500 Post Special: On Criticism

Fuldapocalypse has reached five hundred posts. To mark the occasion, I figured I’d do a post on something that was the reason this blog even exists at all-criticism. Here goes.

  • Critics have the right to be as sneery and abrasive as they want in their reviews. As a writer, I’ve found valid points which I’ve incorporated from harsh, bad-faith reviews. The signal can be separated from the noise. Even as a reader, one of my favorite authors I found from a harshly negative review.
  • Writers have the right to ignore criticism they consider invalid. If you’re writing a literary romance and someone complains that the book doesn’t have enough explosions in it, you know that’s not what you’re writing.
  • However, both should ideally hold themselves to a higher standard.
  • Some works of fiction lend themselves more easily to criticism than others. This is why I have such a big insistence on creative control over what I review here. I don’t want this to become a chore, and knew that if reviewing was mandatory, it’d lose its quality.
  • The ideal work to review is something that’s flawed in an interesting way. Something flawed in an uninteresting way is arguably the worst type of fiction to review.
  • Perspective matters. My absolute favorite Bill James essay of all time, Inside Out Perspective, is a beauty. The difference between inside and outside is the difference between getting angry at one repetitive World War III timeline after another that you don’t see much direct criticism of on its website, and realizing that there are more action hero thrillers released in one month than there are conventional World War III stories overall-even with the most slanted accounting.
  • Basically, from the inside, you see things as being bigger than they actually are.
  • I’ve said repeatedly-being a critic has not made me a better writer in my eyes, but being a writer has made me a much better critic. Me the writer has written things in my books that me the critic would denounce if done by someone else.
  • Remember: Sample size matters. A lot.
  • Fuldapocalypse has been eye-opening, enlightening, and a lot of fun.

Gulf War Anniversary

On the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War, I have these things to say.

  • The question of how successful the Iraqis could have been if they’d attacked into Saudi Arabia during the earlier part of Desert Shield is an open and disputed one. Even after the historical war, American commanders had different opinions.
  • While I believe it played a role in the decline of the technothriller, I don’t want to overstate it. According to the analysis of bestseller charts by Nader Elhefnawy, the technothriller was already on its way down significantly in 1990. My opinion is that it wasn’t the one-sided nature of the war so much as how it made high technology weapons look routine and normal.
  • Another part of this belief is that “big war thrillers” both continued to be published post-1991 (Cauldron, The Sixth Battle, etc…), and that they were always very rare to begin with.
  • Of course, I don’t think the Gulf War helped the technothriller either.
  • The very first time I used the word “Fuldapocalypse” was in a message board post on the Gulf War, where I mentioned the Americans were “revved up for a Fuldapocalypse“. It turned out to inspire the name of this blog.

Fuldapocalypse Second Anniversary

Today is the second anniversary of Fuldapocalypse’s first post. It’s been a great experience, even as it’s long since outgrown its original goal. An inherently diverse blog is a lot easier to write for than an inherently restrictive one.

Sometimes I wonder just how far I could have gone if I’d stayed with my original goal and just pressed on reading and narrowly analyzing as many conventional World War III tales as I could handle. But that would have been far more forced and far less pleasant than what the blog ended up becoming.

A Happy Fuldapocalyptic Birthday

It has now been a full year since I made the introductory post on this blog. Looking back at it, well, I think this line hasn’t aged well at all-and thankfully so.

“The lines will be a little blurry, but stuff like special forces or otherwise [sic] irregular thrillers probably won’t make the cut.”

I’ve said this many times before, but broadening the scope of this blog has been great for it and great for me. It’s even had a salutary effect on the nominal subject-because I’ve been reading so many other non-WW3/”big picture war” stories, when I do read them, I can look at them in a proper context I didn’t feel I had when the blog started. Not feeling any burnout at all also helps. So, happy birthday, Fuldapocalypse. You’ve earned it.