The current state of the Casca series


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The current state of the Casca series

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oct. 17, 2009, 10:53pm

It has occurred to me that perhaps this forum and the others like it are populated solely with friends of the current publishing team. Perhaps I'll know soon when this post causes my "membership approval" here to be reversed - but that's the only explanation I can see for the conspicuous shortage of any expression of embarrassment from the readership concerning the staggering number of typos, glaring grammatical errors, and sophomoric style of the post Sadler Casca books. It seems the emphasis has shifted away from SSG Sadler's meticulous quality .... to sheer quantity. Perhaps there are a few people who are just so grateful to see Casca reappear that they tolerate all of this......but then again the low sales and under-the-radar mainstream exposure of the new books would seem to suggest that there are few such people. I would think all that to be incentive enough for the current publishing team to rethink their approach. I keep waiting to see that happen, but with each new book it seems clear that they intend instead to just keep churning out story lines that will just have to be reconciled with - or just deleted from - the "official" Casca chronology timeline if an author who can be taken seriously ever ventures to repair the series back to its Sadler era glory.

Sorry to sound negative. I sincerely apologize for the necessity of it. I have had many pleasant interactions with the current authors and on a personal level I hate saying most of this.....but I place the legacy of the character above such concerns and above the risk of hurting anyone's feelings. There is no room in this business for "thin skin," after all. I just don't want to see any more of the current low standards.

In the last conversation I had with the publisher he said that "Conqueror" was "so much better - this time - than the other "new" efforts." But I suspect that readers have long since stopped giving the "new breed" of Casca writers a chance to disappoint them or take their money.....just as I did years ago with Tom Clancy when the ghost writers starting churning out "Op Center" and the other spin offs with Clancy's name on them. I picked up one, couldn't get past the first 50 pages, and didn't buy another until the fifth or six such book, thinking, "well, maybe it deserves another shot." When that one similarly disappointed, I never went back to the well again. And that was years ago. If "Conqueror" is a "new high this time" I sincerely doubt that the readership is even paying attention by now.

I'm curious to see if I am alone amongst the readership in noticing the shortcomings. If anyone else out there shares my disappointment, please roger up here to send some sort of message to the publisher, because it sounds like he is actually about to give Michael Goodwin another shot at taking the Casca quality down a notch or ten.

- Regretfully,

Green Beret 46
Writer and Casca Collector since 1989

Editat: nov. 11, 2009, 4:27pm

I saw this reviewer make a similar 'complaint' on the Casca chat group a while back. There it was averred that this reviewer had tried to approach the publisher with the intention of joining the franchise as a writer, and was turned down. In the aftermath of this he posted these messages.

If there is a general dislike of the series then the honest thing to do is not to buy any more, rather than sneakily attack the publisher and try to get 'popular' opinion to influence this same man to hire this reviewer - flying spider is his other handle here - to 'correct' what this reviewer sees as the wrong path.

The fact nobody has taken up this generous offer of a man spurned indicates the total lack of belief in the post.

nov. 19, 2009, 12:58pm

Well lets be honest. Most people hanging out and talking on the current authors website are just lackeys to further a cause that died with Sadler in '89. I bought several of the new books and found that these were written in the same style of a 'see spot run' format or the lack of editing or the poor use of grammar was an embarrassment to Sadler and the Casca series he had written so well. Bless thier hearts for trying-both Goodwin and Roberts- but the series is dead and I do beleive it would not hurt if the publisher looked at different writers scripts but who knows what his motivation is. Who knows maybe someone would have the right touch in bringing the series to life but as it stands now the series is still a DNR and I have not seen the series crop up on any bestseller list. So I have to agree with the original post(Green Beret) and not the lackey who takes up the staff to defend the writers of a new and poorly developed series.

Editat: març 12, 2010, 1:42pm

Without trying to sound confrontational, the term 'lackey' is highly offensive. Many of the people on the blog you refer to are not 'on the author's website'. It is an independent Yahoo forum created by a man called Andy Beau from Los Angeles who is nothing to do with the Casca franchise, and members of the forum are just that; members. They are not friends or lackeys. You are utterly uninformed and ignorant of many truths on the matter. Please take the time and care to be sure of your facts before writing such inflammatory rubbish in future.

When there is little in the way of money to publicise the series and promote it, its down to the dedication of a handful of determined people to try to keep the series alive. People who fly into childish tantrums because they aren't allowed to join the team don't do it any favours.

nov. 21, 2009, 3:56pm

Doesn't the lack of money to promote the books and the fact that a "handful of determined people" are trying to keep the series alive say something about the quality of the books. Maybe the series should have ended with Mr. Sadler's unfortunate demise.

nov. 22, 2009, 10:33am

No, its just the situation that there isn't enough front money around. You can make anything look good with enough money thrown at it. Besides, Sadler had stopped writing Casca long before he died. Much of the latter 22 attributed to him weren't done by him; they had ghost writers.

nov. 22, 2009, 4:34pm

"Much of the latter 22 attributed to him weren't done by him; they had ghost writers."

Which probably explains the decline in quality as the series went on.

nov. 22, 2009, 9:14pm

Agreed. I don't know about you, but I felt a sense of a loss of direction in writing and intention as it went on. You couldn't get better than the first dozen or so but after that it went a bit pear-shaped. Apart from the last one which was something like the first few.

nov. 22, 2009, 12:17am

Perhaps the word 'Lackey' was a bit harsh and I do apologize-sincerely. I will choose my words carefully. In terms of the series you have to admit-hand over heart- that even though the current writers are trying, it just does not have the snap and jazz as Sadler wrote and it never will. As far as the subject of 'Ghost writers' are concerned its all just mystery theroy with no proof to prove there were any one else writing most of the series and I highly doubt that any of its true. Sadler lived a hard road in life-by his own design- he allowed his writing to falter, which was his choice and led to his Casca series to end with a wimper. In reality if the Sadler/Casca franchise owner was really serious, he could contract out to other higher profile established writers and then perhaps the series might return but as it is (Immortal Dragon being the last I read) I highly doubt it. Sorry to sound negative but its the way I and perhaps others view the subject.

des. 2, 2009, 6:34pm

No mystery theory, as you put it. I have definite written proof from those who knew Sadler at the time that ghost writers were doing some of his stories and he didn't like it. But this was down to Sadler being distracted by other things and not being able to meet deadlines.

des. 3, 2009, 4:24am

Well if you 'supposedly' have this proof you need to lift your skirt and show what you have for the world to see. I don't beleive you have anything and in reality I could care less. The basic discussion here was about the current state of affairs with the Casca series and I tossed my opinion in. I read several of the new series and I beleive I read all the original Sadler series though I might have missed one or two. I still beleive that the series is DOA and will remain so until some well known or established writer takes the reins.

des. 4, 2009, 8:10am

I don't think it would make any difference to someone with such a negative attitude to the series.
The bottom line is if you don't like the series don't buy the books.

For every one such as yourself who dislikes the current state of the series, there are dozens who write in and say how much they do like it. The majority of those who do buy the books just keep on buying them and don't make any comment, as is the case with every series of books throughout the world.

No matter how much you may dislike it, the bottom line is that as long as people do like it, support the series and buy the books, it will carry on.

des. 4, 2009, 3:00pm

Of course I agree with you. This is the one time I have spoken out on the series and I never said I hated the series even with the current writers. I stated simply that the series is currently a DNR or a DOA even with the current writers making a valid attempt. The writing styles are-hand over heart-weak in comparison to what Sadler (or Ghostwriter as some allege) wrote. The bad guys Sadler wrote-you could smell the rotten teeth of the bad guy and the reader loathed him, battle/war scenes made one want to study that particular battle and learn further. I read 'Panzer Soldier' and studied (my library is packed with German WW2 books and material) the German mentality and war they waged. 'Conquistador' made me study the Spanish inquisition and their involvment in the Americas while 'Legionnaire' made me want to study Vietnam. It was interesting material all interwoven with the fabric of exotic back drops and political intriged. It all basically pointed out that man does not change in terms of war and the reasons why we wage it-greed, politics and corruption drive armies of men to fight.
Do I dislike the series? Of course not-never said that-but lets face truths-how many books have the current writers writen and it made the best sellers list? How many books in the new Casca are printed? Not many as I have not seen any on the used book store shelves. Would I buy any more-perhaps, depending on subject.
I was reintroduced to Casca and read some of the 'reviews' on Amazon and it seemed to me, after I bought the books, that there is a war of insults going on for what ever reason and personally this does make for bad and is a turn off.

des. 4, 2009, 4:17pm

Yes there does seem to be a war of insults on amazon. Nothing good can come of that. Thankfully it seems to have died out recently and perhaps those responsible have either got fed up with the whole matter or someone may have had a word with them.

des. 4, 2009, 9:22pm

I just now joioned this group. Some may know me from the Casca Yahoo discussion group.

I am now reading the first comment above from greenberet46. He saws there is an absence of critical comments about the post-Sadler Casca books. Evidently he didn't see my postings on that website about 11 months ago when I took the author of Immortal Dragon sorely to task.

I doubt very much whether a frank dissemination of greenberet46's views, either here or on the Yahoo discussion group, will ever get him removed from any discussion group, as long as he keeps his comments clean and free of personal invective.

Greenberet46 expressed an opinion that the current books do not bother with maintaining the purity of the Casca timeline as developed by Barry Sadler. Insofar as Immortal Dragon was concerned, there is some truth to this, which is precisely why I criticized that work 11 months ago. But other than that, there is NO BASIS WHATSOEVER to greenberet46's complaint in this regard.

Silverfoxfire probably = greenberet46. His use of the word "lackey" (Message 3) is offensive. But if he thinks the series truly died in 1989, why is he even bothering?

Sgtbigg wanted to know (Message 5) whether a lack of money for promotion of the new books, plus the presence of only a handful of people dedicated to the series, meant that the new books are no good.

The answer is NO -- the quality of the books has little to do with the scarcity of funds for promotion.

In Message 9, Silverfoxfire said, "even though the current writers are trying, it just does not have the snap and jazz as Sadler wrote and it never will."

What can I say? Nobody will ever write plays like William Shakespeare either, but that doesn't mean people should stop trying.

Neither Tony Roberts nor Mike Goodwin nor any future writer can be Barry Sadler; nor should they even try. All they can do is be the best Tony or Mike or whatever they can be.

Silverfoxfire is very free with telling the publisher how he, silverfoxfire, thinks the publisher should spend HIS money. The advice about finding a higher-profile, professional author, is interesting. Perhaps silver also has some advice about how to find the money to pay said pro. But if a seasoned pro actually could be found, that would certainly leave silverfoxfire / greenberet46 out in the cold, now wouldn't it?

In the early 1970's, Jim Bouton wrote a best-seller about his final season in the big leagues with the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros. A couple of years later he wrote another book called "I'm Glad you Didn't take it Personally." In this book, Bouton complained that as successful as his first book had been, it should have been more successful.

In part, he blamed it on his small advance. In Bouton's opinion, the larger the advance, the larger becomes the budget for promotion, since publishers think they have to recoup their initial investment. So therefore, success in publishing often is a matter of being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It all boils down to promotion. If the new books are well-written AND money is spent for promotion, they don't need a Name author.

"It takes money to make money."

And as was said in the Reggae classic "The Harder They Come" -- "That's Show Biz -- no biz, no show."

des. 5, 2009, 1:43pm

I am struck by something silverfoxfire said yesterday.

He said, "Do I dislike the series? Of course not-never said that-but lets face truths-how many books have the current writers writen and it made the best sellers list? How many books in the new Casca are printed? Not many as I have not seen any on the used book store shelves. Would I buy any more-perhaps, depending on subject."

I may fairly infer from this that he draws a correlation like this: Making it into the best-sellers list proves it's a good book, and if a book is the best of the best, it will make it into the best-sellers list.

This is a very bad correlation. Whether a book makes it to the best seller list depends on a number of things, and often, quality is NOT one of them.

Norman Mailer's "Ancient Nights" was unreadable. So said the reviews -- and so say I. I bought a copy and TRIED to read it, but had to give up after 50 pages because I had no idea what was going on. Mailer mailed that one in.

The advance had everything to do with it.

And this book was a best-seller. Mailer's name, and the publisher's willingness to recoup his advance by budgeting vast sums for promotion, is what turned that piece of trash into a best-seller.

Bill Clinton's biography was another example.

Think about it. Clinton is a KNOWN, PROVEN LIAR. We all KNOW it. Sen. Bob Kerrey once said of Clinton, he's an excellent liar.

So, WHY ON EARTH would ANYBODY spend a nickel to read anything Clinton might say about himself? Anybody doing so would know in advance that anything he's reading is what Clinton wants him to believe, not necessarily what actually happened.

Nevertheless, Clinton already had a big name. He commanded a huge advance; his book was promoted, and it too was a best-seller.

There are plenty of GREAT books that are never published because the author is unknown. And plenty of horrid books are published and become great successes.

Why was Casca successful? In a word, because its author ALREADY had great name recognition, in that he was the composer of that great hit song The Ballad of the Green Berets and made it to the Ed Sullivan Show.

Think about it. On its face, Casca should NEVER have been published. Because Casca portrays Jesus in a less than flattering, adorational way. Its portrayal of Jesus is bound to offend some.

If Casca # 1 had been written by the totally unknown Tony Roberts or Mike Goodwin, guaranteed it'd have never seen the light of day. No agent even would have wanted to touch it.

But instead, the already-famouns Sadler wrote it. And the publisher took maximum advantage of Sadler's pre-existing fame and promoted the bejeesus out of it, and lo and behold, the book actually sold well.

That it WAS a great book helped the sales, and made it possible for the series to continue.

One cannot judge either Tony Roberts or Mike Goodwin by the current minor niche the series now has. They are the victims of the present circumstances.

The current circumstances all had to do with Sadler's death and the 10-year absence of Casca from the marketplace because there was a bitter legal fight over the resolution of Sadler's estate.

This is the single biggest factor in the current status of the series. Nothing to do with either Mike or Tony.

If there were ever a movie made on the Casca character, you would see sales of all the Casca books boom. Sadler's old books would be reprinted. Even Tony's books and Mike's book would be reprinted, and they would do much better, because even a bad movie would multiply Casca's name recognition.

So I pretty much reject the supposition that the current allegedly bad writers are responsible for the current state of affairs.

This raises a related question in my mind -- why hire stars and pay them $20 million to star in a movie when, in fact, acting is not all that hard and any number of fine actors could all play the same part equally well? Why pay the extra money when an unknown and cheap actor could do just as well? Why pay the extra money when the screenplay is what it is and the story it tells is what it is without regard to whoever the actor may be?

Take Tom Cruise in the recent movie about the attempted assassination of Hitler. That story is what it is. Tom Cruise being the lead actor didn't change the story at all or make it better. So why hire him?

And the answer lies in the value of name recognition and the power of promotion.

How does one acquire name recognition? Athletes do it by exceling at their sport. Jim Bouton's best-seller was acquired by his publisher, not at all because it happened to be a great book, but rather because Bouton himself was already semi-famous by being on the last of the Yankees championship teams of the 1960's, and by virtue of his personal familiarity with some very famous names.

Jose Canseco wrote a couple of best-sellers. He had an important story to tell. But guaranteed, if he'd been no more than a Class D minor league player, there'd never have been any interest in his story.

Hell, Jose has a twin named Ozzie. But Ozzie never hit 462 homeruns. Ozzie Canseco had a very small big league career. But he was as big as his twin and also took steroids, and he could have said many of the same things his brother said.

But Ozzie's story would never have sold because he lacked his twin's pre-existing star power.

"It takes money to make money." Or, it takes fame to make money.

One more story: My late USMC dad knew John Glenn very well. At one time, they both served together. Both of them were US Marine test pilots. So how come Glenn went on to being a US senator and a presidential candidate, but my dad, with similar qualifications, did not?

Simple. My dad never made it to a famous early TV quiz show, The $64,000 Question. My dad tried for the astronaut program, but couldn't even make the initial cut of 110 candidates (from which 7, including Glenn, were culled), maybe because he was a little bit too fat. Glenn's success on the quiz show may have helped him make the final cut.

Well, Glenn was a good man and deserved what he got. But there were plenty, like my dad, just as good, who would have done just as well had they gotten a lucky break or two.

Such is life.

Lots of great things never make it big, and lots of trashy things do.

I know the current Casca publisher tries the best he can.