A Murder of Manatees by Larry Correia – A Science Fiction Book Review

As noted earlier, Larry Correia has published a second installment of his Tom Stranger stories (A Murder of Manatees: The Further Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent[Audiobook] By: Larry Correia, Adam Baldwin, Audible Studios Sold By: Audible).

I have to admit.  This is a guilty pleasure.  The stories, such as they are, border on the ridiculous.  The plot is just an excuse to allow Tom Stranger and his friends and enemies to interact in an adventure that resembles science fiction in the same way that the old 1960s Batman tv series resembles Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies.

But I don’t care.  It’s fun.  Correia fills his little two-hour audiobook with good natured jabs at himself, modern politics, culture and the conventions of pulp science fiction.  There’s never any doubt that Tom and his associates will provide quality, excellent customer service and that the bad guys will get their comeuppance.

And we can also be assured that Adam Baldwin will continue to find ways of voice portraying whatever ridiculous characters Larry invents, no matter whether it’s a bubble gum snapping android from the Jersey Shore or a hard-tweeting U.S. President on the battle field of the Mar-a-Lago golf course.  Having only previously known Adam Baldwin’s acting skills from Full Metal Jacket, Firefly and Chuck I wasn’t prepared for his wonderfully hammy touch to this kind of goofy material.  He absolutely makes the most of the story and its characters.

I just finished it today and I enjoyed every silly second of it.  Bravo Larry and bravo Adam.  I only wish there were more.  And what I really wish is that Hollywood would wake up and make the Monster Hunter saga into a movie series (either tv or big screen).  And I think Adam Baldwin would be a natural as Agent Franks.

But that’s a rant for another day.  Meanwhile if you like goofy tongue in cheek pulp sci-fi or you’re a fan of Larry Correia or Adam Baldwin then I highly recommend A Murder of Manatees.  You could think of plenty of worse ways to spend two hours.

For Any Fans of Larry Correia’s Tom Stranger Audibook He’s Come Out With Another.

Adam Baldwin (Firefly’s Jane Cobb and Chuck’s Colonel John Casey) narrates the continuing adventures of Tom Stranger, the most service oriented interdimensional insurance agent you’ll ever meet.   I’m a fan of Larry’s Monster Hunter series and I always like stuff that has Adam Baldwin in it.  And the fact that he’s right-wing guy doesn’t hurt either.

I haven’t listened this one yet but the first one was very entertaining, very funny.  And Adam does a very good job covering all the voices.  Of course I’d prefer if Baldwin could be playing one of Larry’s Monster Hunter characters (Agent Franks?) in a movie version.  But I’ll take what I can get.

So I don’t know if this second one would benefit from listening to the first one, first.  So I recommend getting them in order.

Tom Stranger 2: A Murder of Manatees AVAILABLE NOW!

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 4

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 3


Scene 1 – Bridge of the USS Ronald Reagan off the shore from Washington D.C., Thursday 1155 hours.  Present on the bridge are crew of the USSRR and President Trump (PT), General Adam Baldwin (GAD), Secretary Mattis (SM), Melania Trump (MT), Peter Thiel (PTh)

PT- General Baldwin, are we ready to implement the Musk protocol?

GAD – On your command, sir.

PT – Go!

(General Baldwin flips three switches on a panel on his desk console)

GAD – Cruise missile with explosive warhead will impact in twenty seconds.  Cruise missile with tantalum slug will impact 3 seconds after.  One megaton thermonuclear device is awaiting your command.

PT – Go!

(Baldwin flips a fourth switch)

GAD – Nuke will detonate in two minutes.  Flash guards are in place.  Prepare for turbulence.

(two minutes later the aircraft carrier is buffeted by a shock wave that knocks several of those standing to the floor)

PT – General, what is the status of the target?

(several service personnel cluster in front of an instrument panel attempting to restore the main console to life.  Slowly an image appears as the mushroom cloud clears away.  the ship remains in place)

GAD – Negative result.  The target remains.

PT – Mattis, where is Musk?

SM – As you anticipated, he escaped on his private aircraft shortly after your … erm … morale boosting speech.  His aircraft was admitted to the alien space ship a little while before the launch of your attack.

PT – What is the status of the space ship?

GAD – Radar shows the ship is in motion on a heading that will put it above us in five minutes.

PT – Put in a call to the “negotiations team”

(on the main console can be seen Obama, Gore and Musk seated and surrounded by several of the aliens.  the humans are all obviously pleased and quite relaxed)

BO – Well Donald, who could have imagined your presidency ending like this?  Elon said it was easy convincing you that tantalum was the answer.  Sorry it didn’t work out.

PT – So what does the future hold for you three?  Surely your new masters will dispose of you once they finish off the rest of our military.

EM – Far from it.  We have convinced them that we can provide information that will allow them to effectively harness a valuable natural resource, namely a large intelligent slave labor force.  Also, as it turns out, they like to eat meat.

PT – How delightful.  Thiel do your stuff.

Peter Thiel moves over to the main console and the screen splits between the image of the conspirators and a telephoto view of the approaching space craft.  Thiel presses several buttons and throws a switch.  The audio from inside the ship registers a high pitched squeal and the video from that half of the screen goes black.  At the same time on the other half of the screen the ship ceases forward motion and falls out of the sky like a stone.

PTh – Mr. President, the device has successfully disrupted their drive.

PT – General what is the current situation of the space ship?

GAD – Mr. President, the ship is falling at terminal velocity and will strike the Atlantic Ocean surface in a little over two minutes.

PT – Thiel, what do your bright boys think will happen when it hits.  Will the occupants survive?

PTh – Doubtful sir.  Without anti-gravity they will experience an instantaneous  stop from about 100 miles per hour.  And since the ship is not built to support its own weight against gravity it will fracture and sink to the bottom immediately.  Also the contact between the warp drive and sea water will be explosive.  Basically a total loss.

PT – Too bad.  I guess we’ll have to try to save one of the other ships when we take them down.

SM – But Mr. President, we can’t hope to gain admittance to a ship a second time.  They’ll immediately begin to destroy our cities.  And after the failure of the tantalum to disrupt their shield we are helpless to stop them.

PT – Yeah, about that.  Thiel, do the exposition.

PTh – Certainly Mr. President.  Elon was the only traitor on his team.  Tantalum does perform as he said it would.  But Mr Musk substituted another material for tantalum in the slugs he provided us.  Luckily the only other slugs he had were depleted uranium and the low-level radiation was detected and tipped us off to the deception.  When we figured out what was intended we switched Elon’s cell phone with one that would spray molten tantalum all around the control room of the alien spacecraft once triggered.

SM – So we can proceed to attack the other space ships with the tantalum sandwich approach.

PT – Yes.  Hey I like that phrase, tantalum sandwich.  Let’s say I thought it up.

SM – Sure …, …  sir.

PT – Good.  So, here’s the plan.  Get a team together at the Area 51 producing the tantalum tipped cruise missile payloads.  Work out a schedule for taking down the local ships but prioritize taking down the mother ship.  Get it to crash on the moon.  That’s our best hope of providing intact equipment to reverse engineer.  Thiel will tag along with the research team that Musk had and it will be his job to shepherd all this technology so it stays in American hands only.

GAD – But why weren’t they aware of how dangerous tantalum is to their systems and why didn’t they have counter measures?

PTh – The only thing we’ve thought of so far is that the star system these aliens came from did not have all the elements we have here on earth.  Tantalum is a fairly heavy element.  These elements are produced in fairly rare stellar events and they are not equally distributed around the cosmos.  I guess you could say it’s just blind luck.

PT – Alright, Carl Sagan, that’s enough.  Now get to work.

PTh – Yes Mr. President.  (under his breath) (what a jerk).

MT – Oh Schmoopy, you are the action hero.  Like Bruce Willis.

PT – But with better hair!

MT – Ahhh … …, sure.  But Schmoopy, how will we fix all the things the bad aliens have broken?

PT – Don’t worry Schmoopy, with the technology we’ll get from the aliens and my leadership we can make this a better and happier world.  As long as the democrats don’t screw it up again.

MT – So true Schmoopy, so true.  You are the wise man.

PT – And you are a wise woman for knowing it, Schmoopy.

PTh – Now I remember why I’m gay.

PT – Shaddap Thiel.

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 2

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 1


Scene 1: Bridge of the Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan positioned off shore from Washington DC.  Thursday 8AM EST.  In attendance Admiral Harmon (AH), officers and crew of the USSRR, President Trump (PT), Secretary Mattis (SM), Elon Musk (EM), General Adam Baldwin (GAD), Al Gore (AG), Hillary Clinton (HC), Barack Obama (BO)


PT – Okay Steve, we’ve got everyone here we’ll need.  Start the exposition.

SM – Mr. President, we’ll start with an update by General Baldwin on the current status of the ships above our cities.  Then Mr. Musk will review the status of his team’s scientific results.  Finally, former President Obama will speak as representative for the “Resistance,” whatever that means.

PT – Okay General, what can you tell us?

GAD – Mr. President, Gentlemen and Madame Secretary… (interrupted by Hillary)

HC – Stop right there you militaristic sexist Neanderthal.  It’s not Madame Secretary anymore it’s Mix Secretary.  Join the 21st century you deplorable despicable … (Trump interrupts)

PT – General, wait a second.  Admiral, have two seamen escort Hillary off the bridge and throw her over the side.

AH – Literally?

SM – Better hurry Harmon or you’ll be next.

AH – Yes, sir.

HC – You can’t do this!  I should be President!  I had more popular vote!  He’s not qualified!  He’s not the future, he’s the past… (voice receding into the distance as she’s dragged away).

PT – Barack, Al, any problems?

AG – Right there with you.

BO – She’s not who we are.

PT – Good.  Baldwin, continue.

GAD – As of this morning 0945 hours EST the three ships located over the continental United States have moved into position over New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.  Based on the decaying signal currently bouncing through our satellites we believe they will deploy their primary offensive weapons at 1200 hours EST.  Some cruise missile tests we performed earlier confirm that these ships are completely protected by a force field that protects them from all projectile weapons such as conventional explosives.  Unfortunately, we have also determined that this shield is effective against energy weapons such as lasers or even nuclear devices.  Essentially, nothing in the American military arsenal will have any effect on these ships.  The best we can do is hide our weapons assets to delay their destruction by the small fighter ships housed in the main vessels when they are unleashed.

PT – Sucks to be us.  Any comments?

AG – Mr. President, I suggest we send a negotiation team to the local ship here over D.C. and hammer out a deal to avert this looming catastrophe.  And because we are ideally suited to see all sides of a problem, that is why myself, President Obama, I mean former President Obama and Madame Secretary Clinton, I mean the assumed late Mix Secretary Clinton joined this meeting.  We feel that our well-known empathy for aliens of all sort will allow us to prevent this crisis from ending in bloodshed or the shedding of whatever vital fluid our extragalactic visitors possess.

PT – Wow, that’s a lot of corrections.  Does Gore speak for you on this Barry?

BO – I prefer to be addressed as Nobel Peace Prize Winning Light Worker Barack Hussein Obama, Donald.

PT – I’ll bet you do but you didn’t answer the question.

BO – Maybe not how I would have said it but essentially.

PT – Good, I want you two to contact the aliens and see what you can do before we let the bright boys loose on them.

AG – You aren’t going with us?

PT – Do I look crazy?  Look no one is forcing you to go there.  If I were you, I’d see if you can negotiate at a distance but if you enter that ship you only have until noon to broker some kind of truce.  After that we’re going to war.

BO – Don’t worry we’ll be finished well before that point.

PT – Good.  General Baldwin, have your flight crew outfit our ambassadors with flight suits and prepare them for their mission.

GAD – Yes sir.  This way gentlemen.  (Gore and Obama exit the bridge).

PT – Good.  Now that those two yahoos are out of earshot Musk, fill us in on what you’ve cooked up.

EM – Mr. President, my team has worked out the physics behind the shield device and we’ve developed a counter measure.

PT – You mean you can turn it off to allow us to attack?

EM – No.  Let me give you the specifics.  The shield works by absorbing the energy of anything that impinges on the ship being protected.  During the time the energy is being absorbed, the impacted area is opaque to the shield sensors.  The ship cannot detect a second attack occurring there for at least ten seconds.  During this time the shield is still immune to energy weapons even nukes because it’s still able to absorb energy but it is vulnerable to projectile weapons to the extent that material can reach the hull.  Now the hull is incredibly strong.  It’s literally 100 feet thick and made of hardened alloy, basically proof to projectiles of any type we could muster.  But if within that ten second we can hit this opaque spot with a projectile composed of tantalum we will form a coated spot on the hull that will block the action of the shield in that area.  We assume that after the initial energy has been absorbed the shield sensors will spot the dead spot on the hull and repair systems will scrape the tantalum away rather quickly.  We approximate the time to remove the tantalum as fifteen minutes.  But during that time, we have a spot on the hull that will succumb to a nuclear blast.  So, the sequence needed is:

  • Time Zero – Initial high explosives detonation
  • 1 – 9 seconds – Tantalum projectile impact
  • 1 minute – 10 minutes – 1 megaton thermonuclear device

Any questions?

PT – Yeah, Poindexter.  Is tantalum something you made up like unobtainium or does it exist.

EM – No Mr. President. It’s a relatively common material.  There’s probably a good amount of it in your cell phone in the form of a capacitor.  It’s a refractory metal with a high melting point and chemical corrosion resistance that resembles that of glass.

PT – Yes we’re all really happy about the wonderful qualities of tantalum but what I want to know is if you’ve got any we can shoot at ET today?

EM – What kind of wunderkind would I be if I didn’t?

PT – Oh Lord give me strength.  Fine, just provide the Air Force with the details of how to incorporate your tantalum slug into our cruise missiles.  And make sure the programming of the sequence is perfect on this first one or all of us are going to wish we were somewhere else really soon after.  And hurry we have about an hour.  Mattis, has the negotiating team been blown up yet?

SM – No sir.  Their helicopter was permitted entry into the ship.

PT – Were any service member aboard?

SM – No sir.  It was remotely piloted.  We kind of like our people to live.

PT – Oh good.  Any communication back from Gore and Obama?

SM – None sir.

PT – Alright forget ‘em. We’re out of time.  Admiral, if you’ve got a chaplain that carries a King James Version have him meet me on the top deck.

AH – Yes Mr. President.




Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 3

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 1

Scene 1: NORAD Base in Alaska, 02:30 Hours PST, Wednesday

General Adam Baldwin (GAD) – Alright Airman, this better be good. I was dreaming of my tarpon fishing trip in Florida when you woke me up so what’s so important?

Airman Jones (AJ) – Sir we’ve detected an enormous UFO in high earth orbit. Dozens of smaller objects are separating from the main body and moving in a coordinated fashion toward earth. Each object is about 10 miles in length and travelling at 5 miles per second but decelerating as they approach the atmosphere.

GAD – Great Caesar’s Ghost! They’ll reach us in just hours! Put in a call to the Secretary of Defense. The President will have to hear of this immediately.

AJ – Yes, sir, I’ve got a line to his office waiting for you.

GAD – Good work Jones. Wake up the morning shift duty officer. You’re gonna need more hands. My orders.

AJ – Yes sir.


Scene 2: White House West Wing, 6 AM EST, Wednesday, Secretary Mattis is speaking to Vice President Pence outside the Oval Office. President Trump can be heard calling from inside.

President Trump (PT) – Mike, Mad Dog, get the hell in here. CNN is showing some really lousy video of space invaders and I think Wolf Blitzer just soiled himself. It’s beyond pathetic.

Vice President Pence (VPP) – (entering the room) Mr. President, if we can get beyond the unfortunate security leak, we have enormous decisions to make in a very short time.

PT – Yeah, I’ve already gotten a lot of it done. I tweeted to everyone in New York, Los Angeles and Washington to get out of town right away. That should buy us a day to get this mess cleaned up.

Secretary Mattis (SM) – Well done Mr. President. Might I suggest we take the opportunity to order all non-military federal workers to remain at their desks for the duration of the firestorm, I mean initial contact.

PT – Yeah, I did that too. Never waste a good crisis.

VPP – Mr. President, that’s monstrous!

PT – Not at all. It’s completely voluntary. I just told them that they’ll be earning triple time rates and mocha lattes would be free for the duration. Anyone who stays is too hopeless to care about anyway.

VPP – I think I’m in the wrong movie.

PT – Don’t worry, if I remember correctly you and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are killed when NORAD is obliterated tomorrow.

SM – Sucks to be you Pence.

VPP – You don’t know the half of it Mad Dog. But this sounds like a dream post so I’ll take my chances with NORAD.

PT – Whatever Mike. Just follow orders and I won’t have to send you up in the stupid flashing lights negotiations helicopter.

VPP – Yes Mr. President, enjoy your dream sequence. (leaves office and scene)

PT – Jim, I’m gonna skip that whole sequence where we send all our pilots to a horrible meaningless death against space ships protected by force fields.

SM – I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear it Mr. President but what will you do instead?

PT – I’ve got a little surprise cooked up for the homely buggers. What I need you to do is make sure the cruise missle fleet is ready to be targeted on a moment’s notice.

SM – That is easily arranged. But I hope you make it quick Mr. President, these guys are loaded for bear.

PT – Relax, compared to Hillary, these guys are the Three Stooges.


Scene 3 – Oval Office, Same Day, 9 AM, President Trump at the desk on the phone

PT – Look Thiel, I don’t care if you and Musk aren’t talking. I need you to get him and his geek squad on a telecon with me at noon your time. That’s right. And any other braniacs you know who can help me kick ET’s butt. Don’t worry the government won’t steal any patents in fact you guys are welcome to anything we come up with to solve this problem. Just hurry.
(hangs up the phone and gets on an intercom)

PT – General, get everyone out of the White House and onto Marine 1 immediately, except for that vegan pastry chef that Mrs. Trump hired. Tell her to work overtime and prepare something special for this evening. Yeah, exactly, a big surprise.


Scene 4 – Nevada, Area 51 Same Day, Noon PST, Clean Room Laboratory with large teleconferencing screen set up.

PT – Thiel, I wanna thank you for assembling this impressive bunch of brilliant but socially awkward science weirdos. Gentlemen your country welcomes you.
(various coughs, grunts and nasally sounding exclamations emanate from the A-V equipment)

Peter Thiel – President Trump, we’re all curious to know what needs to be done to save the Earth from this threat.

PT – It’s very simple. I need you dweebs to provide me with a heretofore theoretically impossible laser weapon powerful enough to punch through the impenetrable force fields of our super-intelligent but horribly smelly enemies out there. Oh, and I need it by tomorrow at 10 AM EST.

Elon Musk (EM) – But that’s ridiculous!

PT – Ridiculous like expecting to save energy by building electric cars that are charged off electrical grids that waste 40% of the energy in transmission losses? That kind of ridiculous?

EM – I get your point. We’ll have the weapon by 8 AM.

PT – Good, now go take your amphetamines and get to work you strange little spider monkeys. Trump out.
(the screens fade to black)

SM – What now Mr. President? Do you want to reach out to the mayors and coordinate humanitarian aid?

PT – Nah, the evacuation is strictly a precaution, the less efficient it is the less we’ll have to undo afterward. Besides most of those guys are commie jerks who hate my guts. Let them stew a little. It’ll do ‘em good. I’ve got a golf game scheduled in about an hour. I’ll see you in the morning.



Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 2

What is The Trumpocalypse Missing?

I have to assume that from now until at least when Mike Pence inherits the presidency in 2025 there will be at least three crises every week in the Trump Administration. I’m not sure if guys like Bannon are under contract to break out into nuttiness or if it’s just the Call of Cthulhu.
And it used to make me fret. But I’ve long since cut the break cables and learned to enjoy the dizzying corkscrew plunge down the Trump Magical Mystery Hairpin Extravaganza. It truly is the “Greatest Show on Earth.” But this is a slow news week (sort of) so I decided to amuse myself by imagining what is crazier than what is actually unfolding in D.C. every day. What’s missing?
Well, the only thing missing is space invaders like the ones in Independence Day. I mean, why not? Sure, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum won’t help out Trump but he can get Adam Baldwin and then maybe add on Vince Vaughn. And Trump would be a much better President than Bill Pullman. First off, Trump really is President! Secondly, he wouldn’t be all whiney about using nukes. Why, just this week he was bragging that his nuclear button was bigger than North Korea’s button. So nuking aliens, no problemo. And finally, if a captured alien broke loose and killed our scientists Trump would not be trying to placate it into being our friend. He would very wisely tell Adam Baldwin to shoot it full of holes. Then he would send it back to the aliens in a big bottle of formaldehyde as a warning. Now that’s the way the movie should have gone. And another thing, Melania would be a much better First Lady than the one in Independence Day. If Donald tells her to get out of Los Angeles she won’t hang around and get caught up in the firestorm. In fact, she’ll probably be at home taking care of her young child like a good mother should.
Is there any doubt that Mad Dog Mattis would be a better Secretary of Defense than that loser in the movie? So, the biggest problem is Area 51. I’m guessing if there really were a secret alien spacecraft in Nevada then Obama must have handed it over to the Iranians as part of his surrender treaty. So, we’d have to start from scratch on counterattacking with their own spacecraft. Now Data from Star Trek, TNG wouldn’t be a conservative. Possibly we can get Shatner. He’s a Canadian but I think he’ll take any part he gets paid for. So, it actually makes sense to encourage the President to lure space invaders to Earth. Defeating them will encourage a camaraderie among surviving Americans. Also, let’s face it, only the Americans and possibly the Russians have an air force that would actually defeat space aliens. All those other countries would be essentially wiped out. And as sad as this would be, it would definitely have a positive effect on the American economy.
And finally, if New York, Los Angeles and Washington were essentially wiped out, followed by San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, then after the invasion was over it seems possible that California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland might become red states. Now that really would be science fiction (or fantasy).

Cowboy Bebop – A Sci-Fi TV Review – Part 3

I have now finished off all the Cowboy Bebop (CB) available as DVDs on Netflix (Discs 4 and 6 are permanently unavailable).  This includes the 2-hour movie which I watched last night.  And I think that’s sufficient to allow me to make a definitive judgement on the series vis-à-vis my taste.

It’s good.

It has some weaknesses from my point of view.  There is a silliness that can be annoying for me.  The crazy adolescent girl Edward can be a bit much.  Some of the episodes are pretty thin on plot.  And some of the space battle scenes seem (not surprisingly) cartoonish.  I think most of this can be chalked up to the standard cartoon sci-fi conventions.  Things are simplified and standardized to allow economic production of the animation product.  And to be fair, since I have never been a comic book or movie consumer, I’m not their primary audience.  To an anime consume, CB is probably well to the right side of the standard deviation curve with respect to production values, plot and characterization.

I like the quality of the animation especially the scenes in outer space.  Some of it is strikingly well done.  I liked the scenario of independent contractors moving in and out of the legitimate world acting as bounty hunters while they themselves are not without a certain air of criminality.  And obviously here are the similarities with Firefly.  After viewing the majority of CB I’ll state that I’m convinced that Whedon borrowed heavily from it when making Firefly.  But I’m sure CB borrowed from earlier anime for some of its ideas so I don’t think it’s a big deal.  But I will say that at this point I’d much prefer a big screen (or big budget tv) version of CB were made rather than of Firefly.  Whedon is such an SJW that he’d probably have Serenity going back in time just to battle Donald Trump.   My only hedge on having CB instead of Firefly is that is I’d like to see Jet Black played by Adam Baldwin.  He would be damn near perfect for the part.

Anyway, I would say that the CB movie demonstrates how a longer treatment of the material improves it.  More characterization shows through and there is more scope for interesting story telling.  Also, the animation of the city in the movie was extremely well done.  It looked like whole sections of New York City were digitized to make the action possible in the chase scenes.  And speaking of the chase scenes, one of the flying chases was a little too long.  Although intricate and well laid out it eventually started to drag on.  The fight scenes between the protagonist Spike and his nemesis were very good and enjoyable.  Most of the minor characters were fairly well utilized.  Surprisingly, the seemingly superfluous presence of the welsh corgi dog on the space ship actually felt like a positive addition to me.  But maybe I just like dogs.

So, bottom line, Cowboy Bebop is good sci-fi anime.  If you don’t particularly like anime you still might enjoy it.  It has piqued my interest in the genre enough that I’m going to give another anime movie (Ghosts in the Shell 2.0) a look-see and find out if this was just a one off or not.

See you Space Cowboy!

A Paean to Agent Franks

Q: What is one of the great pleasures of the reading world?

A: An interesting villain.

One of the examples that comes to mind is Hannibal Lecter. Here is a man who indulges in murder, torture and cannibalism and yet is inarguably the most interesting character in the several books he appears in. Granted, he’s not really a sympathetic character, but he is the center of attention. I think part of what distinguishes the interesting villain from the garden variety is consistency. So the interesting villain doesn’t follow society’s rules but he does follow his own rules. Discovering and acknowledging the constancy of the villain to these rules is part of the enjoyment of the character. You see the payoff coming or some plot twist prevents it. Each occasion reinforces the pattern and adds to the fun.

Closely allied to this type is the anti-hero. He rescues you from a serial killer but then kicks you in the balls for making him miss his coffee break. He saves a bus full of nuns from falling off a cliff but then relieves himself on the bus tire in full view of the thankful occupants. Here the enjoyment comes from the juxtaposition of thrilling exploits and amazing skill along side of boorish behavior and callous disregard. Perhaps a more descriptive title is the Heroic Jerk.

For anyone familiar with Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series of books I think the character I would immediately associate with the anti-hero is Agent Franks. He carries out all assignments issued to him by the Monster Control Bureau (MCB) no matter how brutal and regardless of the impact on innocent bystanders. His almost complete indifference to human considerations of any kind is sort of his hallmark. Along with this is his almost complete lack of interpersonal skills. The closest he ever comes to tact is silence. Usually his version of conversation is an order prefaced by an insult and followed up almost immediately with a threat or an assault. Good times, good times.

The flipside to this is his willingness to fight evil no matter the odds and no matter the risk to himself. His underlying motivation is to fulfill his oath to destroy humanity’s supernatural foes (regardless of how many innocent bystanders must be coincidentally slaughtered to achieve that noble goal).

Starting out as a small recurring part in the first couple of Monster Hunter books Franks gains much greater importance in one of the later books and becomes pivotal to the underlying story line. But I find his curmudgeonly heroism endlessly entertaining. So much so, that I have decided to make it my life’s work to convince a major motion picture studio to bring the Monster Hunter world to the big screen, and most importantly, to cast Adam Baldwin as Agent Franks. I base this casting decision on Mr. Baldwin’s very similar character of Col. John Casey of the NSA (in the tv series Chuck). This was also a man of few words who would sacrifice himself (and anyone around him) in order to fulfill his mission. The aptness of this casting is I believe self-evident.

So all hail to the Anti-Hero. All hail the Heroic Jerk.

Larry Correia and Adam Baldwin Together at Last

This week I had the chance to listen to the audio file of Larry Correia’s “The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent.” Adam Baldwin was the narrator and I thoroughly enjoyed the two hours it lasted. Now granted that combining the inside jokes about Larry, Adam, Firefly and the Obama administration and the spirited recital provided by Baldwin was great fun but it seemed strange how happy I was over this very minor comic tale. It seemed excessive.

So I considered the source of all this positivity.

As a general rule I’ve always contended that any show is improved by adding Adam Baldwin to it. And this was no exception. But Tom Stranger was no Jane Cobb. And without a doubt I’m quite a fan of Larry Correia’s work but this little work is a mere slip of a story.  So even though Tom’s adventure is very fine and plain good fun why did I like it so incredibly much?

It’s simple. It’s because of what the story represents. It’s the potential of a Monster Hunter movie with Adam Baldwin as a main character. Imagining a big budget fantasy movie written by and acted in by conservatives is almost too much to imagine. But that’s what makes it so exciting. Finally something good all the way around. No sucker punches. No hippies. No social justice.

So even though it’s just a pipe dream it colors the experience of this little work and makes it something more. Here’s to better days and bigger and better things.