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How Suzanne Brockman lost me.

I just finished reading the latest paperback from Suzanne Brockmann. _Dark of Night_. I'm disappointed and that's a sad thing because I've absolutely loved her series of romances about SEAL team 16 and the Troubleshooters. Aparently I'm not alone.

My complaint isn't the same as most of the others... I'm great with Sophia and Dave. I even am okay with Tracey being people smart. She and Decker did seem to come out of left field. I thought Decker was great even if I thought his overwhelming conflict was pretty lame.

What I didn't care for was the politics.

I read for escapism, for studly dangerous men acting like men, for sex, and adventure with guns, where our military are the good guys and the SEALs are supermen and military contractor's are heroes, too. (I wonder if Ms. Brockmann realizes that the Troubleshooters ARE Blackwater?)

I do not read sexy action adventure to be presented with a *cause*.

It's small things but they don't need to BE there. Yes, the relationship between Jules and Robin is part of that. Not because they are gay but because instead of a *story* their relationship became a *statement*. The point at which it became a statement is the point at which it got annoying. It *reads* different. The tone changes.

I could point to Dave (I think it was) a few books ago I think he was wearing a Che' t-shirt. And that threw me because I thought... would he? And in _Dark of Night_ someone is wearing a campaign t-shirt with either "Got Hope" or "Got Change"... don't remember... and big deal, right? And someone laments about how we used to be the good guys or something or getting sent to Gitmo. I am *fine* with having someone in the government be the force of evil or a rogue CIA faction undertaking illegal black-ops. And yeah, torture is bad and evil and the evil people can be expected to torture their prisoners for information.

But it is the way that it is done. When it is a *statement* it reads differently. There are no alternate opinions or shades of opinions or variety of opinions. No one has a "Peace Through Superior Fire Power" t-shirt to balance Che'. No one has a Sarah Palin bumper sticker to balance the hope-n-change campaign memoribilia. No one making a remark about Gitmo is balanced by someone who is of the opinion that the best place for "Tangoes" is dead.

In the real world there are a variety of opinions. Even keeping it light, the references fleeting, doesn't stop the feeling of preachiness if there are not opposing opinions expressed by other characters.

It starts to wear after a while and is more than distracting to be *waiting* for the next remark to happen. It throws me out of the story, and that is a bad thing. I don't want to be *lectured* by Tracey, at length, that there is no wrong way to have sex. I just want her and Decker to do it however they want to do it. I don't want to hear *Suzanne Brockmann* say anything at all about sex or about politics or Gitmo or torture or bigotry. That's what she's got *characters* for. And in the last few books I have definitely been hearing Suzanne Brockmann.

It's not that this novel was bad or unentertaining. It was fine, really. I'm just not all that interested in the next one because I know I'll be waiting for the next remark, wondering what it will be. Worse, the free-sample of the next novel that was in the back of this one starts out with three young ladies working together on a political campaign. Ugh.

Worse even than the expectation of having the politics put in there front and center is... I got confused about who was who and for a moment I thought that the working girl was being promoted as a political candidate by her wealthy ivy-league friends. But no, I was wrong... it's the proper and acceptable Ivy League trust-fund lady who has decided on a political career.

Well, okay then!

At least Brockmann hasn't missed that liberal necessity.

Which! I admit is a stupid political reaction for ME to have but simply shows that as things are I can not read her books without the politics being front and center and not only does that suck... it's boring.

It's not even a matter of getting in a snit over it, it's just not wanting to bother.

And that is sad because I really loved her books.


Trooper York said…
Nothing is worse then finding out that one of your favorite authors has diametricly opposed political values. One of my favorite fanatsy authors is George M.M. Martin the author of the "Game of Thrones" series which are huge complicated interesting books. But when I went on his website I found out that he was a far left kos kid with tons of anti-bush hysteria in his own words. I kinda made me sorry I love his stuff so much. With actors and actresses I boycott their movies if they are Sean Penn's or Tim Robbins types. But with authors it is different somehow. As long as thier politics doesn't leak into their books, I guess I can live with it.
Synova said…
I do my best not to find out!

I know that I've got posts where I talked about this before. It's not that I have some sort of "that will show you!" attitude, it's that when the politics *intrude* they intrude!

As funny as it may sound, with speculative fiction as long as an author gets "this is how real people behave" correctly it's hard to even guess how they really feel about contemporary events.

I got sort of a chuckle a few years ago when one of the authors who frequents rec.arts.sf.composition expressed that she'd suddenly realized the parallels between contemporary politics and George Bush and Iraq and the space adventure she'd been writing. Her heroes had been acting on the wisdom of pre-emptive action or something or other and in her speculative world she understood that this was the right thing to do. When she realized it she said it made her uncomfortable because in real life she did not approve!

No, I don't remember who it was, and I'm certainly wrong about the details... but it seemed a rather profound or at least interesting and clear minded realization, and some pretty impressive honesty to admit it.

I don't mean to imply anything about what attitudes are the correct ones! Only that there is a whole lot of wiggle room to explore different ideas in fiction... which is sort of the point of it.

An exceptional author will write about what is *real* in such a way that people of drastically different sensibilities will find a novel insightful.

I note Lois Bujold's Mile's Vokosigan books as an example.

I note also that Instapundit frequently promotes Charles Stross and Scalzi.
Colleen said…
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

That is exactly what I had been feeling about Suz's books... I fell in love with "The Unsung Hero," but by the time Jules and Robin began getting all hot and heavy, I noticed it went beyond "these are two characters who happened to be gay" and became "they are gay because I want to make a statement."

And I always thought how it was weird that none of the SEALs were right-leaning -- my husband is military, and I've spent a lot of time around military types. Not every person in uniform is conservative or a republican, but there are more of them than not! It was really unrealistic of her to portray every single one of them as GLAAD-card-carrying-bleeding-heart-all-you-need-is-love-Che-shirt-wearing hippies.

I actually was "banned" from her Facebook page today... it started out as a misunderstanding, I think, (they were talking about the senate race in MA, and I had a "Vote for Scott Brown" icon) and when I messaged her (after seeing I was no longer a "friend") and asked to be re-instated (out of the spirit of tolerance and all) she completely unleashed on me, all but calling me a homophobe because I support a Republican politician.

She totally lost me as a fan today... I used to look up to her as a person and a writer, but no more. I have no desire to read any more of her books, and in fact I think I might throw out the 20 or so of hers I have.
Synova said…
Being a fan is a relationship of sorts and a "break-up" is painful even when all it was, was realizing that the fan relationship is one sided. When I realized that I "broke up" with Lois Bujold, even though she remains wonderful and appreciates her fans, it's just not the same commitment. You know what I mean?

That was the only time I did the fan-girl, forums and all that jazz, part of it... the only author I got too close too that way.

It still hurt to break up, and she never even let me down.

I can only imagine how much it really does hurt when someone you look up to, really look up to, destroys that trust in such a drastic and harsh way.

So I hope that finding my post helped you feel like you're in good company.

Also, sweet victory, Brown won!
Colleen said…
It did, actually. Reading your take on her and her books made me feel loads better. :o)

And yes, Brown pulled off a Massachusetts Miracle! I would love to see the look on Suz's face after Coakley conceeded -- after lecturing on her facebook page about how "a vote for Brown is a vote for hatred." I guess there are a whole lot of hateful people in MA, huh, Suz? LOL Ah schadenfreude...
Synova said…
I'm glad I could help. :-)
Unknown said…
I'm not a fan of Suzanne Brockmann, but I am a fan of some of her characters: Sam, Alyssa, Ash, Dave and Sophia.

I didn't know that Dave's shirt meant anything and then again, I didn't really pay attention to it. I just love Dave and liked that he dressed in jeans and a t-shirt at times.

I'm against homosexuality (the act), not homosexual (the people). Most people don't look at the two as being different. I will not go into details.

Suzanne does try to make a statement. I know that her son is a homosexual and that's why I believe she wrote Jules as being a homosexual.

There is no way that she can tell me that all of her characters are okay with homosexuality.

I hate that she had Jules have a crush on Sam and turned around and make him have his own Sam. Robin looks just like Sam and if I am not mistaken, they are the same height as well.

If I am not mistaken, this information is in Force of Nature.

Suzanne wants everyone to accept homosexuality and if they don't, then something is wrong with them and she doesn't want to have anything to do with them.

She's the one that's being hateful.

There are too many authors out there to read. There are other Navy Seals stories out there.
Anonymous said…
"Suzanne wants everyone to accept homosexuality and if they don't, then something is wrong with them-"
Thats because people that don't accept homosexuality are Usually bigots- hence there is something wrong with them.
Unknown said…
"Thats because people that don't accept homosexuality are Usually bigots- hence there is something wrong with them."

A brave person would never hide behind Anonymous.

Call me whatever you want, person in the dark. I will never accept homosexuality.
Synova said…
Accepting homosexuality isn't enough for Suzanne. She wants everyone to accept the politics surrounding homosexuality. Being tolerant isn't enough.

That's what the problem is.

It's not that she wants people to accept homosexuality... she does. But she can encourage that without being a bigot herself. The problem is that she stopped trying to persuade and started trying to punish.

Kicking someone off your facebook list because she supports a Republican politician is unbalanced.

It's bigoted.

Anyone who has the need to have someone to hate that badly is not a thoughtful or balanced person.

Someone who is that simplistic, or who has become that simplistic over the issue over time CAN NOT be a good writer.

Maybe she was before.

Now she is not.

Homosexuality has zip to do with the role of the federal government in our lives, intrusion of the federal government in our lives, responsible economics or capitalism.

Being a homosexual does not turn one into a pacifist or a socialist or a warmist or any other sort of -ist.

Please note the link to the conservative Republican Gay Patriot on my blog roll.
Unknown said…
Suzanne is a type of person, if you don't see things her way, then she doesn't want to have anything to do with you.

Thank goodness, she isn't the only writer in the world. There are plenty of other books that are out there to read.

Kicking people off your group or facebook, because they don't agree with you, shows a sign of immaturity.

Readers don't need an author, an author needs readers.

She's dealing with something inside of her that she's taking out on people.

It will eventually come out in due time.
Anonymous said…
It is fiction for a reason!!!!
The Bonz said…
"Suzanne is a type of person, if you don't see things her way, then she doesn't want to have anything to do with you."

Oh man did you hit the nail on the head with that comment ... I was a long-time "member" of her now defunk message board, which imploded over politics, religion, the gay-agenda, and how everyone became so polarized because of their beliefs, with no room for TRUE acceptance of everyone's belief system other than the Suz one. Talk about losing respect for an author ... been there, got the t-shirt. I've been Suz-free since then and never been happier. I'm confident in what/why I believe in and don't need to be "enlightened" thru my escapist reading materials. ;p
susan baxter said…
Wow, I totally agree that Suzanne is extreme! I loved her books so much that I urged my daughter to read them. She too became a fan, and one day smugly informed me that Suzanne had accepted her as a friend on Facebook. (My daughter is young enough to be impressed by this, haha) I was curious,so checked out the site. This was before the last election, and yes, she was pro Coakley, anti Brown. She also went on and on about how we must re-elect Obama for a second term so he can repair the damage Bush caused. And blah, blah, blah.
But really, what pretty much disgusted me was all her fawning fans who tried to outdo each other in agreeing with everything she said.
I have absolutely nothing against gays and always liked the character, Jules. When he and Robin got together, I enjoyed the storyline. But one thing I found totally unrealistic was how easily everyone accepted them. Especially Sam. I tried reading the book about their wedding(name of it escapes me at the moment) but found it to be too'untrue' to real life, yes, BORING!
I know the date of Suzanne's next book release, (March 22,2011)because my daughter keeps happily reminding me. She cannot wait, and will pre-order it for sure.I used to run out and get her books in hardcover asap, myself. But this time I think I will take a pass.I have outgrown Suzanne Brockmann.

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