Along with “Spacesuit Commando”, one of my derogatory terms I use is “shoot the terrorist”, and its 70s counterpart, “shoot the mobster”. Now, like with “spacesuit commando”, I’ll admit it’s a nebulous term that I use when I feel like it. And there are plenty of books with a formulaic setup but good execution.
That being said, If I had to make a checklist of the usual elements of a book I consider “shoot the ____”…
- The book doesn’t have the best execution (no pun intended).
- The book has a trendy enemy (terrorists! mobsters!) as its antagonist, and one not done particularly well.
- The MacGuffin is something dull and mundane like a nuclear bomb and/or poison gas-if that.
- The book is too out-there to be truly realistic but too sedate to be truly out-there, in prose and action.
- The book just doesn’t feel lively.