5.21.2008

Surely That's a Pen Name


I'll leave it up to you folks to make fun of the cover (and boy, is it ripe for derision...but then again, it's from Baen, so what do we expect), but I did want to point out that, when I went looking for a image of this cover for the blog I also found this blurb (thanks, Fantastic Fiction!):


A high-tech bioterrorist and the first true artificial intelligence hold the fate of humanity in the balance in this race-against-doomsday novel by a serving U.S. naval officer, Commander Tom Cool, patently one of the most gifted naval officers to write science fiction since Robert A. Heinlein. Full page ads in Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle.

I dare you to find one bit of this statement that doesn't make this guy sound like a raving egotistical asshole. Yup, sure makes me want to read it!

19 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

But, but, but he's got full page ads in Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle. That must mean it's worth reading. Advertisements never lie and these are great big ones.

Cobwebs said...

This says he's "one of the most gifted naval officers" to write SF since Heinlein. I think the first thing to do would be to see how many naval officers are out there writing SF. If you narrow your category sufficiently, you can claim to be the most gifted sorta by default.

Cassie said...

Is that a salt shaker in her hand? "Let's destroy the world with a salt shaker!"

Anonymous said...

"I think the first thing to do would be to see how many naval officers are out there writing SF."

Heinlein.... L. Ron Hubbard. I guess he is, then.

Snow said...

Holding the Saltshaker of Doom, the Infectress vows to destroy the world. Gastropoda beware!

ProfessorDog said...

Since the title is "Infectress," the salt shaker is probably a sample container with the OMG Deadly Plague! in it.

What I want to know is what the crap on her face is.

Larry Lennhoff said...

A transparent rip off of Keith Giffen's Legion of Alternate Substitute Heroes character "Infectious Lass". :>)

I don't think I'll ever see an author's real name that looks more false than fantasy author Mercedes Lackey. But that is her real (married) name.

DocTurtle said...

Kinda like being the windsurfing king of Iowa. Or making the Hall of Fame of Jewish Pro Wrestlers.

MCroft said...

some people claim that there's a woman to blame
but I know it's that damn AI's fault...

ninjakitten said...

So... so the guy is... Commander Cool?!

That is... wow. Commander Cool! If that wasn't an '80s superhero selling something to kids (sugar drinks, not doing drugs, whatever) it totally should have been.

(One Google search later) Looks like he's a 1989 episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Quality!

DocTurtle said...

ninjakitten: Too bad he didn't hold out for Admiral Cool. I think that guy was one of the horn players in Parliament around 1978 or so.

Agos said...

I just hope the hero from the book is called Max Power. It'd be so cool (pun intended, of course).

calophi said...

Is it just me, or does she look sort of mannish? She reminds me of Naraku from Inuyasha: click for a picture.

Anonymous said...

Could this glowing jar possibly contain the industrial strength make-up remover that will get that crap off of her face? She better move on to the hair product soon because the raging mullet that she has going is about to join forces with her turtleneck of death to decapitate her.

Restrena

xenobiologista said...

Argh I hate that stupid jar in her hand. Biologists don't keep viruses in pill bottles - and certainly not tipped on their sides so all the contents can leak out!!!

HANNAH'S DAD said...

Ah... I discovered this blog about five minuntes ago, and my very first thought was "I wonder if they know about Baen Books?".

And you do, bless you. Carry on.

Corporate Pens said...

Commander Cool - that's how the publisher's blurb refers to him (which would make me seek immediate refuge in a pen-name) - has a pretty good imagination. Too bad the same can't be said for his command of basic English. Typical of his grammatical shortcomings are multiple uses of "shined" as the past tense of "shine": eg., "her hair shined," "the galaxy shined," etc.; "louses" as the plural of "louse"; "laid" as the past tense of "lie", eg. "he laid down."

Perhaps this sort of criticism seems niggling. It's not. It's an indication of how much our current educational standards have slipped when a Naval Commander (not an ensign, you know) and his book editor can't catch grade-school errors like these. Apart from it the irritation of what amounts to just plain bad writing, it makes the reader's take on Cmdr. Cool's invented technology harder to swallow.

And that is where INFECTRESS really shines (I was tempted to write "shined"). Cool's invented computer technology rings true, and helps give this overblown plot some much-needed credibility.

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read this paragraph if you plan to read this book and don't want the plot given away. Skip to the next paragraph NOW. Infectress herself isn't a very believable character. I assume from the author's treatment that we're supposed to feel a measure of sympathy for Arabella the Infectress since she was sexually abused. Since I personally don't buy into the Abuse Excuse for adult misbehavior (it would condone, for instance, the mass torture-murders of Vlad the Impaler) this didn't work for me. Admittedly this is more of a personal bias than a failure of the novel itself. But the worst part is the really, REALLY idiotically overdone final chase scene in which Scott McMichaels, developer of the META AI system that Arabella steals to develop her supervirus to kill off 98% of humanity, chases Infectress and knocks her down. She escapes. He chases and knocks her down. She escapes. He chases and knocks her down. She escapes. This pattern is repeated so many times that the end result is rather ludicrous. Finally the two mindlessly cuddle naked in a forest pool, traumatized out of all need to kill each other. Yeah, right. In all fairness to Cmdr. Cool, many parts of the novel are quite readable. He smoothly manages the ironic deaths of the various layers of spy-assassins as they move up the ladder of treachery. Little fish being eaten by bigger fish, which themselves are gulped down whole by sharks.

All in all, INFECTRESS is a nice try. It shares the weakness of most hard SF novels in being technology driven, and rather weak in other literary aspects. And a big caveat to the reader: Don't believe the publisher's hype that implies that Tom Cool is the next Heinlein. It just ain't so.

Promotional Pens said...

It does seem that they took some latitude with the glass vial...

Anonymous said...

Well, Tom Cool is a true name. There are several of us out there, including a Dutch computer programmer who pretended to be me when he found the book with his name on it.

I never claimed to be the best naval officer writing SF. I have claimed to be the best writer of Guatemalan SF (in English).

I didn't write the blurb, and one hopes I wouldn't have approved of it, if Jim Baen had asked for my approval.

I've given up on "shined," now that so many have shown me the superiority of shone.

Yes, I am an egotistical asshole, but not a raving one.

Stephen Hickman did the illustration of Infectress, working off his read of the novel. I think that he did a great job in capturing the character. He might accessorize her differently, if he did it again today.

Thanks for making fun of my name! In 54 years, no one has ever done that!

Warm regards,
Tom Cool