Monday, April 16, 2012

Wanna bet?

So, when I mentioned that I had re-read Tom Kratman's novel, Caliphate, the other day, a couple of people asked what I thought of it.

I find it an enjoyable read. I mean, it's an SF/Mil/Espionage thriller, not Tolstoy; you're in it for the pew!pew!pew!, not the transcendental insights. It's probably the most polished and tightly-written Kratman novel I've read thus far (I have not read his A Desert Called Peace series or his latter two collaborations with OhJohnRingoNo,) but it's unlikely to transcend the genre-fiction ghetto and become assigned reading in your college lit class, unlike a certain novel by Famous Science Fiction Writer Margaret Atwood*.

I will note, however, that the story, which takes place in a dystopian future, mostly in a Europe under sharia law, has been decried as exaggerated, far-fetched, ham-handed, and demeaning to Muslims. Would anyone care to bet the amount of overlap of those critics on a Venn diagram with people who found The Handmaid's Tale to be prophetic, direly accurate, "a powerful, frightening warning - a must read"? Yeah, thought not.
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*In case you didn't get the joke, Atwood used to about stroke out when described as a "science fiction writer". Apparently she doesn't anymore, but one can hope.

24 comments:

Bubblehead Les. said...

Ain't taking that bet. My Momma didn't raise no Fool! Now, having read all the Kratman I could find, if you liked Caliphate, you'll enjoy the Desert Called Peace Series. Though they don't tie in, there's enough political Overlap that one could see Caliphate as a Prequel.

BTW, Dave Drake's Latest LT.Leary is really good!

Priest said...

Caliphate is available for free from the Baen Free Library, as is his first book in the Desert Called Peace series.

Sabra said...

Hmm. I also stroke out when Atwood is referred to as a science fiction author; I consider it an insult to the genre. Too much smart writing going on, much of it dealing with the same themes, only with actual talent.

maddmedic said...

And I thought I was the only one reading "Caliphate" for which I have yet to make any conclusions.
But I am enjoying it.

Justthisguy said...

What do you think of his book about the Amazon regiment? It seems to be a serious study about how to get women to actually do infantry.

Interestingly, he has all of the training of the Amazons done by homo male soldiers, so the trainers won't be tempted to go easy on the gals.

perlhaqr said...

Justthisguy: were you asking someone else, or did you not read the part where she said she hadn't read the Desert called peace series?

Nathan said...

I must cordially disagree with Priest. Caliphate is a stand-alone, not connected to the "Desert Called Peace" series (which is properly, per Baen, the "Carerra" series. See http://www.baenebooks.com/c-138-carerra-series-by-tom-kratman.aspx

Justthisguy said...

Sorry, perl. Not thinking well there, I was. I plead old age and a snootful, and throw myself on the mercy of the Court.

perlhaqr said...

So tempted to go post a 5 star review of Handmaid's Tale as "the best fantasy porn I've ever read" just to hear the screams.

Justthisguy said...

Heh, perl, I mind the kerfuffle a while back about Elizabeth Moon being dis-invited from a feminist SF con. The fun thing about that was that I learned the phrase "morbidly obese Lesbian Shoggoths."

SGB said...

I've yet to read it but will now.

Angus McThag said...

Wait, Handmaid's Tale isn't prophetic?

Ken said...

Perlhaqr, come back to tell the tale with pictures and I'll see you win the Internets for a week.

I read Caliphate (and have not read the Carrera books), and I say it's far better written than A State of Disobedience (which was nevertheless fun in its let-your-freak-flag-fly way), and a more plausible future than Ferrigno's Prayer for the Assassin.

og said...

Good lord, I only WISH that self righteous God-Botherers were legitimately trying to take over the world, as seen in "Handmaids" or "V for Vendetta" Certainly, it would be more amusing.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Atwood is just the flipside of Toni Morrison. Instead of writing fiction about the past about how Christian white people are horrible, she wrote about the future where Christian white people are horrible.

No if you will all excuse me I'm late meeting with my secret fraternity brothers on how to extend white priviledges and keep women and minorities down.

The Man

Tom Kratman said...

I'm kind of pleased with Caliphate, actually.

Lemme tell ya a story, true story, as it happens, Shortly before he died, I discussed doing the book with Jim Baen. After he died, Toni W sent me the contract and I sat on it for a while. My basement - where I have my office - flooded. Where the contract went I had no clue and wasn't especially worried about it. Eventually I finished what I'd been working on and told Toni to send me a new contract. She did, and all the dates were changed to reflect the new signing date.

And then Simon and Schuster publically announced the book, with a release date a couple of days _before_ I had to turn in the first draft.

I cranked that SOB out in 6 weeks, just in time to get it out by the date S&S had given. And I'm damned proud of that, too.

Matthew said...

Ah, the old "flooded basement destroyed my records" story, eh?

=)

I liked it, I appreciate your work Mr. Kratman.

Tam said...

"I'm kind of pleased with Caliphate, actually."

You damned well should be!

It's got to be hard to make a slickly-plotted thriller based on a current political topic. I can only think of one other I enjoyed as much, and Bob took an assload of flack for it, too.

Anonymous said...

I do love the VFTP.
It's one of the only places I know where the blogger will be discussing a book that she is reading and then the author of said book just pops in to say hey and share a bit of insight.

Tam said...

Og,

At this point, I'd take "If This Goes On..." as a future with which I'd be willing to take my chances.

og said...

Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Download A Desert Called Peace from the Free Library. I predict you'll buy the rest.
Drang

Will said...

Tam and Tom Kratman,

Thank you, Tam, for mentioning "Caliphate", and thank you, Tom, for writing it. I started reading it two days ago after reading about it on this here literary blog, and am now halfway through.

I do fear that if we don't develop some backbone in the USA, the timeline in "Caliphate" will be the BEST possible future.

Beaumont said...

@Tom K.: I've read all your stuff EXCEPT "Caliphate", and like all of same. You have become one of my preferred fiction writers (it's a fairly small club: you, Larry C., Vince Flynn, & a few others). I've learned things of value from reading your books, and that doesn't happen often in fiction.
By all means, continue.