The Last Ship, Episode 6 – “Lockdown” Review

Eric Dane, you magnificent bastard, this episode is all yours and you owned it.  Nice job, Cap’n Crunches!

In what I believe is the second ship-centric episode with the NATHAN JAMES all alone in the big blue, “Lockdown” succeeds in all its major plot and character points, where the previous “bottle” episode “We’ll Get There” failed completely.  A number of threads begun in previous eps come to fruition here, as well as a part of something I had been anticipating for several shows now.

Plot Summary:  (I’m actually on-time this week, so if you are a West Coaster or you live in Hawaii, you may wanna skip this section until it airs in your time-zone)  This episode opens immediately after our boat crew’s return to the destroyer.  They all get decontaminated and have to deal with the issue of their condition after tangling with El Toro in the last episode.  The XO and CMC advise Captain Chandler to keep the details of what happened ashore as they obtained their test-monkeys on a need to know basis.  Ole Tom likes to play it straight, however, so he not only tells the crew about the battle ashore, he tells them about encountering the infected villagers.  And then he goes overconfident and he paints their mission in rosier terms than he needs to, saying that with the monkeys for testing, they are only days away from a working vaccine and they are all headed home!

Of course, reality is somewhat less optimistic.  While Sexy LT 1 (Danny) deals with his relationship to Sexy LT 2 (Kara) and friendly jabs from Tex, and the crew continues to monitor ever-more depressing distress call, Dr. Rachel Scott kills a passel of monkeys as her vaccine strikes out over, and over, and over again.  As she starts to run out of monkeys to test upon, the CO and XO consider that they may have to turn the ship around and return to Nicaragua for more of the little simians, thus violating his promise to the crew, Quincy plants the seeds of doubt and mutiny, telling Petty Officer Bacon (quite truthfully) that the CO is hiding the truth from them and that the vaccine might be a failure.  And into this steadily more intense environment of mistrust and worry comes the titular lockdown, as Danny collapses with fever, bleeding at the mouth.

Everybody freaks, certain that either the dead monkeys have infected them, or the crew carried the virus back despite Dr. Scott’s tests, or something else.  Dr. Scott assures them it is not the superbug, while Doc Rios arrives in full CBR gear, panicking everyone.  Tom Chandler errs on the side of caution and locks down the ship, putting everyone in CBR suits and shutting all the ventilation aboard down, which indicates to Rachel that he does not trust her.  Rios takes Danny’s blood for testing, and Kara arrives in the crew lounge with Danny, despite the lockdown.  Rumors abound, but it turns out that Danny only has dengue fever — which is bad, but not super-virus bad and not a danger to the crew.  Rachel goes back to testing, pissed at the skipper, the crew starts fracturing, and Chandler bitches out Kara.

The final straw is when 16 sailors — spurred on by Quincy — request to be released from the ship since their enlistments are technically up.  Should they let them go, or stop-loss them and keep them aboard against their wishes?  Chandler then has to face up to his decision-making over the last few days.  They gather the whole crew on the flight deck and he comes clean.  The skipper admits to screwing up, that he was wrong about the viral-testing process, wrong to get their hopes up, wrong to doubt Dr. Scott, etc., but he stresses that they still have the same mission and the crew deserves to know the true stakes and circumstances, even if it is not the news they’d like to hear.  He allows them to listen to some of the distress calls, then even lets the whole crew see the virology lab and hear about the painstakingly drawn-out process of vaccine testing that Dr. Scott has to go through.  Chandler also addresses the enlistment concerns, saying if those 16 want to leave, he won’t stop them, but he won’t ferry them home either.  If they want to leave, they have to leave the next day on one of the RHIBs.  Instead, all 16 re-enlist.  It ends with Danny on the mend, Kara standing extra watches for violating the lockdown, and Quincy losing his chess set for trying to incite mutiny.

The Goods:  Eric Dane, that’s some damn-fine acting.  Kudos.  The skipper is shown to be flawed, but he perseveres and actually turns his mistakes into strengths.  They stay the hell out of engineering (thank you).  They made the Sexy LTs bein’ all sexy together sub-plot semi-palatable and both LTs are shown to be high-schoolish idiots who deserve extra watches for the tediousness of their relationship.  They almost killed off Danny, which is not quite as good as killing off both Sexy LTs in a horrifying shark-jumping accident, but it’s better than nuthin’.  The plot also shows their mission somewhat losing ground, which is a nice dose of reality.  Science takes its time and takes a toll on everyone’s hopes and patience.  Use of Circle William as a Damage Control setting.  Here’s a big one:  enlisted personnel show up in this one and even get lines.  If there were a Bechdel test for enlisted personnel in a Navy show, it probably still wouldn’t pass, however, since all their conversations are directly about officers.  I loved the NO-SECRETS reveal of the lab and Dr. Scott’s talk.  And my favorite bit, other than Eric Dane this week, the show accurately portrayed the only documented phenomenon to move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum:  the velocity of a rumor aboard ship.  Crazy shit spreads through there like the world’s fastest and most error-prone game of “Telephone” ever devised.

The Less Goods:  I think the actors portraying Danny and Kara are very pretty and talented at their craft, but their star-crossed tale still blows and brings the show down.  I foresee them getting back together STRONGER THAN EVAR after this.  If only dengue fever was communicable through stolen kisses, this shit would finally be over.  The show had some enlisted participation, but they essentially portrayed the panicked villagers in a Frankenstein movie, ready to burn down the castle and kill the monster they feared, only calming down when a wise officer counseled them.  Are there panicky, selfish sailors?  Of course, and that bottom 10% of your crew does indeed take up about 90% of your time with bullshit, but I would have loved to have seen a counterpoint to the 16 guys that wanted to abandon ship, some lower-ranked voice of reason telling them that they were being selfish, full of crap, and cowards about duty.  Also, I felt it was cheap when Bacon was so easily swayed by Quincy’s lies and twisted half-truths.  I know Bacon was freaked out by the rumor-mill, but he HAD TO KNOW Quincy was full of shite.  Final Less-Good:  not enough Adam Baldwin awesomeness.

Again, a win for the series, and a particularly good one for the whole cast, especially Eric Dane.  Thank you, Last Ship!

 

The Official Alphabetical List of Author Success

Tom Mays:

I guess I’m somewhere between G through K on this masterful list, but it all depends how you look at things. “I” is probably the closest in all elements. Still, funny as hell, Larry!

Originally posted on Monster Hunter Nation:

I’ve often been derisively referred to as a “D List Author” by my critics.  Curious, I had to look up where that list came from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-list

Sadly, as usual my critics suck at everything. This scale is based on how recognizable movie stars are, and since most regular people wouldn’t recognize any but the most famous (or funny looking) authors, it doesn’t really work for us at all. So I have created this super helpful guide so critics know what bucket to arbitrarily stick writers in.

What’s way better than fame? All fame is good for in Hollywood is determining how much they have to pay actors. So screw recognition. Show me the MONEY!

Since the super reliable Guardian newspaper reported that only the top 1% of all authors make more than $100,000 a year from writing and the average mid list author makes around $30,000 a year we’ll just…

View original 1,642 more words

The Last Ship, Episode 5: “El Toro” Review

Thank the gods of action TV tropes!  This was not a groundbreaking episode, but it was a good ‘un, and a definite breath of fresher air after the implausible series nadir of last week.

Sorry (again) for being a day late.  My day/night job LOVES having me work Sundays lately, but that’s why God gave us the DVR (on the 8th day, I believe).  The bad part is when the elves that live within the DVR decide to cross the ‘trons and fail to save the episode for when you get off work at 4:30 AM.  Thus, I had to wait for that other heavenly miracle – the Amazon Instant stream today – to catch me up.  But caught up I am, and I’m much the happier for it.

Plot Summary:  First, to be clear, THEY STAY COMPLETELY OUT OF ENGINEERING THIS WEEK!  Yeah!  This show knows it works best when it sticks to the main deck or above, and I’m FINE with that.  It opens with CHENG and the Skipper reminiscing about the mutual nightmare of last week’s episode and passing by a work crew assembling boxes in which to capture monkeys.  They have reached the coast of Costa Rica where Dr. Scott figures monkeys on which to test her vaccine ought to be easy to find in the jungle.  Unfortunately, Radio reveals that the coast is inundated with distress calls and signs indicating the whole country is in the midst of bloody revolution.  They aren’t ready to engage in any nation-building, so Doc Scott has them head for an alternate barrel of monkeys, a primate preserve located in Nicaragua (because there’s no possible reason to expect bloody revolution in quaint little Nicaragua).  Tex and Rachel share a character moment as he tries to get her to forgive herself for her lies and start eating in the wardroom, and the Skipper and XO/Jayne share one in the Cap’s cabin (Adam Baldwin RULES!).

Off the Nicaraguan coast, Captain Tom “Studly” Chandler doubles down on the bold stupidity and has all three elements of the Command Staff (CO, XO, and CMC), Sexy LT 1, Tex, the COMMO (for no obvious reason), the GUNNO, and our sexy virologist herself take both boats up-river, leaving CHENG and the Navigator in charge of the NATHAN JAMES.  At the preserve, instead of finding monkeys, they are attacked by zombies / infected villagers chanting “El Toro” (as in “dying of this dumb virus is a whole lotta bull, senor”).  They retreat for the boats, where they surmise they might have better luck up-river, further away from the area villages, but it is already too dangerous to expose Dr. Scott.  So, a lone boat with the CO, XO, CMC, Sexy LT 1, and the COMMO continues up, out of radio contact, with Tex and the Doc sent back to NATHAN JAMES.

Up-river, they run across a stranded yacht, the EL TORO, then land and head for the nearest Monkey-Mart.  But, wouldn’t you know it, our young ginger COMMO steps in it, literally, and is wounded/poisoned by a trap, whereupon they are captured by uninfected gunmen, all of whom belong to the stranded drug kingpin El Toro.  The Bull (as I like to call him) has set himself up as a warlord, ruling the impoverished uninfected villagers like a really shitty king, and he doesn’t take CDR Chandler’s aggressive American posturing very well.  He does let them treat the COMMO though, then invites the Skipper and XO to dine with him on monkey tartar.  Cue the tense dinner-time standoff, with the Bull acting like a despotic ass and the skipper making vague threats about his own Deus Ex Navis off the coast.  You can tell Chandler would like to end the Bull’s reign, but there’s nothing much he can do under the circumstances.  Eventually, the posturing fails and they make a deal for their freedom and a whole load of monkeys.

But bad guys can’t stop being bad guys.  While loading the monkeys, the Bull’s men send a recalcitrant villager lass over to the infected side of the river as punishment, causing XO Slattery and Sexy LT 1 to get all uppity.  They get buttstroked (and not in the good way) and the Skipper has to practically bow to the Bull in order to get them released.  The Bull laughs at them, sends them on their way with the monkeys, and basically tells them that he’s going to be de-virgin-izing the village mayor’s young daughter and will kill her if they send back a UAV or missile strike back toward him.  The sailors leave unarmed on the RHIB, but the XO can’t take it, figuring what good is it to save the world if the world they allow to exist isn’t worth saving (Adam Baldwin RULES!).  Thus the boat sneaks back and they go all Solid Snake on the Bull’s 13 heavily armed guards.  Final tally:  all sailors survive, all bad guys get killed, the villagers are freed, the mayor gets revenge, virgin honor remains intact, monkeys are captured to use as guinea pigs, and the NATHAN JAMES sails on.

The Goods:  They stayed the hell out of engineering and gave us an action-packed episode that satisfied on almost all counts.  It is a TV Trope-ish episode, with few surprises, but some good character moments, nice tension (kudos to Eric Dane), and decent action.  Adam Baldwin gets to be a badass instead of getting stuck on the ship.  El Toro is a nasty enough heavy, even if he is pretty cliche, and I liked that he sees himself as their savior and not their oppressor.  Rhona Mitra works out . . . vigorously.  Tex gets some nice moments with Dr. Va-va-va-voom-virology and they both get to quote-check Mark Twain.  I like that the CHENG is left in charge and I’m glad to see her back up on her feet.  I like the zombies/infected villagers.  The action is good (if implausible, since three unarmed officers take out a whole platoon of alerted bad-guys), and appreciated the situation with the strongman/criminal type in charge.  It is something that would happen and does happen, and it makes a nice underground plug for the 2nd Amendment (an armed populace is a free populace).  I also liked that they did not use the NATHAN JAMES as a get-out-of-trouble-free card like they did in previous episodes (my Deus Ex Machina / Deus Ex Navis comment).

The Less Goods:  This episode didn’t retroactively go back in time and canon and undo all the stupid left over from last week.  There were no real surprises and it played it safe with genre cliches, but I enjoyed it regardless.  Star Trek syndrome, in that they brought the entire damn command staff on an away mission, including the one person they absolutely cannot lose (Dr. Scott).  The CO, XO, and CMC shouldn’t be going out to fetch monkeys, and Dr. Scott should draw a damn picture if she’s concerned about them getting one species of monkey rather than another.  The show is still too officer-centric.  Neither of those RHIBs had a bos’un, a boat engineer, a gunner, or a bow-hook aboard.  Why the hell did they bring the COMMO along?  WHERE ARE ALL THE 200 ENLISTED FOLK supposedly aboard?  The NATHAN JAMES apparently has 3 hangars, since one is being used as a lab, one is storing the helo they seem to always forget they have (until they need it), and now one is being used as an expansive new gym.  Destroyers do use their empty hangars as gyms, but you can’t have both at the same time.  When the helo detachment is aboard, the Forward Pallet Staging Area and various passageways and fan rooms get turned into gyms, but I imagine it would be hard to film there.  Then there is the matter of CHENG as the next senior officer aboard.  Chief Engineer on a DDG is usually a first tour Department Head job, with a LT in charge who might make LCDR during their 18 month tour.  Then they leave the ship and go serve as a Squadron Materiel Officer or they go become a CHENG on a cruiser.  They only stay aboard for an extended tour if they are commissioning the ship or if they need a “get well” tour, as in they screwed up and need to stay aboard to make good FITREPs and repair their career.  This sometimes happens if an officer gets a DUI or another civil black mark on their record, which COULD BE a very interesting turn to take for the show.  Usually, the third senior officer on a DDG is the CSO or Combat Systems Officer.  They are a second-tour Department Head and are usually filled by a LT or LCDR who was formerly the Weapons Officer on that same ship or another of the class.  But that is mostly an inside-baseball sort of complaint, and I can’t imagine that even occurred to the writers or their consultants.\

I unreservedly recommend this ep.  The Goods again out-weigh the Less Goods, and it is back on track.  I’m still waiting for the inevitable mutiny episode, or a breakdown in military structure aboard.  Maybe next week, or maybe the show will surprise me.  And be sure to check back here for a review as well!  Tell all your friends!

 

The Last Ship, Episode 4 – “We’ll Get There” Review

Note:  Sorry this review is a day late, but when the day/night job calls, you answer (or you end up feeding your family garbage ramen, cuz that’s all yo’ po’ ass can afford).  SORRY!

So!  Episode 4:  Enter the Stupid.  Ugh.  I think this show has done an OUTSTANDING job of balancing respect for the US Navy, a dedication to fairly honest naval realism, post apocalyptic military sci-fi drama, and fun-but-hackneyed soap-esque melodrama.  The chatter is good, the characters are cool, the plot is awesome, the settings are true to the service, but one thing has stood out as a detriment in every episode thus far:

THEY CAN’T ENGINEER WORTH A DAMN.

In the pilot, Cap’n Crunches holds a generator fuse in place with his bare hand in order to recover from an electromagnetic pulse.  In episode 2, they deal with shitty fuel and gummed up fuel nozzles through the power of “It’s no longer convenient to discuss.”  In episode 3, they do egregious crimes with the physics of radar systems, though the actual engineers remain behind the scenes for the most part.

In episode 4, we have an engineering-centric, ship-stranded-at-sea, “bottle” episode, and suddenly all I see are flaws.  The worst part is, they are largely unnecessary flaws.  The Last Ship obviously has experienced naval consultants.  They get so much background right that I’m willing to forgive the little bit wrong they do for the plot’s sake.  In this ep, however, you can tell that either NONE of the consultants are engineers or the writers just disregarded them.  And that’s what pisses me off.  There were ways to do this episode that would have made engineering sense, but they chose not to, either as a sin of ignorance or willful disregard.

(The alternative also occurs to me, that the Navy told them to get it all wrong in order to avoid giving away engineering operational secrets, but they could have looked at a DDG-51 engineering diagram out of Jane’s Defense Weekly and still gotten it more right.)

Okay, on with the review.  First, the plot summary:  It starts off with a sweet flashback to better days, with CO Chandler’s family sharing their private goodbyes right before the NATHAN JAMES departs on deployment.  Then we switch to the present, with Tom Chandler torturing himself by listening to distress calls down in Radio.  The XO checks in on him and we see some nice character moments for ol’ Slattery (Adam Baldwin RULES!).  Then we have Hot Virologist Rachel Scott make a breakthrough on the vaccine, but she needs Quincy to finish the prototype.  The Cap’n allows Rachel to try convincing our old traitor, but no joy.  Meanwhile, Sexy LT 1 is showing Tex around the ship, where they run into Sexy LT 2, all tense with each other since 1 dumped 2 for the stupidest reasoning on the planet.  So, of course Tex wants to make a play (I love that character).

Then the power fails, threatening progress on the vaccine and stranding them in the middle of the ocean without enough water.  And here is where we enter the land of Obscene Nonsensical Engineering (ONE).  It seems that a fire near the Low Pressure Air Compressors were caused by a lack of seawater cooling to the engines / generators, since escaping from the Russkies through that canal somehow ripped off all their filters (??????).  A loss of power and propulsion makes the situation desperate, but they do manage to restore juice to the lab and conjure up an hour of propulsion each day so they can limp toward an island that might have water.  Oh, and the XO threatens Quincy with keelhauling unless he helps out Rachel (Adam Baldwin RULES!).

And then the casualties get even more dire.  All power and propulsion goes kaput, such that they are going to both die of thirst and die never knowing if the vaccine would have worked.  They eventually cool the bio-samples by putting them in an armored case and dangling them below the cold thermocline in the ocean.  And what do our intrepid Engineer/Writers do?  Why, they rig three parachutes as kites, launch them with line-casting rifles, and SAIL a 9000 ton warship to Gilligan’s Isle!  And — SOMEHOW — this is fast enough to turn the propeller shaft, which — SOMEHOW — generates electricity to keep the vaccine cool (but not enough juice to make water).

Long episode shorter, it works, they reach the island, Rachel Scott is appreciative, the Captain honors the MPA, the CHENG just lays around, Quincy is humanized, the crew parties on the beach, and Sexy LT 1 regrets dumping Sexy LT 2.

The Goods:  There are good elements here still.  I like the character moments for Chandler and Slattery, I like that they finally gave a real nod to the problems of maintaining a destroyer at sea without a logistics chain, even if EVERY SINGLE DETAIL WAS FUBAR.  I like using the thermocline as a cooling water blanket, even if it was impractical.  I like the XO’s threat, though I have no idea how a homicide detective in Chicago would ever have developed the time-in-rank and experience to make it as a CDR in the surface navy and as XO on a destroyer.  I liked the stargazing.  I even liked the plot.  If I had no idea how a destroyer worked, I might even have thought it was clever.

The Less Goods:  Unfortunately, I’m a former Chief Engineer / Engineer Officer on a DDG-51 Flight II-A.  Writers, if you wanna get this stuff anywhere in the ballpark next time, DROP ME A LINE, I WORK FOR CHEAP.  This episode didn’t even make an attempt to hit naval realism.  Is the NATHAN JAMES supposed to be an electric drive ship?  That’s the only way it even starts to approach common sense.  Turning the shafts does not generate power.  Losing all power only makes you lose propulsion because you can’t run the electric lube oil pumps and seawater coolers any more.  The electric plant and the propulsion plant are totally different animals, by design.  Three parachutes won’t move a 9000 ton warship unless Neptune himself is blowing on them.  You can’t rip the seawater filters off by running aground (they’re inside the ship, though you can wreck the cowling over the seachest).  And here’s one most won’t notice, but the MPA or Main Propulsion Assistant is always a Chief Warrant Officer or an Engineering Limited Duty Officer, kind of like a senior technical rank even above the Chief Petty Officer levels.  The Chief Engineer is usually a 1st (or 2nd) tour Department Head and a Line Officer, trained in Engineering basics, but experienced as a manager and a tactical officer.  The CHENG relies on the MPA for technical know-how, not the other way around, as it was here.  Again, The Last Ship tends to be an officer-fest.  We need more enlisted-ranks appreciation. And, lastly, Sexy LT’s 1 & 2:  I still couldn’t care less about you.  In your twosome, only Tex as a third party is interesting.

So, this is a mis-step, but I remain faithful and hopeful.  As the title suggests, I think the Goods usually outweigh the Less Goods and I think — together — that “We’ll Get There.”

The Last Ship, Episode 3 – “Dead Reckoning” Review

Yeah!  More 5″ gun love!  Plus vessel borne IED’s, torpedoes, restricted waters navigation, Russian standoffs, betrayals, love lost, and some radar cross-section goodness, all on this latest episode of TNT’s respectful naval porn.

My synopsis:  the Russian cruiser that snuck into Gitmo Bay to threaten our worthies aboard the USS NATHAN JAMES gives definition to their threat by demanding both the primordial virus and Dr. Rachel “Va-va-va-voom-virology” Scott be turned over to them.  Cap’n Crunches (CDR Tom Chandler) proves he’s no pushover on the bridge-to-bridge radio and recommends they meet ashore.  Turncoat scientist Quincy, Tex, and a full tactical team accompany them to the faceoff between Chandler and Admiral Roznakov.  Roznakov has gone full-on megalomaniac, and he seeks to use the virus to establish himself as Master of All He Surveys, with Chandler either falling in line or getting sunk.  Chandler sticks to his patriotic guns and offers a sample of the virus, but refuses to give up the Doc, reasoning that the Russians can’t attack his ship without losing what they want, and even if the Russians can block the bay forever with their nuclear-powered cruiser, they’ll run out of food and eventually have to let the NATHAN JAMES escape.  Roznakov counters by blowing away one of his own men, saying he’s prepared to do what he must, and now he has one less mouth to feed.  They each return to their respective ships, and the Russkies up the ante by mining the bay, while Chandler’s navigator locates a small canal they might be able to escape from if they can clear some coral out of the way.  Tensions mount further when the Russians kill the team Chandler sends out in a semi-submersible to survey the canal, and our Skipper retaliates by blowing the Russian small boat team out of the water with a 5″ round, and threatens to kill them unless Roznakov retreats over the horizon.

Then Quincy tries to force Rachel Scott off the ship at gunpoint so he can deliver her to Roznakov.  That plan goes south when security sees him, and it devolves into a tense standoff on the messdecks, with Quincy threatening to expose the whole crew to the virus.  Rachel talks him down and Quincy is arrested.  We then find that he’s not exactly a black-hat traitor.  He had been sharing info with the Russian virus team, but after the fall, Roznakov intervened and kidnapped Quincy’s wife and kid(s), forcing him to betray the NATHAN JAMES or his family would die.  His plan had been to take Rachel and the virus on a RHIB and trade them for his loved ones.  This gives Chandler a plan.  He will now send in our two sexy LTs in love, dressed as Quincy and Scott, armed with a wired-to-explode small boat to disable the Russian cruiser (like the USS COLE, bad memories for me on that note).  While that ploy goes on, the NATHAN JAMES will sneak out at EMCON, leaving behind a radar decoy made of aluminum foil in order to fool the Russian’s radar systems, then navigate the treachorous canal, which they will clear with a torpedo.  Long story short, the plan works, the Russians are disabled, the NATHAN JAMES scrapes her way out of port, our sexy LTs break up because our detached SEAL can’t handle a strong, confident woman, and Quincy challenges the Skipper to say he wouldn’t have done the same thing if his family had been held hostage.

The Goods: More 5″ action, this time in HSMST mode (High Speed Maneuvering Surface Target); special navigation detail love; much muy macho posturing on both ships; finally a good, identifiable antagonist, with the promise of more to come; Quincy having a reason for his traitorous deeds; using 5″ shells and C4 as an IED; the ending with our Russian Typhoid Marty;  Chandler echoing good ol’ Admiral Arleigh Burke himself:  “This ship is built to fight, you better know how!” Radar Cross Section discussions; Prairie and Masker get mentioned (though the show does not bother explaining what they are); and, of course, the venerable Mk 54 TORPEDO killing some coral.

The Less Goods: Jesus Christ, I’m ready for our two sexy LTs being all sexy together to CEASE being a subplot on this show.  It is ham-fisted and tedious.  Their argument and breakup were completely ridiculous and I’m ready for one or both to die.  There are much better characters and better relationships that could be explored instead of this trope-ish tripe.  I love the character of Roznakov and am intrigued by that last scene, but blowing away his own man was needlessly over the top and a blatant invitation for his hard-drinking XO to mutiny.  The two-man semi-submersible was kinda stupid.  That sorta thing don’t exist, except with special warfare perhaps.  Why would it have been on the ship?  Much better and more realistic would be if they had used a UUV (Underwater Unmanned Vehicle), which some models of Flight II-A destroyer were outfitted with as a minehunting platform.  Mentioning Tomahawks as an anti-ship platform, unless this is the super-special secret variant they were testing in the pilot episode.  Better to use SM-2 or an SM-6, or a VLS-enabled Harpoon missile.  There once was a TASM proposed, but it went away in the 90’s.  And though I love the nod to DDG-51 class’s RCS being as low as 10 feet of aluminum foil, I’m pretty sure just stringing up 10 feet of aluminum foil on the pier and then driving away slow at EMCON will not result in you being invisible to radar.  They shoulda gotten shelled by the Russkies as soon as their radar return split from the one left on the pier.  Radar is not an either-or type of system.  It returns whatever is out there, including your relatively stealthy destroyer, regardless of whatever you put on the pier.  If they are confusing this with chaff discrimination, that might be an out, but then again, NO.

But, as before, the Goods HEAVILY OUT-WEIGH the Less Goods, thus I remain happy as both a casual watcher and a career naval Surface Warrior.

Don’t forget to check out next week and lemme know what you think about my reviews as well as the rest of the site!

ASID Review Round-Up

Hey, all!  Just a quick note before The Last Ship comes on (followed promptly by a review of this week’s episode against the Russkies), but ASID has gotten several fairly glowing pro reviews over the last few weeks, and I’ve been remiss about sharing them with you.  Partly that’s because of the Day Job, and partly it’s because I’ve been working on new material (Demigod mostly, but a little bit on the A Sword Into Darkness game).  Mostly it’s because I’m a huge scatter-brain.

First, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out Carol Kean’s exhaustive review over at Perihelion SF (Warning! Contains Explicit Science!).  She’s a treat on Twitter and really delved into the story, even though it is not her favorite kind of tale.

Then, semi-out-of-the-blue, the great Eric S. Raymond asked for a review copy and really turned out a fantastic review of A Sword Into Darkness.  This guy KNOWS hard SF and military SF, and he really seemed to have enjoyed himself with it.  Even better, he has name-dropped ASID (in a positive way) in several of his subsequent reviews.  That really pleases me and inspires me to do even better with the eventual sequel.  Check ‘em out, and the comments are especially lively as well!

Another good thing about the ESR review was that it led to the this here Eric Wilner review on his blog.  Eric Wilner is one of those lively commenters on ESR’s site, and he gave a really good accounting of his own thoughts regarding ASID.  And if you check back to the posts prior to his review, you’ll find several blog posts inspired by the book where he examines some of the elements of the plot completely separate from where I went.  Very interesting.

And lastly, I may have mentioned Castalia House before, but they are a Finnish publisher breaking some very exciting ground in e-publishing and the European market.  Their SF editor is Vox Day, who has been and can be a provocative and perhaps devisive figure in science fiction circles.  I dunno about all that.  It all happened before I became active.  I can tell you that he was always very reasonable, pleasant, and clever in his conversations with me, so I’ll say nothing about the controversies of the past.  I can tell you that Castalia House has big plans and has some very strong authors launching from beneath their banner like John C. Wright and Tom Kratman.  I was almost wooed over there as well, but have decided to remain with Stealth Books and stay independent for now (not that their offer and opportunity was not enticing and more than fair — it was).  Quite separate from all of that, however, one of Castalia House’s reviewers picked ASID up out of the blue, unaware they had been interested in publishing me, and their blogger produced another balanced, and highly positive review here!

So, if you want to check out what others thought of ASID (aside from the 250 customer reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon) either before reading it, or after trying it out yourself, I urge you to check out these pro-reviews.  And then check back here for more thoughts on The Last Ship!