Where I’d Set a WW3 Story

If I wrote a conventional WWIII story, it’d probably be in…. Southern Europe. In a comment on a post depicting said theater in the WWIII 1987 TL, I described it as “an uncomfortable sideshow in rough terrain”, similar to the Italian front in World War II.

It’s not in spite of but because of this that the setting appeals to me.

  • It’s different and I like less-traveled locations.
  • It means I can slow the battles down, thanks to the terrain and the lower-tier forces. The CentFront is a little too er, fast. Not to mention deadly.

 

USMC Divisions in World War III

So, a RAND study on the (sideshow) southern theater of World War III included this graph.

Notice how low the USMC divisions are placed. Even the WP bottom-of-the-barrel Romanians outdo them. I have my quibbles with this kind of “Battle of the spreadsheets” system, but a look at the USMC’s force structure, especially at the time shows that they were not suited for this kind of mobile continental war.

My Creative 2018

I had a good 2018, all things considered. Were there bad parts in it? Of course. But on the whole, and especially in my creative endeavors, I had a good 2018. And I’m not just talking about the two Command LIVE scenarios I made or Paint The Force Red.

I’ve said it before, but starting up Fuldapocalypse was amazing and one of the best things I’ve done all year. First, I’ve had a lot of fun writing some of the reviews. Second, it’s been a huge eye-opener and horizon-broadening device for me. I was expecting to get variations on Hackett/Clancy/Bond, but the path took me to outright science fiction and more. I’ve had to throw aside the preconceptions and stereotypes of my past “Iceland Scale” and rework my entire review setup because of it. It’s fun.

But I’d argue a better part of Fuldapocalypse is getting me to write positive reviews. I have an instinct to be critical even of things I like. Peters’ Red Army remains my single favorite World War III story, yet I was prepared to write several paragraphs about its weaknesses and only one or two about its strengths. I’ve found that blog has helped me a lot. It’s also helped me become more selective-if it’s not review-worthy or if I’d just repeat myself for better or worse, I generally don’t review it.

Because of Fuldapocalypse, I now know how broad the “cheap thriller” genre is, and how much broader the military action subgenre is than I thought. I’m not complaining. And I think I’ve approached even works I still am highly critical of better.

So in creative terms, I had a pretty good 2018.

Flash Fiction Reviews, Vol 1

All right, time to launch a set of rapid-fire fiction reviews. Two paragraphs per book at most.

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The military thriller genre can always use some outside perspectives. Sadly, and this more the fault of my expectations than the actual book itself, it ended up as a routine romantic suspense novel. Romantic suspense has always been an awkward genre, in my opinion, the inverse of adding a clunky romance to an otherwise pure action story.

Still, the book is well-written for what it is, and it just was me expecting a genre I wanted rather than the genre the book ended up being. Recommended if you like romance or romantic suspense.

This is the work that (at least partially) kicked off Sea Lion Press, and has the divergence that the conspiracy theory of Harold Wilson being a Soviet agent was true, leading to the already unstable scene of the 70s getting overloaded in a chaotic romp. While not perfect (it gets a little too “inside baseball for enthusiasts of 70s British politics, and a lot of the scenes with Wilson himself are too goofy), it nonetheless avoids almost all of the pitfalls a lot of alternate history has.

Namely, it’s a proper story, not a “get right to the good stuff in a six paragraph infodump” shortcut. It’s also an example of using research to help a story rather than using the story to show off the research. And by choosing an “implausible” divergence, it makes the reseach good anyway. Highly recommended.

This is a short World War III tank story featuring the often-underappreciated Bundeswehr. Smith struggles to overcome his wargaming “I must list everything” detail, but he makes a legitimate and good effort to make a proper story. The result was a good time-passer for me. It’s not a classic, but it doesn’t have to be. Recommended as a “cheap thriller”.

This is another short military fiction tale by a wargame designer. This is a good what-if to answer the ever-present “what if the Gulf War Iraqis were more compenent” question. It’s short and the main character is a little too Mary Sueish, but that’s understandable given the point the author is trying to make. Also recommended as a cheap thriller.

This is a terrible, wretched, creepy melodramatic fraud sold as a genuine World War II memoir. Even without historical inaccuracies, it’s a clear modern fake. The monstrous “Wehrabooism” (at one point the main character comes face to face with a literal ASIATIC HORDESMAN)  turns it from simply bad to creepy-bad.

The main character has the situational awareness to see huge tank battles, which always happen at close range in plain sight and always involve tanks and vehicles exploding and flying through the air in massive fireballs. The action is so over the top it becomes dull and predictable. Not recommended.