Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pointless Action Scenes

I must apologize for the general crappiness of the snark I'm going to deliver this week. Y'see this week, the two chapters consist mostly of action scenes. Now in any other novel, the action scenes would be the best part, the culmination of all the things the novel had been working towards. We'd be on the edge of our seats wondering what was going to happen to our heroes. But since this is an Ellanjay novel and nothing can ever really happen to anyone nor can the heroes' actions have any effect on the plot, these action scenes are just a boring collection of action verbs. That disclaimer out of the way, let's get to it.

The chapter begins with the American YTF (minus Darrion and Vicki) driving along with the forest surrounding their home on fire. They wonder if they can make it through or if the fire will cook them. They make it. Woo...

As Firedrake pointed out in last week's comments, we can add emergency trunk releases to the list of things Ellanjay failed to foresee coming into being, along with cell phones. Because Vicki and Darrion are forced to struggle with a crowbar to force the trunk open in order to get more air.

In New Babylon, Judd is walking along, smirking about how he has it all figured out when he's hit by a golf cart. Apparently it's one hell of a golf cart going really fast because it sends Judd flying and he blacks out. Golf carts: yet another thing Ellanjay know nothing about.

Mark's driving through the inferno. Finally, one of them, Shelly asks about Vicki and Darrion, but all they can do is shrug their shoulders and pray.

Lionel's walking along looking for Judd. He runs into Z-Van who's gushing about Nicky. Westin reminds him of his promise to take Judd and Lionel back to the states but Z-Van's like, "Screw them."

While Conrad drives down the main road, they check the all-important email (you'd really think they'd leave behind a laptop. Surely you jest?). They receive one from Natalie who says she's been reassigned to Des Moines and that there was a raid on the Tribbles hideout but that the Tribbles got out with nary a hair on their RTC head harmed. Thank you for once again strangling a potential source for suspense in its cradle, Ellanjay. The chapter ends with them seeing a GC squad car.

The next chapter begins with a car chase. But horrors of horrors! The GC vehicle is newer which means it's faster so it'll soon overtake Our Brave Heroes. So the heroes start looking in back for stuff they can throw out in order to slow them down.

Vicki and Darrion are still in the trunk, wondering where they're going. They think Des Moines but they're not sure. They hear over the radio, the pursuit of their friends. Apparently eeevil GC are helpless in the face of someone throwing a spare tire at them, but they mention a helicopter is coming.

Judd wakes up in a tent hospital.

He felt a bandage on his left arm and noticed his legs were wrapped tightly with gauze. Red spots showed at his elbow, and his shirt was torn and bloody. A bag of fluid hung beside his bed, and there was a needle in his left hand. Every breath was like swallowing shards of glass through this crack down his parched throat.

Now waking up injured and scared in a tent hospital is very difficult to drain of horror, but luckily Ellanjay prove up to the task. There are some bits that in any other novel, would frighten and traumatize the hero (like when Judd realizes the person in the cot next to him is dead) but it's told in such a detached way that we're unable to feel any of it. I suppose the fun of going "Haw-Haw! We were right and you were wrong!" might be lessened if Ellanjay accurately portrayed how horrible the end of the world would be.

Here's the summary of the rest of the chapter. The kids push out some seats as they cross a bridge, slowing the GC pursuit. Lionel walks around smirking about all those people gushing about Nicky's resurrection. One of the tires on their car is shredded and the helicopter that the GC mentioned earlier is coming into view.

I thought about making this a three-fer snark especially since I read ahead and what we have to look forward to is more pointless action scenes, but I'm bored, so I'll leave you with this.


aunursa said...

So the heroes start looking in back for stuff they can throw out in order to slow them down.

Toss the bride.

clem said...

if they want something useless and heavy (handed) to throw out, how about the plot?

Firedrake said...

Yeah, an action scene doesn't work without some sort of suspense. If the heroes aren't at risk of death (quite usual, after all there's more book/series to go) you need to build up some other stake to raise tension. Someone else (someone potentially killable in the narrative framework) to be saved, some time-limited thing that'll be much more work to resolve by other means...

If a golf cart weighs about 1/10 as much as a car (which seems fairly typical), it must be going at 100x the car's speed to do the same injury. Which would make it supersonic, explaining why Judd didn't hear it coming.

Firedrake said...

Gah, too early in the morning for me. 3.16x the car's speed. About 120mph, maybe.