Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Have Nothing But Sympathy for the Devil

In all honesty, I had planned on posting a new snark yesterday. But the Internet was out for the entire town until six! Because while America could follow the examples of other countries, who get faster, more reliable, and cheaper Internet than us, instead we don't. Because massive, creaky, inefficient corporate monopolies are the American Way, dammit! But seriously, no Internet make Mouse something something.

So we are now beginning Book 12. Like I said, the end is in sight. So grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and put on your montage music of choice, so we can get to this. Those of you who have read this blog, have probably picked up on my love of eighties cheese, so you're not too surprised I went with this. How such an awesome song became the theme song for such a bad movie, I don't know.

Anyway, apparently Judd is trapped in New Babylon and I apologize to my good readers for having not realized what the hell was going on with his plotline. My naiveté/optimism tripped me up. I thought that since now Judd and Vicki, after so many delays, had finally gotten engaged that Ellanjay would finally get things moving along. Already I can hear you guys laughing bitterly and shaking your heads at me. Because how could I have been so foolish as to underestimate their love of padding/money? I know, I'm ashamed of myself, too.

And I know I'm supposed to be all "Oh noes! What about poor Judd?!" but given that all the stuff he's been through basically amounts to a stubbed toe, compared with the suffering of the nameless, damned...just stop attempting all these Author's Savings Throws, Ellanjay. You're just embarrassing yourself.

Plus at the same time you're trying to convince us that Judd's suffering because God is no longer burninating all the brutes, yeah, you provide examples within the text of real people, who have suffered, who deserve our sympathy much more than Judd.

Judd watched as a temperature gauge on the right side showed things were back to normal. The woman moved a remote camera slightly to the left, and several people crawled out of an underground bunker. Their skin was pale, and they looked like they hadn’t eaten in weeks.

The woman zoomed in on a smiling group. A young man ran to a burned-out area and lay down, scissor-kicking as if making a snow angel. The others with him laughed.

...

There's really nothing I can add to this quote. No commentary is sufficient to describe just how horrified Judd is by the prospect of people escaping the plague and finally being able to get out of their houses and get food, rather than, y'know, STARVE AND BURN LIKE THE GOOD LORD INTENDED!

It gets worse in the next paragraph, so bad that I wonder if the previous quoted passage, if it was something the ghostwriter snuck in without Ellanjay realizing it. Because we all know how very rarely Ellanjay consider the actual consequences of all these Wrath of God events, so I'm a little suspicious. My guess, regarding the paragraph that I'm about to quote, is that they did realize the ghostwriter slipped one by, realized that their audience may actually experience some sympathy for the nameless damned, and put this paragraph in, in order to correct that egregious error. After all, rewriting? Only amateurs like EVERY WRITER WORTH READING waste time rewriting their works.

The mood inside the safe house wasn’t cheerful. They would no longer be able to move around during the day. Westin grumbled about his plane, wondering if the GC would find it.

“We have to prepare for possible inspections by Peacekeepers,” Rainer said. “They’ll be going from building to building soon.”

...

Yeah, if you heard a loud profanity emanating somewhere from the middle of the continental United States, now you know why. Sad part is, while I want to scream the F-bomb until my throat blisters, for once, my rage is such that the f-bomb seems entirely too inadequate. Anyone know any good foreign profanities, preferably ones that don't have too many vowels or consonants? I like a good ragedump to just roll off of the tongue.

A live shot of Carpathia’s palace showed open windows and people streaming out of the building. Judd wondered if the GC would ever estimate how many had died from the heat. Leon Fortunato appeared at a press conference, and Judd was shocked at the way the reporters looked. The normal crowd of men and women covering international news was down to only a few people in ragged clothes. Even makeup couldn’t hide their gaunt faces.

Fortunato was dressed in his usual gaudy clothing, but Judd could tell the past few weeks had taken their toll. There were dark circles under Leon’s eyes, and his clothes seemed to sag.

Y'all know that I have a tag called "Strawman Always Has A Point," right? It's a tag I've used quite a bit and will use for this post, but increasingly, I think I should have called it "Villain Has A Point." Because the heroes are so damn reprehensible that I have no choice but to root for Satan. That's how bad things have gotten! Sometimes I wonder if this series isn't basically the equivalent of this infamous fic that would make even Gandhi in favor of capital punishment, but only for this author. I should probably warn you against clicking on that link, but if you're anything like me or Milhouse Van Houten, all the disclaimers will only make you want to do it more. Just know that I consider said fic in the link far more reprehensible than the infamous Celebrian. Say what you will about Celebrian, but at least it doesn't ROMANTICIZE A FUCKING NAZI!

I've said in previous snarks that no matter how much the RTCs chest-thump and talk about how they're totally the heirs to Bonhoeffer's legacy, based on what I've just read in this snark, my comment about how if the RTCs were dropped down the road from Auschwitz in the years 1940-1945, their brave actions would consist of hoping the inmates became good RTCs before they were gassed, while complaining about the unpleasant odor produced by the crematoriums...I admit I love to exaggerate for comedic effect, but in this case, I don't think I'm exaggerating. THAT'S WHAT THEY WOULD FUCKING DO!

Gotta feel for Bonhoeffer for having his legacy hijacked by assholes. I admit to not being an expert on the guy, but I imagine his beliefs were a lot more nuanced than the RTCs think. From what I heard, he probably didn't subscribe to the belief that the Bible is totally inerrant despite having been around for thousands of years, and if you were to ask him, he'd probably say that being a Christian was probably about more than just hating gays and abortion. Plus the dude was willing to suffer and actually did die for his beliefs, so you kind of have to respect that a little, if nothing else.

Anyway, after this, we cut to Vicki's perspective. Back when Slacktivist* was still snarking the third book in the adult series, we all had a great laugh, when somehow Loretta knew Our Buck was in trouble and that everyone needed to pray for him. Because one of the perks of being an RTC is that apparently you share a hive mind or some kind of spider-sense that lets you know when a Main Character is in trouble. I was going to say, when an RTC is in trouble, but from what I can tell, the spider-sense only applies to Main Characters. No one seems to get that worked up when Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes dies or when Loretta dies.

Based on this passage, where Vicki wakes up with her "Judd is in trouble" sense tingling, I kind of wonder what this means regarding Judd's character status in the LB-verse. I've referred to him as a mini-Rayford, but stuff like this...it makes me wonder if in the great hierarchy that Ellanjay love and worship, if Judd hasn't been raised to a status where he is on equal footing with Our Buck and St. Rayford. Then I remember that in Ellanjay's hierarchy, Our Buck and St. Rayford are in a category all of their own, with only Zod and TurboJesus being greater than them.

They do try for some details of the scenery but like I said, it doesn't work, though you almost admire the effort. It's basically the Black Knight fight in Monty Python, only without the humor.

Basically Vicki talks about how thanks to the Heat Wave, all the frogs and insects were boiled or burned to a crisp. And sense they're all dead, so are all the mammals and birds and reptiles that feed on them. As you probably guessed, they don't mention anything about the mammals and the birds and the reptiles, because Ellanjay don't know jack about the food chain, HOW IF YOU REMOVE ONE BLOCK FROM IT, THE WHOLE THING IS SCREWED!

This is the kind of mistake that really makes me want to grab them both by the collars and scream. Because the food chain isn't some arcane secret guarded by a select order of Shaolin Monks beyond the River of Death. IT'S BASIC KNOWLEDGE THAT MOST OF US LEARN IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

I'd make a crack about how "They just didn't care," and link to the TV Tropes page of the same name, but this stupidity...somehow I feel it goes beyond not caring. For once, there's no trope that adequately describes the situation I find myself in!

I also could point out that all animal and plant life would have died all those times when Zod turned the waters into poison, but I've pointed it out so many times...Yeah, I'd say arguing with Ellanjay is the equivalent of getting into a boxing match with a quadriplegic, where no matter how much you pound on them, they stubbornly refuse to admit defeat and claim victory as soon as you shuffle out of the ring because you can only pound on them so many times before it loses it's thrill, but even a quadriplegic would put up a better fight. The only metaphor that comes close to working is the one used in reference to debating Creationists: Pigeon Chess.

Anyway Vicki's prayer-sense is tingling and she decides to pray for her friends and by friends, I, of course, mean Judd, not Lionel or any of the other Tribbles she cares about. It's like Vicki realizes that even though she is not rated as highly in Ellanjay's Great Chain of Being, by virtue of being a girl with girl parts, and that Judd's status as a Main Character elevates him above all those filthy untermenschen, she still knows that she is above Lionel by virtue of being White.

There's a long passage where Vicki talks about how she's totally changed her view of prayer over the past six years. How apparently now rather than treating God like her personal concierge/strongman who gives her what she wants when she asks, now Vicki believes it is about communicating with God, staying silent most of the time awaiting his answer. Yeah, I'm going to stop laughing derisively someday; I just don't know when. Because for those of you who lack the insane devotion to this series, I'm going to post the last prayer Vicki was mentioned as making.

Vicki watched Cheryl stare at the fires raging on the hillside. She didn’t know what to say and silently prayed, “God, please show Cheryl where’s she’s been wrong. Help her to see the truth about what she’s done and admit her mistakes. And give us wisdom with what to do with her. Amen.”

You tell me that Vicki isn't basically calling on God to play the part of the Strongman, to either convert or exterminate that brute, Cheryl for her unplus doubleungood thinking. Because that's what RTCs do. To borrow from a book that's as good as this series is bad called Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, they go for people's emotional wounds and bring God in on air support.

She then reads Isaiah, Chapter 26, drawing comfort from the third verse. The section ends with Vicki getting a phone call from Judd, after which, we cut back to him.

The conversation is a circle-jerk with both Judd and Vicki going on and on about how they're terrified that they won't see each other again and how they are totally suffering, guys! But yeah, given that the chapter has already shown people who ACTUALLY ARE SUFFERING...I'm not buying it. The mere fact that Judd can make a phone-call from the enemy's capital to Vicki, who is a continent away from him in the States, proves that shit can't be too bad. I could also point out that in the whole thing with Howard, they weren't able to use cellphones BECAUSE THE INFRASTRUCTURE FINALLY STARTED TO DETERIORATE AFTER REPEATED ACTS OF ZOD! But no one should be naïve enough to believe that Ellanjay would recall stuff from chapter to chapter, never mind from book to book.

Nicky gives a speech. I suppose we're supposed to find it inspiring or chilling, what with his bland pleasantries about how we'll rebuild from all this, but like I said, Ellanjay couldn't be assed to actually create a charismatic villain, because to do so, would require them to actually know something about human behavior and admit that bad people can have positive traits and good people can have bad ones...since they hate nuance as much as they hate showing what actually happens as opposed to just telling us, we can't have that. It would force them to admit that Hitler, along with all the villains of history, weren't some supernatural being that just bamfed onto earth, but sad part is they were people, ordinary horrible people.

Yeah, I'm going to add Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the long list of writers Ellanjay really need to read. Though frankly it'd be enough if they read this quote from The Gulag Archipelago:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Anyway, following Nicky's speech, Judd receives a phone call from Chang, who plays this message he'd overheard Nicky deliver:

Judd heard Nicolae rub his hands together as he said, “For the first time in a long time, we play on an even field. The waterways are healing themselves, and we have rebuilding to do in the infrastructure. Let us work at getting all our loyal citizens back onto the same page with us. Director Akbar and I have some special surprises in store for dissidents on various levels. We are back in business, people. It is time to recoup our losses and start delivering a few.”

I suppose we're supposed to be shocked and appalled by all this: Nicky using the latest disaster as an excuse to go after a hated minority, a strategy that is so different from every other dictator in history. Though, I will admit that the last analogy isn't entirely accurate in that in this case, THE HATED MINORITY HAS REPEATEDLY DEMONSTRATED THAT NICKY IS RIGHT TO HATE THEM! NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY GO "OH NOES" ABOUT THE PEOPLE HE KILLS, IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE FACT THAT THE TRIBBLES HAVEN'T DONE A DAMN THING TO HELP SAID PEOPLE OR STOP NICKY! IN FACT IT OPENLY CRITICIZES PEOPLE WHO DO!

:deep breath:

I really wish Nicky had delivered this speech instead of his bland platitudes. Because it works so much better. This would be the perfect time to stir people up, get them ready to fight against the enemy that has repeatedly killed their families and shown no regard for life whatsoever. Because I'm fairly certain in the wake of the 9/11 disaster, Bush II didn't just mouth platitudes; he used the disaster as a means of ramming through policy, of getting shit done, and if anyone objected, he, and his supporters, could point to the disaster and say, "Why do you hate America?" When the Bush II administration manages to be smarter than a guy who is supposed to be worse than Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, you've failed.

Oh and Spirit Plumber, you should totally make that game you mentioned in the previous comments. Because I have to side with Nicky simply because he's so much less reprehensible than the Heroes, so a game where basically you have to play as Nicky and try to keep the world intact as God's trying to kill everybody...that would be pretty cool.

The chapter ends with Chang telling Judd that the GC has blown up Westin's plane which is bad for some reason. Because Judd can't get out of New Babylon for reasons. But this snark is long enough and I'm all raged out. Damn...for some reason, I thought they wouldn't hit me so hard in the opening chapter. I really am too naïve for my own good.

*Slacktivist, in the unlikely chance you're reading this, just know that I eagerly await your snarks on the adult books. I understand if you've got so much going on in your life that you really don't want to spend anymore time with Rayford and Buck along with the rest of the heroes who don't do anything remotely heroic. Because while Ellanjay would really have to struggle to come up with a passage worse than the one where Rayford mansplains about the wrongness of abortion to Hattie, we know they are up to the task. Now if you don't mind, I'm off to get royally drunk and cry for a while, and not necessarily in that order.

5 comments:

Rubyfruit said...

First of all, thank you for doing this. Second of all, my condolences, because these books are legitimately terrible.

Third, thank you for illustrating why for the most part, Christian Fiction will always be left behind (see what I did there?) by its non-Christian counterparts in near every genre. Having Nicky Geographical Term be competent and pose a threat would cause conflict, and at least in my experience in reading other Christian Fiction (I tried to get through a Melody Carlson book for the first time in over a decade, and it was about this bad in terms of limp conflict), the authors can't have real menace, dread, or conflict, because that'd scare their audience and it'd require their characters to perhaps do something other than summon God to fix things for them, either directly or through coincidences. It'd mean that the protagonists might do a few un-Christian things for the greater good, or even show some very un-Christian emotions. It'd mean that the antagonist was an actual roadblock as opposed to a speed bump with a scary title and a vaguely European-sounding name, but those things would never happen because Ellanjay and everyone else who writes things to be sold in a Family Christian Store fear any real conflict, and are writing for people who have a similar fear of any kind of conflict that can't easily be solved by direct divine intervention, or at least a series of divine coincidences.

I'm sorry for dumping a rant on All The Problems I Have With Christian Fiction on you, but this chapter opening, right here, is a perfect example of those problems.

Mouse said...

Don't worry: I enjoy any excuse to do rants about the terrible derivativeness of Christian Fiction or really Christian Art in general. Especially since, y'know, I can point to examples that once upon a time, there were Christians who actually produced good art and didn't just slap a Jesus fish on a piece of crap and call it a day.

When I think of Tolkien and CS Lewis, along with Johnny Cash and so many others, yeah, there's a reason modern Christian Art tends to just makes me want to cry at the sheer awfulness of it all.

Mouse said...

Oh and I'm kicking myself for not posting this article from a writing blog I follow, where Jerry Jenkins, of all people, talks about writing. Should someone point out in the comments section that his secret to being so damn productive is that writing goes a lot faster when you don't believe in editing or rewriting or giving a shit? I am trying to think of an adequate metaphor or similar regarding this. I keep wanting to say that Jerry Jenkins giving writing advice is akin to Jeffrey Dahmer giving culinary advice, but as much as I hate Jenkins, and I really do, that feels a little too extreme. Someone want to help me out here?

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2015/06/29/the-deep-dark-secrets-of-high-producing-novelists/

spiritplumber said...

Squeeee! I got a mention!

I just might make that sort of game - it will have 1999 era graphics, because it'll probably be based on FreeCiv or the like, but hey. Would that still be fun?

Are you going to riff on Kingdom Come when you finish this series?

http://emlia.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Tripocalypse.KingdomCome Lawful Good Wonk did a riff a few years ago (2011) but his blog is gone, so I rescued the article.

The LB-related game that DOES exist, is a RPG in which the Glorious Appearing gets thwarted (the hard part was figuring out how, using LB as Rules-As-Written) and the world is... well, a somewhat better place. There's also a scenario in which you can play as The Other Light during Kingdom Come.

Also, Joe Kukan should play Nicolae. https://www.youtube.com/watch&v=DZrGIIIBhNg This is how you play a megalomaniac cult leader, dammit!

Firedrake said...

The Love of Padding is the Root of All Evil?

Have you tried cursing rather than swearing? There's more room to get inventive there.

Maybe the danger sense only works for people lower in the pecking order than the person who gets endangered? Do any husbands ever sense that their wives are in danger, or is it only the other way round?

I've watched Quad Rugby. Those guys are scary. "What am I gonna do, break my neck?"

L. Ron Hubbard was another high-output writer. Also the great Lionel Fanthorpe.