same level as the fanfiction writer when it comes to his output rather than even the Baen writer.

I have not been so unfortunate as to read any of Crusade. But even from the synopsis it looks as though it is following what Umberto Eco considers to be the eighth tenet of Ur-Fascism:

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.


Here we have the "Caliphate", which is capable of infiltrating agents into the heart of the United States, but those agents are quickly stopped. We are assured that they are a loose confederation, and thus weak; but simultaneously they are the antagonist and so must be strong. But Slade has failed to create strong antagonists in his other works, so we will see if he can manage to even create an Ur-Fascist piece. Certainly they are not wealthy, but that particular bit of rhetoric is incompatible with his burning corrupt lust for America (I loathe to demean love by associating it with this). For anybody foolhardy enough to try and write an anti-TBO, keep this in mind, and borrow liberally from the rest of Eco's excellent and famous essay.

Edit: Also, look at the fourth tenet and then look at his treatment of Robert MacNamara again.
   Profile |  

Shroom Man 777
PostPosted: 2011-10-02 02:48am 

FUCKING DICK-STABBER!


Joined: 2003-05-11 08:39am
Posts: 19927
Location: Bleeding breasts and stabbing dicks since 2003
Image
   Profile |  

Coiler
PostPosted: 2011-10-02 11:41am 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2007-11-05 08:40pm
Posts: 591
Chapter 2:
The first few pages of this chapter are focused in the Pacific, with political tension and struggles inside Chipan, and the reaction in Australia and the Triple Alliance. (Yes, the notion that a super-nationalist regime would somehow merge into another country if casualties got too high, rather than just setting up client regimes is as absurd as the Caliphate). The connection between this plot and the US/Caliphate conflict is tenuous at best.

This is cart-before the horse storytelling at its worst. Rather than the setting providing a backdrop for the story, the story provides a backdrop for the setting. So, you get subplots with more “this happened, then this happened” and more cardboard token characters, instead of fleshing out the main plot and main characters.

The next “this happened” is a show-off of the F-108, a fighter designed in OTL but never built. I’ll take advantage of this scene to say that having OTL designs, even never-built ones, is just another example of the lack of butterflies in TBO. It’s either OTL designs or butterfly wings that only flap towards never-built OTL designs that Stuart and his fans would like to see.

Then we go to Italy, where we get another infodump about how Spain and Italy turned out in the timeline, before it’s back to Marisol the Talking Bomber and her crew, talking to Romano Mussolini’s sister in-law, Sophia Loren about their aircraft. I may take back what I said about the talking bomber being metaphorical, given this scene:

Crusade, Pg. 44 wrote:
And also tell me more about the relations with your aircraft? I would like to know more about you and your Marisol, she is very beautiful indeed.”

Why thank you Miss Loren.” Marisol’s voice came out of the intercome speakers on either side of the seat.
Sophia Loren’s eyes went wide and danced with incredulous delight. Kozlowski and his crew raised eyebrows-for Marisol to speak to somebody outside their tight little circle was unique, unheard of.


The scene ends with the pilot realizing “he’d been “invited to spend an evening with the famous Sophia Loren.”
Ain’t being an SAC pilot in TBOverse grand?

After this comes the climax of the chapter: The introduction of the B-70! After a gushing over its technical data (and yes, more words are devoted to describing the B-70 than Sophia Loren), we see McNamara come in, walk around the B-70 without saying a word, then leave. The irony that I could see Stuart doing the same thing around a new ballistic missile or other system he doesn’t like is thick.

And on that note, Chapter 2 ends.
   Profile |  

Coiler
PostPosted: 2011-10-02 04:22pm 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2007-11-05 08:40pm
Posts: 591
Darksider wrote:
Jesus christ. This sounds worse than that Tom Kratman book they're MSTing on Spacebattles.


Kratman at least can maintain a coherent narrative and format his books properly. Crusade fails at both.
   Profile |  

Skgoa
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 09:49am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2007-08-02 01:39pm
Posts: 1388
Location: Dresden, valley of the clueless
Coiler wrote:
Darksider wrote:
[...] and format his books properly. Crusade fails at both.

I freelance as an editor on the side (i.e. when I have spare time and am contacted by someone I already know from a writing board) and am somewhat involved in the self-publishing world. I don't like arguments at authority and I don't want to pretend I know everything. But I do know what preparing a manuscript for electronic or POD publishing entails. And most importantly I know from experience what difference good, professional editing, formating, cover, etc., make.
These books are a prime example of how NOT to do it. In the other thread I said I feel cheated by Slade and I stand by that. Asking full price for something you yourself have quite obviously NOT made the requisite upfront investment in, speaks either of callousness or an inflated notion of one's talent. (Probably both in this case.) It doesn't even make sense as a business strategy and it will tarnish his reputation as a writer.


And a minor point: someone complained about my (negative) review on TvTropes and had it removed. :roll:
   Profile |  

Steve
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:29am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8252
Location: Florida USA
You know, when I saw the chat title, I thought this was going to be a thread on the short-lived B5 spinoff "Crusade"....
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 12:30pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 21030
Coiler wrote:
The next “this happened” is a show-off of the F-108, a fighter designed in OTL but never built. I’ll take advantage of this scene to say that having OTL designs, even never-built ones, is just another example of the lack of butterflies in TBO. It’s either OTL designs or butterfly wings that only flap towards never-built OTL designs that Stuart and his fans would like to see.
I will say one thing:

Even when you change the history, you don't change the laws of aerospace engineering. Military jets aren't all identical, but they do look a lot alike in broad outline across a given generation of designs, and I suspect they would look a lot alike across parallel universes trying to solve the same problem using the same technology.

Heck, if we ran into aliens using 1960s or 1980s or whatever technology on an Earthlike planet, I suspect they would have combat aircraft quite similar in appearance to the ones we had during the same period. Again, the laws of aerodynamics and thermodynamics don't change.
_____________

This is not to say anything about the more general criticisms of Slade's work. I read The Big One because it was loaned to me by a friend and I had some time to kill, but I've never read any of his other TBO stories and don't really plan to.
   Profile |  

Bakustra
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 03:05pm 

Sith Devotee


Joined: 2005-05-12 07:56pm
Posts: 2822
Location: Neptune Violon Tide!
One of the simplest ways to make your story an alternate history is to introduce minor changes in names- the butterfly effect at work, in the chaotic sense. If we go to Stephen King's The Dark Tower or Alan Moore's Watchmen, then we have all sorts of little knock-on effects, such that Co-op City in New York was built in Brooklyn rather than the Bronx, or that female homosexuals prefer to be called "gay women" rather than lesbians in alternate-1985.

In other words, when we diverge in 1940, then why is the Convair B-36 the "Peacemaker" or the B-52 the "Stratofortress" or the B-70 the "Valkyrie" or the F-108 the "Rapier"? Or, for that matter, why they would have the same numbers and introduction dates as our history? There's also the question of why the XF-108 would be developed when historically, it was built to defend against Soviet intercontinental bombers. Meanwhile, there is no Soviet Union and at the time it is being developed the US is supposedly the master of the world. I really don't think that you got what Coiler was pointing out.

But the answer to "why?" is simple; the author is, simply put, terrible. He cannot conceive of anything, anything which would cause there to be any differences apart from his personal spank material in military aircraft. I'm going to bet that there aren't any differences apart from his fantasies in civilian life or the other branches of the armed services, too.

Skgoa wrote:
And a minor point: someone complained about my (negative) review on TvTropes and had it removed. :roll:


Slade is an incredibly petty man who censors other people's comments on TVTropes. He is, however, well within his rights to do so, as you are not supposed to be negative about anything on TVTropes.

PS:
TBO Wiki wrote:
Universally reviled as the worst President in American history, President James Earle Carter was elected by a narrow margin, the issue apparently being decided by his appearance of a clean new start in American politics, a sharp contrast to the Byzantine political maneuvering of his two predecessors. His initial proposals included a massive cut in US military power and an abandonment of the assertive power projection strategies. He attempted to establish friendly relations with both The Caliphate and Chipan, an effort that was undertaken on the explicit policy of "What's their's is their's, what's ours is negotiable." Fortunately, most of his efforts were neutralized by the fact that the US Government was now almost entirely run by contractors and their efforts saved the day. The authority of his Presidency had already been seriously damaged when he lost two cases he had brought before the Supreme Court, one challenging the legality of hiring contractors to staff and manage government departments, the other claiming he had the right to terminate their contracts at will. The Justices ruled that the contracts were both legal and binding. Late in his Presidency, the events of 1979/80 discredited his entire political and strategic policy and he attempted to reverse course. By this time, it was too late. Carter is believed to have lost the election in a single night when, in a prime-time live television conference, he rounded on his Executive Assistant, Naamah without any apparent cause, subjecting her to a stream of abuse ending with a suggestion that she should be sent to The Caliphate since "they knew how to handle her kind there." This remark became a major scandal that haunted his election campaign and cost him an overwhelming proportion of the women's vote. An unfortunate incident where he was attacked by a rabbit (the infamous Fewocious Wabbit) had already cost him the men's vote and he went down to a landslide defeat.


TBO Wiki wrote:
The 2000 election was the most closely-fought in American history. In the end, the decision between Albert Gore and George W Bush was decided by a few hundred votes in the state of Florida. The Democrat Party attempted to have the election overturned by staging selective recounts, a process stopped by the Supreme Court. In retrospect, the explosion of rage from the Democrat marked the beginning of the end for them as a force in American politics. Increasingly they became seen as a foul-mouthed, aggressive and doctrinaire party of the far left. Although the full process of their fall would take more than a decade, it was the legal manoeuverings of the 2000 Presidential Election that started the process.


This is what Stuart Slade actually believes.

EDIT: Woah, one typo.

Last edited by Bakustra on 2011-10-03 04:27pm, edited 1 time in total.
   Profile |  

fgalkin
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 03:58pm 

Carvin' Marvin


Joined: 2002-07-03 11:51pm
Posts: 14425
Location: Land of the Mountain Fascists
Can a kindly mod please move this to a more appropriate forum? I'm thinking "Fantasy."

Have a very nice day.
-fgalkin
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 04:19pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24908
As wished. Moved to OT because it is not fantasy per se.
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 04:35pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 21030
Bakustra wrote:
In other words, when we diverge in 1940, then why is the Convair B-36 the "Peacemaker" or the B-52 the "Stratofortress" or the B-70 the "Valkyrie" or the F-108 the "Rapier"? Or, for that matter, why they would have the same numbers and introduction dates as our history. There's also the question of why the XF-108 would be developed when historically, it was built to defend against Soviet intercontinental bombers. Meanwhile, there is no Soviet Union and at the time it is being developed the US is supposedly the master of the world. I really don't think that you got what Coiler was pointing out.
The B-36 keeps its name because it was commissioned in 1941, very shortly after the point of departure. Which US companies would be capable of putting out a bid for an intercontinental bomber wouldn't change in less than a year's divergence, nor would the rough number of designs coming out each year, so I don't have a problem with that. Likewise, the numbers received by bombers are set by factors which wouldn't necessarily butterfly: in what order designs are accepted and designated for testing and prototyping.

While decisions about which aircraft to build during the WWII mobilization are going to look very different for the US with Britain out of the picture, the development process is likely to look much the same- the Army will still want a mix of light, medium, and heavy bombers, and the factors that decide who gets to build what don't change much. Most of those decisions aren't affected by the point of departure.

Some things change a lot, though- for example, the P-51 would probably never become a famous escort fighter, since the British engines that gave it its good high altitude performance never become available.

The butterfly effect on nomenclature should become much more pronounced in the postwar era- where, yes, you would expect the designations of aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s to start changing.

The B-52 or its equivalent might very well still get named "Stratofortress," because it would probably still get built by Boeing, which had already produced two successful heavy bomber designs that became known as "something-fortress." "Stratofortress" is as plausible a name as any other, and more plausible than most.

Past that, I make no claims, save to observe that even good alternate history often recycles the names of common nouns, to avoid having to stick an appendix in the back explaining that "smeerp" means "rabbit." I can't fault him for having the Mach 3 bomber get called a B-70, or a Valkyrie, as such.

Quote:
But the answer to "why?" is simple; the author is, simply put, terrible. He cannot conceive of anything, anything which would cause there to be any differences apart from his personal spank material in military aircraft. I'm going to bet that there aren't any differences apart from his fantasies in civilian life or the other branches of the armed services, too.
Pretty much. There are divergences others convinced him to throw in, or which he may not care about one way or the other, but it does seem like the bulk of what I've heard of being different in the TBO timeline carries serious author appeal.
   Profile |  

Starglider
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 04:40pm 

Miles Dyson


Joined: 2007-04-05 09:44pm
Posts: 7661
Location: Isle of Dogs
One reason why all the technology in the TBOverse consists of never-built real designs is that the author does not have the engineering or scientific knowledge to develop any significant deviation from the real world technology development path. Of course, he won't admit this. I was banned from HPCA a while back for inquiring too insistently about the TBOverse semiconductor litho process evolution, that and politely pointing out that even the minimal sketch the TBOverse has for its IT development ('computers are just the same, but bigger and heavier' and 'networking comes earlier replaces CPU power') makes no technical sense. Naturally all relevant posts were deleted.
   Profile |  

Coiler
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 04:57pm 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2007-11-05 08:40pm
Posts: 591
Chapter 3:

We start with more of the Pacific segment, which, to be blunt, I’m just going to skip. Regardless of its literary worth, or lack thereof (and believe me, you’re not missing much), it just doesn’t fit within the main plot concerning the Caliphate. The whole Chipan, and Australia, and the Muslim rebels in the Philippines is too big to be a minor subplot that doesn’t inconvenience the reader too much, but not relevant enough to be a part of the main plot rather than a distraction. If this book was put before a real editor, he or she would probably cut the whole Asian segment out in favor of focusing on the main conflict. I know I would.

So we go back to the Caliphate, where Model’s Germans are wiping out a Baathist rebellion in northern Iraq. They’re joined by the former Einsatzgruppen, now known as “Guardians of the Faith.” This causes something where Stuart’s desire to make his antagonists twirl their moustaches so much that the wind created could solve the world energy crisis destroys what you’d think plausible characterization would be.

Crusade, page 59 wrote:
The Guardians had wanted to burn the prisoners at the stake in the good old inquisition style; the mullahs sent by the Caliphate had wanted them stoned in accordance with their traditions. They’d compromised, of course; the men had been burned, the women stoned.


Now, if the Caliphate’s leaders were really dead-set on having absolutely everything be according to ancient traditions, they’d have given them no leeway on executions. It would be “You’d have to stone them, or else we’ll denounce you as blasphemous and swamp you with more jihadists than you have bullets.” But never let cultural plausibility get in the way of one-dimensional villainy!

Of course, the strong-weak ping-pong of the Caliphate continues, when Model’s force is called “the only really effective military force in the Caliphate”, with its other forces being tribal fighters with little training or discipline. Then we get yet another infodump on how it’s a constant tug of war between members of the Ruling Council over territory, then it bounces back to some sort of centralized power:

Crusade, page 60 wrote:
The Caliphate’s central dogma might be provided by the theocrats in the Ruling Council, but the country was actually run by the surviving economists and technocrats.


The rest of the paragraph talks about how said economists and technocrats (Hmmm, perhaps like Muslim McNamara’s?) are laying low for the time but still being there. So, is it a loose confederation that only hates the outside world a little more than its members hate each other, or a country with a bureaucratic class that’s powerful in its own right? Or is it a strawman that doesn’t make any sense?

A foul-smelling mullah (no, I didn’t make that up), gives Model his next assignment. The Caliphate is going to expand into Africa, and Model’s men will wait in Gaza to clean out any resistance that follows the attack.
_ _ _

After that, it’s back to the conference room in the White House, where Stuart lives out his revenge fantasy. It starts as a boring infodump/namedrop about warships, before the real fantasy begins. Congress has rejected McNamara’s plans to focus on the army rather than the wonder weapons of SAC.

Then McNamara, as he does in OTL, cancels the weapons. But this time, Mary Sue returns and saves the day! This is a literal Mary Sue, for the immortal advisor known as the Seer is the closest character to Stuart himself (If nothing else because Stuart has even used “Seer” in his screen name on occasion.) And the Seer, and his super-contractors that now run the government departments, strikes down McNamara’s decision, and the US military gets the toys that the evil McNamara denied them in real life!

Then we get LBJ talking about how Ramsey Cl-I mean “Chalk”, since his original namesake is still alive, was yammering about how he thinks the US was war criminals for wiping out Germany with nukes, and how he wants to make some “United Nations”.

Then we get Stuart, through his paper-thin mouthpiece, deliver a rant on policy, before the chapter ends with scenes of suicide blasts in a nightclub in Cairo and police and regime gendarmes suppressing the first wave of Caliphate-induced rioters. You know the regime is going to go down, because the Caliphate pendulum is swinging back to the “strong” side of the strong-weak strawman for the time being.
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 05:29pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 21030
Starglider wrote:
One reason why all the technology in the TBOverse consists of never-built real designs is that the author does not have the engineering or scientific knowledge to develop any significant deviation from the real world technology development path. Of course, he won't admit this.
I think he's at least aware of his own inability to design airplanes, but yeah, good luck getting him to say he can't design airplanes.

Then again, very few alternate history writers are good at that sort of thing. The usual result when AH writers try to invent military hardware out of whole cloth is absurdities like the kit S. M. Stirling equipped the Draka with. There aren't that many alternate history writers, or human beings for that matter, who are competent to invent a plausible list of alternate technologies which don't exist in real life.

If it were easy to figure out what things would look like, someone would have already done it.
   Profile |  

Starglider
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 05:50pm 

Miles Dyson


Joined: 2007-04-05 09:44pm
Posts: 7661
Location: Isle of Dogs
Simon_Jester wrote:
There aren't that many alternate history writers, or human beings for that matter, who are competent to invent a plausible list of alternate technologies which don't exist in real life.


Professional science fiction writers (and film/TV producers) going for realism collaborate with experts in the relevant fields; e.g. the ISV Venture Star from Avatar is a very plausible design because Charles Pellegrino was brought on as a consultant. The zero budget Internet version of that is reading as many technical primers as you have time for, then going on forums and asking for suggestions from engineers, researchers etc. You are correct to say that this sort of speculation is hard even with a deep understanding of the field, but an author attempting full-scale worldbuilding is still going to get better results from that than doing it themselves. AFAIK Stuart only accepts suggestions or responds to criticism when it is possible to do so without in any way implying that he might not be the one true expert on everything.
   Profile |  

Stark
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 07:11pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 09:56pm
Posts: 36168
Location: Brisbane, Australia
While it's lame (for alt-history filth in general) to assume that changing the things the author simply doesn't like leaves everything the same (and highlights the inherently stupid attitude toward alt-history in general, where you change something and then go down a list of historical events ticking the ones 'to change'), those things aren't why TBO or Crusade specifically suck as stories Even with the fellation of postwar planes and hilarious caricatures of political figures, the story could have worked and been entertaining with a bit of editing and actual writing talent.

Crappy, unimaginative and lazy worldbuilding doesn't exclude entertaining or successful stories. It's just a lol when you have crappy, unimaginative and lazy worldbuilding about something the author makes claims of authority around - it's the same as guys who romanticise the SS writing stories about how awesome the SS is that reveal they actually don't know shit about the SS.
   Profile |  

MKSheppard
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:23pm 

Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger


Joined: 2002-07-06 06:34pm
Posts: 28163
Simon_Jester wrote:
Some things change a lot, though- for example, the P-51 would probably never become a famous escort fighter, since the British engines that gave it its good high altitude performance never become available.


It'd never be built. I think the POD is in June 1940. The P-51 design was initated at British request in 1940:

Quote:
In April of 1940, Kindelberger was summoned by the British Air Purchasing Commision and asked to manufacture the Curtiss Hawk 87 (P-40D) under license for the RAF. Kindelberger responded that NAA could do that if it were really required, but countered that he and his company could build a better fighter than the P-40 and that they could design a REAL fighter in the same time that it would take to put the P-40 into production. The British commission felt that they could take Kindelberger at his word, and on April 10, 1940 they accepted his proposal on the condition that the first prototype be ready in 120 days. The design was assigned the company project name of Model NA-73.

At that time, the USAAC reserved for itself the right to block any foreign aircraft sales that it regarded as not in the Army's interest, for whatever reason. On May 4, 1940, the US Army reluctantly agreed not to block the British sale, but they added a condition. Two examples of the initial NA-73 lot for Britain were to be transferred to the USAAC for testing free of charge.


When the UK falls, so does the primary buyer for the XP-51 at that point, at a very critical stage in it's pre-development. I'm not sure it would even get picked up by the USAAF.
   Profile |  

MKSheppard
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:25pm 

Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger


Joined: 2002-07-06 06:34pm
Posts: 28163
Steve wrote:
You know, when I saw the chat title, I thought this was going to be a thread on the short-lived B5 spinoff "Crusade"....


Or Crusader: No Remorse / Crusader: No Regret. :P
   Profile |  

MKSheppard
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:27pm 

Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger


Joined: 2002-07-06 06:34pm
Posts: 28163
I noticed that if you read some TBOverse stories, then plotted 'role Demons play in story', and 'amount story sucks' on a GRAEPH they'd be in synch pretty much.

I liked it when they were an injoke regarding Stuart's profession (is that plant wilting in the corner?), but as they became major parts of the plot(s) and became authorial fiat instruments to keep things going a certain way, I started to dislike them, then hate them; similar to how I began to hate the Jedi as they kept getting overused in the Star Wars universe.

Point of thought for you to think over:

The perfect demon is not a TS/SCI courier/liason for a alphabet federal agency, or POTUS' National Security Advisor.

The perfect demon is LadyTevar.

She works (or worked?) in the WVA records department; and is the one who signs, notarizes, and enters the death dates, etc into the state computer system, which becomes a primary resource for the feds.

If they have to be involved in the machinations of the federal government, it's better for them to be low level bureaucrats in the following agencies:

Bureau of the Budget (1921-1970)
which became:
Office of Management and Budget (1970-Present)

They can quietly put forth papers and budgetary evaluations to slowly steer US Government policy -- for example, they could offer budgetary analyses that show the economic feasability of ABM or a B-70 fleet during those policy debates.

Then later, they can in the 1970s produce papers in favor of the integrated Space Transportation System (STS) that supports a fully reusable space shuttle, with nuclear tugs and propellant depots for long range space planning.

Also, they would be perfectly anonymous as said accountants.

Something which is kind of hard if you're POTUS' personal aide (or aides) over multiple decades and administrations; especially as POTUS becomes the most intensely followed, photographed, and recorded man on Earth.

Stuart's had a couple of these "nondescript" demons show up in his stories, and has used them once or twice to investigate places where a more famous demon from NSC would be noticed; but those lower tier personages aren't used enough.
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:35pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 21030
MKSheppard wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
Some things change a lot, though- for example, the P-51 would probably never become a famous escort fighter, since the British engines that gave it its good high altitude performance never become available.
It'd never be built. I think the POD is in June 1940. The P-51 design was initated at British request in 1940:
Ah-ha.

When the UK falls, so does the primary buyer for the XP-51 at that point, at a very critical stage in it's pre-development. I'm not sure it would even get picked up by the USAAF.[/quote]Point, although it still appears in the sequence of aircraft.

MKSheppard wrote:
I noticed that if you read some TBOverse stories, then plotted 'role Demons play in story', and 'amount story sucks' on a GRAEPH they'd be in synch pretty much.
As I said to my friend: "The more I hear about the Demons, the less I like the setting."

Quote:
I liked it when they were an injoke regarding Stuart's profession (is that plant wilting in the corner?), but as they became major parts of the plot(s) and became authorial fiat instruments to keep things going a certain way, I started to dislike them, then hate them; similar to how I began to hate the Jedi as they kept getting overused in the Star Wars universe.
Yeah. Also, some characters are more interesting when they're not immortal. The navy senior chief on that one carrier in TBO who raves about Democrats while fighting fires is cool and funny, in a way, because he's so singleminded and batshit crazy. Explaining how he's really 150 years old does not make him cooler or funnier.
   Profile |  

Coiler
PostPosted: 2011-10-03 11:59pm 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2007-11-05 08:40pm
Posts: 591
Chapter 4:
The chapter begins in Egypt, where Caliphate-backed mobs have beaten back the security forces and forced the government to flee. We see Caliphate fighters backing the mob using shoulder-launched missiles competently-except that a missile crew’s cry of “Sehr Gut” after shooting down a helicopter reveals that the competent weapons operators are Germans.

Long story short, the Germans with their RPGs and SAMs break the gendarmes, the mob forces the government to flee, almost literally overnight. This is not a revolt brought up of rage against ineffective, autocratic leaders, and decades of stagnant economies and growing populations, with the military at least partially on the revolter’s side, that still took some time. No, the Caliphate can simply have a few mullahs spout some words, and soon crowds so fierce they could be mistaken for Rage zombies have brought down the government! See what a threat this Islam is!
As has become the course, Stuart’s own feelings of what another critic called “A blend of Red Scare and Yellow Peril” overwhelm whatever plausibility the situation had.

Crusade, page 81 wrote:
The Egyptian National radio station was also in their hands and, from it, their leader made his broadcast. Claiming to be a representative of the pious Egyptian people who had risen up against the idolaters and blasphemers who had subverted the country, he begged all good Islamic countries to send the Egyptian people help in their effort to help bring the country back to the true faith. As it happened, he was an Iranian who had arrived in Egypt for the first time three days before


(record needle stop sound)

So, a foreigner, and almost certainly a Shiite foreigner, who’s never been in the country before, can somehow spout some anti-Western rhetoric, and a rebellion starts near-instantly and knocks the country out right away. I could at least accept it if it was a fellow Sunni Arab, but an Iranian just means that Stuart prefers his Pan-Islamic Boogeyman to a serious consideration.

Then we cut to the White House, where LBJ and his advisors are discussing the incident. Dean Rusk says that the Marine brigade in the Mediterranean is far too small, that while they could just nuke the Caliphate if it was “a regular war”, that it isn’t, and that they don’t have the troops for an intervention. There’s a reference to the “industrial bottleneck” and the machine tool shortage, which I’ll get to more in a bit.

Then we get the saying of “Mister President, we can’t just leave this”, and get the reason for why the Caliphate was formed. Basically, Mossadegh came to power in Iran as per OTL, and even though that’d be butterfly material, I’d let it slide. Then-president George Patton, who didn’t like covert missions, said no to a proposed CIA coup, and for the time, he stayed. Mossadegh couldn’t control what he started, soon religious elements took over, OK, I can buy that so far, and then the religious leaders-

Launched a cross-sectarian alliance to destroy the outside world? No. Nuh-uh. Ain’t happening. A religious revolution with nationalist elements is not likely to ally with Sunnis, and it’s certainly not going to surrender any of its national sovereignty to do so.

Then we get more infodumps of stuff we’d already learned, like saying, after saying “we have to learn”, continuing with “the Russians described the Caliphate as a organization that hangs together because its individual members hate the rest of the world a little more than they hate each other.”, which the omniscient narrator has already said.

But fear the Caliphate’s strength? No. It’s only “picking off the low-hanging fruit”, and “Soon, it’ll be hitting the natural boundaries of its growth.” Can’t make it a real threat, after all.

We get LBJ visiting an air force ceremony before reminiscing in his limo, and the economic parts of Stuart’s fantasy come into being. He still wants a Great Society, but the Targeteers will make sure that it will have “boundaries and limits firmly established.” Then we get an infodump on the machine tool shortage. It begins with a slam on how the Democrats assumed American industry was as dominant as the military, only to be proven wrong when they actually had to govern.

Basically, when Germany was nuked into oblivion, the majority of the world’s precision machine tool industry was destroyed with it. The ones that could supply the machine tools of similar quality, like Sweden, and German conquered states they’d set up factories in, couldn’t supply them in nearly enough quality. This affected everything.

This would have a tremendous butterfly effect on militaries, without massive handwaving. So the machine tool shortage makes the duplication of OTL designs far less likely.

Then we get a row of dull sequences-the crew of Marisol the Talking Bomber, more of that Asian plot that really should’ve belonged in its own book, a conservation on the fleet in the Mediterranean (Stuart is absolutely terrible at writing long conversations), then an action scene of sorts.

Refugees are trying to flee, the Caliphate is sinking everyone who’s trying to, an Italian warship moves to rescue a crude raft of refugees, and two Caliphate FACs move in. They fire a missile, but it’s intercepted and destroyed before one of the FACs is sunk and the other forced to flee in a drama-free victory.

It’s technically accurate. So is the defending Super Bowl champions going against a peewee team and effortlessly winning. There’s no drama, no tension, no immediacy, no sense that you’re there. It’s the first Stuart Slade Action Scene (tm), in the book, and sadly will not be the last.

It’s discussed in Washington, where the Clark (why bother pretending) and McNamara strawman content reaches new levels. Clark talks about how sinking a ship that had fired on an allied warship, was going to be killing innocent refugees, and was trying to lock on to an American bomber was a war crime, while McNamara doesn’t realize that the same planes have different designations in each service, and is corrected by the Secretary of Agriculture.

After more of the needless Asian plot, the chapter mercifully ends.

Last edited by Coiler on 2011-10-04 07:12am, edited 1 time in total.
   Profile |  

Shroom Man 777
PostPosted: 2011-10-04 12:03am 

FUCKING DICK-STABBER!


Joined: 2003-05-11 08:39am
Posts: 19927
Location: Bleeding breasts and stabbing dicks since 2003
Wow, Jimmy Carter as a woman-hating misanthrope, the GREAT FORTUNE of contractors now running the US government, the DEMONRATS. What a fucking asshole.

It's hilarious how his ilk huff and puff at shit like this, but when criticism of their stances comes, they can't even take it and must censor it or avoid it or some shit. What a bunch of soft shits. It's like, they're the result of going to the toilet after eating nothing else but Cerelac for the whole day. What a sensitive bunch of babies.

It's... really incredible. How weak and just fucking feeble these folks are. And yet, look at how many people flock to worship and adore him. What a bunch of wieners.
   Profile |  

MKSheppard
PostPosted: 2011-10-04 12:11am 

Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger


Joined: 2002-07-06 06:34pm
Posts: 28163
Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Wow, Jimmy Carter as a woman-hating misanthrope.


Don't you mean JIMMY CRATER, reviled president of Shepistan before General Sheppard?

More seriously, why is Carter even in politics? He left the Navy only because his father died IIRC and he had to go put the family affairs in order, and this in turn led him into politics.

With all the butterfly flapping, it's more plausible that Jimmy Crater never leaves the Navy, and rises to become ADMIRAL James Earle Carter, Jr; Chief of Naval Operations 1 July 1970 to 1 July 1974 instead of Elmo Zumwalt. The Senior Chief can now rant about that damn Carter :lol:
   Profile |  

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Post a reply  Page 1 of 9
 [ 202 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 9  Next

It is currently 2014-07-29 03:00pm (All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ])

Board index » Non-Fiction » Off-Topic

Who is online: Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum
Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group