So I’ve decided to expand Fuldapocalypse into occasional reviews of visual media (movies, games, etc..) So what better topic for the first installment than Dr. Strangelove?
My latest Fuldapocalypse post asks the question of how many “World War III” novels there even are. This has been a tricky question, but the answer is “not really that many”. Having to move past that original narrow genre has even affected the Creative Corner, causing a reduction in posts, post length, and, more importantly, my focus.
It’s gone like this: Fuldapocalypse is conceived of as a place to slide in the World War III reviews. Fuldapocalypse quickly (and rightfully) shifts to fiction in general, which takes up a giant chunk of this blog’s “jurisdiction” and a lot of my posting energy. What started as a niche side project to avoid clogging the general blog turned into something bigger and more involved. But there’s trade offs, and, especially when busy elsewhere, I’ve been prioritizing the book reviews over the “miscellaneous miscellany”.
This is considerably after the fact, but I figured I’d point it out anyway: Northern Fury: H Hour got an excellent review on Sea Lion Press.
As a partial aside, I’ve said it elsewhere but I’ll say it here-I have a renewed willingness to read and review “traditional” World War III stories. Part of that is quality books in the genre like Team Yankee, Red Army, and yes, Northern Fury: H Hour.
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.
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.
Over at Fuldapocalypse, I review Andy Farman’s Stand-To. It’s-something, I’ll put it that way. Even I was stunned by the amount of infodumps in it.
A review of Walt Gragg’s The Red Line is up at Fuldapocalypse Fiction. Enjoy.
So I read Ralph Peters’ Red Army, one of the fewer classic World War III novels I hadn’t read yet. A part of me doesn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. This is better-written than many of its contemporaries and well-intended. It isn’t just the grit of the battles that works, but how Peters, unlike so many other writers in the genre, goes light on the technical terminology. It still has a little too much viewpoint-hopping, but flows well. In that, I’m reminded of Team Yankee doing a similar thing, and both books are good “counters” to each other.
However, I still have some criticism. A lot of the characterization is done through telling and not showing, and while the viewpoint hopping is smoothed over, it still exists. Also, I think the two main parts of the book are at cross-purposes. The intent is to tell a ground-eye-view story that humanizes the Soviets and a cautionary tale of how NATO could lose. They don’t quite gel, and a lot of the high-level viewpoint characters are infodumpers that make it a little ham-fisted.
The last major comment I have is that the book has a lot of its power lost when read by a history enthusiast several decades later. All the “classics” have this issue too, and it’s not the fault of their writers. But the big “punch” of this is a softball to someone who already knew about the issues that plagued NATO for its entire Cold War existence that the book brings up.
But this is still a worthy Cold War Hot novel that any enthusiast should pick up. I still recommend it.
IE, two good but fundamentally different Cold War novels, idealized American vs. ideal Soviet, star-spangled spectacular American win vs. gritty Soviet win. The readable but horribly erratic Chieftains (let’s say I’ll just be talking more about that book later) can’t quite serve as Coyle’s foil. This can.
I’m delighted to now be a contributor to the Sea Lion Press blog. My first article is a review of an alternate history WWIII thriller, Harvey Black’s The Red Effect. Regrettably, it contained both of my big pet peeves for the genre: Too much perspective hopping and too long of an intro to a foregone event.
The post can be seen here.