A while ago, I was a little unclear on what to write about. “What to write, what to write,” I asked myself. Then Rilla suggested the following:
Angels and Demons: What you need to know about avoiding Dan Brown
The first thing you need to know to address this issue is that Dan Brown has been asking himself the same thing for the past five hundred years. Eventually, he settled on ‘thinly veiled fantasy adventure’. But all the *really good* fantasy adventure stories were being written by people who were much better writers than he was, so he had to go with ‘ridiculous conspiracy theory crackpot science alternate history fiction’ and hope the two-hundred-year-old scotch he’d sent his agent would do the rest.
And it has! The singular skill which I shall call marketing has made it possible for the author to peddle a previously-told story (“The DaVinci Code”) to super-stardom, and he does his best to make a go of it at being a semiotician. He is not a very good semiotician, however. A good one is Umberto Eco. In fact, I wonder if Dan Brown has even read Umberto Eco.
Sorry. I digress.
Let us pretend for a moment that the “plot” of Brown’s books could not have a Harrier flown through them, backwads, forwards, and sideways, and that his characters are actually self-actualised, realistic characters. Let us also accept that Brown is a writer of historical fiction rather than conspiracy th…okay, no, let’s don’t even try that presupposition. Let’s just say he pulls a lot of stuff out of his butt, which is often the hallmark of a good fiction writer. Particularly for science speculative fiction.
Okay. Got that in your mind? His stories right now are pretty good for pulp, campy drivel like you’d find in the bathroom at your massage therapist’s office. How, though, Dan Brown, can we even pretend to take seriously your claim that ANTI-MATTER is actually a good, cheap, and inexhaustible source of fuel!!?? Particularly when you, Dan Brown, can’t even figure out WHO INVENTED THE INTERNET!!??
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge sci-fi geek. I loves me teh Star Treks, with the phasers made from salt shakers, and the doors that go “shhhht”. I loves me some Firefly and Buck Rogers and Star Wars, with the space cowboys and the adventure. I *even* loves me some mystery and adventure! I also get my lovin’ on with some fantasy! But Dan Brown…ANTI-MATTER as a fuel source? You…do know that they didn’t get to this point with science until the TWENTY-FOURTH CENTURY, right? When they discovered warp drive?
Whatevs, as my ten-year-old would say (actually, he would say ‘all the cool kids say ‘whatev‘ now’ (but what THAT really means is “I alone say ‘whatev’ now, and I don’t give a rat’s arse what the cool kids do”).
What gets me about Dan Brown is that it’s kind of like Harry Potter for people in their “middle earlies”. Except without engaging characters. And plot. It’s mindless drivel that, for some ungodly reason, some people are taking as freaking gospel. Granted, they’re probably the same people who think the government cares enough about their telephone conversations to bother with bugging their apartments. But still.
Anyway, yeah. I’m pretty hard on Dan Brown.
The best way to avoid him is to read *good* historical mystery and semiotics. Read Umberto Eco. Read Rudyard Kipling. Read Dan Brown if you want, but Rilla wondered what you need to know to avoid Dan Brown. Here it is in point form:
- one-sided, flat, boring characters
- nonsensical plot (which can be a good thing, when you intend it to be nonsensical)
- conspiracy theories taken from Cracker Jacks boxes
- Bad science
- Wrong facts
- sluggish pace
- asinine ‘action’
I mean, if Brown had presented this book as campy sci-fi, it might have been good. Better. More tolerable. Better than bad.