“Tom Kratman, in 1974 at age seventeen, became a political refugee and defector from the PRM (People’s Republic of Massachusetts) by virtue of joining the Regular Army.”
— the beginning of Tom Kratman’s “About the Author” blurb on Amazon.com
Tom Kratman is a writer and notorious internet troll. A former lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Kratman now spends his time writing execrable novels and harassing people who talk about them in anything other than glowing terms. His usual methods for the latter activity involve challenging people to duels or fistfights and killing characters with their names in his novels. He has been banned from multiple forums and blogs on account of his bigotry and obnoxious behavior.
Kratman has been discussed on meme several times, both for own nonsense and for his involvement with a group of conservative sf/f fans (the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies) who used slate voting to get a disproportionate amount of their picks onto the 2015 Hugo ballot. Kratman's novella Big Boys Don’t Cry was on the slate and made the Hugo ballot in the Best Novella category; like virtually all of the Puppy works, it finished below 'No Award.' An overview thread with a few of the book’s highlights is here.
According to TVTropes, Kratman has written over a dozen novels since he began his writing career in 2003. However, they tend to blend together because they feature so many of the same tropes (e.g., evil gay liberals, evil psychotic Muslims, strong men with big guns killing the aforementioned liberals and Muslims). A brief primer:
♦ A State of Disobedience. Kratman’s first novel deals with Texas revolting against a tyrannical liberal government led by the evil lesbian Wilhelmina Rottemeyer. The Texans ultimately win thanks to a bunch of plot contrivances, Rottemeyer is assassinated, and Rottemeyer’s lover shoots herself. Via the Let’s Read on the Spacebattles.com forums, here are a few excerpts from Chapter 1:
- Reaching the podium, Rottemeyer surveyed the rainbow sea of devoted, ecstatic faces before her. She locked eyes with her lover, her true lover, retired-and soon to be recalled and promoted-Army Lieutenant General Caroline McCreavey. McCreavey smiled warmly. Another small shudder of orgasm swept Rottemeyer’s body, though it failed to reach her face.
- Rottemeyer, interrupting, smiled from where her head rested on a pillow. “All right then. Goals? I believe in power, Caroline. Since I was a helpless little girl and boys were mean to me I have believed in power … and sworn to get it. That’s my goal.
“And now I have it. And I will never let it go.” [...]
“But you have to. In eight years anyway.”
Rottemeyer smiled indulgently. “Oh, Caroline, you’re so innocent. After these eight years the party will run the country…. And I will run the party. I will never give it up. I’ll never give you up, either, Caroline,” Rottemeyer added softly.
♦ Carrera’s Legions. This is Kratman’s longest series of books, of which the most well-known is the first, A Desert Called Peace. The series is set in the future on a planet that is almost exactly the same as Earth today, except that many of the countries and animals have slightly different names. The premise is that space Muslims crash space zeppelins into two skyscrapers in space New York, killing the family of protagonist Patrick Hennessey de Carrera. Hennessey puts together a mercenary force and wipes out both his Muslim enemies and the space fleets of Margot Tebaf, the evil President of the European Union (who is also bisexual). The prologue of the first book features Hennessey selling a bunch of Muslim preteens, teenagers, and female adults into sex slavery while the Muslim men are all crucified.
A poster on the Spacebattles forums named Athene (formerly Thanatos), who would eventually become Kratman’s nemesis, conducted three Let’s Reads of ADCP. A couple of excerpts:
- There was a screeching of tires followed by curses and the tinkling of broken glass as [Hennessey’s wife] Linda began to walk across the street to the restaurant where she was to meet with her husband’s cousin, Annie. She scrunched her neck down, looking somehow guilty, and proceeded to cross.
For some women the word “breathtaking” was only bare justice. Linda Hennessey was one of them. Though she would never have claimed to be so, she was beautiful; simply beautiful, the kind of woman who can stop traffic on a busy downtown street just by being there. Hennessey had seen her do just that, more than once. It didn’t usually cause a traffic accident, though. Still … that happened, too, sometimes.
- That was only one of the many depressing thoughts impinging on Margot’s consciousness. Looming even greater than the barbarization of Europe was the continuing, annoying, infuriating prosperity of the United States.
“Americans; I hate those bastards. And there are nearly five hundred million of the swine now. While my poor Europe is dying out. And the reason there are so many of the damned Yankees? Not only do their women bear children, just like the Moslems, in unsustainable numbers, but most of the young Euro women willing to have kids went there … or to Ontario, or the Republic of Western Canada, or Australia. Others fled east to Poland and Russia.”
♦ A trilogy in John Ringo’s Legacy of the Aldenata series which was cowritten with Ringo and began with Watch on the Rhine. When the alien Posleen invade Earth, the German government resurrects a bunch of SS soldiers to help fight them. This is probably Kratman’s most infamous work, as it portrays a bunch of SS soldiers as the heroes and whitewashes their atrocities by arguing that the SS were more misunderstood than evil. (In the book, it turns out that it was just a few bad apples in the SS who approved of the whole genocide thing; the other resurrected SS didn’'t like the murdering-Jews aspect of the Nazis and even formed a Jewish division at one point.)
♦ Countdown, a trilogy about a dispirited soldier who forms a mercenary force and acts like a bloodier version of The A-Team.
♦ Caliphate, which attempts to describe what would happen if Muslims outbred white Europeans and took over Europe. (In this book, America has become a dictatorship, and Africa is protected by spear-wielding Zulus who slaughter the Caliphate’s troops). This is Kratman at his xenophobic worst. A poster on Spacebattles gives a detailed summary of the story, and Let’s Read Nonny provided meme with two LRs of the book. The back cover reads:
- Demography is destiny. In the 22nd century European deathbed demographics have turned the continent over to the more fertile Moslems. Atheism in Europe has been exterminated. Homosexuals are hanged, stoned or crucified. Such Christians as remain are relegated to dhimmitude, a form of second class citizenship. They are denied arms, denied civil rights, denied a voice, and specially taxed via the Koranic yizya. Their sons are taken as conscripted soldiers while their daughters are subject to the depredations of the continent's new masters.
♦ Big Boys Don’t Cry, a novella narrated by a sentient tank which is mistreated by its human superiors and eventually murders them. This was his entry in the Rabid Puppy Hugo slate. Athene did a Let's Read of this novella on the Sufficient Velocity forums. A couple of excerpts:
- It probably didn’t hurt matters when, one Friday afternoon, following the fall of Beauharnais and the presumed deaths of almost half a billion human beings, a Washyorkston mob stormed the offices of the United Planets Organization, trampled the security guards into bloody jam and dragged to the lampposts some one hundred and twenty-seven members of the Assembly of Man.
- Magda Dunkelmeier, the new governor, was a modern woman, certainly modern in her attitudes. She was certain—absolutely convinced—that only some sort of men’s conspiracy had removed her from the center of moving and shaking. Either a conspiracy, or perhaps the machinations of the little bimbo of a CD-Seven who had not only caught the eye of the Secretary, but coveted Dunkelmeier’s previous job.
Kratman vs. Women in Combat
In 2012, science fiction writer Liz Bourke wrote an article for Tor.com in which she decried how military fiction rarely features women soldiers. She called out John Ringo and Tom Kratman in particular, noting that though both are prolific writers of military fiction, neither includes female fighters in any significant capacity.
Kratman showed up in the comments to link to an essay he wrote called “The Amazon’s Right Breast,” whose title refers to the myth of the mythological tribe of warrior women whose archers cut off their right breasts so as to better aim their bows. In the article, Kratman argues at length over why letting women fight with men is a bad idea. For those who don't want to read the entire screed, he helpfully includes a bulleted list. His arguments include:
- “Woman as the bottleneck in the production of the next generation’s machine gun fodder” (i.e., if women get shot in combat, they won’t be available to make babies that will grow up to become soldiers in the next generation, so our enemies will outbreed us)
- “Fraternization, favoritism, and de facto prostitution” (i.e., women will seduce their commanders to get safe assignments)
- “Straight males can’t be trusted to train them.”
- “Women are too rational to be manipulated and led the way young men are.”
His essay also includes several anecdotes about how terrible female soldiers were, including a few who demanded to have sex with him, and two that refused to dress modestly in an Islamic country and then tried to cry about it when he ordered them to change.
The other Tor commenters excoriated Kratman, who continued to insist that no power on Earth—not even military training—could stop men and women from forming relationships and thus screwing up the chain of command. (As he put it, “Eros makes Mars her bitch.”) Commenters attempted to point out that gay soldiers have existed for ages and are able to fight and lead without being distracted by relationships, and also that if the military can train people to run into machine gun fire, it can probably train them not to have sex with each other while active duty. Kratman, however, insisted that “his experience” proved it was impossible. He was eventually banned.
The Skiffy and Fanty Show did an episode about Bourke’s post and the resulting controversy. Kratman showed up in the comments there too, still insisting that he was right and that there was simply no way to maintain unit cohesion in a mixed-gender unit.
Kratman vs. Critics
A commenter at RPG.net started a thread announcing that they’d just found the worst book they'd ever seen in a bookstore. This turned out to be Caliphate. Commenters discussed how bad the book was for a while before Kratman showed up and began pitching a fit. He was eventually banned for bigotry and for trolling in that thread, as well as others.
Similarly, Kratman showed up to argue in a Spacebattles thread about the worst fiction ever that included several mentions of his work. He seemed especially stuck on Athene’s/Thanatos’ ridicule of a scene in A State of Disobedience in which bottles of ammonia were thrown at tanks in order to kill the crew: the ammonia was sucked in through the intake vents and poisoned everyone. Kratman was adamant that this was plausible and that tank air filtration systems were completely incapable of dealing with ammonia, though he couldn’t or wouldn’t describe how when pressed. The closest he got wassaying that the molecules were smaller than oxygen, so it was impossible to design a filter that could block ammonia while letting oxygen through (the concept of absorptive filters seemed to elude him).
Athene, a veteran herself, thoroughly schooled him by providing evidence that ammonia filters do exist, even providing a link to such a filter. Kratman did not respond to her but continued to bluster in the thread until he fled. (He also tried to argue that liberal beliefs about racism are stupid, but it turned out he didn’t really know what liberal beliefs about racism are.)
When a reviewer on Amazon.com said they didn’t like Big Boys Don’t Cry and gave it a two-star review, Kratman showed up and demanded they give it a one-star review instead. The same reviewer said they found it weird that Kratman used “man” to refer to humans instead of something gender-neutral; Kratman flipped out about this. When James Nicoll posted about this, Kratman showed up there too to complain. Meme discussion here and here. Charles Stross also registered his displeasure with his usual wit and wisdom.
Kratman vs. Tactics
Kratman often writes essays about how wars should be fought, on the basis that his military career has given him a keen insight into such things. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be very good at tactics. He was even banned from SOCNET, a forum for special forces soldiers, after trying to lecture the posters there how the “war on terror” should really be fought.
A good example of Kratman’s tactical ineptitude is his essay “Indirectly Mistaken Decision Cycles,” which was torn apart on Spacebattles. He starts by predicting that World War III will degenerate into trench warfare, and continues by talking at length about how aerial combat is much like fencing because there's no 'friction' (i.e., distracting factors like barbed wire or artillery) and how you can always clearly see your opponent. Except this isn't how it works. A few excerpts from the thread dissecting his arguments:
- “No, there’s plenty of friction and many obstacles in aerial combat. Enemy air defenses, potential enemy air defenses, vision and sensor issues, fuel issues, the type of mission, the uncertain appearance of enemy aircraft, and those are the ones I can think off the top of my head.”
- “Ok, Kratman really doesn’t get aerial combat. Aerial combat is not a quick-game match of Il-2 Sturmovik where you start out at equal or similar altitudes and then face each other, each seeing the other clearly. Vision, with an overwhelming number of shot-down pilots in history never seeing the victor until it was too late, is vital, and thus not being seen is extremely important. Oh, and there’s a lot the enemy can do about not being seen in aerial combat.”
On the plus side, he did train himself to fence with “a mixture of French, Italian, and Korean” techniques, so there is that.
Elsewhere on the thread, someone cites Kratman’s military resume, which was found on Baen’s Bar (a private forum for Baen authors and fans). Rockhouse, another poster with military experience, looked at this resume and noted some indicationsthat Kratman’s military career wasn’t as successful as he likes to depict. (This also turned out to be the case, incidentally, with his legal career.) Nonnies with military experience confirmed Rockhouse’s analysis.
Kratman vs. Tuckerizations
A “tuckerization” is “the act of using a person's name in an original story as an in-joke.” Generally, it’s a friendly thing, and sometimes authors even raffle or sell the rights to be tuckerized in their works.
Not Kratman. He tuckerizes Athene/Thanatos in order to brutally kill her off or at least mock her. This happens in Big Boys Don’t Cry, in which one of the tanks named THN is kept out of the war zone because it can’t decide what gender it wants to be (Athene is trans); in a previous book where Athene shows up and is killed multiple times (with no explanation as to how THN returned from the dead); and in still another book where Athene is (again) a tank and is commanded by one of the most depraved people in the book. Athene estimates Kratman has killed her off between four and seven times as of mid-2015.
Granted, Kratman’s hate for Athene isn’t limited to his books. On Baen’s Bar, he began referring to her as “s/h/it” and had a host of other unkind things to say as well. Nonetheless, his vitriol for his most prominent critic leaking into his actual books is still notable.
Kratman vs. Other Nations
In a comment on Vox Day’s blog, Kratman shared his views on how America should support Haiti after the hurricane devastated the island. These views were, shall we say, somewhat retrograde:
- Now the christian thing to do for a place like Haiti is to sail in and take it over, shoot or hang about a half a million people the country and the world would be better off without, build a nuke plant so they’ll stop cutting trees for charcoal, plant trees, start a tourism industry again, and ultimately give a reason for human talent to stay there. Only then will educating the masses there do less harm than good.
A disgusted meme discussed this here.
He also decided, after being thrown out of a German bar, that we probably should have just nuked the country in World War II. Nonnies were again appalled.
Kratman vs. The Fall of Civilization
In another comment at VD’s place, Kratman postulated how to save civilization. His “solution” involved murdering all current felons, all former felons who don’t have jobs, houses, wives, etc. (as proof they’ve changed their ways), all progressives, and all undocumented immigrants. Meme did not approve. His exact words:
- So as not to be seen as too negative, however, let me offer a somewhat holistic solution: Kill all the common law felons in custody. Round up and kill all the people ever convicted of a common law felony currently at large without clear and convincing evidence that they have amended their lives (job, wife, home, no further crimes of any kind). For us, that’s probably in the range of 6 million people. And then we need to round up the progressives and kill them too. (Why do we call them “progressives,” anyway? Their job isn’t progess; it's decay.) And then use all the overmilitarized police and prison guards to round up and kill or deport illegals. Then put them on the border to our south, and on small patrol craft at sea. They’ll be happier, and so will the rest of us.
Kratman vs. Anti-Puppies
During the Hugopocalypse, Kratman began arguing with his opponents on File 770, a blog from which he was subsequently banned. He quickly got remarkably nasty, even by Puppy standards. Meme observed the wreckage. Highlights include:
- Him expressing his anger at a pseudonymous critic by saying, “Pity the sleazy rancid twat lacks the courage to use her real name.”
- And then describing his estimate of her appearance: “tits pointing south, crooked teeth, greasy hair, fat, so fat she should be harpooned and processed for oil and ivory.”
- Demanding to know if somebody is “a girl or a transgender.”
- Justifying it in the dumbest way possible: “Because, you moron, I was attempting to pinpoint who or what she was It’s called ‘recon’ and ‘intelligence gathering’ and real soldiers do that.”
- Threatening to beat up his opponents in a fight, while also describing his cunning legal plan to escape prosecution for killing them:
- “I’m actually potentially dangerous with or without a gun (blackbelt, for example, in a form of Korean sword, similar to, but more intricate than, kendo. Much unpractised but some things you never quite forget.) and I am still frightfully fast. No shit. But the really clever thing is this: I have a bad heart, 100% blockage, as mentioned, right coronary artery (XS, you worthless lying tramp) and have had at least one, but probably two or more, silent heart attacks. Thus, any and every _physical_ assault upon me would be life threatening,. You can draw your own legal conclusions from that.”
- (A nonnie later noted that anyone with 100% heart blockage would be very unlikely to be any kind of physical threat.)
- Accusing his opponents of being child molesters. (This comment was deleted by Mike Glyer, mod of File 770, but nonnies reacted to it here.)
Kratman vs. Nicknames
Spacebattles forum members began referring to Kratman as “Tom Kratman (SPACE MARINE).” This spread to meme, as didFile770’s anagram of his name, “Tank Marmot.”