I'll admit right now, this is a rant. It's been a long time coming, this is just too painful to ignore. Long Intro I don't normally don't do reviews unless what I read is very good or very bad - this is no exception. I have often wondered, as I cruise the SF isles at any given book store, whether or not something may be wrong with me. Nothing on the shelves seems very tempting, in fact it seems somewhat offensive. From the cover art to the plot descriptions, the products seems vacuous and lacking. More and more I find that the only titles appealing to me are the classics or titles written by classic authors. Unfortunately, many of them are dead and often have been for decades. Baen books, I'll go ahead and paint a bullseye on my back now - and I don't care if I get blacklisted by them because I'm saying write now I will NEVER submit to them and I have about zero temptation to but from them. I am ashamed to admit that I have bought Baen books, but only because they own the rights to material from some of my beloved and deceased authors like Keith Laumer. So Baen is publishing shovel fulls of cheap juvenile drivel and calling it SF. Even worse, it appears that some of their writers have extreme right wing conservative biases and it shows up in their writing from time to time. And knowing that Baen books is selling these turd trophies like hot cakes is really telling and disturbing because it means that SF readership has regressed back to pre-golden age era pulp fiction crap. This new age of defeatist post-modernist SF is remarkably dark, cynical, and pessimistic. Military SF sells like cyberpunk sold in the 80s, with none of the intelligent and thoughtful, suave (if deliciously noir) juxtapositions with 80s technological horizons and political concerns. This new SF is quite literally paper thin, with simple and boring characters killing simple and boring aliens in battles that are a headache to read through because, well, they're poorly written. Whatever happened to the days of the sometimes charmingly if preachy morally upright characters who defend ideals and kill only if needed? And then afterwards reflect solemnly, learning important lessons? Well, in the days of Bush JRs wars of terror, the characters are non-grokking, hyperviolent, airhead jarheads who kill without compunction for bubble gum governments over ideals that are not even tangentially addressed. The Meat If I wanted to do all the research I could compile a list of steaming crap thats being mass produced by Baen, but not today. I just had to concentrate on three major offenders as far as I'm concerned, all "bestsellers", althouth the word best is highly subjective and given content a dubious accolade. All this crap got started because as I said, I'm a Keith Laumer fan. Look him up, he's no Heinlein or Clarke but damn it I love his stories and his style, but the man is dead. He had fans in his day up until now, but since he's dead Baen is filling in a niche, rather shamelessly. Laumer created a Bolo series, about huge cyborg tanks - cool stuff. Often the stories were entertaining, even kind of cute, with strong charcters with strong convictions and---hope in the face of overwhelming odds! The very stuff of epic sagas and legend, right? Corny, sappy, jevenile, I know-but entertaining and at least well written for Krishna's sake. Let's see how Baen royally f's this up... The Best of the Bolos: their finest hour - I bouth this, it's from Baen David Weber - I actually don't care much for him, I've tried several times to read the Honor Harrington books, the series that made him a god to legions of glassy eyed sycophants, but I cant manage it - as far as I can tell he's a poor writer. Now, if you are a writer, you should know how to write or be working on ways of improving that. Well, twenty something books later in this series alone - its physically painful trying to get past the first page because its so bad. He begins with an info dump, this continues for pages. Even when a scene begins with MCs, a perfect opportunity for dialogue, he STILL info dumps, Arrrgggh! He is caught up with the obsession for details, but his details are mundane, pedestrian, readers digest, airport shooping store paper back quality - sheesh. Anyway, I was surprised to read from the intro of "The best", which was written by Weber, that he actually DOES know how to write. He wrote concisely, descriptively, passionately, about the Bolo series and Laumer - about why is does so well and why it appeals to people. What's the deal, he only writes well when it's non-fiction? I'm suspecting a ghost writer here folks >_> It's like a Bible author dropping anachronistic hellenistic words - there is a hint here of some subtle phantome hand--- I decided to give him another try, what the hell, he wrote 3 stories in the collection! Sheesh, prolific bastard. A Time To Kill by Weber, a Bolo story set in---I'm not even certain, and that's why Weber sucks. He has an entire prologue dedicated to telling a backstory but its a droning on about nothing. Some would say I need to have a firmer background in the Boloverse or Weber's counterfeit version of it. I say Weber needs to learn how to write. "It was called Case Ragnarok, and it was insane. Yet in a time when madness had the galaxy by the throat, it was also inevitable" Is how the prologue starts, actually not half bad, but then the prologue drones on and on and on---essentially humans no like aliens, aliens no like humans---war. It takes him about 5 pages to get this out. The reason makes no sense, from what I can tell, the aliens did not want to trade with humans, or something - it's really not clear and it's not meant to be. These Baen writers must be xenophobes because the aliens are always "others" there to be killed by the dozens by our *heroic* humans. Whatever happened to the days of friendly aliens? I ahd to stop reading the story at page not because it was a gutter of dead pan lameness and hyperviolence (it was), but because the writer made me read and try to sympathize with the MC *hero* committing large scale atrocities. After they destroy an entire city, killing without disgression--- "---we see the Melconian mothers and pups fleeing---they are not combatants, but---hyper-velocity flechettes scream through mothers and their young, impacts exploding in sprays of blood and tissue, and then---" :O dear god, it goes on - he then tells us how the artillery bombards the area - I guess to turn ribbons of flesh into a fine paste - this is disgusting. It's almost as bad as reading the atrocities in the Bible, but at least the people in then were in the Bronze age, not the cocky-doddy future! We should be MORE civilized by then! I stopped at that point, this makes me sick. Is there any kind of post ad hoc justification, thoughtful reflection, or subconcious battle of conscience? No, the battle just continues as if they were sowing seeds in a freaking garden. I had to vommit a little bit in my mouth, I have more to write, but I need to stop now to meditate or something. Weber makes me hate humanity the way Baen makes me hate *trendy* SF. Discuss amongst yourselves, I'm gonna get a Chai tea and a massage.