In no particular order, some of my least favorite antagonists in fiction:
SCP-682 (SCP Foundation)
“The Greek” (The Wire)
The Soviet Leadership (Red Storm Rising)
Andries Rhoodie/The Rivington Men (Guns of the South)
_ _ _ _ _
Missingno is just a glitch. It bugs me so much how a programming error can be treated by fans as some sort of creepypasta scary monster. It’s like making a Fallout or Elder Scrolls fic starring the Glitched Monster From ________.
Now this is what happens when “meme” powers become reality. The lizard is indestructible. That’s it. It’s dull and lame and boring.
That he’s in one of my favorite shows of all time illustrates that even good works of fiction can gave bad antagonists. A sneering one-dimensional mustache-twirler whose entire gimmick is that he’s greedy, “The Greek” is a bad character in a good story. “The Greek” is supposed to represent unrestrained capitalism, but Stringer Bell shows it in a much more balanced and nuanced way. And even his own lieutenant, Spiros, comes across as a much better and more charismatic character.
The Soviet Leadership
The Politburo scene in the beginning of Red Storm Rising has aged poorly and exists to set up the excuse plot for WW3. Sneering supervillain Soviets might work in a Red Alert game, but in a serious book, it’s a headdesk moment. Their entire plan is invading Europe so they can invade the Middle East later. And this is one of the things the copycats have copied. Ugh.
Guns of the South does many things right. One thing it does wrong is its antagonists. The Rivington Men are some of the worst antagonists. They exist to make the Confederates look better in race relations by comparison (ulp), and then, when they decide that Lee has to go, with all their futuristic technology, they… have guys with Uzis fire wildly in his general direction.
It’s very, very important for fiction to have an appropriate tone. As for the difficulty of that, it’s strange. On one hand, I’ve seen many otherwise bland stories at least manage to keep an appropriate and decent tone. On the other, I’ve seen just as many ones-and these include professional and/or long works- that don’t.
I view maintaining a suitable tone as a kind of art that’s not easily explainable in terms of how to do, because you have no one answer for every story. What I also see is that getting the right tone is a very key factor in separating a proper story from a bowl-of-ingredients clunker where you have events and characters but they’re not really integrated. Not everything, but a big part.
So, my big dilemma can be summed up in one work. Supertanks.
There are a bewildering array of paper supertanks that the fall of the USSR nipped in the bud. These, both western and eastern, range from conventional upgrades of previous-gen tanks (many of which were actually made, at least in prototype) on one end, to ultra-exotic “Crew of two and they’re both in the hull” designs on the other. 140 and 152mm monster guns, uncrewed turrets with innovative autoloaders, the list goes on and on. They’re interesting to see, and I’m wondering “If I’m making a semi-grounded fictional supertank, what real one should it most resemble?”
And yet, for one of my main antagonist groups, the question of supertanks gives way to the more important one of “are they the kind who’d have large formations of tanks at all, be they surplus or super”. That’s the question I should be asking.
I’ve blogged here for over two years now, and my topics have ranged from the ultra-serious, as with the COIN wargaming post, to the silly and goofy, from the mundane to the strange.
It’s OK. I’ve spent so much time and effort long ago trying to be PLAIN AND NORMAL (caps on purpose) that didn’t work. I’m myself. Sometimes I have to remind myself of my own strength, and say “Coiler, be Coiler. You don’t have to be, or write like _____. Just be yourself.” And I’m taking that lesson to heart.
Being more tolerant of myself has also helped me become a lot more tolerant of other people and their tastes as well, I’ve found. So it’s very helpful and useful overall to me.
So, now that the first three chapters of Ward/Worm II have been posted, I’ll give my impression. The impression is simple.
Typical Wildbow so far. You have the detailed, at least theoretically interesting setting, the dark tone, and the mediocre prose that feels kind of “infodumpy” and has trouble moving to different tones. That wasn’t surprising. (Neither is the argumentative discussion on Spacebattles, unfortunately).
The big question mark will be pacing. Pacing was one of the big weaknesses of the original Worm. It managed to be 1.6 million words long, or almost three times the length of War and Peace. Yet it also managed to escalate far too much. Even Wildbow’s shortest full web serial, Pact, is only slightly less than twice the length of that legendary thick book. For me, it’s at least easier to follow if I read from the start and read one chapter at a time (which is easy, I read fast), instead of binging on millions of words written clunkily.
So, I’m not exactly surprised by anything I’ve seen so far in Ward. The question as to whether it can recapture the magic of Worm in SBCRW also remains unanswered. To answer that will have to wait until the story develops more, and then to see how many fanfics use elements from Ward and Ward alone.
That’s Ward after three chapters. More or less what I expected, with all of Wildbow’s strengths and weaknesses. I hope it can improve, but given how it’s checked so many of the boxes already, I’m a little skeptical.
It may be implausible, but I love the concept of the tank army out of nowhere. I’ve seen it in a few cheap thrillers of dubious quality, and if the context allows it, I love it. It’s just a sign that the author simply does not care about those silly things like “logistics”, or “direct plausibility”.
Where I think I love the tank army out of nowhere (again, assuming the right context, which boils down to not taking things too seriously) has to do with my own hang-ups, where I’ve been too focused on “plausibility”. As a literary tool, seeing the tank army out of nowhere without any explanation save for a lame excuse (and sometimes not even that) makes me think “Ok, here’s tanks-this is going to be ridiculous, whether the author intends it or not.”
And I like ridiculousness in my fiction.
After nine teaser previews and much anticipation, the first chapter of Worm II (with the formal name Ward) has been posted.
I read it. It’s at least fresh, even if I still have issues with Wildbow’s prose and the excesses of the setting. One literary note is that the narrator’s name (Victoria Dallon) is somewhat clunkily inserted, and done at the very end of the chapter as a cliffhanger.
I’ve hopefully absorbed enough Worm knowledge through Spacebattles to get the general setting view. And speaking of Spacebattles, I’ll just say I’m glad there’s a seperate Worm forum in CRW.
So it’s November.
It’s gonna be real busy for me, so blogging may be limited in both number of posts and their content, especially in comparison to last month’s blast of posts.
So, I wanted to make a character best-described as a “pseudo-German” (that is to say, from a fictional country in a fictional world that’s obviously a reference to old Germany).
Enter an eccentric early-20th century language inventor called Elias Molee. Molee was both strange (his disdain of capital letters, more than a century onward brings up Undertale references to me), and his dream of unified Germanic peoples is understandably creepy in light of later events.
Molee’s life project was a pan-Germanic conlang he called (with various spellings) Teutonish. So I took one version of Teutonish (whose public domain text can be found here) and I was set. Now that character has a “real” native language.
The first prologue, or as Wildbow calls it, “Bridge chapter” of the long-awaited Worm 2 has been posted.
I read it. I’ll have to read from the start or else I’ll fall behind. It happened with Pact and Twig. SB must be bracing itself for more wormfics-which surprisingly only made up 6 of the top twenty most popular threads by the most recent count. Let’s see if that changes.