My suspension of disbelief just went *sproing*

Cedar posted a request a few weeks ago for more books that fit in “tactical romance”. I happily pounced upon the several places on social media this was shared, anticipating a big thick To Be Read pile I could plow through.

Turns out a good chunk of them I’d already read. So I compiled a list of the rest, and started in on KU and samples.

I’m not going to pick on the particular author by name – and goodness knows she has lots more reviews and sales than me, so she’s doing something very right for her audience, but…

Okay, first, it’s a Christian romance. Which means I’m well outside my standard genre conventions. I actually understand the genre conventions thanks to a fascinating conversation with an author who  writes in it, and lo, the bitching about the requirements was equal unto the bitching about Harlequin category romance contracts, even if the specific elements were different. Rolling with it, though.

It’s a Christian romance with Navy Seals. Yes, there’s absolutely no swearing in the book at all. *bites tongue* Rolling with it.

It’s a romance wherein two guys in a team took fire in combat, one wounded, one dead, and now the recovered one is wooing the dead buddy’s widow. *bows head, pinches bridge of nose in a sinal salute.* Okay, I know this is a romance trope. I know. I… Damnit, this doesn’t happen near as often in real life as the romance authors think, and when it does, it’s usually horribly ugly and ends badly! The only times it ends well are when they acknowledge there are three people in the relationship – two living, one dead. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’ll acknowledge this, and the blurb writer got it oh, so very wrong.

Rolling with it.

Then comes the scene in which the wounded guy, shot in the shoulder, is doing bench presses “in rehab.” And the widow is spotting for him. She’s not a Physical Teror… ah, Therapist. Now, I’ve never been shot in the shoulder, but I’ve had more shoulder and other joint rehab than you can shake a thick stack of medical bills at. And for one, in rehab, they don’t let you do this without supervision. That’s kind of the point of rehab – learning how to do things again with someone to push you far past your pain tolerance, while also limiting you from actual injury due to the mismatch between what you can currently do and what you *think* you can or should be able to do.

And especially when my shoulder is feeling, um, unreliable, I’m going to want someone there I can absolutely trust to be trained and experienced as a spotter. But maybe we can handwave and say it’s post-rehab, he’s just exercising at the rehab place, and the author said it wrong? I’ve done that. I miss the heated pool at the rehab place. Although in that case, he’s benching more than she may be able to reliably spot if anything goes wrong.

Rolling with it!

But then he takes the heavily loaded bar he’s been straining to press off the pegs, and stops to have a conversation while holding it up. No. Just, no. Has this author ever done a single heavy bench press, even with two perfectly good shoulders, in her life?!? Maybe it was badly edited and she failed to put in the points where he put it back on the pegs… nope, as they’re chatting, she has a physical beat of the bar wobbling, then steadying. That’s not how this works, lady! Didn’t you have anybody who lifts alpha-read?

Gritting my teeth and Rolling. With. It.

Ah, flashback scene, to the combat that saw the two taking fire and one killed. They’re too chatty on the radio, they’re not doing a correct approach, they’re… a radio transmission of critical information (which they wouldn’t be doing at this point anyway) is drowned out by a noise, and the lieutenant in charge of the seal team says into the radio, “Repeat.”

Book. Thrown. Across. Room.

(Thank goodness for the otterbox protector. TBAR was much more satisfying when I didn’t have to immediately check if I broke my screen.)

In the military, “repeat” is a protected word. It only has one meaning. That meaning is “the fire mission you just did? Do it again!”

Nobody, not any single body, would ever use it when they should be using “say again”, most especially not a bunch of high-speed low-drag operators!

In fact, in aviation, we don’t use the word “repeat.” For one, it’s a protected word in the military, with a usage that doesn’t translate over, so it’s not in the vocabulary. For another, it fails to have enough intelligibility to be understood across a wide variety of accents in static. “Say Again” is highly understandable. I give you leave to imagine trying to decipher “repeat” in a heavy Chinese accent in the transmission is even slightly clipped….

My suspension of disbelief has snapped. The book has flown. The rant to friends has begun… the one where I say, “Is it too much to ask? Can’t I just have a tactically correct thriller or romance? Just one?”

My friends, being the kind, understanding, supportive, dear hearts that they are, promptly replied, “You want tactically correct seals in a romance? So, when are you writing it?”

*throws carp at friends* I love you too, and shut up. I already wrote three books. I want to read someone else’s for a while! Have a nice brain break!

So, here’s to all the frustrated, disappointed readers out there swearing under their breath when they just couldn’t take it anymore. When was the last time you just couldn’t suspend your disbelief anymore, no matter how much you wanted to?

 

207 comments

    1. At the very least, if you’re uncomfortable with writing out swear words or obscenities, or know your audience won’t like it if you do, acknowledge that it’s going on.

      “Sir, scratch that last estimate of a hundred Taliban. Make it three hundred.”
      The captain cursed.

      1. Or even Terry Pratchett’s sergeant from a religion that eschews swearing, so he yells things like “You mother-loving sons of mothers!”

        1. Or his beautifully classic “–ing” that the hitman used. And had it ACTUALLY be “–ing”, which confused everyone who heard it. 😀

  1. A historical fantasy set in, ah, late Roman-Era Britain. Book opens with a pagan witchy type fleeing something and letting herself be turned into a tree rather than deal with the problem. [Whisky Tango Foxtrot, over?] Christian centurion being tormented by a demon. The priest (a Franciscan-type [arrrgh]) realizes that this kind of demon only attacks Christians, so the priest “unbaptizes” the centurion, making him pagan again, and the demon goes away. *Whump!* Book, meet wall.

    1. …Seriously? I mean, I actually have read about a couple folkloric critters that attacked certain religions/ethnicities, but the usual solution to that is not “un-baptism” (which AFAIK is theologically impossible!) but Bring More Supernatural Dakka.

    2. Wow. That’s… that’s… sorry, I’m struggling to come up with words to describe that book. “Dumb” and “idiotic” don’t quite seem to cover it.

    3. Oh my god, where did you find that darling. :O

      I’ve wallbanged more than one historical fiction novel because there is just too much wrong. Autnors should do better than Gladiator, King Arthur and Last Legion. The problem is twofold: getting facts wrong (yes, Mr. Iggulden, I’m looking at you) and getting the customs and the way of thinking wrong. Sorry, but a patrician Roman girl would not start a slave liberation movement. She would also not go out unaccompagnied and chat with a gladiator – who would not have been allowed to roam a marketplace in Rome, either. 😉 But my ‘favourite’ was a German novel that made Arminius and Varus lovers. :ROFL:

      1. “a German novel that made Arminius and Varus lovers”

        Man, that was one hell of a break-up.

        1. That is was. 😀

          I’ve only browsed the thing. Obviously, the author thought the only reason Varus would trust Arminius and not see the German rising coming despite Segestes’ warnings, was because he had the hotties for the hunky German.

          The more logical reason that Varus didn’t trust Segestes who was a troublemaker and Arminius’ enemy, and that Arminius was a highly decorated officer in the Roman army and had proven a faithful ally for years, didn’t occur to her.

      2. And while I will say that I loved all three of those movies, I consider them to be *fantasy* movies and NOT historical movies in any way, shape or form.

        So yeah, if it’s billing itself as a ‘historical’ novel, it had damn well better have a nodding acquaintance with accuracy.

        (I realize that King Arthur–I’m speaking of the 2003 one with Kiera Knightley and Clive Owen, mind you–did in fact bill itself as a historical epic. Probably Gladiator did, too. But as Hollywood has long since shown itself to have ZERO acquaintance with the actual meaning of the word, I do automatically interpret those as “fantasy movie but probably without magic and set in the “real” world)

    4. I’m not sure that that story would qualify for me under Dorothy’s conditions, if only because the book you described is unlikely to make me WANT to suspend my disbelief.

    5. *shakes head*
      Yet another example of the “I don’t have to do research about Christianity” thinking. (See also, “all Christians are Catholic” trope.)

      I can see how it might be hand-waved pretty easily– a little dialog to make it an imaginary sect, some sort of a talisman of baptism, or he gets ‘unbaptized’ by being rededicated to…something…. a formal renouncement of the baptism to a Christian official, maybe? It wasn’t a licit baptism in the first place and before that he was protected by a baptism of desire….

      Argh. Yuck.

        1. Arggggh. But one of the KNOWN FEATURES of Baptism (and Confirmation, aka Sealing of Baptism, aka Anointing/Unction), was that you got Moar Protection From Demons. (There are tons of picturesque stories in Early Christian literature about various ways of getting rid of demons, and how demons and pagan spirits fear Christians and the Name, and also how saying grace is a good way to keep from accidentally ingesting pagan curses and spells on your food.)

          I mean, seriously, that’s like telling people that if they get naked and beg for sex, they’ll never get raped.

          Getting the odd bit of annoyance by a demon was kinda flattering – you were obviously doing something right, and should trust in God, do more of it, and pray or sing psalms all the time, to annoy the demons back. St. Anthony of Egypt was the poster boy for this attitude.

          But beyond that, there is no way to unbaptize yourself, and becoming an apostate out of fear of anything was practically a guarantee that horrible things would happen to you in this world or the next. (Unless you did severe penances for years, or a martyr prayed for you, or stuff like that. Insert more edifying and lurid stories here.)

          If an early Christian priest or bishop thought a demon possession or infestation was beyond him (which they usually didn’t), they’d send for a famous holy person or confessor or desert ascetic, or maybe somebody who just had gotten baptized and was therefore all sainted and sinless.

          Sigh. I mean, seriously, there’s so much early Christian literature, and even True Stories Recounted by Contemporary Sources and Eyewitnesses… tons of stories!

          Re: turning into a tree, obviously copied from Daphne and Apollo, or some of the other myths. Basically supposed to be a mercy from the gods, to spare you some horrible fate or allow you to continue living a long time. I don’t remember any punishment or curse turning people into trees.

          1. >But one of the KNOWN FEATURES of Baptism (and Confirmation, aka Sealing of Baptism, aka Anointing/Unction), was that you got Moar Protection From Demons.

            I know that and you know that, but the public school system apparently inculcates Christianity is Evil – so to take that “logic” to its extreme, of course it doesn’t protect you from demons. *Headdesk*

            And those tons of stories are only out there if you look for them – I didn’t even know to start looking until researching stuff for fanfics, and then origfic. Any book suggestions?

            1. Hmm. The motherlode of edifying and dramatic stories is Pope St. Gregory the Great’s Dialogues. He wrote it while pope, and it is all about St. Benedict and surrounding communities. This is when the Western Empire had kinda moved to Ravenna, so Greg was running everything and writing learned books. This one is just stories, so some scholars hate it or claim somebody else wrote it.

              Earlier, there are tons of stories about the Desert Fathers (and Desert Mothers) in various Eastern collections, as well as St. Athanasius’ best-selling bio (info from living contemporaries) of his hero, The Life of Anthony.

              Athanasius’ book On the Trinity includes his famous experiment suggestion that his pagan readers walk into pagan temple districts, say the name of Jesus, and watch all the demonic pagan magic disintegrate, thus proving to themselves just Who is the true god.

              There are also European accounts similar to the Desert Fathers books. St. Sulpicius Severus wrote a bio of his mentor St. Martin of Tours, which is full of amazing stories of supernatural derring do. And this was before things collapsed in Gaul. But a lot of the early martyr and confessor stories include such things, like St. Saturninus getting blamed for his prayers, during his commutes for work, causing the breakdown of the daily civic pagan sacrifices.

              France/Gaul has a ton of stories of saints killing river monsters/dragons that start pretty early in the falling-apart of government stage.

              St. Germanus of Auxerre has a wonderful bio by a contemporary which includes him making short work of a haunted house. (Roman army guy, became a bishop, founded a school, also ended up running things when civic government collapsed.)

              But of course, if you read the Acts of the Apostles, that is the sort of thing that Christians seem to have done a lot. Jews and various Hebrew names for God were already feared and used in the Roman occult world, so Christians came along and were considered more so. (And anybody who seemed powerless, but also bucked society and gave charity without expecting any patronage benefits… Freaky!) There’s a great bit in St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures, the first one, where he warns the class not to convert for various bad reasons, including to get magical powers. They also get sworn to secrecy about the text of the Lord’s Prayer, at one point.

              David Drake talks a bit about the use of “voces” and names in Roman curse tablets and occult spells, in the forewords to some of his Roman-based fantasies.

              And there’s apocrypha/fanfic, like the Gospel of St. Peter with the preaching dog and the resurrected sardines, or the anti-Simon Magus bits of the Clementine Romances. (Which are a great example of a Greek novel of separated kindred, blended with miracle tales, blended with sermons and apologetics arguments. And a travelogue.)

              And of course Coptic and Eastern saint sites have lots of good stories of various vintages.

              1. St. Ath’s experiment for pagans was in his book On the Incarnation. Sorry, folks….

                And for sheer hilarity, there’s Tertullian bitching about the inconvenience of togas and shoes in “De Pallio,” and that Coptic early Christian dialogue of a dude and a pagan mummy. Because I’m a giver.

                But the other thing you have to remember is that early Christians (and Jews) were also very big on natural philosophy, aka what became science and engineering. Because they believed in God as a creator of an orderly and logical world, so making sense of natural phenomena was also religious.

    6. That sounds like an interesting concept, as a magical system, but evidently was poorly done. See. they’re implying that Satan is also real and would take an interest, and how do you avoid eternal damnation while saving your skin long enough to go after the demons? Not to mention what the spurned G-d might think. Could be a wonderfully complex tangle and story of redemption.

  2. Historical romance, England, Elizabethan period. Hero boasts of his learning: “I have paid monks to copy manuscripts for me!”

    1. Well, some monasteries did copy mss for a fee/donation, but generally you went to a bookstore/book factory, where professional scribes (often women) would copy books and color in woodcut illustrations.

      But by Elizabethan times (heck, in Caxton’s time), of course it was bookshops dealing with presses. Though they’d still color in your woodcuts if you paid for it. Unfortunately, it was also the whole crown monopoly thing, or the secret illegal presses for Catholics, dissenters, etc.

      1. Well, didn’t Henry VIII close all of the monasteries in England?

        A man in Elizabethan times likely won’t be able to find any monks to copy books (at least not in England).

      2. There is very excellent Oxford Bookseller mysteries by Anne Swifen that covers this subject–albeit it’s in the 1400s, so not Elizabethan, but still not “only the monks in monasteries copy books” silliness. There was a whole freakin’ private industry! The main character is a bookseller and much of the side-character drama revolves around his employees and their varying levels of skill with lettering and illumination. (And the bit about copying out portions of textbooks for students to rent was really interesting. The textbook industry: overpriced since forever.)

        Alas, she died a couple of years ago, and so neither this nor her Elizabethan mystery series will ever be finished

    1. Sorry, to be clear, I haven’t written three seal romances – I should edit the rant above for clarity. Just three books that are tactically correct scifi action, that happen to have a romance as a B-plot, because that’s what my characters decided to do.

      I’m blessed to have gentlemen in my life who are willing and able to fact check me, (and occasionally go “No, no, you don’t put the ambush there, that’s where they expect it… okay, let me tell you about a bloody good ambush!” and dictate the recipe for the homebrew napalm used…)

      Even if I were to lose them all, I’d still get a bloody alpha reader who’s military to check.

      They’re here: https://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Grant/e/B06VTKQKD5

  3. Medieval fantasy where someone pulls out their pipe and stuffs with tobacco.

      1. Now, now, ever since Tolkien introduced “pipeweed”, everyone’s echoed that handwavium.

    1. Or has potatoes as part of a meal.

      I darned near walled a historical – written by an academic specializing in American history – set in a wagon train on the California trail, wherein a character drove an ox wagon by use of reins, while sitting in the wagon …
      No, that’s not how one controls an ox team. A horse or mule team, yes. Not an ox team.

      1. I read one where it turned out that the potatoes were a Clue we were not in archaic Greece.

    2. Depends on the fantasy: medieval ratio.
      Gandalf blowing smoke rings is iconic, and the hobbits were quite fond of pipeweed.

      1. Yes, but Tolkien had a whole foreword in LOTR explaining how the hobbits got nicotiana and taters, as well as how Valinor worked.

        (He didn’t have this info in The Hobbit, which was basically just sticking kids in a fairy tale land without explanations. LOTR brought in more of Middle-Earth’s history as connected to normal Earth history, so more needed to be explained.)

        And yet, there were still tons of people who couldn’t tell the difference between nicotine and marijuana.

        1. I also gather that even though he intended Middle Earth as a sort of proto (maybe pre Ice Age) Europe, he loved taters and pipe smoking so much that he came up with that convoluted reasoning as to WHY hobbits had them, but really it boiled down to “because I love these things, so there.”

          (Although the pipeweed *was* a plot point.)

          1. Which I thought was very clever, because by that time you had accepted it. Yet all of a sudden, you had it called back. Ominously. Even as huge good stuff happened, you got more hints that Things Were Not Right.

          2. The hobbits were basically Edwardians plopped down in the Dark Ages. Half the humor of The Hobbit turns on the contrasts.

          1. It was a moderately amusing joke, though–and I think it was meant more as that than anything else (after all, Bilbo never actually acts high). And Saruman’s hilarious rant about mushrooms to boot. I decided the in-joke for the films is that Saruman is a teetotaler and DISAPPROVES +1000.

  4. I’ve had several walls, but my most generic Wall It Now is “Person grows up oppressed by everyone! And yet person becomes all-powerful and all-moral Hero!”

    No. Not how human nature works.

      1. I got through book 4. Then the Adult Stupidity got to be too much.

        I still think Snape was one of the sanest adults in the whole book. And he still shouldn’t have been teaching Potions to idiot young kids. Teens, maybe.

        1. College. As the guy you never let out of the lab unless you want things destroyed….

          (Sooooo many tropes that just don’t work well when you pull them from “before WWI” and shove it into modern stuff, AND keep it running for more than three or four years.)

          At least the Peter Whimsey books recognized how stupid a lot of the stuff was, and that was without it being deep in the tropes.

          1. Agreed.

            And he still seemed the most responsible person there. At least he was trying to keep people alive. Dumbledore… rrrrggh. “You have to go back to the Dursleys so the wards protect you.” Against what? Dementors definitely weren’t blocked. What on earth was so risky that you’d subject a kid to daily torment?

            Then again, Dumbledore never seemed to care about Harry, just that the person the prophecy was about would be alive and breathing when it came time to throw them at Voldemort. So he didn’t have to face the guy himself.

            1. Oooh! That Dumbledore cared about ‘The Boy who Lived’ but not Harry does fit, perfectly.

              Responsible, duty-bound… as warm and cuddly as a snowball mixed with glass shards…but not making you go “WTF, are you trying to pump up a body count?”

              1. Hm, it ate my dividing line. That’s supposed to be two separate thoughts, in backwards order, responding to Crossover’s comment.

              2. Heh! I got that the second part was supposed to be about Snape, yes….

                And, exactly. Dumbledore heard that Prophecy, and everything went downhill from there. If he hadn’t heard it – would Harry have been allowed to go to a wizard family, or would he have been dumped at the Dursleys to never know anything about the wizarding world until he either ran off in self-preservation or died?

                1. First, I was never able to complete the first Harry Potter book because of Harry’s Horrible Home Life.

                  Second, Chris Nuttall has talked about the problems that the Dursleys would have had financially with this “unplanned” baby (Harry) dumped into their home with no help forthcoming from Dumbledore.

                  Third, if Harry was “so important” and it was “so important that he live with the Dursleys”, I would have kept informed of “how little Harry was treated” and taken steps to make sure the Dursleys raised him properly (including providing financial help).

                  Fourth, with Voldemort’s “anti-muggles” thing, he should have tried recruiting Harry. After all, Harry knows first-hand how terrible muggles are. 😈

                  1. Oh, Dumbledore had a neighborhood spy/cat lady to ensure he stayed alive. Funny how she missed the starvation, the beatings, the fact that Harry would visibly be made to work all hours of the night outside fixing things, or be locked out because they didn’t want to feed him that night….

                    Bah.

                  2. The problem with the “recruit Harry” plan is the prophecy that “neither can live while the other survives,” which means that Voldy kind of has to kill Harry, or at least he thinks he does. That isn’t much of a plot hole.

                  3. The Dursleys had enough money to totally spoil their own son. If they had distributed it more equally, they would have been able to clothe and fed Harry better than they did, and probably even pay for a private school.

                    Also, I suspect most wizards don’t really get Muggle money, and there are no exchange rates for knuts and galleons to British pounds, else Dumbledore might have taken a few coins out of Harry’s vault and put them in the letter he gave the Dursleys. He probably also underestimated the hatred Petunia felt towards Lily – he may only remember the letter Petunia wrote to him and thought the girls were still close.

                    1. I ran across a fan theory that they were spoiling him in hopes it would not be TOO devastating when he realized Harry was a wizard and he wasn’t.

                      Of course, in that case, the truly nasty twist would be to make him one. (Except that he’s not developed enough as a character, so it really would take making it a different world.)

                  4. Heh. That “Wizards don’t understand anything about how the Muggle world works” thing was probably the single biggest thing that made my suspension of disbelief going “What. No. Just…no.” amidst everything else. While I suspect it was partly written for humor (see: amusing outfits come up with by wizards that they think are muggle-clothes) and as part of the “oooh, strange new world” for Harry…I’m sorry, I don’t see how an entire SOCIETY that is supposedly SECRET could somehow remain secret while also not figuring out how the rest of the world wears clothes, pays bills, or uses money. (I mean, obviously there was an exchange rate going on…so…)

                    I note that in the films they just ignored it, realized that stuffing everyone in robes was silly as heck, and just had everyone–if they DID wear robes–wear them over clothing that might seem a little formal or dated compared to muggle society, but which otherwise looked normal. (And they said “Screw it entirely” to the Fantastic Beasts films, because NO WAY is anyone going to pass up the opportunity to wear awesome 1920s/1930s clothing just to look a bit off. Also: who would pass up a chance to put Jude Law into a *very* nicely tailored suit? This is also apparently why 1920s Dumbledore has short hair, a short beard, and would not look out of place as a male model, heh…)

                    1. I always figured that the wizards left all the financial matters up to the goblins, considering it somehow beneath them.

                      I may or may not be writing an AU fanfic where manipulating the wizard/muggle currency exchange for fun and profit becomes a plot point.

                    2. I seem to recall that being done in one fanfic, since the sickle-galleon conversion ratio was fixed but the price of gold and silver fluctuated.

              3. replying to Foxfier’s ‘cared about the Boy Who Lived’ he tells Harry at some point that he cares/loves him. My kid and I have decided he mistakes feeling guilty about a person to caring about them, due to getting the two confused back when he was young and it being sealed by the thing with Grindewald and his sister. So he’s guilty about plans for Harry & interprets it as caring.

            2. Unfortunately, I eventually came to the conclusion that the series makes a lot more sense if you assume that Dumbledore never gave up his “For the Greater Good” philosophy. Snape has to betray Aurors to their deaths in order to stay in Voldemort’s good graces? Well, Snape’s position as a spy is more important; those deaths are for the greater good. Katie Bell and Ron Weasley were attacked by a would-be murderer that Dumbledore knowingly allowed to run around the school? Throwing the murderer out would disrupt Dumbledore’s plans; unfortunate that the students had to spend days or weeks in a coma, but it’s for the greater good.

              Frankly, Dumbledore sending Harry to the Dursleys struck me as the least of his sins. I do have a hard time understanding how Rowling could write what she did and still consider Dumbles the ultimate good.

              1. That was pretty much my conclusion and why I stopped after the 4th book. I just couldn’t stand the continuing “lure Harry into doing something stupidly suicidal to draw out Voldemort, give him no reasonable support”.

              2. yeah, by the time I got to Book 7 and the reveal about WHY Dumbledore has kept Harry alive all this time (as well as his backstory with Grindelwald), I have never since thought of Dumbledore as a “good guy.”

                I mean, dude. If SNAPE–the biggest freaking bully in the series after the Dursleys–is utterly *appalled* at what you are doing? Probably you should check that moral compass…

        2. Book 4 made me very angry because of the murder at the end. She just kills the kid off for no reason other than shock value. Reads like an editorial decision made by the publisher. “We want to take this series in a darker direction, JK.”

          The other things didn’t bother me, because they fit in with the nonsensical, random and whimsical nature of the stories. But after Book 4 they started making her stick in all kinds of stupid stuff like the enslaved house-elves. That was annoying.

      2. LOL… nope, but not for that… wandered away early in 2nd book and never went back, cuz I was bored with the Bobbsey Twins Plus Gratuitous Magic.

      3. I love HP, but. BUT. I’ve seen firsthand the long term results of abuse, and lemme tell you, 99% of kids that went through it do NOT grow up to be stable or particularly moral human beings.

        On the other hand…I do NOT want to read about several of my adopted siblings in a kids’ book either, so I was okay with suspending disbelief there. But yes, all of the adults are stupid, horrible, or should not be allowed to teach children. Again, though…that is a bog-standard trope in children’s literature so…

      4. Those discussing Harry Potter may be interested in Witch Hat Atelier. Particularly because of the faults being mentioned, actually. 0:)

    1. Oh! I remember one specific wall. Post-apocalyptic action-adventure, seemed to have a good plot, armed characters taking on the wilderness….

      And the albino was their sniper.

      If you know anything about albinism, or even the partial albinism that in cats we call Siamese points, you know that it messes with vision. In all kinds of awkward and “often can’t see a barn to hit it” ways. At the very least, there was no way that guy was sniping anything in daylight.

      1. Oddly enough, part of what I’m probably going to be trying to do in WIP involves giving an albino sniper training. In VR. Because the albino’s doctor has history investigating psychic bullshit with the trainer, and thinks the VR is basis for good rehab for the vision problems. Okay, the guy is clearly also a mad scientist, but one of the more ethical ones in the story.

        1. Look up albinism and ocular nerve problems first, so you can see how to handwave it.

          The crucial factor at work is melanin production. Believe it or not, that’s needed for the eyes to wire up right – the skin and the brain cells are formed from very closely related cells in the embryo. So in a lot of albinos, the nerves to the eyes are… miswired. And that’s on top of “no pigment in the iris means too much light gets through.”

          Meaning this is more than just vision rehab. You’d be actively trying to change the ocular nerves and how they connect to the brain.

            1. Might help with the photophobia and ocular straylight, not so much with the nystagmus. There’s also a condition I can’t remember the name of, where if you’re looking at a cross, for example, +, it blurs and distorts to have rays and look 8-pointed instead.

              1. Thus magic. 😀
                Make them basically whole new eye and any needed nerves, give juuuust enough of a start so it at least sounds like the character knows what he’s talking about, maybe a mention of “rebuilding him, but BETTER–” and then have the funding guy go “does it do cool stuff? Yes? And he’s happy with it?
                Then I don’t care how, you’re making my eyes glaze over.”

                Can even make an ethical argument for it based on albinos being more likely to have serious eye problems.

              2. The albino is seeking treatment for some mental issues, and has choice between a few wizards who don’t know any healing magic, the world’s greatest meatball surgeon, and a mad scientist specializing in vision related psychic bullshit. The mad scientist at least has some idea what changes occur in mental function when someone starts using psychic perception that feeds into the visual processing centers of the brain. And he’s also been involved in programs to modify the biology of vision, but not while with his current organization. If he had access to the equipment and specialists assembled for one of the previous organizations, he could have working or replacement eyes installed, and oversee a rehab process that also worked on the mental issues.

                The VR bypasses the ocular nerves, and feeds directly into the visual centers of the brain. Fixing the eyes would be better, but is going to have to wait.

                Realizing that it will happen later does actually sort out some of my questions for what happens after the story. (Which I may need for figuring out the plot of the story. On the other hand, it seems to require adjusting my theory of the story’s causality.)

        2. Have him be a nocturnal terror.
          Amazing levels of vision in the dark, almost useless during the day.
          And necessarily paranoid about his camouflage covering his unnatural pallor.
          Glimpses start uneasy rumors about a ghost…
          .
          Yeah, I think the Rule of Cool and handwavium have you covered. You’ve genuflected to reality. You’ve offered a reason to roll with it. And you’ve just made any number of nerds squee and figure out how to point out the build in Hero/GURPS (I refuse to confirm or deny any effort in that direction.)

          1. Really, I think it does boil down to whether or not the author is willing to SHOW that they’ve done the research (doesn’t have to be exhaustive, just enough to make anyone not an expert on the subject agree that you’re not pulling this out of your butt) and do that genuflection to reality. Rule of Cool truly can cover a multitude of sins–but not ALL of them. Or, more specifically, if someone is gonna rely on Rule of Cool without any deference to any sort of reality, then it had better be DAMN COOL. Or it falls completely flat. ::eyes Crichton’s Timeline novel in annoyance::*

            *To be fair to Crichton, my annoyance might have its source in the Overton Window. While no expert in the field, I know more than the average bear about medieval history/society/etc, and so a lot of the stuff he pulled in that book felt incredibly half-assed. Like he’d done in-depth research on *some* things, but not the things that really mattered. (And it’s been so dang long since I read half the book before walling it, I don’t remember specifically what irked me, only that it did. The movie I gave a pass to because it didn’t pretend to be anything but B-grade silly action drek, and it was mostly fun. Also Gerard Butler. Also Professor Lupin back in the days when he only played weak-chinned villains, heh.) He may have done the same in Jurassic Park, I don’t know–I don’t know more than the average bear about genetic science (and my dinosaur obsession occurred between 1984-1989 or so, and so was outdated by the time I read the novel/saw the movies).

            1. Timeline annoyed me, mostly because it stomped all over its declared premise.
              If you start with the (correct!) premise that people in the past were smart and competent, then they probably shouldn’t be portrayed as bumbling mooks that lack agency for most of the novel

            2. You have Crichton-before-Hollywood, and Crichton-after. The Crichton-after books were, basically, novelizations of movie screenplays he was searching for backers for.

              Crichton had impressive technical chops, which he showed in his early books and a few of his early movies. The later stuff was full of handwavium. Few of the viewers cared about technical accuracy, and the film people hated it.

              1. That makes a lot of sense, actually.

                Mind you, I *love* a good brainless action movie, so long as it’s fun. I adore the Jurassic Park films mostly because dinosaurs, and the six year old in me who wanted to be a paleontologist still squees at any and all dinosaurs, accurate or not, because six year old. I realize that the premises of nearly all the films are utterly ridiculous…but I don’t care.

                I get pickier with the reading material–but I also am not one who is terribly interested in the hard science, most of the time. It’s only when it either makes NO sense at all (and the rest of the story isn’t good enough to make up for it), or it’s a subject I know just enough about to be dangerous, and am so annoyed when the author screws it up. 😀

      2. Didja know the dark points are a cold-adaptation, and temperature-mediated? Shave patterns on the light part of a Siamese and you can sign your cat. Anyway… yeah, we had an albino in my junior high school, and he was not only walk-into-walls nearsighted and sun-blind, but also mentally unstable in ways that were deemed medically related. Not to mention that he practically glowed in the dark. Can you say “Target”??

        1. Er, not a cold adaptation. The faulty enzyme produced by the Siamese-point melanin gene works at colder-than-average body temp, doesn’t work at body temp. Hence why the dark points and pale eyes – the eyes are warmer.

          Oof. Poor guy.

  5. It’s a Christian romance with Navy Seals. Yes, there’s absolutely no swearing in the book at all.

    While agreeing with the general point, I have repeatedly been around SEALs (and Marines, and even vanilla sailors!) who could go for hours without cursing. Without their mother and/or grandmother standing over them. *Grin*

    Kind of like old war movies. You know that someone who had their leg blown off isn’t going to lay there without blood, but not everyone needs it to get the idea. I know some folks do, and even with buckets don’t “get” it– kind of like folks who are really bad at cursing and can’t manage to convey with a bucket of curses what is managed by one “MONDAY FRIDAY” in the style of Sam L. Jackson.

    1. The lack of swearing wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, it was just a “Ah, this genre convention has clearly departed reality.” And yes, I have known rough gentlemen who very, very rarely swear. As one said calmly to me when chiding me for my own foul mouth, if one habitually refrains from foul language, then a single well-placed swear word has a profound impact and conveys everything he needs. If used too often, it’s merely coarse punctuation that makes the speaker look uncouth and uneducated.

      (And yes, that particular rough gentleman did use “uncouth and uneducated” as everyday terms of speech. Lovely man, very laid back, very calm. When I grumped at him once that my fiance has told me “Calm down, love! It’s a good day; no one’s shooting at you!” He got the most delightful smile and his blue eyes started shining with barely suppressed laughter. He and my darling man understood each other.)

      That said, they’re not the average…

    2. Heh. I always figure that Captain America can and does in fact swear like any normal WW2 era soldier from the back alleys of Brooklyn would–he just doesn’t do so in front of women. And since several of his teammates are, in fact, women (both in the present AND with Peggy back in the War), he’s managed to route around it most of the time…

      It makes more sense to me than the stupid joke Whedon threw into Age of Ultron, anyway, thus proving that he does not understand how to write Cap, because Whedon is a lefty twit.

      1. Depends on things like religious beliefs, too. Nobody was going to mess with the unit rifle champion who also didn’t drink or swear!

        The Holy Name Society was a big Catholic men’s club with all kinds of activities… And you agreed not to swear or misuse divine names. (Probably one reason that many cradle Catholics are reflexively shy of saying “Jesus” for even legit purposes that aren’t prayer; the club has dwindled but the reflex got passed down.) You can reverse that kind of training, but sometimes it is easier just to say “Fiddlesticks.”

        1. Oh, absolutely. I’ve always maintained that of all the MCU writers who have handled Cap, Whedon was the one with zero clue about him (well, and any time Loki is imitating him, because Loki does NOT understand Cap either). Because Whedon thinks he was an obedient little soldier/goody two shoes. (He might be the latter, but he was NEVER the former.) The ones who actually wrote the Cap movies (and then when we see him in Infinity War/Endgame) make it clear that he *does* have a sense of humor, he is NOT an idiot, nor is he naive, and he is 100% willing and able to troll people if it’s funny. (For example, his “On your left” trolling of Sam that led to their friendship and go the BEST payoff in Endgame.)

          I mean, c’mon. This is a guy who, despite being a 90lb asthmatic weakling, picked a fight with every freaking bully in Brooklyn. And didn’t win a single fight, probably, but that wasn’t the point. This is also the guy who went AWOL to rescue Bucky and his platoon, knowing full well he might end up court martialed (but also suspecting that, if successful, they’d finally let him do what he wanted and also giving the finger to the senator who’d stuck him on stage as a performing monkey). He brought down SHIELD hard and violently, because he asked questions instead of blindly obeying. Also the guy who gave both figurative middle fingers to the UN over the Sokovia Accords and went on the run, and THEN busted out half his team after they got arrested and took THEM on the run rather than bow down to authority. Steve Rogers is a freakin’ TROUBLEMAKER and TROLL, in the best sense of the word.

          (Also, Cap is a VERY dirty fighter. Which makes sense, of course.)

          1. Brain translated that– and agrees– that Whedon thought Cap was dead serious. Even with things like, oh, the pants “I got them half off” scene.

            Which ran into something else I’ve read– that evil cannot understand good.

            Which made me feel bad because 1) what that would imply about Whedon, and 2) how many other people also cannot understand good except as stupid and foolish.

            1. Yes. Much as I love Firefly (though Whedon was not the primary writer on that) and have a soft spot for Buffy & Angel…it does NOT say anything good at ALL about Whedon as a person. :/

              1. He has a good sense of story, when he doesn’t let his Virtue Signal and/or kinks get in the way.

                Still more worried about the large number of fans who share his mental quirks. (Not to be confused with fans of stories; I liked Buffy, and Angel, and Marvel’s movies he was in on.)

                1. Oh yeah, I am a fan of most of his stuff (not Dollhouse so much), including the MCU movies, however much I felt that he didn’t write Cap well. He didn’t do *horribly*, though, so there’s that.

                  However, since he was exposed as a hypocrite of the highest order when it came to treatment of women, as well as his general lefty crazy-bananas, I realized that I would NOT like him as a person, heh. That’s okay, though, I never particularly wanted to meet him anyway.

                  1. I thought it was pretty obvious what his views on the treatment of anybody was, from how Willow was treated in Buffy… the strings for the “characters exist to fulfill desires” thing was kind of obvious. Not anvilicious, and it did at least sometimes bow to the story instead, but there were a LOT of things where the writing said more about the writer than the characters, so to speak.

                  2. It isn’t hypocrisy if we understand ‘strong female character’ as a thinly disguised ‘character that role models behavior for females that makes them more vulnerable to predation’.

                    I came around to that view of Whedon after watching the Buffy movie, then seeing on wikipedia the crazy intensity of his dislike of the movie.

          2. IIRC, he actually did more swearing in that movie than anyone else.

            Dude was a freaking WW2 infantry (well, really Special Forces) vet, and was so in his recent memory (not 50+ years back). Have you ever known such a person *not* to swear?

            1. Actually, I’m fairly certain most of his swearing in any of the films was actually in Endgame–and specifically, especially, when he had to fight his 2012 self and reacted with a tired “You gotta be s**ting me.”

              (Thinking about it, I’m actually pleased to see that, overall, the MCU has very little actual swearing. Lots of colorful language, but little in the way of straight-up profanities or crudities. My personal favorite was Nick Fury’s hilarious “MOTHER-FLERKIN!!!!” line in Capt Marvel. I felt that was a truly brilliant way to nod at Sam Jackson’s signature line while still remaining family friendly–and clever with the punning.)

  6. Wow, “Repeat” doesn’t even… it doesn’t sound military, even.
    And it doesn’t work as a civilian thing, because very few folks say “can you repeat that?”

    *******

    I may have thought of a route for the bar thing– I know some places have you lift empty weight bars, and other than the drama involved in it being heavy, that would kind of work. My shoulder wasn’t shot, obviously, but I did land on it very hard as a kid and that was one of the stretch and work on stamina things.
    (…I used a broom handle… I don’t lift in the first place, so the familiar design argument doesn’t work, and those things are HEAVY when you’re double-digits weight!)

  7. Last year I walled two books by two different authors.

    I’m not a “character person”, but even I have my limits. It’s possible I ran head-on into some kind of crossover genre conventions, but both books had the same basic problem: the protagonists had super-technology and superhero-level mojo, but they were living as menials because they weren’t appreciated by their relatives.

    W T actual F?!

    It was just baked into the characters, and the stories utterly depended on it. Both characters easily had the resources – and motivation, as far as I was concerned – to tell the universe to kiss off while they went off and started their own empires and dynasties. But they went all emo instead.

    Does. Not. Compute. That’s worse than the kid with his very own Terminator, who admonishes it not to kill anyone. As if.

    1. “…super-technology and superhero-level mojo, but they were living as menials because they weren’t appreciated by their relatives.”

      Yes, we hatess it Preciouss! If your Uber-level super person is living as a garbage man, there better be a better reason than “Dad disapproves of my powers.”

      Tell Dad to cram it and go save the world from evil, you soy boi. Book meets wall.

      My books have super beings living in obscurity, but that’s because they have to be careful where they put their feet. One of the main points of the story is that just because you have great power does not mean you have to be a dick about it.

        1. One of the last of the heroes who worked to become what he was, instead of getting powers by magic. Being Clark Savage took a brutal amount of work; so much his crew didn’t even try to emulate him. Maybe every now and then they envied him a bit, but they also knew the price he paid.

          Got yer bint in the lake or a radioactive spider, or even a “just happens”, no problem. Random chance, effortless success, everyone loves that.. Hard work, not so much.

  8. Probably the trilogy of Post-Apocalyptic Robin Hood books where, after defeating the self-styled Sheriff of Nottingham in the first book, Robin ordered his men to immediately give up and dispose of all of their firearms and carry only blades and bows & arrows. Not because they’d eventually run out of ammo and should learn to use more primitive weapons for when that time came (though the author must’ve gotten some flack for that because he did partly incorporate that reason into Robin’s motivation in the third book), but because guns were the symbols of the “old word” (i.e. pre-Plague) and tools of tyranny and oppression.

    So his Merry Men expies repeatedly go into battle on horseback, armed with nothing but swords, bows & arrows, and crossbows, against baddies with automatic weapons, APCs, tanks, and freaking attack helicopters and fighter-bombers, and not only winning every time, but utterly decimating the baddies with minimal friendly casualties!!!!!!

    The most idiotic part, which made me physically throw the compilation across the room, was the climax of the third book when Robin jumped out of the back of a Chinook helicopter (I think to catch the Maid Marian Expy who’d fallen out, but I’m not sure and don’t feel like checking), shot down the fighter jet that was attacking said Chinook with a freaking bow and arrow!, caught whoever he’d jumped out after, grabbed the rope that was dangling out of the back of the Chinook, and stopped himself from hitting the deck just mere feet above the ground.

    I confess that the only reason I kept slogging through that garbage heap was because I kept thinking to myself “it can’t possibly stay this bad, and it certainly can’t get any worse. It has to get better at some point, right? LOL! WROOOOOONG!!!!!

    1. One Post-Apocalyptic book had all of the North American societies giving up guns because guns were evil except for one society (off scene for most of the book).

      My question is “why doesn’t that society rule North America”?

      Oh, it was Edgar Pangborn’s Davy. 😉

    2. “but because guns were the symbols of the “old word” (i.e. pre-Plague) and tools of tyranny and oppression.”

      This of course is the reason why every tyrant in history has made sure their subjects are heavily-armed.

      I saw this book at the library. So glad I didn’t read it.

      1. It’s “The Hooded Man” Trilogy by Paul Kane, from “The Afterblight Series” shared-universe stories. Avoid (the Hooded Man, at least) at all costs.

    1. You have to know that you need to, and care enough to do it. Sadly, there are many who fail at each part.

  9. If I like the characters, I will generally follow them through the silliest of plots. On the other hand, I’ve gotten about a third of the way through a book, realized that I didn’t care what happens to the main character or any of the others and just stopped reading.

    1. My usual stop (since I don’t really care about plot so long as it’s not downright stupid) with recentish books is when I discover that “I don’t like any of these people.”

      1. *Rueful* Happens a lot these days, yes. If I’m reading a Kindle sample, and my reaction is “interesting idea and worldbuilding, but I can’t feel for these characters” – that one is walled.

      2. So many writers buy into the theory that you have to introduce a character by showing their flaws so that they can grow and change over the course of the story. That doesn’t work with me–if a character is unpleasant when they are introduced, I’m not likely to read enough to find out if they get better.

    2. This is what happened to me with Wheel of Time, heh. Seven books in (well, I actually skipped book 6, which in hindsight should have been a Clue), and realized I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters anymore.

  10. Talking about failure of “suspension of disbelief”, there was a “After Some Disaster” Cable TV series were “everybody used swords” because “guns were evil”.

    It was IIRC really stupid because the “ruling class” had technology but didn’t control all of North America.

    So how were guns outlawed?

    Oh, it wasn’t that series were “electricity was magically turned off” but I can’t remember the series name.

      1. I *loved* Into the Badlands. It does have its own internal logic, and subverts it at the end… there’s at least the thought of a sequel series where guns return. Their tech seems to be run entirely by rote; very few now living understand how it works, so they cannot do new manufacturing in any large way. Each ‘baron’ rules as much as he can hold, and that’s kinda limited with the tech they have. Things are worse on the other side of the Wall. (Yes, there is one.)

        But as to the assorted implausibilities… they do enough wire-fu early on to indicate that there IS a sort of magic at work (this gets much stronger later on) and that supports the rest. But the real charm of the series was that despite all the horrors Sunny both perpetrates and goes through, he never loses his essential innocence. He remains someone you can root for, and fear for.

        The series is Chinese-style fantasy, and if you take it as such, it works. If you try to box it as purely post-apoc pseudo-history, or as Western fantasy, it won’t fit.

        1. YMMV applies. (Your Mileage May Vary). 😀

          On the “Chinese-style fantasy” aspect, I did think that I wouldn’t mind if it was marketed as such not “post-apoc”.

          Mind you I wonder if the creators wanted to do a Chinese-style fantasy but couldn’t sell it to the money-men as such.

          1. Well, and although I haven’t seen it yet (it’s on the to-watch list), I seem to recall it coming out just as Steampunk-popularity was peaking, and those costumes are straight up steampunk/wastelander. But they probably couldn’t sell it as steampunk either, but since Wastelander fashion bears a lot of resemblance to steampunk…they sold it as “post apoc” so they could do all the cool stuff they wanted in one thing. 😀

        2. > implausibilities

          I’m re-reading Heinlein’s “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” now. What hit me this time was that the entire premise of the story is ridiculous. The Lunar colonies are farming in tunnels. They’re producing enough to feed *billions* of people on Earth. Sidestepping a whole bunch of technical issues, there’s no explanation as to why, if tunnel tarming is such hot stuff, why they didn’t just do it on Earth, where air, water, nutrients, power, and transportation would be simpler and cheaper.

          I’d always followed the laser dot of the Revolution, without noticing the backstory made no sense at all.

          But there’s still a lot of $SHINY in the story, including things like this:

          “…the chronic sickness of representative government, the disgruntled minority which feels — correctly — that it has been disenfranchised.”

  11. Spittin’ tah thuh wind. *shoves another “clip” into my Glock. Deidre Forbush, the captain raises an eyebrow. I look at her, and say, “What, ‘sir’?” Suddenly, through the dark and stormy night, the racist radio snaps, crackles, and pops. It sounds like –fire — own — position. The captain shouts, “Didn’t copy. Repeat.”

    1. Splash. Over.
      (0341, over 20 years out and I still don’t use that word.)
      .
      The clip/mag thing is way overblown, though.
      A removable magazine is a specific type of clip. A thing that holds bullets together for ease of use.
      As long as you’re not mixing types (loading ammunition from stripper clips into a removable magazine, for example) and are clear about the weapon system you’re using, it’s not a big deal. The jagoff that pretends not to understand, is the same jagoff that would “innocently” hand you an M9 mag for your M16.
      (I remember when insisting on the distinction was to annoy Fudds. Now it turns out that irritating mall ninjas is much more fun.)

      1. The jagoff that pretends not to understand,

        …gets really pissy when you use it on him, ten minutes later, because he calls it a “clip,” too.

      2. While the military has always used “magazine” as far as I know, terminology for advertising and parts lists for civilian-market small arms used “clip” up through the 1970s at least. Including Colt, for civilian-market 1911s

        .

        1. When I picked up my 0933* OJT** while TAD*** in 1997, we freely referred to removable magazines as clips.
          .
          *MOS**** Combat Marksmanship Coach
          ** On the Job Training
          ***Traveling Around Drunk (or Temporary Assigned Duty, if you want to be official).
          ****Military Occupational Specialty AKA, in which slots the replaceable cog that is you, can be safely slotted.

  12. Probably the biggest one I had was The Dark Tower series where my suspension of disbelief was utterly shattered when Stephen King was introduced as a character, and it only got worse every time he was mentioned. For some reason, King seemed determined to bash into my head, “You aren’t in Mid-world trying to save the multiverse. You’re in your bedroom reading a book I wrote. Aren’t I clever?”

    The Reluctant Widow, by Georgette Heyer, was also pretty bad. First, the will that necessitated the hero’s plotting to marry the heroine to his cousin made no sense, something that even the characters acknowledged. Second, there was the fact that there was no way that the marriage that created the eponymous widow was legal, a fact that was apparent from the moment it happened. Finally, the hero marrying the heroine at the end really made no sense given everything that happened before: he didn’t want to inherit his cousin’s wealth by his cousin dying unmarried because people would say he had lead his cousin into a self-destructive life; getting his cousin to marry a complete stranger, leave all his money to her, and then marry the widow was a-okay. I read to the end, because I liked hanging out with the characters, but I spent most of the time thinking, “Seriously this is dumb.”

    1. I give the Reluctant Widow a pass because it’s so very silly and fun, and the author isn’t pretending otherwise. 😀 (Really, though, the whole book is worth it for the kid and the overenthusiastic guard dog.)

      As to the King, thing…I hate author self-insert. That’s one of the (several) reasons I finally walled the Dirk Pitt series as a whole. It was amusing when Clive Cussler turned up as some random background character and one actual character says to the other “Wait, do we know that guy from somewhere?” “Nah.”

      It became something else entirely when he’d turn up with a vital clue to advance the plot. That’s when the author needs to go back and work on their plotting skills…

      1. As to the King, thing…I hate author self-insert. That’s one of the (several) reasons I finally walled the Dirk Pitt series as a whole. It was amusing when Clive Cussler turned up as some random background character and one actual character says to the other “Wait, do we know that guy from somewhere?” “Nah.”

        That’s pretty much exactly how the King thing went in the Dark Tower. The Restaurant of the Mind Bookstore is serving, “Fresh-chilled Stephen King Directly from Maine”? Amusing. The characters find a copy of The Gunslinger and realize that Stephen King is telling their story? Disbelief-breaking. The idea that Stephen King is one of the pillars holding up the Dark Tower and a large chunk of the last book is dedicated to making sure that he doesn’t die in his car accident? I suspect the wall of my apartment at the time still has the dents in it.

        1. Ah. That is a little related to the thing that is probably one of the big turn offs for me.

          I don’t like it when the author brings their personal psychiatric or religious issues into the story.

          There was a Japanese light novel, something like Ichiban no Daimaou. Author starts to lose things during the last few volumes. Final volume? Not only is the author inserted as one of the long established characters, but the reader learns a bit too much about their personal trauma, and the psychological issues that had previously prevented work on finishing the project. Plus a bunch of religious stuff I didn’t follow.

          I don’t like when a story is written in a way that leaves me confused whether the author could tell the difference between reality and the story they write. When it leaves me with the feeling that they have tried to involve me in their own magical or religious ritual. When they have no boundaries, and insist that I must share in their warped thinking.

      2. I generally liked Asimov’s self inserts, mostly because he did it to make fun at himself.

        Paraphrased from one of the Black Widowers stories “You would think that an author with as many books published as him could pay for lunch once in a while!”

        1. Oh, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of self insert fiction over the years, or stuff written in the style of self insert that I am most used to.

          There’s a dividing line I don’t know how to describe. Daimaou was on the side I don’t care for. King sounds like it.

          The side I care for, there’s usually a distinction between the character of the author in the work, and the actual author of the work.

          There’s one example that is contrary that I appreciated. An author I’m strongly fond of has a self insert fic where the character at one point is reluctantly using the powers of the actual author. But during every other part of the story, the character has limited power and knowledge, and it is clear that the actual author hasn’t lost their mind to the point that it over rides artistic and narrative qualities.

          If the character and actual author are separate, then the actual author can make fun of or show the foibles of the author character. But the actual author has to understand that, it can’t be an issue where they’ve lost control of their sense of boundaries, and are just screwing with whoever is around.

          1. It sounds like the GM Divide.

            On one side, the Game Master thinks of himself as having the job of making this game really enjoyable.
            On the other side, the Game Master wants to win.

            1. If we acknowledge that on the far other side are GMs who want to win because they have screws loose, or because they think that orcs killed in game somehow alter reality.

              1. Bob, love, GMs are gamers.

                It’s strange if there isn’t a screw loose.

                (((how can I pass up a straightline like thaT?))

          2. I’m cool with a wink-wink-nod-nod-poking fun at myself self insert…but I haven’t seen many of those done well. It sounds like Asimov did–I haven’t really read him, his brand of scifi is not my cup of tea, but having your characters crack a joke about what a cheapskate you are is fantastic.

            All others I’ve encountered devolve into “I’m too lazy to come up with a good plot-out here, so I’ll just use myself to do it.”

            And admittedly, the one you’re referring to where the character gets author powers…ehhhhh. I suppose it depends on the overall story being told, but that sounds like I’d hate it, heh.

            1. Chaucer did a self-insert. And it was pretty funny. (It’s the Sir Thopas part, and the Tale of Melibee.) He basically portrays himself as Watson, before Watson.

            2. It was in his mystery stories. They are mostly armchair detective logic puzzles, but I like them.

              Way out of print, though.

              1. I think you can find the “Black Widowers” stories in e-format.

                1. He always saw himself as primarily a mystery writer.

                  Consider Little Lost Robot, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn, etc.

    2. A. Bertram Chandler did that kind of self-insert in one of his Grimes-of-the-Rim stories, and I nearly walled the magazine. I think it was supposed to be a dream-sequence brought on by a malfunctioning space-drive, but it screwed with my willing-suspension of disbelief big time. It poisoned the rest of the series for me, too.

      A century ago, writers like Burroughs and Haggard would be ‘themselves’ into the frame of the story to explain how such a fantastic tale came to be in print. That type of inserted faded away after WW-I, except for those authors and those consciously imitating them. Lin Carter carried this idea to its logical(?) conclusion by making the frame-author the protagonist of Lankar of Callisto.

  13. [Phantom frantically combing through 6 books for incorrect use of the word “repeat” on the radio…]

    Generally I get annoyed at SJW boilerplate regarding climate, genders, firearms, socialism, one world government and etc. So there’s not much I want to read lately at the book store. 😡

    Also I get annoyed at things like “semi-automatic revolvers”. I recall L. Neal Smith making fun of that in a story with the Dardick pistol, the world’s first (and only) semi-automatic, magazine fed revolver.

    I like it when people mount a pair of Metal Storm pods on their motorcycle to get that catastrophic zombie-shredding rate of fire. That would be super cool.

    I’m less impressed when they mount a claymore mine.

    1. Sort of defending that, there are some…special*… legal definitions that define “simi-automatic” as “fires as often as you pull the finger, until it runs out of ammo.”

      I only remember because it came up in some sort of a law that was being amended and they were really upset when folks pointed out that a classic .38 special would be defined as “simi-automatic”.

      It was something like the law already defined stuff as simi-automatic if you fired every time you pulled the trigger, without having to cock it, and they were trying to functionally outlaw “simi-automatic weapons,” and only lost when it was pointed out that century old revolvers would then be banned.

      * Insert your own creative spelling here. I can’t even call it a term of art. Maybe of artifice…..

      1. Sounds like something put together by an SJW lawyer who didn’t understand the term “self-loading pistol” as distinct from “revolver” or “multi-barrel weapon.”

        The Left is full of stupid/smart people who think outrage is all you need to get things done. And “simi-automatic” is perfectly in line with that.

          1. They didn’t think that deeply.
            They hung up on “goes bang when you pull the trigger, without magic gestures in-between shots”.
            .
            Heck, most of the plastic fantastics are DA. (And wouldn’t it be darkly hilarious for a poorly worded law to ban 1911s, but allow Glocks?)
            .
            But how annoying must it be to people not familiar with firearms that revolvers are a type of pistol, but the word pistol is normally used to distinguish an autoloader from a wheelgun?

          2. That’s because they don’t care about the details. None of that stuff matters to them.

            What they’re after is to ban firearms completely. That’s the goal.

            They know that’s not going to happen, so they seek to incrementally encumber the ownership of guns, until its too much trouble for a normal person to bother with. Canada is a perfect example of that. Its almost impossible to be in compliance here, mostly because they’ve written the law that way. Its vague, and therefore pliable in court.

            This genius “simi-automatic” thing is trying to get at banning -repeating- firearms as compared to single shot. If it can fire one shot after another, that’s Bad and they want it gone. Only police should have repeating firearms. Because!!!

            And then they want to ban police in the next breath.

            The one thing I’ve learned about the anti-gunners is that they’re not reasonable people. The difference between bolt action, lever action, semi-auto, full auto, pistol, rifle, they don’t care. You can have video evidence, statistics, eye witnesses, physical proof, they don’t care. Its like talking to a three year old about ice cream. They want what they want, and they’re going to throw a tantrum until they get it.

            But it is funny the number of hard-core anti-gunners saying they’ve switched sides, and they’re appalled, simply appalled at not being able to buy a gun and take it home from the store right now. Don’t these people know there’s a pandemic?!

            1. Hence my little .22 lever-action varmint gun is an “assault rifle” in California. Why? Because the defining limit is 10 rounds, and it holds 13.

              1. Pretty sure your 13 round mag is banned in Canada too.

                There’s a locksmith in New Brunswick who is now a banned assault weapon, and they banned the Black Rifle Coffee Company as well, plus a few web sites. As assault weapons of murder/death/kill.

                Because that’s what happens when lazy hipster SJWs make law by doing a google search and play cutty/pasty onto a Word document.

                1. they banned the Black Rifle Coffee Company

                  How does that even work? It’s (mostly) an Internet company. I’d bet they would be happy to send packages without a return address.

                  1. The Black Rifle Coffee Company is listed as a banned firearm in the Order In Council list released on May 1st by Trudeau and company.

                    It -isn’t- a rifle, obviously, but like the Barret locksmiths company of New Brunswick it appears on the list.

                    Therefore, under Canadian law it is a banned firearm and big penalties apply to owning it.

                    And no, they didn’t fix and re-release the list, that I know of. You would think that embarrassment alone would make them do that, but it seems they have no shame.

                    I’m waiting for Black Rifle Coffee Company and Barret Locksmiths to take them to court, that’ll be a giggle.

                    1. OK, that was juicy enough that I had to dig in and find out what the heck.

                      The “clarification” was even worse than “they banned a coffee company.”

                      The clarification– which came via the news guessing, not something crazy like “the lawmakers explaining it”– was that they didn’t ban coffee, they either banned a Blackwater attempt to avoid going out of business (it failed; planned to make 400, only put together “about 40”) or it’s something from a company that doesn’t appear to actually make weapons, but WAS kind of military related, who didn’t get back to the reporter before they went to press.

                      Ignore the headline, this is worse than banning coffee:
                      https://nationalpost.com/news/trudeaus-gun-ban-appeared-to-ban-some-coffee-a-website-and-a-toy-heres-why

                    2. I stopped paying attention after they released this thing on May Day, pretty much. That’s how seriously people are taking this thing around here. They way they did it, I don’t see it surviving a court challenge.

                      If it -does- survive a challenge then Canadians have a much bigger problem than a measly gun ban. Which we will probably handle by ignoring it, the same way we do everything else.

                  2. I swear they did a google search for “rifle” and just grabbed word matches.

      2. I am working on the assumption that Simi-automatic is not short for simian automatic. I find that concept sends my mind off on odd tangents.

        The problem is not that revolvers are semi-automatic, since they are. It is that by definition a revolver is neither single shot nor automatic. Thus it is necessarily a semi-automatic, and hence the phrase “semi-automatic revolver” is redundant in a way that anyone knowledgeable will avoid.

          1. I recall Mike Mignola saying that the most fun thing for him to draw, were monkeys with machine guns.
            They stopped frequently showing up, so presumedly the novelty wore off at some point. (And if he stilldid, it would probably be somehow “problematic”.)

            1. Many years ago in a biology class a friend of mine drew a picture as a visual mnemonic that showed an ape-like figure with a machine pistol in one hand and two pieces of poop in the other. For the rest of my life I will remember that the salivary glands are the Sub-Lingual (the ape), the Sub-Mandibular (the gun), and the parotid (“pair of turds”).

      3. By ATF definition, all double-action revolvers are semi-automatic.

        Which is correct, though the Magazine Experts tend to get their undergarments in a knot over it.

        Then there are the “only autoloaders are pistols” nidjits. Dozens of manufacturers of the devices would take issue with that, including Colt, who felt it necessary to note that their new automatic pistols were “automatic pistols”, as opposed to the more common “revolving pistols”, which they’d been making for, oh, quite a few decades…

        1. It must’ve been built on the ATF definition. That sounds like the kind of relatively simple but practically complicated situation they’d have come up.

          1. The ATF definition boils down to “If it goes bang once for every time you pull the trigger, without having to perform some action like cocking the hammer, working a bolt or lever, or pumping a slide, then it’s semi-automatic.”

            They were trying to differentiate self-loading weapons like the 1911, Browning A5 shotgun, or Garand rifle, from self-loading weapons like the Ma Deuce, M3, Thompson SMG, etc.

            Of course, being bureaucrats, they wound up with things like Gatling guns are *not* machine guns (even though the industry said they were) if they had hand cranks, but if you put a motor on it (like a Minigun) it suddenly becomes a machine gun… even though a Gatling doesn’t even *have* a trigger, and the Minigun at least has a fire button…

            The intersection of politics and engineering is often strange. (Look at some of those California-spec AR-15s for a good example!)

  14. I must admit, 2020 is seriously straining my disbelief. There’s this pandemic storyline that’s all over the place and Biden and Kanye are running for president and I literally can’t even anymore.

    1. Kanye is probably trolling, not actually running. There are filing deadlines in each state to come up with the signatures to get on the ballot. Different numbers of signatures for each state, but you can only get on so many ballots without spending a lot on organization. Write in is technically possible, but it is not a feasible route to a winning number of electoral votes.

      Biden isn’t formally the Democrat nominee until after the convention. If there is no one going for the nomination with the infighting to displace Biden, Democrat strategy this cycle makes no sense what so ever.

      And really, it makes perfect sense. It was about time for a remake of Old Yeller.

      1. Reminds me of a recent Presidential campaign when one candidate missed filing deadlines to get on the ballot in some states and another ran his campaign into bankruptcy. Never mind whether their ideology was correct; their chief executive credentials were…lacking.

  15. I’ve already posted this under the Tactical Romance article, but you might not see it on an old thread. I’ve written an action romance with a pair of reasonably competent protagonists. I’m not sure if it would qualify as a tactical romance, but you may enjoy it. It’s called Stealth Warriors by Dianne Carter (a pen name) and it’s available for free on Kindle Unlimited. You might want to take a look.

  16. Something that usually drives me nuts is when a story has some super-race, like in ‘X-men’ or ‘Brand New Animal’ who are completely physically superior to humans and have been around since at least Cro-Magnons were a going concern — and is hopelessly oppressed by the baseline humans, who do them Evil because Evil. Yeah,right. The heck with that. The super-race will either be running the show or working for the humans who do.

    I’ve got much the same problem with the Eeee-vil conspiracy that has been manipulating the hapless human saps since forever and is in control of everything from nations to network news to the neighborhood chess club, yet they stay in hiding for some odd reason.

    Also, when you have sapient nonhuman races existing openly, again like in ‘Brand New Animal’, for tens of thousands of years, yet absolutely nothing about human history or religion or society has changed. At all. I can understand WHY it was done in a 12-episode anime series but it still makes me grind my teeth.

    1. In some ways, I could accept the “secret masters” thing better than “we’re hiding from the evil humans” especially when the hiders are very powerful. IE Why are the Wizards in the Harry Potter world hiding from the muggles?

      1. Oh, there’s a lot of reasons. Possibly some superpowerful magical beings forced the wizards into hiding as punishment for something. Or they are really hiding from, oh, dragons. Or one Muggle once managed to get his hands on a powerful wishing magic and wished for them to go away.

      2. Maybe, save that in this particular example the ‘hidden masters’ are basically god-level in personal power, and in fact once WERE seen as gods in pre-Christian times. One of them wipes out an entire Byzantine army single-handed.

        1. OUCH!

          That would be interesting to explain away!

          Still, it’s possible that the “god-like” beings believe that they could “get away” with quiet control but openly playing gods would get them found by beings that either out-number them and/or more powerful than them. 😉

          1. It would indeed be interesting to get an explanation of it. Unfortunately we never do get one.

    2. Heck, I hit that same wall with any “there is an objectively different group that lives alongside vanilla humans, can interbreed, and they’re oppressed everywhere and always.”
      Oh, heck no. Even if they’re weaker, there will be SOMETHING that they’re better at– and there will be places that accept that and use it to make the whole group stronger.

      Also, when you have sapient nonhuman races existing openly, again like in ‘Brand New Animal’, for tens of thousands of years, yet absolutely nothing about human history or religion or society has changed. At all. I can understand WHY it was done in a 12-episode anime series but it still makes me grind my teeth.

      Ditto magic on, say, a Harry Potter scale. (room given for that series because the of story tropes)
      I can accept it in the handwaved “well they all went into hiding about the time when the Enlightenment made it kinda scary, and they weren’t that common in the first place, and it was just SAFER to hide once humans got strong enough, and they’re just coming out again now for ____ reason” type stories. But not when there have been, say, known cryptids the whole time in a scientifically objective way.
      There’s enough Stuff That Doesn’t Fit to scrunch in a lot of stuff with basic research.

      1. Well, to be fair, in a later episode of the show it’s stated or at least strongly implied that humans and Beastfolk can and have interbred, probably when the latter was in human form. And sometimes the two races/species/whatever lived together in harmony in some places. That is, until either humans or human-hating Beastfolk killed them all.

        1. *grumble grumble* Yeah, ‘cus that ever works, no matter how much one hates ones mother in law….

          There would have to be a MAJOR downside to being around them. At the very least, something like it being incredibly hard for the two groups to produce children– like a 1-100 fertility rate. That would at least justify the Harmony places having a lower number of people.

          1. Well, there is a rather big downside to being around the Beastfolk. In the show, with rare exceptions, they seem incapable of any morality more complex than ‘law of the jungle’. Violence is pretty much the only thing they respect.* Some aren’t like that and they’re the ones keeping what passes for their society working from day to day. Most of them, though? You’re talking the morals and ethics of a street gang.

            It also doesn’t help that if one of them gets stressed too much they go berserk and become uncontrollable savages, going literally berserk. It’s made worse when you have them in large communities (1000-2000 or more), and even more so when it’s a multi-species society. The different ‘species’, types of Beastfolk, get on each others’ nerves and everyone eventually goes into a murderous super-strong frenzy.

            However! Smaller communities, that live around or with humans, have that instinct dampened. Of course they still have their tempers and contempt for human society. And every now and then one of them rips someone’s head off in reflex. But at least you avoid the Werebeast Apocalypse reaction.

            * — Well, until the last 3-4 episodes when all of this is forgotten to do a ‘Prejudice! Evil!’ ending. They just tossed away all the background and story they’d done to that point to make the ‘correct’ ending; but until then they had some rather clever writing.

            1. The Middle East manages to rumble along, somehow….

              Yeah, the more details they add, the less likely that you’d do, or WANT, a huge all-the-beastfolk-together city.

              Contempt, of course, is stupid anyways. 🙂
              (Guys with a temper sometimes lose it and kill a dude right now, don’t see any camps for guys set up– not even for big, tough guys with a temper!)

      1. May I please know what the difference is, as far as the X-men go? I’m /assuming/ you mean that it tells us more about mutant paranoia and distrust than their human ‘enemies’, but you know what folks say about assuming.

          1. Thank you. That is a perfect description of what the comic became as well as why I loathed it.

    1. *wild applause*

      You nailed it perfectly – which, of course, you would, because you brought a subject matter expert’s brain to the script!

  17. WTF happened to the comment nesting? Finally we HAVE nesting, but it’s about four screens wide.

    1. WP Delenda etcetera. I’ve always seen strange nesting on this blog. Like Chinatown, like WordPress – if it makes sense, it ain’t WordPress.

  18. it’s about four screens wide.
    When I widen the window across two 16×9 monitors, I see a narrow white band with text down the middle and five times as much grey empty space taking up the rest of the screens. So much for “scalable”.

    On the other hand, I hear rumors of people who actually LIKE the PDF format that eats immense amounts of screen space with the oh-so-important margins. G*d forbid that I get a whole page of text vertically because that inch of whitespace at the top is CRITICAL to my formatting.

    Many people have not yet figured out that a screen is not a piece of paper – and even paper comes in various sizes.

  19. Well … speaking of authenticity here, and research … I am skulling out a WWII novel, told partly in epistolary form, between two cousins of about the same age; late teenagers in the 30ies when it begins. One character will be (eventually) a US Army nurse, sent to the European theater. I have plenty of reference materiel for that, and I am pretty well grounded as far as the US home front is concerned. But my other character – also American, will marry a Brit with connections to Australia and when the war kicks off, she will be one of the lucky ones evacuated safely at the last moment from Singapore. Once removed from immediate danger, she will stay with her husbands’ family in Australia, hoping to hear word from her husband. So – can anyone on this thread suggest some good general histories of the home front in Australia. Where would she live with her mother-in-law, how would she as a married woman with two children occupy herself. What city, what neighborhood? What kind of volunteer (or even paid work) would she be doing. I know there is at least one Australian at MGC. PM if you have any suggestions.

  20. I was thinking (dangerous I know) and thought of one book that I didn’t even purchase because I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

    “Joe Steel” by Harry Turtledove.

    Basically, Mr. Turtledove had the parents of “the man who become Joseph Stalin” move to the US before his birth.

    So their boy “grew up” to be “just like the Stalin of our history”.

    IE: His “genetics” made him evil which is not something I can really accept. (Of course, there’s a question of would he be “generically” the same as our history’s Stalin.)

    Of course, I read enough about Turtledove’s plot get an “OH COME ON NOW” reaction.

    The US of the 1920s-1930s was not like the Russia of the 1920s-1930s so IMO it is doubtful that a Joseph Stalin type would have anything like the level of success that Joseph Stalin had in Russia.

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