So, it’s time for a thrilling exposition dump. Which I first wrote as dumb. Maybe my fingers are trying to tell my brain something. Anyway, Steve dubs this chapter

Chapter 2 Our Outfit and Ship

As I said in the comments for the previous part, I’ve also discovered our goofy book title comes from; it’s a line in Licence to Kill where Sanchez asks Bond why he carries a gun.

“In my business you prepare for the unexpected.”
“And what business is that?”
“I help people with problems.”
“Problem solver.”
“More of a problem eliminator.”

This makes a lot more sense as a reply to someone using a similar phrase than it does on its own, obviously.

So, Useless gets down to the by addressing the reader directly with a rhetorical question.

I guess you probably want to know just about now, who we are and or generally all about us and especially our ship?

No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell whoever I’m supposed to be anyway.

Well let me start with my Captain. His name is Captain Norman Mitchell.

His name throughout this will be Captain Tinfoil, for now Admiral Tinfoil as per what follows.

He was an Admiral with the U.S. Navy some time ago. He had a similar incident in his past as we all have had. As an Admiral, he was in charge of nuclear submarines. He was also the Captain of one, some years before, the SSN41.

41 is a really high number for a nuclear attack submarine, assuming she’s supposed to be a fourth Seawolf; they’re SSN-21 to -23. If not it’s a ridiculously low number for a Los Angeles or Virginia class boat since they start at 688 and 774 respectively. Really it would make more sense if the submarine he makes stupid was a partially completed and abandoned SSN-24 anyway, but we’ll get to what actually happens here later.

There was a hard tragedy in his life that brought him and all of us to this life we now pursue.

This rather implies that everyone suffered the exact same tragedy, though this is actually not too far from the truth given how boilerplate their backstories are.

While he was at sea, his son & daughter were brutally murdered in a drive by shooting between rival drug gangs in Houston Texas and his wife left.

Steve doesn’t seem to know how to do any kind of motive except “my (usually female) family members were killed.” This is fairly common sexist fare, but not usually so blatantly obvious; tragic events that happen to women will be spoken of entirely in terms of the effect they have on men. With all of these, including Admiral Tinfoil and Useless (as we’re about to see), their families are not named, described, or spoken of in affectionate terms; there’s as much emotional weight as if they were talking about breaking a nice vase. Something happened, they were sad, then they joined Admiral Tinfoil’s Strikeforce Idiot and all the sad went away forever.

We’re also not told why Admiral Tinfoil’s wife decided to leave while he was away; Useless decides to tell us exactly where the shooting occurred (which is worthless information from a narrative perspective) but nothing that would let us understand what we’re supposed to think about her leaving. Was she distraught and unwilling to face him because he was a reminder of her family and by extension the pain of her loss? Was she only sticking with him for the sake of the children in the first place? We’ll never know. I guess we’re either supposed to think she’s an EVIL BITCH for daring to leave him, or not care about the thoughts of the female object and focus on his terrible man-pain.

Also, how do you have a “drive by shooting between rival drug gangs?” Were they literally standing between the bad guys’ car and the guys they were actually firing at? The only other option is Tinfoil’s son ampersand because I can’t be bothered to type three letters daughter were actually members of a drug gang themselves.

He took a leave of absence for over 1 year, while he sorted this out in his mind. Then he returned to the service. Now promoted to Admiral, he put into operation his well thought out plan.

We now join The Evil Conspiracy™:

“Sir, that crazy captain who somehow got compassionate leave for an entire year is back on duty again.”
“Excellent! Minion, promote him four pay grades for absolutely no reason and put him in charge of something really important!”
“On it, sir.”

Yes as I said, we all have had a similar tragedy befall us in our lives. For me it was my wife and daughter.

You know, the conspiracy theorist in Steve really ought to question whether, since the only constant in all of this is the captain, the captain isn’t just killing the families of prospective crewmen himself so that they’ll join his nutty crusade. Obviously, nobody is going to bring this up at any point in the proceedings.

So, Useless’ nameless wife-tragedy-object and daughter-tragedy-object were snatched off the street and then found dead in an alley. But we apparently need to know all the unpleasant details, so Steve helpfully adds:

Their bodies had been pumped full of heroin and used by numerous men and then their throats had been cut. They were then dumped where a boy scout later found them.

Thanks, Steve.

And seriously? Someone actually told him that?

Sir, we found your wife and daughter. They’re all murdered and stuff.

Also the sight of their ravaged bodies traumatised a boy scout.

I can’t see why he’s telling this to the undefined reader so casually; you’d think this is something a character would only bring up either to someone he very deeply trusted or, if he’s the type, as an excuse for something he’s done in the narrative that he knows he shouldn’t have. I also can’t see why he’d be going after South American drug lords over something related to heroin, since most of that comes from Asia. In fact, given the actual origins of his woes you’d think he’d be trying to find a group that wanted to rid the world of terrible writing.

Instead of sitting at home, I had been out for days on end, assisting search teams combing the countryside when they were found.

Remember this. He was at home, and helped the police with their search.

I could go on and on about the tragedy that has befallen each one of us in this command. But that would belabor the point.

It would also require that the reader give the slightest semblance of a shit about any of them, which would in turn require that Steve had done something to facilitate the giving of said shit.

The point is we are all here for 1 mission. We are dedicated! We are one in our cause!

Not bothering to write “one” here means it looks more like they all leave after one mission than that they’re united.

And then for no good reason there’s a suddenly a picture of Admiral Tinfoil:

Supposedly this is based on a photograph of Steve’s father, which I guess was taken while he was melting. It’s particularly bad in the PDF itself because the image doesn’t display correctly:

This is what Steve does because he’s too lazy to try to describe people. You can see he has a fairly common issue with amateur artists trying to short-cut by copying photographs without a decent knowledge of anatomy, which is that he tries to copy the individual features with no idea how they’re actually supposed to relate to one another. Here you can see Tinfoil’s mouth and chin are dead horizontal but his eyes are on a slant, making it look like his head’s deflating. The weird super-dark shadow on his nose makes it look like it’s slanting the other way to his eyes for bonus mutant points.

This would be ridiculously simple to deal with simply by drawing guidelines while roughing it out, and looking at, well, anything would help Steve deal with his strange idea that human shoulders are shaped like an inverted letter V.

We are here to rid the world of the awful scourge of drugs, and all those who deal in them. Even whenever possible, the government officials who have for much of the time, been the ‘Best Customers’ of these drug barons that have hold of our planet.

All drugs come from South America, not just cocaine. It is certainly not true, for example, that the vast majority of opiates come from Asia, and you can grow weed and synthesise things like LSD, ecstasy and meth more or less anywhere. Otherwise Strikeforce Idiot would look really stupid trying to stop the entire drug trade by sinking a bunch of yachts off the South American coast, and we know that can’t be true. Also you can end the entire drug trade with a submarine which can only be in one place at a time, since drugs are never smuggled overland, drug shipments happen one at a time, and they are always personally escorted by the local drug lord.

By the way, is anyone keeping a “Tesch Capitalisation Count?”

And who am I? I am Dave ‘The Dude’ Wilson.

Useless has a name! Holy shit, it only took one and a half chapters!

…He’s still called Useless. I see no reason to change it.

The glossary section describes him as the captain’s “Number 1” which isn’t terribly specific about what actual rank Useless has on board or why he’s always being sent out on missions if he’s an important member of the crew. It also describes him as a “former Fictional Navy Seal” (author’s caps), which I guess means he wrote this story after he became real and Steve just stuck his name on it.

I was a Navy Seal. I participated in numerous actions, while I was on active duty and then my tragedy struck.

According to two bloody paragraphs ago he was at home. So he was a Navy SEAL on active duty in his own house?

I almost lost it! Then one day Admiral Mitchell found me. I was a total wreck! Kindly he talked with me and when I was able, he presented me with his plan.

See, this wouldn’t have been a bad place to start out. Let’s piece together an alternative opening entirely from military story clichés and see how it works out.

Our protagonist (who we’ll make a woman named Michelle just to raise the number of women who do anything substantial in this spork to one and double the number of women with names) wakes up in a cell after getting in a drunken brawl at a bar to find an elderly Navy officer bailing her out. She takes a moment to narrate some details about what a mess she is, without going so far as turning to the reader and saying “by the way, here’s the backstory.” She turns the officer down at first when he mentions a plan of some kind, and goes home, to find a message on her answerphone telling her not to bother to turn up to work since they’re fed up of her coming in late when she turns up at all.

She fishes a photo of her dead squadmates out of the mess, her internal monolog talking about how they’d said it would be one last easy op before they all went home. She can’t forgive herself for surviving because she was their sergeant, and tells herself that if anyone had died it should have been her; we don’t find out all the details of what happened until later. She gets a knock on the door from her landlord, a kindly old man who she resents for no good reason, who says he knows she’s having a rough time but he just can’t deal with a tenant trashing the place and giving him cheques that bounce. After she slams the door she sees the card the old officer slipped into her jacket pocket, and figures hey, it’s not like his idea could possibly be any worse.

Obviously that doesn’t make a good Stu, though, since it would require that we see she’s fucking up her own life because she’s too proud to let anyone help her, and Stus have no negative qualities that actually matter. Nope, clearly far better if absolutely everything bad going on is external and goes away when Admiral Tinfoil sprays them down with his handy can of Past-B-Gone™.

All of us that make up the crew of this vessel, as with the Admiral at the time, were on the edge of self destruction.

“Did you remember to seal the hatches?”
“I was too busy listening to Slipknot and thinking about the sweet release of death.”

Our common cause saved us.With our vessel we are on the job of ridding the world of every drug baron we can find!

Let’s talk about character motives. There’s two kinds of motivation for a character; personal and global. A personal motivation is something that primarily affects them, a global motivation something that primarily affects others. Saving someone you love is personal, saving the city is global. It also helps if their personal motive gives them a direct reason to take action, for example their life is at risk if they do nothing.

Now, problems arise when a character has one but not the other; if there’s only global motivation, the question arises as to why any specific person is doing the thing in question. For example, if the reactor is melting down and anyone who goes in to shut it off will receive a lethal dose of radiation, it’s not very satisfying if the only reason we’re given for Anna going in to do it is that the reactor’s melting down, because that’s the same reason everyone who didn’t do it had to do it.

If there’s only personal motivation, then the character’s actions will come across as entirely selfish; here, everyone is acting to get revenge. Taking down the drugs trade is apparently only their concern because it personally slighted them, and not a single member of the crew joined up without some personal tragedy affecting them first. This isn’t as bad as having no personal motives, but it doesn’t exactly colour them as noble.

Needless to say, they’re supposed to be noble. As an aside, this is often a problem in videogame morality systems where “good” is utterly selfless and “evil” is utterly selfish (eg inFamous); the two end up seeming respectively too good to be true and evil-for-its-own-sake.

And what vessel is that you may ask? As an Admiral, Mitchell was in charge of mothballing all old navy vessels, and when SSN41 came up for his attention. The admiral saw to it personally and officially the SSN41 disappeared off navy records as having been disposed of.

A lot of conspiracy theories only work because they oversimplify the world to the extent shown here; Steve seems to think one man would be responsible for every aspect of scrapping a complex and potentially extremely dangerous vessel. In real life there’d be a massive search as soon as the boat failed to report in, or at very least when the breakers reported that they hadn’t received her as scheduled and nobody could figure out where she had got to. And then there’s the fact that most of her important parts would be subject to additional programs such as special safe disposal procedures or recycling, some would be scheduled to be held as spares for the remaining ships in her class, the metals in her hull would presumably have been sold to someone who expected to actually get them… This whole thing is ridiculous the minute you start thinking about the scale of what you’re asking for and how many people would have to be in on it.

Also, it’s the DoD budget planners who decide which ships will be scrapped and when, not some random Admiral. And mothballing a vessel would mean preparing it to join the United States Reserve Fleet, not scrapping it entirely. It’s unlikely a nuclear powered vessel would be put into the reserve fleet without dismantling the reactor first, which presents its own problems. We’ll get to that later.

The Admiral had already recruited me and a number of others, and so we sailed the SSN41 to an uncharted, unnamed island off the Florida coast.

This might have worked in Verne’s day, and even in Gerry Anderson’s day for Thunderbirds by saying the island was privately owned, but these days you can subject any area you like to surveillance with a publicly available program. Even Area 51 is viewable down to a level where you can see individual cars on the tarmac, and Steve wants us to believe that this base was built without a single person seeing the construction underway, within spitting distance of the Florida coastline?

This plot would make some sense if you transposed it to a sci-fi setting rather than expecting it to work on Earth, since it’s much easier to accept that an old warship could vanish in the depths of space and be spirited to a secret base on some moon or asteroid. In fact the whole plot would work a bit better if you did that, though the stupid parts would still be stupid.

The Admiral resigned his commission and joined us later. While we waited for the Admiral, we went to work on the SSN41.

I don’t really get why he constantly calls it the SSN41 rather than just saying “the submarine” or “the sub.” It’s not like they have more than one submarine for Useless to be talking about here.

Admiral Mitchell was also a brain when it came to engineering and nuclear physics.


He laid out a plan for us and the ship, and we just followed it to the letter. When we left to supposedly sink the SSN41

“Sir, Admiral Tinfoil wants to have a bunch of guys scuttle a fully operational nuclear submarine in the middle of the ocean with no vessels nearby to retrieve the crew, who will therefore presumably go down with her or die of hypothermia in lifejackets.”
“Excellent! Minion, don’t monitor that at all!”
“On it, sir.”

we took with us tons of materials that we would need to set up a base at the unnamed island and transform the SSN41. We were stacked to the rafters with material. There wasn’t much room to even move around, we were loaded with so much stuff.

Submarines are not noted for their vast cargo capacity, especially since they’d have to be loaded up through fairly tiny hatches. Here’s an image of the submarine in her pen from later in the story:

It seems at no point while drawing this did Steve stop and think “how the hell are they supposed to have constructed a pen several times the size of the entire submarine with materials that were transported inside it?”

Upon our arrival at the island, we unloaded and set about following the Admirals plan. First we armored the ship with an extra housing of armor, well beyond the already nicely maintained pressure hull of the SSN41.

Then we found she didn’t actually float anymore because we’d made her too heavy. We’re bad at this.

Then we completely remodeled the sail giving it a low profile and added streamlined forward diving planes. Overarching all the ship, we added a special, hardened steel saw tooth and diamond coated, retractable ridge. Designed by the Admiral, much like the fictional Nautilus envisioned by Jules Verne.

There’s so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start.

First up, I was a little dishonest when I said he’d based it on Verne’s Nautilus because he hasn’t. It’s pretty clear that Steve’s never read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea since Verne’s description of the Nautilus is that she was cigar-shaped with a ramming prow, not a sawblade. The classic vision of the Nautilus with a huge overhead raking blade was created by an artist named Harper Goff for Walt Disney’s 1954 live-action movie.

Second, a ram is a stupid weapon to put on a submarine. To understand why Verne did it you have to understand a little about the state of naval technology when he wrote the book back in 1870.

While people might slap the label “steampunk” on it now, the intent of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was to be more or less a 19th century Tom Clancy novel. Nautilus was incredibly futuristic at the time, being almost twice as long as the submarine Verne based her on, a French boat called Plongeur, and over three times heavier. Verne was amazingly prescient about a number of details related to her, in particular correctly determining that the compressed air powered motors used by early submersibles to run underwater would be useless in a true submarine because they lacked endurance. His Nautilus instead used sodium-mercury batteries, long before any electrically powered submarine was ever even on the drawing boards. Granted, it wasn’t a practical design (he wanted to get sodium from salt in seawater, which would have the minor side-effect of filling the boat with chlorine) but if Verne had a practical design for a submarine he’d have sold it to one of the world’s navies, not written a book about it.

Other aspects of Nautilus are defined by contemporary naval thinking. When Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, there was a thought from battles like Monitor versus Merrimack (or CSS Virginia, as she was called as an ironclad) eight years earlier that armour had won out over armament. Breech-loading heavy guns were new and untested, high explosives were still so unstable that you couldn’t fire a high-velocity explosive shell without blowing it up, and nobody had ever fired a self-propelled torpedo in combat. In general there was a vision that future wars would be decided by nearly invincible machines; and clearly, the only way to defeat armour immune to all gunfire would be to throw your entire penis ship at it.

This is why Nautilus has a ram.

Of course we now know that’s not how it worked out at all; more stable explosives, stronger steels and better fire control systems soon meant warships could hit and destroy each other from huge distances, and the pendulum swung towards armament beating armour.

Now, the problem with a ram is that Newton tells us every time you hit a ship with enough force to rip out the keel, you’re also hitting your submarine with enough force to rip the keel out of a ship. A submarine has a lot of empty space between the outer hull and the pressure hull, meaning there’s a lot of scope for the outer hull to buckle and hatches to jam or burst. In addition the pressure hull really, really wants to implode while you’re submerged, and helping it is seldom a good plan. Nevermind that Steve’s raking blade is retractable and so the first port of call will be screwing up whatever machinery is used to retract it or slamming itself back into the fully retracted position because the locking gear can’t handle the stress of colliding with another ship at forty knots.

The other problem is in the case of an unsuccessful attack you’ll end up stuck to whatever you were trying to sink; the worst case scenario for a submarine attacking a larger vessel would be that you would be unable to free yourself and your opponent would sink on top of you.

Verne gets a pass because he was trying to guess the future. In his day nobody really knew what submarines were going to be good for; indeed, it wasn’t until German use in the First World War that the submarine’s main role of commerce raider was established, which resulted in some aggressively silly ideas about what they were going to do. But we know that there’s better ways to attack with a sub than ramming now. But maybe it’s just because the Eliminators don’t have a lot of materials available, right? Well, um…

When the Admiral came, we added under his direction a particle beam weapon

Yeah, they have enough resources to do that. Also, a particle cannon is an amazingly stupid thing to put on a submarine and an even stupider thing to put on the bottom of a submarine. Let’s see what the glossary at the end has to say about it.

Particle Beam Weapon: a Fictional weapon with several settings. Setting #6 is a Neutron radiation wave.

While you could create a weapon that fired neutral particles (using the same principles as a spallation neutron source for example) you could be damn sure it wouldn’t be able to fire anything else. Nevermind that the later description of the weapon (which is used exactly once, strangely enough on setting six with no idea what any of the others do) does not in any way match what a weaponised particle beam would actually do. Also, particle beam weapons are not fictional; lasers are particle beams, and blinding lasers have been used as weapons enough times for international treaties to be made outlawing them.

and a special water jet engine along the bottom of our new hull, extending half the length of the ship. This would increase the SSN41’s speed to well over 40 knots submerged and maybe as high as over 50 on the surface!

It seems he stole the idea of water jets from the “Caterpillar” tunnel drive system in the original book The Hunt for Red October; the system Clancy imagines wouldn’t be practical on any large submarine since it would take up too much internal space, would be slower due to limiting the amount of water that can pass down the tunnels at any given time compared to a screw or propulsor at the rear of the submarine, and the inlets to the tunnels containing the propulsors would be prone to fouling with debris. This is why a system described in a book written in 1984 is not used on any actual submarines.

Mind you, even Clancy’s book pointed out that the Red October ran slowly on her Caterpillar drive and she had two propellers to use when travelling normally. I guess Steve just skimmed the description of Red October’s drive and then threw the book away before Clancy reprogrammed his mind under the orders of THE GOVERNMENT or something.

And modern submarines are slower on the surface, not faster.

The power source for the SSN41 was originally nuclear. But the Admiral had something much more powerful and safe to use in mind.

A submarine is literally built around its reactor, and it is not designed to be in any way easy to remove; indeed, Russian nuclear submarines have to be dismantled just to refuel them. Also, military personnel are trained to operate ships, not design them from scratch. Steve seems to subscribe to the Star Trek: Voyager system of rank where the ranking officer is also the ranking whatever else she damn well feels like being.

Water! The Admiral devised from some old plans, a hydrogen generator. These plans, Navy Intelligence had stolen from the Army. The US Government originally stole the plans from an inventor in the 1998, which they promptly had killed. The Admiral honored the inventor, a Mr. Meyers, by installing his system onboard our ship and improving it tremendously! The ‘Meyers Hydro Generator’ now powered our ship. Thus the SSN41 now had virtually unlimited power safely!

and the glossary note:

Mr. Meyers: Stan Meyer’s built a car that ran entirely on water, and then was Murdered in 1998 by Government agents. All of his equipment and the car that he created was stolen and never recovered. *This is a true Fact you can look up!

Ah, here we go with the crazy again. You can certainly look it up, and I did.

Convicted fraudster Stanley Allen Meyer (not Meyers) was a typical “black box” kind of guy; just invest in his poorly-defined technology which violates fundamental physical laws and you’d soon be filthy rich. After a fairly successful run of fraud he was hauled to court in 1996 after a couple of investors he duped out of $25,000 each filed a lawsuit, during which he refused to demonstrate his car to one expert witness and three others said his “fuel cell” was just a conventional electrolysis cell and couldn’t generate enough hydrogen to create more power than was used to run it. He discovered afterwards that he could make a safer living by simply giving lectures about how the government was keeping his technology down, since lying to people for money is legal if you don’t lie about why they should give it to you. He ultimately died of a brain aneurysm two years later after eating at a restaurant, so obviously he was poisoned by the same government which, um… well, didn’t take him to court (it was a civil suit) or really do anything at all to stop him.

Bear in mind Meyer’s patents are still public, so if the oil industry or government is covering them up they’re not doing a very good job of it. If he had reason to fear for his life over some super-secret plans he had for an engine that actually worked, he could presumably have entered them into the public record at his trial, especially since that would have saved him paying back fifty grand and all.

So, Admiral Tinfoil installed an engine that can’t possibly work and honoured the designer by forgetting his name and surpassing his design in every way. Steve Nelson, everybody.

Each crewman of the ship came bringing his own expertise in whatever he had specialized in while with the navy, or whatever service or walk of life that he came from. Admiral Mitchell gathered the best available, wherever he went and did his recruiting.

He’s gathering the best available even though he’s only selecting from a pool of people with recent bereavements related to the drug trade, and only those who have no dependants left whatsoever because of said bereavement. Again, you have to question if the Admiral isn’t just arranging all of these convenient personal tragedies to assemble Strikeforce Idiot rather than waiting for nature to take its course.

The Admiral himself maintained a special contact at the navy department that provided timely intelligence to us about probable targets. But we have never made a move without checking things out for ourselves first! Government people, as could anyone, could always become compromised.

This is a really weird part since the rest of the book says basically the entire government is corrupt and evil, yet Steve reminds us that even government agents can be compromised. Also, didn’t we establish in the first chapter that most of the leads this guy gives them don’t work out, and wouldn’t that be reason to stop trusting him after a while?

The SSN41 was stuffed with the latest in detection, sensory and communication equipment.

And they just pulled this from the depths of Admiral Tinfoil’s cavernous ass, I suppose. Including the latest sensors that can’t tell you where the keel of a ship is.

Admiral, now Captain Mitchell thought of everything! Plus along with our particle beam weapon, we had a few old fashioned torpedoes too.

There is no such thing as a high-tech torpedo.

And don’t forget, the best friend of any army in the field. We had a supply of recently misplaced shoulder launched surface to air missiles.

  1. They’re not an army in the field.
  2. These missiles are so useful Steve is never going to mention them again.
  3. There is a slight issue some of you might have detected with using a shoulder-launched SAM in a bloody submarine.

It’s pretty cool tech-porn if you can think of a way for the submarine itself to launch SAMs below periscope depth, but having a bunch of Stingers on board that you can’t actually fire without surfacing is kind of… Well, stupid. It might make sense to have one or two on the off-chance you’re caught on the surface, but it’s not something you’d really give much thought to above “oh yeah, that thing we have in case we completely screw up.”

So, the Admiral got them all together for their first mission, which we’re told was several years earlier, and gets started with the inspiring speech.

“Now don’t call me Admiral anymore, as I have resigned my commission. Just call me Captain as that’s all I want to be from now on.” With murmuring discussion we all agreed.

Great job, Admiral Captain Tinfoil!

“I have resigned my commission, so I am busting myself down by four imaginary pay grades. Truly I am a man of the people.”

“The next Item gentleman is we need a name for our new vessel,” said the Captain. “I’ll entertain any and all suggestions.”

You’ll note we’re glossing over such minor issues as how seniority is being decided and enforced, what their actual mission is and how they intend to perform it, or, hell, what they’re going to eat. Nope, naming the USS Whatever (which you’ll notice didn’t have a name beforehand) is top priority. I think the main reason for this is Steve hates thinking of names and thinks actually naming something is a big deal, which is why in his hideous not-utopia future story the only names people have consist of their gender and a serial number.

The discussion went round and round and lots of names were suggested; Shark, Tiger Shark, Swordfish, Sea Wolf, Stingray, Sea Shark, Harpoon, Vengeance, Apollo, Hydra, even Nautilus. This kind of a decision was a bit of a tough nut.

The funny thing about this list is that “Apollo” is the only one that isn’t better than the one they actually choose. But it’s good that they didn’t drag Stingray into this shitfest along with the poor Nautilus and Red October, at least. Troy Tempest is too good for the likes of them.

After some lengthy discussion, the Captain finally said, “All your suggestions are really great, but I believe I have the perfect name for our boat. It is a name that will strike fear into the hearts of all those who deal in the death of the drug trade, when they eventually learn of us. It is a name of probably the deadliest fish ever known, and I think it fits us for our purpose to a tee. I propose that we name our ship, The Barracuda.”

I’m genuinely unsure how he’s quantifying “deadliest.” Barracuda are predators, but they’re not particularly interesting in terms of viciousness as far as I’m aware and they only attack humans because they’re stupid and confuse jewelery for prey. This boat does have “stupid” down to a T, mind you. Regardless, I see Admiral Captainington uses the typical military method of soliciting advice before doing whatever he was going to do anyway.

We all thought a moment and I spouted off almost simultaneously with several others, “Yes Sir, that sounds Great!”

“Spouted off” does not mean what Steve thinks it means.

Then, for no good reason, we get an image of Useless himself. This is supposedly copied from a photograph of Steve’s grandfather who was a “real life war hero” (he doesn’t say which one, and Steve’s old enough he might have Second and Korean to choose from with First at the outside).

I don’t imagine Steve’s grandfather was black and Useless isn’t black on the cover (assuming that’s him in the foreground), so I guess we have a serious shading failure here. Another good example of the issue with art I talked about earlier is that Steve doesn’t understand that Useless’ two front teeth should be lined up with the middle of his nose, so his mouth ends up pointed directly at the viewer even though the rest of his face is looking left. The same for his hooked nose, missing chin and hunchback. The lazy eye I’m not really sure about the reason for, though it certainly does mean fits well as his emoticon.

And I’m really not sure why you’d make a story where badly copied granddad is a direct report to his own son, either.

So our black invisible to radar ship was christened, The Barracuda.

Once again the author manages to start trailing behind the reader. Also yes, he does italicise the word “the” even though it shouldn’t really be considered part of the boat’s name.

I don’t know why he’s concerned with radar on a deep-diving submarine; submarines are designed to beat sonar. If you’re on the surface long enough to be caught by enemy radar you’re already doing something horribly wrong anyway. Modern submarines are black because they’re clad in thick tiles made of rubber to insulate sound coming from inside them, not because they’re made of RAM.

The name really stuck and gave the crew, who worked so hard in building her, a special bond with the boat.

Yeah, I imagine all their hard work meant nothing until it was named after an extremely stupid fish.

With our water jet engine off, intake vents closed, and the overhead blade retracted, The Barracuda could glide underwater like a bird in the upper atmosphere for a long, long while.

This is possibly the most strained metaphor I’ve ever seen that wasn’t played for a laugh. It’s reminiscent of Adams’ description of the Vogon fleet hovering like bricks don’t.

This was due to its extremely streamlined shape and when speed was needed!

When speed is needed you forget to write the rest of a sentence.

To my knowledge, way back then and even now, the drug lords still don’t know about us. All they know is that several yachts with drug kingpins aboard, have met with mysterious ends. They haven’t put 2 and 2 together yet, and we aim to keep it that way for as long as possible. We strike without warning! Like the Barracuda; hard, fast and deadly!

“This name will strike fear into their hearts when they find out, which we don’t want them to ever do!”
“Can I date the submarine now we’ve named it?”

It will also strike fear into the hearts of anyone who expects continuity since we’ll later find they’ve done a ton of stuff that Useless forgets to mention here.

Next up: Dialog! Adventure! Not adventure!

Tagged as:


  1. Rorschach on 22 October 2012, 00:49 said:

    Holy hell.

    The stupidity that permeates this book is just….painful. It literally (not figuratively) makes my head hurt.

  2. Justin on 22 October 2012, 09:28 said:

    This just makes me want to go back and re-read Greg Rucka’s run on The Punisher. It’s just like this, except for the part where characters have motivations that go beyond “My females were shoved into the fridge, so I want to retaliate,” the fantastic bleeding-edge comic book technology is actually fantastic (clothing that can be turned into a several-terabyte hard drive with a bit of tinkering anyone?) and the daring plans actually have more thought put into them than “I AM MAKING A DARING COMMANDO RAID AND HOPING THAT NO ONE NOTICES THE WET FOOTPRINTS ALL OVER THE BOAT!”

    … So not like it at all really.

    But hey, it does have one of Rucka’s famously well-written female leads in the form of Rachel Cole-Alves. That might balance things out just a little.

  3. swenson on 22 October 2012, 10:43 said:

    So he was a Navy SEAL on active duty in his own house?

    Man. Cushy jobs those SEALs have these days. Maybe I should sign up.

    Yay for the Verne references, by the way. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is great, even if it’s not particularly accurate in modern terms. Even then, however, if such a vessel had existed at the time (and if the ram had actually worked), it would’ve been an impressive and frightening weapon of war. Little less impressive a hundred and fifty years later.

    When the Admiral came, we added under his direction a particle beam weapon

    …and even less impressive when they have Magical Science Fiction Handwavium weapons too. What exactly do they need the ram for, if they have a MSFH weapon?!

    And modern submarines are slower on the surface, not faster.

    Yep. My NaNo novel a couple years back focused on submarines, and this is one of the many things that surprised me about submraines. In an all-water environment, subs can go substantially faster than sailing on the surface. They truly are designed for water, not part water, part air. Also, on the surface, you have to contend with waves, something that isn’t really a problem deeper in the ocean.

    3.There is a slight issue some of you might have detected with using a shoulder-launched SAM in a bloody submarine.

    What? Issue? I don’t see one at all…

    We all thought a moment and I spouted off almost simultaneously with several others, “Yes Sir, that sounds Great!”

    I love when characters “chorus” things “simultaneously”, especially when it’s something long and complex that even just one person isn’t likely to come up with on their own. I just picture a little chorus line from a Broadway musical or something. Do you think they practiced this line beforehand?

    And please continue the inclusion of those emoticons. You’ve already used several of my favorites. :D

  4. Fell Blade on 22 October 2012, 11:20 said:

    Your idea that Admiral Tinfoil is actually killing his recruits’ families would make a really interesting story, and would be a far better government conspiracy idea than…this.

  5. Epke on 22 October 2012, 11:47 said:

    Oh god, where to begin?

    There was a hard tragedy in his life that brought him and all of us to this life we now pursue.

    Hard tragedy? I’ve heard of great, terrible, and other adjectives that are similar, but never a hard tragedy. Maybe it’s an Amer-I-Can choice of words, I dunno.

    Their bodies had been pumped full of heroin and used by numerous men and then their throats had been cut. They were then dumped where a boy scout later found them.

    A book suitable for young people, everyone! In the next chapter, called “Happy Fluffy Bunnies”, Useless remembers how his wife’s severed head was delivered by mail to him.

    The Admiral had already recruited me and a number of others, and so we sailed the SSN41 to an uncharted, unnamed island off the Florida coast.

    Unnamed and uncharted off the coast of Florida? One of the most popular places for tourism (the sand, the sun, the sea, Spring Break and Disney World) in the U.S and they have an uncharted island just conveniently lying there? There’s bending realism and then there’s breaking realism.

    I won’t even mention the majority of the submarine part: I’m myself not very well-versed in it (aside from reading Tom Clancy), but even I can spot the idiocy here.

    The name really stuck and gave the crew, who worked so hard in building her, a special bond with the boat.

    They didn’t build her, they pimped her out. And she looks a lot less threatening with that silly sawblade shape now.

    And Dave ‘The Dude’ Wilson looks a little like a drug dealer himself… and slick your hair down flat like it was covered in mud, trim up your pencil mustache and pop them peepers, put this in your speakers; you a certified creeper. Ahem. Sorry, it just came out with that second image.

  6. Licht on 22 October 2012, 12:25 said:

    It is a name of probably the deadliest fish ever known…

    Stonefish? For a submarine?

  7. HimochiIsAwesome on 22 October 2012, 12:57 said:

    Stonefish? For a submarine?

    Maybe it’ll sink? I can only dream

    RE: The picture of Dave
    Oh FrAh that’s terrifying!
    Well that supports my theory that they’re druggies themselves and all the raids are to satisfy their addictions.

  8. Oculus_Reparo on 22 October 2012, 15:01 said:

    Tim, this is completely none of my business; but if you don’t mind, I’d be interested to know how you learned all the military/submarine information. I knew about the Merrimac and Monitor, but most of this stuff was completely beyond me . . . so I hope it isn’t common knowledge! :)

  9. Brendan Rizzo on 22 October 2012, 17:20 said:

    Your idea that Admiral Tinfoil is actually killing his recruits’ families would make a really interesting story, and would be a far better government conspiracy idea than…this.

    So basically, Nelson wasted a perfectly good plot?

  10. Prince O' Tea on 22 October 2012, 18:51 said:

    If Troy and Phones ever wanted Marina to speak, all they have to do is tie her up and force her to read this book. Give her five minutes before she starts swearing with pure rage and crying out of sheer boredom.

  11. Django on 22 October 2012, 20:04 said:

    Maybe Steve’s grandpa was just a mexican rapist? (No racism itended, but admit the guy a) Looks very mexican and b) has a very rapey facial expression.)

  12. Prince O' Tea on 22 October 2012, 21:04 said:

    Admiral Tinfoil makes me think of a fat John Waters.

  13. Fair on 22 October 2012, 21:17 said:

    And don’t forget to smile…

  14. Fireshark on 23 October 2012, 01:34 said:

    I hate that picture of Useless. Hate hate hate. What emotion is he supposed to be showing, anyway?

  15. HimochiIsAwesome on 23 October 2012, 04:57 said:

    What emotion is he supposed to be showing, anyway?

    He’s showing an emotion I know as “sleazy door-to-door salesman”.
    Yes that is an emotion now don’t question it

  16. Tim on 23 October 2012, 06:22 said:

    What exactly do they need the ram for, if they have a MSFH weapon?!

    Well, what do they need it for if they have torpedoes?

    The real answer is this is like those silly-ass debates you get where fanboys gather, where they’re arguing that $weak_thing could defeat $strong_thing and in the process imagining that $strong_thing will just sit there and let $weak_thing do whatever it feels like. Steve’s doing this for the drug trade.

    Yep. My NaNo novel a couple years back focused on submarines, and this is one of the many things that surprised me about submraines. In an all-water environment, subs can go substantially faster than sailing on the surface.

    Though this is only true of modern submarines; since the old submersibles like U-boats spent a lot of time on the surface due to the need to run their diesel engines to recharge their batteries, they were optimised for that with ship-like hullforms that were slower while submerged.


    Tim, this is completely none of my business; but if you don’t mind, I’d be interested to know how you learned all the military/submarine information.

    Well, primarily I was looking up some information on coastal defences because I was trying to figure out if the giant guns on the fort in inFamous 2 were actually based on anything. Turns out they are, they’re a very obscure and short-lived design called a disappearing gun (specifically it’s this one at Fort Casey). That led me to finding out about the first attempts to fire explosive shells from high-velocity coastal guns, dynamite guns, which were just as short-lived.

    The rest was just checking up, really. It’s amazing how much progress was being made in Verne’s time and how much we forget about and steampunk authors ignore; for example, that mechanical computers (“fire control tables”) were in use in World War One (and the term “computer” was first applied to this thing before any electronic computer existed).

    Regarding the Nautilus, I found this absolutely fantastic page on it, which includes CG renders of almost every version of the sub.


    So basically, Nelson wasted a perfectly good plot?

    Well, no, more he missed it and did something else instead.


    Maybe Steve’s grandpa was just a mexican rapist?

    Eh, I see no need to drag family into this, it’s Steve’s horrible art we’re dealing with here. Checking he said the guy was in WW2, which considering my grandfather was in WW2 and I’m thirty while Steve is somewhere in his fifties would mean he must’ve been pretty old. It looks like Steve’s tried to de-age him in the picture and completely fucked it up.


    What emotion is he supposed to be showing, anyway?

  17. OrganicLead on 23 October 2012, 07:38 said:

    Sea Shark

    Ah, I see they also considered naming their car the Land Jaguar. That descriptor doesn’t add much in the way of being cool or being useful.

    With our water jet engine off, intake vents closed, and the overhead blade retracted, The Barracuda could glide underwater like a bird in the upper atmosphere for a long, long while.

    I’ve been trying not to laugh while reading this, but I lost it here. Just try reading that out loud in your most dramatic voice. That’s pretty much the least poetic description of flight I have ever laid my eyes on. A textbook makes flight sound more exciting.

    At first I thought Nelson wanted to write a game and not a book, but this part makes me think he wanted to write an action movie instead. The world’s most boring action movie. When it comes to action, I can let a lot of silly things slide. I don’t care if every law of physics is being torn down as long as the scene is fun. This book doesn’t even have that going for it, and that’s kind of terrible.

  18. swenson on 23 October 2012, 08:36 said:

    Regarding the Nautilus, I found this absolutely fantastic page on it, which includes CG renders of almost every version of the sub.

    That is a really neat site! Thanks for that.

    Ah, I see they also considered naming their car the Land Jaguar.

    JET JAGUAR! Wait, wrong movie.

  19. Prince O' Tea on 23 October 2012, 12:42 said:

    Barracuda is probably the most uninspired name ever.

  20. Thea on 30 October 2012, 19:08 said:

    I can’t get over Useless describing his wife and daughter as bodies before they’re actually murdered at the end of the sentence.

  21. Tim on 30 October 2012, 19:40 said:

    Eh, in a better written book that might actually work; he doesn’t want to think of it happening to the people he loved so he unconsciously divorces them from the act.

    Of course given Future World, the author seems to have a rather tenuous grasp of the idea that women are people, so your reading is certainly right on this count.

  22. Prince O' Tea on 10 November 2012, 17:16 said:

    There’s a girl who looks just like Gloria Tesch in the whitepeoplemourningromney page on Tumblr.

    I don’t think it is her, but it did bring back Maradonia memories.

  23. Potatoman on 10 June 2013, 05:25 said:

    The unnecessary capitalization… the choppy dialogue… the overall STUPIDITY OF THIS PIECE OF CRAP which has somehow gotten published is making my eyes burn. I think I need some coffee.

  24. Pryotra on 10 June 2013, 06:53 said:

    It was self published. So at least you’re spared that horror.

  25. HamsterZerg on 10 December 2013, 15:10 said:

    Space is warped and time is bendable!