Caliphate is a book that is silly, with dumb stuff in it and is your typical baen thriller. Hot chick, evil dudes, race against time etc etc. Its not a very good book, but it has its charm and fridge logic. It’s self contained.While Caliphate wasn't terrible, Kratman's Carrera series is just... wonky. The colonized 'New Terra' seems to have undergone the exact same goddamn rough arc of history that the original Earth did -- down to a quasi-WW2 where the Japanese colony got nuked by the USA colony. And then the UN nuked the USA colony, which pissed them off so bad they instituted a black project that culminated in developing good enough surface-to-space weapons that they could threaten the UN spaceships around the planet.
I don't blame people for pirating the books. But Michael Z. Williamson's stuff is a bit better.
The Carerra stuff is... kind of disturbing. It’s Tom’s self insert doing terrible terrible things. The politics isn’t something you can filter out of it; Tom one hundred percent believes every word he puts in this series. Gays, Muslims, and anyone even slightly left of center or doesn’t share his views is evil and must be destroyed. Tom goes one hundred percent bugfuck crazy in writing this. I didn’t want to fully touch on the lazy as fuck world building or some of Tom’s really out there views until later as they start to come up, but let’s talk about this now so you understand half of why I’m reviewing/let’s reading this.
Tom is an ideological fanatic, plain and simple. He’s a person willing to white wash a whole organization that committed horrific war crimes on every front and not only on opposing soldiers but also on civilian populations, just because they fought communists. Tom’s world building in many ways reflects this kind of ideological fanaticism. The science fiction element of A Desert Called Peace are slapped on to provide his sandbox/soapbox to express his views and justify them to the reader and to himself. The history of Terra Nova reads as such - hell, the US analog fought alongside the German analog in their world war.
The other factor is that Tom Kratman feels slighted and disappointed by the army, and has never gotten over this. He was in Panama during the invasion to depose Noriega, and never saw combat. I fully believe he partly joined the army because he wanted to kill someone, become the action hero he views himself as, and be lauded for it. Tom Kratman never got a command over a large unit, probably because people above him noticed his sociopathic tendencies and realized he’d either get killed by his men or get them killed by ignoring risks in training. This whole series is his way of taking vengeance upon those he dislikes.
Tom’s purpose in writing this book is to push his view of what a military should be like. Dangerous live action exercises during training, emphasis on small unit actions and aggression (which is understandable and somewhat needed for an infantry officer) and a focus almost exclusively on the tactical level. He writes a TOE for every single engagement in his books, down to shit like “motorized pleasure girls” and has the enemy constantly foiled by basic tactical thinking, or just digging in and fighting from fixed positions. His ideal form of warfare is the only form of warfare that works and by god he’s going to show you that form and how it is the only way to win while the hide bound army with things like “operational concerns” and “rules of engagement” bumbles around and is out maneuvered by his legion.
I’m no military genius, and I’m totally willing to admit I might be totally reading this entire thing wrong. But this book and series is I think critical in understanding how Kratman thinks. He wants to be a warrior philosopher like Marcus Aurelius or Musashi, or that hard man making hard decisions while hard. He views any critique of his work as an attack on him because consciously or not this is him, with no pretense of civility or any kind of restraint.
The other half of the reason to review it is the absurdity of it. He puts people he doesn’t like in the books and gets them killed, horribly, he writes nonsensical bullshit like the restaurant scene that is so cheesy you can taste it, everything from the names of the country and the world building itself to the forces he creates is so barely hidden in a way that is so stupid you can’t help but enjoy how dumb he thinks his audience is. Every character is a card board cut out and even the offensive stereotypes are so over the top one dimensional and the casual racism/xenophobia so ludicrously over blown. There’s a checklist of silly dumb bullshit he has and it’s so formulaic it’s fun to look at the absolute dumpster fire here and try to figure out if he’s doing it if he genuinely thinks this is good writing or if it’s this intentionally boilerplate so he can crank them out David Weber style. I can’t help but imagine some poor editor in the basement of Baen publishing finding this whole thing in an even less coherent ramble, written by hand with little doodles of angry faces, dicks, and explosions in the margines, then having to piece together everything over several bottles of Jack Daniels a week before the deadline. Tom I think genuinely tries to write something entertaining and like Ringo’s paladins but without the tongue in cheek sort of feeling I pick up from some of Ringo’s work. It’s almost endearing.
TL;DR Tom’s probably a sociopath and his attempts to communicate with normal humans are unintentionally funny and horrifying all at the same time