Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ellanjay's Writing is the Bane of Creative Writing Teachers Everywhere

The first chapter begins with a real clunker of a sentence, so bad I have decided to quote it in its entirety for everyone's amusement.

EACH day Judd awoke with a new sense of God’s provision and a fresh yearning for home.

Do I need to explain why this sentence would make any English major worth their salt want to drink a fifth of vodka just to make the hurting stop?

But as you know from years of reading my blog, it always gets worse.

Judd was glad for a few days of safety without having to worry about a GC attack. He struck up a friendship with the computer whiz, Naomi, and met more of Sam’s friends. Judd and Lionel helped people build tents and shelters, and in their spare time they climbed the heights of Petra and explored the ancient ruins with Sam.

Uh, Ellanjay, you wanna know what would be helpful? IF YOU SHOWED US ALL THIS INSTEAD OF TELLING US! I mean, if they had bothered to put forth any sort of effort, there's some good material here. You can show Judd meeting Naomi and establishing a friendship with her. One of my favorite tropes of post-apocalyptic lit is when the brave heroes try to rebuild a destroyed civilization. Since Petra hasn't been inhabited for centuries, it would be really interesting to see our heroes try to make the place livable by building homes and other necessities. All of this would be more interesting than the chapter we actually get, because what I suggested would develop the characters and give a chance to show off their skills, but that would require the writers to do research and include some world-building so we can't have that.

Instead, we get this paragraph and the rest of the chapter, I'll go ahead and spoil it for you: it's pretty much just Judd and co. watching the GC documentary about Nicky's resurrection. Why they feel the need to watch the news all the time when they know exactly what's going to happen...I don't know.

Judd emails Chang. Apparently Mr. Wong is dead. Naturally he became a believer before dying so Chang is spared having to live with the fact that the man who raised him is roasting in hell in the hands of an Angry God. Also, Chang's been doing some hacking and is worried about a new GC program called BoHu, but he can't figure out just what BoHu is. I suppose I could look it up on the wiki but I'm lazy. Besides, eventually it'll be laid out in excruciating detail for us.

But anyway, onto the documentary.

There's really not a lot to snark: it's standard propaganda puff piece with everyone talking about how Nicky is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. I must say of all the faults Nicky has (chief among them, how badly he sucks at being a supervillain), I have to say this part makes sense. It'd make sense that a dictator like him would have his own Joseph Goebbels to promote his image.

Of course, Judd is all sickened and horrified by it. I still wonder why the hell he's watching it given that he knows all the prophecies and knows that Nicky's the anti-Christ, plus what kind of information would a propaganda piece have for him anyway? I suppose Ellanjay put it in here so they can show how horrible Nicky is, but like I've said so many times, given how much worse the hero of this series is, aka God, it fails.

The part Judd finds most horrible is when a three-year-old girl comes on screen and sings a song. It's basically "Jesus Loves Me" with Nicky's name put in it. I'm posting the lyrics so we can once again laugh at how badly Ellanjay and co. fail at scansion. Here's a hint: songs work better when you know about it.

“Nicolae loves me, this I see.
He came back from the dead for me.
Little ones praise him in song.
They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Nicolae loves me.
Yes, Nicolae loves me.
Yes, Nicolae loves me; he came back from the dead.”

The part with the little girl becomes even more horrifying when you take in account that she's three, meaning that given the time that's passed in the LB-verse, she was conceived in the immediate aftermath of the Great Slaughter Rapture. That part I don't have too much problem with; it's possible her parents, in the heat of an incredibly stressful moment, forgot the condoms, but given the kind of disasters this girl has witnessed in her short time on Earth...Again, the fact that Zod didn't make everyone sterile during the Great Tribulation only further proves that Zod's an even bigger dick than Superman.

When you take into account all the disasters Zod has inflicted, it's no wonder that the little girl and everyone else sides with Nicky. Nicky, for all his uselessness, has managed to maintain an infrastructure in spite of all these back-to-back Acts of Zod, thus managing to save more lives. But then again, the same kind of Zod mindset seems to govern US foreign policy. Whenever we discover a large portion of the world under the rule of some tin-pot dictator we don't like, we bomb the hell out of them, because that's what makes people like you, dropping a cruise missile on their family.

Okay, done with politics for now, back to the story.

After the documentary ends, Chaim (I will never call him Micah. I may have few principles but I stand by them) starts preaching. He starts with the basic "Nicky is Satan" speech but apparently Ellanjay did take a few minutes to try to think of some objections people might have to their brand of religion. Granted they're pretty half-hearted (like all critiques) but I take whatever I can get.

“How do you explain Nicolae’s resurrection?” someone yelled from the front. “How could he do that if he were not God?”
“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.’ ”

Here's another idea for an LB-verse Drinking Game*: take a sip every time someone doesn't answer a reasonable question. Because that's what Chaim just did: rather than cite anything that might answer the question, he follows the GT lead and just starts spitting out bits of scripture at random.

Another anonymous heckler is like "But how do we know?" Chaim doesn't even bother to provide an answer; we just get more summarizing about how Judd watches him try to convince people.

Judd heard someone behind him say, “I’m not choosing. I believe Nicolae is a murderer, but I can’t believe in Jesus either.”
“Do not think that you can remain neutral about this issue,” Micah continued. “Jesus himself said, ‘Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.’ If you choose against Christ, you are choosing for Nicolae.”

If anyone ever doubts that Ellanjay believe in the Gospel According to George W. Bush, just point them to this little quote. Also, anytime someone doubts Ellanjay's virulent anti-Semitism, point them here because they clearly say anyone (and that probably includes Jewish people) who doesn't follow Jesus, worships Satan.

Oh and I did look up Chaim's Jesus quote just to see what the gospels actually say. Surprise, surprise, if you google it, you discover that Jesus's verse was actually more nuanced than Ellanjay's paraphrase makes it out to be. I, for one, found this selection from Luke 9:49-56 interesting.

John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.

Judd's section finally ends and we cut to Vicki. It's a short, very boring passage where she talks with Charlie. Apparently he's copied out I Corinthians 13 aka the Love Chapter and wants to read it at Judd and Vicki's eventual wedding. Once again, I wonder about Charlie. They keep using the word "slow" to describe him which really cheeses me off. Give me some specifics, Ellanjay! Does he suffer from some kind of birth defect like Downs Syndrome or a minor form a brain damage or something? But I think Ellanjay don't give me specifics because that would require research and also because the reader might start asking questions about why a loving and benevolent God chose to let someone with such a mental defect suffer through the horrors of the Tribulation.

Anyway, back to Judd.

For the first time in many chapters/books, guess who's onscreen! Rayford Steele, aka the biggest douche in the LB-verse (ignoring Zod, of course) Naturally because kissing Buck's and Rayford's asses is one of the ten commandments of RTC-ianity, Judd is starstruck.

Judd had been thrilled to speak with Tsion Ben-Judah, but he was equally excited a few days later when he found Rayford Steele, a pilot and one of the original Tribulation Force members. They met outside the computer building, and Rayford invited Judd back to his small place. Captain Steele’s house, if it could be called that, was a tiny but well-built building that was big enough for a bed and his computer equipment.

Have to admit, when I started snarking this series, I thought we'd see A LOT more of Rayford and Buck. In fact, I thought the YTF's whole purpose would be to stand around while Rayford and Buck did stuff and constantly gush about how awesome Rayford and Buck are. Have to admit, there was a degree of that, especially in the single digit books, but high on my list of reasons why the Kids version is less excruciating than the adults (again, can't say it's good), is that Buck and Rayford rarely appear onscreen and are rarely mentioned at all. That makes my job both a lot easier (because I hate Rayford and Buck with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns) and a lot harder because you can make such good hay out of snarking Ellanjay's MarySuedom and the disgusting sexual politics of both their self-inserts.

Anyway, this section actually humanizes Rayford a little. Relax, it's still not good--workmanlike is more like it--but hearing Rayford talk about how he misses his grandson and almost wishes he hadn't married Amanda (because she wouldn't have been on that doomed flight if she hadn't met him) made me feel more than just deep-rooted loathing for his character and everything he stands for. That's an accomplishment for Ellanjay.

The chapter ends with Chang telling Judd that they've finally made arrangements for someone to fly him back to the states, specifically to South Carolina. Frankly, I wish they would just speed it up and get Judd and Vicki back together so we can get the forced romance over with, but at least, they'll be on the same continent again.

Well, I'm in a hurry--got things to do, people to see--so this week, it's just a one-chapter snark. But I think I've given you enough fodder for some good discussions.

*Once again I have to caution my readers: don't try a LB-verse drinking game. I don't want to be responsible for any cases of alcohol poisoning.


aunursa said...

"Rayford invited Judd back to his small place. Captain Steele’s house, if it could be called that, was a tiny but well-built building that was big enough for a bed and his computer equipment."

Awww. A nice romantic evening.

Firedrake said...

Have I mentioned here the logic failure that Altemeyer documented in The Authoritarians? A lot of the sort of people who tend to follow a charismatic leader will answer logic questions based on whether the answer matches what they already know, rather than whether the reasoning is right. So if you say:

All fish live in the sea.
Sharks live in the sea..
Therefore, sharks are fish.

They'll say "that's correct, sharks are fish, so this is good reasoning". Combine that with someone prepared to tell them lies about the world, and they will never be able to reason their way out of it…

jamoche said...

Back when Reagan was president, my brother's high-school junior Republican group got to meet him. I asked him how it went, and the answer was a loop of "we asked him ___ and then he told us this story" - the story being completely unrelated. After a few iterations I asked if he'd answered *any* question. Nope! But the stories were great!