Long Series

There’s two main ways a long series can decline, I’ve found.

The two are:

  • Type 1: The author’s heart isn’t in it. It’s continued for financial or just sunk-cost thinking reasons, it might be farmed out to ghostwriters who only care about the paycheck, and there’s just less passion.
  • Type 2: The author has become successful and/or confident enough that they can go hog-wild, any editorial or self-restraint goes out the window and the whole thing can turn into a vanity project the writer likes more than the readers.

Note these are not incompatible (author is tired so they make it more ridiculous to help themselves through it…), and Type 2 can shift into Type 1 pretty quickly.

Having read all 27 (!) books in Jerry Ahern’s Survivalist series, it devolved into Type 2 around the tenth or eleventh book once it kept going past a good stopping point and stayed there for the entire rest of the series.

Harry Potter got hit with Type 2 pretty hard after the third book, in my opinion, while a lot of mystery novels tend to become Type 1-as did Janet Evanovich, sadly. (I loved one of her early Stephanie Plum novels despite not being the target audience, but looking at a later one showed she’d lost her touch)

 

Some appeal after all

A lot can change in a while. About a year ago, I wrote a post where I held that special forces held little appeal to me. Now, after reading my share of “commando fiction” (for lack of a better term), I’ve grown fonder of it and fonder of “special forces” characters.

I guess I’ve just had the fortune of seeing them done better than the few examples I’d seen before.

Two Big Challenges With Long-Running Series

Long-running series have two large issues that I feel are somewhat, but not always inevitable. The first is the “Elite Republican Guard” (named after Bill Hicks’ famous Gulf War joke), and the second is “Arkansas vs. The Blimps” (which I named after a Twilight 2000 module).

The Elite Republican Guard involves the antagonists, or antagonist situations, getting less credible as the series goes on. Arkansas vs. The Blimps involves them getting more outlandish. The two are not incompatible.

 

The End of Payday 2

So, Payday 2 got its official end.

I only got the bad/non-Secret ending myself, and am nowhere near as good a player to get the good/Secret Revealed ending. While the game turning into a ridiculous wannabe-Assassin’s Creed mish-mash of every conspiracy ever might seem bad in isolation, in context it worked as well as it could have and showed how a little earnestness can go a very long way.

I feel bittersweet. I’ve been playing Payday 2 for a very long time. It’s (a distant) second only to Command: Modern Air Naval Operations, my dream game, in terms of actual time played. I remember playing it on a computer that could barely run it at all, and then seeing the contrast when I got a better system. It’s definitely one of the most mainstream games I’ve played and enjoyed. And the music-the music is incredible.

 

A Pleasant Result from Fuldapocalypse

So, after a few months of reviews on Fuldapocalypse, I can say it’s helped me a lot. It’s made me realize I was looking at WWIII and military fiction in too narrow a light beforehand, and my resulting broadening of scope has been very good for me, and (I hope) very good for the blog as well.

The kind of impression I had going into the blog was that I’d be reviewing on a pretty narrow spectrum, with the sort of Hackett-style more pseudo-textbook on one end and the Chieftains/Team Yankee style story on the other. And most of my reviews still fall at least somewhat into that category.

But I think two things have influenced me more than just a simple bean count of what reviews were “conventional” World War III fiction and which ones were not. The first is that when it comes to me looking for new stories, as opposed to existing ones, I’ve been steering myself away from stuff that appears too cliche and Hackett-knockoff-y. Is reading something that’s going to be dry and infodumpy and then saying it’s dry and infodumpy really going to be productive or enjoyable to me or a reader? Especially if I do it several times in a row?

The second is the more pleasant surprise I’ve gotten, and that’s that moving away from internet, I’ve seen more characterization and more plot/setting diversity even in the ones I’ve already read. Granted, I had low expectations, but still. There’s that, and then there’s some of the stories moving outside the narrow corridor acting as a “springboard” of sorts for me to read even better and more different cheap thrillers.

So Fuldapocalypse has helped reinvigorate my interest in a genre I thought I knew, explore subgenres I didn’t, and made me rethink some of my critiques. I hope my readers have found it just as fulfilling.

 

Monsters

When it comes to aliens or monsters, I must admit to being more “Battletech” (no aliens save for one weird diversion) and less “Star Wars”. It’s just a matter of personal taste, I’ve enjoyed many stories that feature aliens and/or monsters, and I don’t hold anything against settings that do feature them. But it’s a taste I’ve found surprisingly consistent over time, and most of my plans for writing , as opposed to just reading, don’t feature sentient nonhumans.

Some of it is my preferred genres that don’t tend to diverge into science fiction or fantasy. Some of it is a dislike of “rubber forehead aliens” (I like Stephen Baxter because his aliens are truly alien). But some of it is a sad commentary on human nature. I can sum it up as “Why would I need monsters? Humans can be monstrous enough already.”

Why I Liked Them At Fuldapocalypse

So I’m very critical even of things I like. The problem is that this can frequently come across as too negative. Because of this, and because I wanted to shake things up so that my formula wouldn’t become a pit, I decided to do an experiment on Fuldapocalypse. I’d take three books I love and talk in some detail about the positive and only the positive effects.

It’s here , and while it was a little challenging to write, it was also very, very fun and much-needed practice in me expanding on positive, as opposed to negative, critique.