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Whoo boy, where to begin. First some backstory. In one of my discord communities, somebody linked us to the author page on Amazon for Gary L. M. Martin (More on this obvious ripoff name later) who decided to use their ‘about me’ section to produce an overwrought, extremely arrogant ‘open letter’ to every other writer of sci-fi and fantasy to tell them that they are hacks with no talent, and only he truly knows how to write original and quality content. Looking over the frankly absurd selection of titles and their descriptions, the discussion came around to the fact that my Patreon has a tier where backers can pick something for me to write about, and so they could in fact, maliciously back my Patreon and force me to read one of these books. Which is what happened. In keeping with the author’s propensity to write 20 words for every 1 word needed, this will probably be a very lengthy review/article/thing. I need to make this experience as miserably hilarious as possible for those who put real dollars into making me read it.

Snowflake Note: The author makes it very clear that his books are “not politically correct” and loves to employ the phrase “snowflakes who try to read this will melt” in his book descriptions. It is important to note that this book is in fact absolutely chock-a-block with racism, sexism, transphobia, climate denial, homophobia etc etc. Not realizing that Martin was not only “A terrible writer of garbage” but “A fascist terrible writer of garbage” some guilt set in on the topic of the fact that we gave him money. As a result, several members of the discord made reparative donations to TGIJustice, a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people–inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers–creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. If you were considering putting any money towards my Patreon, or Ko-Fi or Paypal as a result of this review, I’d ask that you consider instead forwarding that same amount to TGIJustice at http://www.tgijp.org/donate.html Content warnings for mentions of all of the above, though they’re so poorly written they’re extremely ineffective at being offensive, more on that later too.

Fans of Gary L.M Martin who are actually just Gary L.M. Martin Note: I know you and your ‘fans’ are predisposed to assume anybody who doesn’t accept your work as a staggering spectacle of genius are just snowflakes who are too politically correct to understand your gifts, so we’ll get this part out of the way up front too: All of that garbage in your book is garbage, and thinking it’s a good idea to publish makes you also garbage. But in the name of making it at least a little harder for you to dismiss the criticisms about to come your way, no more mention of the fact that this kind of content is inherently bad will be included. Just the fact that your version of it was inherently bad, because you are bad at writing.

Just in case note: It is possible, though it staggers the imagination that somebody could produce literally millions of pages of prose in the name of this, that the whole thing is a bit. That nobody is actually intended to buy these books, or read them, and it’s all in the name of getting reactions to that horrible ‘about me’ screed or whatever. In which case, lol you got me. But the fact that, despite lots of repetition and pointless filler, this didn’t turn into lorem ipsum 200 pages in makes me pretty sure this guy is real, and thinks he’s doing well.

Okay, with all of that over with, I can actually start to get into the meat of this. As I made my way through the nearly 750 pages of this story, I had plenty of spare time to think about how I was going to structure this review, since none of the content is actually engaging. I think to start, I’m going to address several of the claims made in the author’s open letter, in the context of this book. He claims that all other SFF authors are lacking primarily in three things:

  1. Lack of Imagination

Let’s start here. On the surface, this is a pretty foolish claim. All kinds of very original and interesting SFF is being produced all over the world. He describes five main archetypes of story that ‘99%’ of all SFF falls into which obviously don’t come close to accurately representing the breadth of topics around. Maybe if all you read are old white men from England and America there’s an argument to be had about originality, but if that’s all you read, the problem is with you. 

Now with a claim like this, you’d think his book would be super original, not based on any pre-existing things at all.  Not only is this not remotely true, and almost every aspect of this book, the characters, settings, and plot are extremely obviously just ripped off from other things, Martin provides an itemized list at the end of the book of all the places he ripped off content. This character is Baker’s Doctor Who, this character is from this Star Trek episode, the whole idea for the plot was stolen from Claire North, who he says ‘used to be original’ in the same note where he says he stole her entire plotline and ‘made it better’ because hers had…and here he describes the ‘bad, unoriginal’ plot elements of her novel which are all transposed directly into his novel unchanged in the slightest. He ripped off Frankenstein, Riverworld, Doll House, Stargate, Stargate Atlantis, Fantasy Island, Star Trek ToS -and- DS9. Jack the Ripper is a character in the book.

And he doesn’t just steal from other people, he steals from himself too. After going on in that letter to talk about the aspect of lack of imagination that leads to other authors just writing the same book over and over, the villain of this book, The Penguin, is described as being half black and half white as a ripoff of the characters from the Star Trek TOS episode ‘Let that be your last battlefield.’  I had a look at the intro to another of his books Parasites Love Earth and on the FIRST PAGE he describes a character, seemingly villainous to me, who is half black and half purple. He doesn’t just rip off other creatives, he rips himself off too. You’ve failed your own test here Mr. Martin.

  1. Lack of Empathy

By this, he claims to be referring to characters being two-dimensional and uninteresting to people. He equates being ‘virtuous’ with being uninteresting, and thus having unvirtuous flaws as his primary indicator of ‘depth’. Almost every character in this entire book is two-dimensional and uninteresting. I hate to break it to you, but having a character have really large breasts, while extending them physically into a third dimension doesn’t make the character three-dimensional. Everybody outside the three main characters is reducible to one short sentence that is basically ‘which supposedly SJW flaw are they entirely defined by, and if a woman, what do we know about her breasts?’ and that’s it. 

He’s so busy trying to caricature every quality he associates with the left, that absolutely none of the characters so represented have any depth at all. He clearly finds their views so repugnant that he’s entirely incapable of making any of the characters feel real at all. Even the characters that have some kind of depth or growth are comparatively flat. The most they grow and change is to go from ‘this character is a jerk’ to ‘I want to have sex with this character’.  

  1. Lack of Self-Awareness

Interestingly, by self-awareness he doesn’t actually seem to mean any real meaning of self-awareness that I’m familiar with. What he says he means is that other authors are not aware that their writing is not entertaining. His cardinal sins for non-entertaining story seem to be “describing the world” and “having lots of characters” and “Dialogue that serves the plot and is not an end in itself.” As things to call ‘bad’ go, I’m…hesitant to agree. But even if I grant him that these are all bad things, his approach to not describing the world was to describe so little that it was over 150 pages into the book that there was any context that this took place in the future, and a good additional 100 pages or so to establish that this took place HUNDREDS of years into the future, which…seems like a pretty basic world detail to establish? And for somebody who calls out ‘dozens’ of characters as ‘bloat’ he definitely had…dozens of named characters, including many who had absolutely nothing to do with the plot at all and were just filler. Especially rich is that he asks rhetorically whether any of those bad authors ever re-read their dialogue to decide if it was entertaining, assumes they have never done that, and then also claims to have written this entire 225,000 word novel in 15 days, where 99% of it was the single first draft published unchanged.

So those were his criticisms in his open letter, all of which he absolutely fails to avoid in his own writing, without a lick of that self-awareness he so derides the lack of in others. You might wonder if I’m done, but no friends, I’ve only just begun. While I was reading this heap of dung, I was also live posting into my Discord, so I could go back and have an account of just some small percentage of the absolute nonsense that comprised this book. Given that he wrote the whole thing in basically one single stream-of-consciousness vomit gush, it feels like going chronologically through my notes and just highlighting some of the most egregious instances of terrible writing, breaking his own rules, and wasting all of our time is a fitting paean to sewage. 

Let’s roll.

First, the blurb on Amazon for the book. Almost none of it is accurate. The Doctor is not captured by the circle of ghosts, they go talk to him and convince him to help them. Alanna Maskirovna, as a ghost, is never described in terms of what her previous living body looked like. There is no actual way to know that she is or was sexy, only whether the body she was possessing at the time was sexy. I think perhaps very importantly, she does not jump into the body of his 18 year old adopted daughter. She jumps into the body of his 17 year old adopted daughter. Interesting choice to ‘accidentally’ blurb the book to make the eventual obvious sex scene described up front as consenting sex between adults instead of the statutory rape it is in many parts of the world. Especially considering that Martin -constantly- harps on the fact that she’s 17 throughout the whole book. She also doesn’t do it to save her life, she does it to -try- to save her life, and fails, and ends up just in possession of the 17 year old body. He also doesn’t have difficult choices to make. He basically goes ‘ehhh I want to have sex with her, but she’s like a daughter to me…okay yeah nevermind, lets have sex.’

Next, a thing you need to know about his adopted daughter Sophie is that she doesn’t just have breasts. She has Dutch breasts. And Alyssa (the person Alanna was possessing at the start of the novel) doesn’t just have breasts, she has Jewish breasts. Also described as Semitic breasts. Also described as ‘feeling like warm eggplants wilting in the summer heat’ but the point isn’t that horrifying image, it’s the nationalizing of breasts. This happens throughout the novel, like we’re supposed to actually draw meaning or imagery from the distinction between Dutch breasts and Irish breasts. Oh and did I mention that there’s a Vietnamese woman in the story who doesn’t have Vietnamese breasts? She has ‘Southeast Asian’ breasts. This comes after a line of dialogue about how they used to be Oriental, then Asian, but now the ‘correct’ way to objectify her is to think of her ‘Southeast Asian’ breasts which at one point were bouncing like they were caught in ‘an Asian typhoon’ so I guess the whole ‘Southeast Asian’ thing only applies to the breasts in themselves, and not anything they do.

Astute observers will also note that this means he did the very common lazy racist thing of being sure to refer to every European nation individually, but then give us ‘African’ and ‘Asian’ for the non-white places. Even the objectification was lazy and inconsistent and poorly executed.

There’s a vein of politics running through this whole thing that is very ancap/right-libertarian. The Doctor lives on the Isle of Man because it’s a tax haven. He thinks taxes are parasitic, has a bunch of threatening private property signs around his house, attributes a really shallow version of communism, of the type children understand, to the ‘world government’ and a religious movement that he heartily disapproves of. He eats steak, hates salad, and is constantly disapproving of all of the modern progressive political stances like ‘not being a racist’ or ‘not being a climate denier’. Literally every single portrayal of every single character besides the 4ish main characters is one of these facile caricatures he hastily sketches in a couple sentences and then ignores just as easily.

Another way in which Martin is just extremely lazy is the volume of plot holes, and inconsistencies littering the book. Early on, we find out that the Doctor has a ‘mind numbing field’ equipped to his bed that apparently gives him, and I quote, ‘the brain of a retarded person’ which makes him therefore fall almost instantly into sleep. We then find out later when he’s sleeping away from his bed, that without that numbing field, he has terrible nightmares, tossing, turning, speaking in his sleep, but for the entire rest of the novel, every time he sleeps in his own bed, he doesn’t use the field, and continues to have nightmares, so the sexy lady ghost can comfort him.

There’s a section where Alanna and the Doctor are discussing the villain, The Penguin, which includes a lesson about the nature of the different kinds of ghosts. This passage is also verbatim except for the elided part in square brackets:

“And is the Penguin a Shade or a Fiend?” The Doctor asked 

“No” said Alanna. “He is the most powerful… and the most rare kind of malign entity. He is a Poltergeist” 

“What does that mean?” The doctor asked sharply 

[She explains] 

“And let me guess,” said the Doctor. “This Penguin…he’s this most powerful kind of evil ghoul. A Poltergeist.”

I suppose this is a danger in writing your whole 750 page novel in two weeks? 

The whole plot of the novel hinges on the Penguin’s plan to destroy the world by launching the future nukes that somehow still exist despite the ‘world government’ and all the enforced pretend communism. It’s revealed that by possessing the body of a person, the Penguin gains access to their memories and knowledge, by the fact that we see him having possessed one of the officers in the missile launch facility, and that doing so has given him ‘knowledge of the procedures’ for how to launch the missiles. Yet somehow, that knowledge didn’t extend to the fact that it takes two people to launch the missiles. So having killed everybody in the room, and failing to launch the missiles alone he leaves, and comes back later with a second ghost to possess two people at once. They once again kill everybody else and try to launch the missiles, at which point he discovers that they ALSO need to get the codes from the President.

You can see where this is going. If you gain their memories enough to work the missile launch system, how the fuck do you miss that you need two people, then the code, then after possessing the President and literally saying ‘gimme gimme gimme’ to the General who has that day’s launch code? All in all, he takes control of some number of guys, murders an entire facility of military personnel, and fails to launch the missiles three separate times, and still somehow has both a facility and staff to possess on final attempt number four. As an additional plot hole, after his failed attempt to use the President, it’s stated that the good guy ghosts are going to keep a careful watch on the new President and then when it’s time for him to engage the plan again, no mention at all is made of those watchers, even to describe how they were overcome. It’s just a lost plot point.

On that note, let’s talk about Jack the Ripper, the character in this totally original novel that puts everybody else’s samey ripoff writing to shame, that is literally just the ghost of Jack the Ripper. His original mission working for The Penguin is to kill Sophie, the doctor’s 17 year old adopted daughter with Dutch breasts. He decides he isn’t going to kill her because she looks EXACTLY like the English woman that rejected him that turned him into Jack the Ripper in the first place. Of course, they interact, written from his point of view, several times before the fact that she looks identical to his old love interest is actually revealed, you know the absolute first and overriding thing he would think of when he saw her? We get around to it eventually.

Their storyline through the novel involves him basically corrupting her, and using ghost cum to brainwash her into his slave, who then gets sent to have sex with the Doctor and then kill him. We’re shown a sex scene between them (so again, not really a difficult choice for him) that culminates in her stabbing him with a poison needle ring, and him dying. She reports back to Jack, and while they’re talking, the Doctor walks into the room miraculously unharmed. Jack questions how this is possible, because Sophie was under his control. The Doctor says she was under Jack’s control until she wasn’t, and that somehow Jack saw what they ‘wanted’ him to see? There’s some kind of implication that the Doctor is claiming they didn’t actually have sex but Martin forgets to ever explain what actually happened if not the scene we were shown. Was it a hologram? Was it pretend sex? We don’t know. It is literally never mentioned or discussed or thought about ever again.

And speaking of ‘never mentioned or discussed ever again’ let’s talk about the vignettes. Martin calls out other authors for filler, and dialogue and plot that don’t go anywhere, but his book is FULL of it. There will just be scenes that drop the plot of the story and spend anywhere from one to ten or twenty pages telling us the story of some person or people who end up becoming ghosts or become possessed by ghosts and stuff happens, and then we go back to the main story, and none of those characters or anything they did was actually plot relevant at all or ever mentioned again. 

Sometimes those stories turn out to be flashbacks that involve main characters, when those main characters suddenly show up in the scene. Sometimes those stories turn out to be contemporary to the story when the main characters suddenly show up in the scene but it’s the present day. How can you tell which is which? Sometimes from eventual context as the story moves on from that point, but sometimes you just have to guess, or not care. It’s easiest to not care.

And now that we’ve mentioned not caring, another thing Martin doesn’t care about is even cursory proofreading of his stories after they’re done. In MANY scenes, character names were transposed, or just incorrect, often in ways that would completely change the meaning of the scenes if you didn’t notice he got a name wrong. 

The Doctor is constantly eating a snack called ‘Girl balls’ which come in blond, redhead, light brunette and dark brunette. What do they taste like? We don’t know. What are they made of? We don’t know. I would -assume- the logical thing for them to taste like in this context would be tasting like you were giving oral sex to someone of the appropriate hair colour? But like…the Doctor is too manly to ever demean himself to give oral sex, and obviously not all blond people would taste the same. Who even knows. There’s a one-off joke where he’s asked if they’re actually made of girls and he says yes, and that’s it. Except that’s not it, because there’s another character who is also a doctor who is basically just like him, but he eats a chocolate candy called ‘Girl lips’. There’s a one-off joke where he’s asked if they’re actually made of girls and he says yes, and that’s it. Except that’s not it either. Towards the end of the book, the Doctor and Alanna encounter ‘Girl cheese.’ There’s a ….yeah I can’t go through it all again. The exact joke is made three times, and in none of the cases do you ever know anything about the actual objects. I guess this is the ‘not doing detail’ thing he thinks makes good writing.

Then there’s a recurring issue throughout the book which is ‘Martin just doesn’t know what things are or how they work.’ This happens in a couple places. There’s a scene early on where the Doctor claims that there is ‘one advantage’ that women have over men, and that is in the arena of urination, as and I quote:

“You shoot out straight down like a laser beam. Men, on the other hand, spray outwards like old fashioned shotguns.” 

He associates testicle size with both virility and manliness, at one point he has a character talk to a woman claiming that her hatred of men has ruined many lives. Her hatred of men, that he calls ‘misterogeny’. Like…he knew the word ‘misogyny’ and though that the part that meant ‘women’ was the ‘mis’ part like it was ‘miss’ and so he coined a nonsense word when both the actual word for hatred of men exists, and also words work a certain way? He’s used the term ‘man nipples’ . There’s a very Ben Shapiro level of self-owning in the way he fails to understand things. There’s also a point where Sophie handles a bomb, which is described as “a sphere perhaps 18 inches across and six inches wide.” Imagine not knowing how a sphere works. A large bomb the size of a small bomb.

In a scene that could have been great if he’d gone for the meme, the Doctor, upon being told that something could be impossible says “Impossible is a word used by small children who go hungry because they cannot figure out how to open a box of cake.” Now, if it had been a can of beans, I would have laughed. But let’s consider a box of cake. Does he mean an actual whole cake that comes in a box? Because those boxes are trivially easy to open and even if they weren’t, a suitably hungry kid could easily collapse the box. Does he mean a box of cake mix? Because then the hungry kid also needs to know how to make cake from a box of cake mix. I don’t know how you go through life managing the intersection of not knowing how pee works, what spheres are, and what hungry kids can eat, but here we are.

There are two main other things Martin fails to understand which seem sort of important when writing an erotic novel that includes an unexpected twist. Those two things he doesn’t understand are ‘how to write an erotic novel’ and ‘how to write an unexpected twist.’

The sex scenes in this book. Phew. They read like they were written by a 12 year old who maybe got a hold of an old-timey playboy magazine and figured that was everything he needed to know. The defining quality of a penis is whether it is long, the defining quality of vulvas are that they are hairy. The defining quality of breasts, I guess, is what country they come from. Sex is very short, includes literally zero foreplay 99% of the time, and penises just get put in vaginas for a minute or two, and then, since the men have big balls that are therefore extra full of sperm, when the men orgasm, they manage to ejaculate past cervixes and into wombs. That’s about it. There was not a single sex scene in this entire novel that was even a little bit arousing. As a lesbian friend from my discord said, and I quote ‘the titties are lame’. Mr. Martin, you’ve managed to make titties too lame for a lesbian!

Then we have the twist. So the Doctor has the ability to detect psychic energy that indicates the presence of ghosts. He has satellites in orbit that can do this detection. He’s also made a handheld version. Unfortunately, the handheld version has a range of only one inch. The reason for this, he explains, is that FOR SOME REASON if he makes the handheld version have a range further than an inch, it keeps giving him false positives on ghost detection. Take a moment, and think about what that reason might be.

Did you think of it? Did it take you literally five seconds to get your brain from ‘if he makes a ghost detector that detects more than an inch away from the end of the machine it says there’s a ghost’ to the SHOCKING TWIST that comes 700 pages later, with 3 or 4 intervening reminders that the machine only works at a range of an inch and no more? And he honestly tried to sell it like it landed hard. Like it was genuinely shocking to the characters and the reader. This is the amount of faith he has in the brains of his readers, that they would make it through multiple explanations of this problem, and yet feel tension of an ‘is he or isn’t he’ internal dialogue.

Nearly done, I promise. In fact there’s really just three more things I want to talk about. The first one is that throughout this entire novel, between every character in every part of the setting, across 750 pages, there are absolutely zero mentions of any kind of media being consumed by anybody. Television, novels, music, any creative media at all. Except…three times three totally different characters are each reading a book that is just one of Martin’s other books, which somehow exists canonically inside the world of this book. Which implies that Martin himself may have existed inside the world of this book. Just a weird choice.

The second thing is Lindsay Ellis. She had a twitter thread about Gary L. R. Martin and one of his books which apparently got her an email from him thanking her for a bunch of press. Her thread from June of last year is at https://twitter.com/thelindsayellis/status/1272763052442542080 It seems that he took her giving him even a little criticism extremely to heart, as he decided to Tuckerize her by placing her in the story, with a bunch of cheap shots at the degree to which she is fabulously more successful than he will ever be, and then had her get brainwashed into lesbianism, which he obviously considers insulting. If you follow that thread down you’ll find a reply where I include a screenshot of the introduction of the character in the book.

The last and final thing is to talk about the slurs and bigotry that are instrumental to the construction and execution of the novel. Now once again, I know I promised I wasn’t going to ‘be a snowflake’ here, and I won’t. The main reason I won’t is that honestly, all of his attempts at being racist, and misogynistic, and transphobic, and generally bigoted are so clumsily and ineptly done that I’m hard pressed to even actually be offended by them.

It’s like…you know the way when you were 8 or 9 or 10 and didn’t know anything about anything, somebody would tell you a dirty joke, and you assumed that the dirty joke was based in reality and so you got some really weird ideas about how things worked until you learned better? That is the level of these attempts to be edgy. He’s trying as hard as he can to ‘melt’ the snowflakes, but we’re not even at ‘identify as an attack helicopter’ tier, we’re at sub ‘identify as an attack helicopter’ tier. We’re at the point where he thinks it’s a great scene where, when a ghost is forcing a person to ruin her own life by posting horrifying things on the internet, the one that finally ruins her life is to post ‘The ice ages were real’. I guess this is based on the idea that people who believe in human-caused climate change think that temperatures only ever changed at all after the industrial revolution? Like…zing buddy, you got me.

Even the actual racism is just so lazy and poor. The Vietnamese lady I mentioned earlier? The one with the politically correct ‘Southeast Asian’ breasts? Her name is Bangh Mi Poon. Now I admit I am very ignorant of naming conventions in countries like Vietnam, but I’m at least a little sure that both Mi and Poon are surnames? Is Bangh supposed to be like Bánh? I don’t know. All I know is that we got a sub-Austin Powers tier racist name like it’s supposed to melt me. The Doctor is Jewish, as evidenced by the comparison of himself to another Jewish character via the relative size of their noses, and his being the only circumcised penis in the entire novel. It really feels like he found a checklist of ‘things to trigger the libs’ and just sort of…dumped them into the novel wherever, without thinking even a little about them, dusted off his hands and said ‘that’ll show em, snowflakes who try to read this will melt’

That really is the overriding impression of this novel. A 12 year old who thought it would make him look cool to be a sad little edgelord tried his best to write something that was sexy, offensive, and interesting and just failed, abjectly, at all three tasks. Nothing about this book was good. It had no redeeming qualities. The writing was bad, the characters were bad, the story was full of holes, the quality assurance was nonexistent. If you cut about 400 pages of absolutely worthless filler, and had the sex scenes written by somebody who demonstrates that they actually have had sex themselves, there might have been a reasonable story there. The basic premise that he stole from another author had potential in this context, he was just not even a little up to the task. And if he wanted it to be politically incorrect and offensive to people who don’t have his own obviously extremely fragile sensibilities, he might have tried actually understanding enough about the positions he wanted to attack to actually attack them, instead of the cardboard cutout of a picture of a straw man he thinks they are. You’re not going to offend the SJWs when you misunderstand our positions so completely that you can’t even attack the positions we hold. It’s just sad, man. Like…really sad.

So here I am, 5300 words later. This book was racist, fascist, sexist garbage. But the key issue is actually the garbage part. Even if I were myself a racist, fascist, sexist person, this book would still be garbage. You are bad at writing, and it’s sad that you’ve done so much writing and THIS is one of your newer books, implying that this is what you created AFTER a lot of practice. Please…stop writing. You are not good at it. 

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Gary L.M. Martin, the very worst author.

  1. HAHA wow this guy sounds like a loser, this book sounds even worse then that crappy novel Steven Seagal wrote, at least that one was kinda fascinatingly bad, this just sounds pathetically lazy.

    Like

  2. Just discovered GLMM like 10 minutes ago but still suspect he might be a phenomenal artist? Have you seen his “music video” which is a mash-up of Star Trek NG and Hooked On Classics disco? Whew. I mean I didn’t watch the whole thing – my wife said enough’s enough, but… Look out Matthew Barney?

    Like

  3. Hi! I’d like to get in touch with you about this author and book. I’ve got a bit of a story regarding him for you, if you’re interested. Couldn’t find contact info on your site, so hopefully, this works.

    Like

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