The Artillery Growth Spurt

I was looking through my old planning documents and noticed something very interesting. In a 1969 piece on conventional-only operations that was one of the first of its kind, the Soviet planners estimated their artillery could inflict a maximum of 20% enemy losses in the opening fire strike.

By 1974, just five years later, when their conventional balance was arguably at its height, it had grown to the more familiar OPFOR ratio of 30-40% in a similar document.

I’m thinking (pure idle speculation), various combinations of bigger guns, more mobile guns, more accurate guns, better shells (cluster warheads that make conventional SSMs more than just a nuisance are mentioned in the same document), and probably stuff I missed.

What I find extra-fascinating is that the Azeri’s Nagorno-Karabakh opening half-hour mega-strike apparently destroyed 40% of the Armenian artillery-which is in line with the previous estimates, especially if you take into account technical superiority and massive, massive advancements in smart weapons. (Also, though, for all that, the war still lasted a month and a half and claimed around Azeri 3,000 KIA by its own admission.)

Review: The Clinch

The Clinch

Nicole Disney’s The Clinch is a yuri (female/female) MMA romance. Boy, I never thought I’d be having one of those highlighted on Fuldapocalypse. Anyway, it works very well as both a romance (the main character Eden Bauer is very well developed) and as a mixed martial arts book (Disney is experienced in martial arts herself, and it shows.)

There are a few quibbles, all of which are still highly forgivable. In the book the UFC women’s featherweight division is big and prestigious. In real life it’s a tiny skeleton consisting of just Amanda Nunes and her next tomato can victim. There’s also characters having too much situational awareness in the middle of a fight, which is understandable for literary reasons but still comes across as a little forced and unrealistic.

Still, this is the best mixed martial arts novel I’ve read, romance or not.

Cats

I must admit I’ve always been more of a cat person. Me and my family have only had one dog in my life but have had no fewer than eight cats. The stereotype is that dogs are lovable companions, while cats are amoral parasites who have a purely transactional relationship with their human serfs.

This stereotype is often wrong, as I remember one of my cats with a full food bowl literally trying to rip her way through my bedroom door to be with me. I eventually let her in, don’t worry. Still, cats will make it very clear if their wants are not met.

Review: National Security

National Security

As something that’s very much a “51%” book, Marc Cameron’s National Security is hard to really review in depth. The first full-length Jericho Quinn (what a name!) book, it fits in the category of “light but fun.” In fact, it’s arguably a better example of the “The ultimate 51% book” than Marine Force One, my past go-to novel, was.

If one was to play a drinking game for cheap thriller cliches in this book, they would die of alcohol poisoning less than halfway through. Everything from the antagonists to the hero, to the way the hero’s operation is set up is there and very familiar to genre enthusiasts like myself. There’s even the weird weapons like silenced .22LR Glocks and air-launched Tomahawks. It’s dumb, it’s sometimes tasteless, and it’s the kind of book I love.

The Pom-Pom turned Bazooka

Having gotten the chance to read a lot of late-WWI and early interwar doctrine pieces, one thing struck me in particular. Not the focus on trench lines or the different communications with no radios, but the presence of “1 pounder guns” like this.

The 1-pounder was described as being meant to hit targets like machine gun nests and armored vehicles. It was almost always intended to be used for direct fire. In other words, it filled the same niche that far less clunky recoilless and rocket launchers did in World War II and beyond. I found that interesting.

(And, of course, the widespread use of light AA guns for ground attack means even the original concept hasn’t gone away. That the pom-pom was also one of the first effective AAA pieces means the connection is even greater).

A Thousand Words: BUSTAFELLOWS

BUSTAFELLOWS

So, it should be obvious that I’m not the target romance fiction aimed at women. But romance fiction that doubles as a crime thriller? Call me intrigued. So when I saw the Blerdy Otome Review of BUSTAFELLOWS (the official title is in ALL CAPS), I felt like I should check what’s still a crime thriller out. Hey, if an otome game took place in a conventional World War III, I’d look at it (I’d be seriously interested in how someone who came from the opposite background as most technothriller authors would handle it.)

Anyway, BUSTAFELLOWS takes place in the fictional NYC stand-in of New Sieg, where a reporter who can send her mind back in time and bodyjack someone in the past to change the present (the implications are addressed, and it’s portrayed as more limited and less powerful than it could theoretically be) gets involved with five possible love interests/vigilantes. While a visual novel doesn’t have much in the way of gameplay per se save for selecting choices, I have to say that this is one of those “PC version as a total afterthought” ports with a bizarre control scheme. Oh well. I got used to it, and the actual game ran fine.

The good news is that this is the rare “Romantic Suspense” that actually succeeds in balancing “Romance” and “Suspense”. The bad news is A: I think there’s a bit of culture clash that’s iffy but still bears little ill will (I’d expect the same from an American production that tried to tackle East Asian socio-political issues), and worse, B: The tone zigzags too much from “too serious” to “too goofy”. But these aren’t deal-breakers and I found it worth my money.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers. I’m thankful for…

  • Having vaccines against COVID-19, both for my own peace of mind and my older relatives. I love being able to live freely again. Being able to eat comfortably indoors and see my fellow vaccinated relatives is so great.
  • Having the inspiration and drive to write and publish my first full-length novel, The Sure Bet King. Besides having the pride in knowing I could make something 100,000 words long, I also feel like the book reflects the broadening of my horizons. That book’s biggest inspiration is not Larry Bond or John Hackett, but Sidney Sheldon, an old “pop-epic” writer who I didn’t even know about when I started the blog. Having Fuldapocalypse turn into a general review/commentary blog is one of the best creative decisions I’ve made, and this book was the fruit of it.
  • All the great books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, and games I’ve played this year. I’ve had a lot of fun.

Review: The Voroshilov Lectures

The Voroshilov Lectures

The Voroshilov Academy was/is one the most prominent Soviet/Russian military training centers of all time. In the late 1980s, a peek behind the curtain emerged. An Afghan officer named Ghulam Wardak attended the academy in the mid-1970s and carefully transcribed the courses. Wardak later fought with the mujaheddin and escaped to the United States, where staff from the US Army’s Soviet Army Studies Office eagerly edited and published his notes. Since its publication, the CIA’s FOIA reading room has declassified similar lectures and studies from there that support Wardak’s interpretation of them.

In three volumes (two on strategic and one on operational combat), the lectures go into detail about how to plan and execute a Soviet campaign in 197X. Most importantly, they occurred in a time period that finally allowed for the discussion and making of purely conventional plans. The lectures and planning do not take the naive belief that a Fuldapocalypse would stay conventional from start to finish, but they do view non-nuclear war as important. (Of course, with Soviet conventional superiority at the time, they’d have a vested interest to keep it non-nuclear as long as possible…)

Obviously much of these lectures need to be taken with a pile of salt. There’s obvious politically uh, slanted passages and some of the advance rates seem a little too optimistic. But these are nonetheless an invaluable resource for the wargamer and/or conventional World War III historian. As detailed Soviet primary sources, they excellently fill a previously blind spot in knowledge.

Review: Victoria

Victoria: A Novel of Fourth Generation War

Over the course of many years, theorist and commentator William S. Lind wrote a novel called Victoria. In the 2010s, he finally published it under the pen name “Thomas Hobbes.” When little doe-eyed me got the book, I thought “well, this sounds like a kooky bit of ‘Patriot Fiction’, but at least it’s got a renowned military commentator writing it. So the battles should be good.” What I actually got was a neoreactionary tribute to Old Prussia and a bitter axe grinding by a washed up charlatan who knew only the “ten of the last three financial crises” approach to critiquing military policy.

So the plot goes like this. Captain John [Mary] Rumford, of the USMC, cannot bear to hear a woman say “Iwo Jima” in a casualty remembrance ceremony because it was insulting to the dead (none of whom were woman). So he interrupts her, gets drummed out of the Corps, and meets William [Sue] Kraft. Then comes a frenetic pace as they cakewalk their traditionalist state to victory against one drooling opponent after another. The prose and pacing are actually decent-to-good, which makes the blows hit a lot harder.

However bad the politics (The book has African Americans “willingly” return to being happy farm workers, emphasizes the pure Spanish noble heritage of the only good Latina character, and has societal peer pressure stop the use of most Evil Modern Technology just to give two examples), what I found far more fascinating was just how bad the military aspect of it was. This was earnestly surprising to me at first. After reading more of Lind’s nonfiction writing, it wasn’t in hindsight.

I would sum it up this way: Lind can’t even do failure properly. The best example is this a scene involving the classic Briefing of Doom where Rumford falls asleep. Now the right way to do this would be to have it be badly done with a million terrible overproduced Powerpoint slides or something similar, leading an exhausted Rumford to, to his horror, doze off. Instead the actual subject matter of the briefing is treated as being at fault, with the narrator’s nap being a form of “and nothing of value was lost” contempt. What is the subject matter? Just minor, insignificant details like maps, roads, and local weather. You know, the kind of thing that an army, especially the wunderjager light infantry that Lind loves, doesn’t need to know.

In fact, this blind spot envelops the whole book in a way that’s actually a little funny when looked at. Rumford does not actually fight (the closest he comes in the entire book is having to draw his pistol when near the scene of a drive-by), and he doesn’t really command either. He just hovers around, jumps in from time to time, and gives advice. Almost like it was written by a civilian theorist who hovered around the military, jumped in from time to time, and gave advice.

I counted at least two arcs in the book where a light infantry sneak would have been genuinely effective. But Lind just did not want to write any actual battles. Just pointing at the scene, dispensing generalist advice (and/or coming up with a super-gimmick) and watching the stomp ensue. Lind makes Liddell-Hart look like Luigi Cadorna in comparison in both this and his nonfiction. Because of this, all of his potentially good points and legitimate critiques are squandered.

That Lind gets a lot of the fundamentals right just means the crazy is unfiltered. This book is both distinctive and a huge waste.