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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Me vs Dan Brown

WARNING: Not Star Wars related! And long! I wrote this a while ago on my old blog and thought I would share it with the world again.

I enjoyed Dan Brown's first few novels but couldn't help but notice a few annoying quirks over time, e.g. extraordinary overabundance of unnecessary details; lame dialogue; recycled characters / events / situations; horrible metaphors and similes; incorrect word usage; obvious "twists" and, really, really bad character descriptions.

I wrote this before diving in to The Lost Symbol, to "celebrate" its release. Without further ado - I give you my imagined version of Dan Brown's next novel, "The Lost Artifact of Ambiguousness".

*      *      *      *      *

Archaeologist Peter Oldman listened in horror as the horrible beeping sound clawed at his ears like a rake claws at a pile of dry autumn leaves. He knew with the certainty that Howard Carter must have felt when he descended the steps of tomb KV62 in Egypt's Valley of the Kings that he was going to die. I am, thought Peter Oldman intrinsically, going to die.
In front of him, strapped to several bricks of C4 explosive, plastic binder, plasticizer and taggant chemicals 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane was a mobile phone. He knew with an absolute yet completely unnecessary to the plot or current action certainty that the phone was a Nokia N95 with a 332 MHz processor and 64MB of SDRAM.
The ringing stopped as suddenly as a stop sign appearing out of the fog on a foggy day and a voice crackled through the speaker.
'Hello, Mr. Oldman,' the voice sublimated. Oldman had never heard the voice before yet somehow knew he had heard it every day before now.
Peter gasped, 'What do you want with me? I've told you everything I know about the Artifact.'
The stranger, who called himself Zekal'Mor rather than his real name, even in his own inner monologue, because it would keep the audience guessing about his identity for another three chapters, laughed strategically.
'Isn't it obvious?' Zekal'Mor asked in an unintentionally rhetorical way. He paused while he thought of some incredibly cliched dialogue, then added, 'I want you to die.'
Before Peter Oldman could deposit another thought, the hot heat of the explosion's explosive inner sanctum disintegrated him completely, leaving behind nothing but ash.

Symbologist Robert Langdon frowned at the ancient manuscript in front of him. Showing a careless disregard for the irreplaceable and incredibly fragile document that no one would expect from a highly celebrated University Professor, he held the parchment up to the light.
He gasped. 'This is the Symbol for the AAA - the Alliance of the Artifact of Ambiguousness.'
Although this was a good time to explain what his comment meant, it was an even better time to awkwardly describe Robert Langdon's physical appearance because it is important to give a detailed description of any male characters as soon as they appear in your story.
Langdon was not traditionally good looking though he did look oddly like Dan Brown and by a strange coincidence almost every woman he met in the course of his stories found him attractive. He wore a charcoal turtleneck sweater under a tweed jacket, which was completely coincidentally the author's favourite ensemble. Strapped around his wrist was a Mickey Mouse watch to tell rather than show the reader that the protagonist had some endearingly strange yet harmlessly inoffensive character quirks.
'What is it?' Spanish astrobiologist Elizabeth Enriques enthused quizzically.
She had dark hair and her gunmetal grey eyes sparkled with a deep intelligence that was never really utilised or evidenced in the context of the story except to solve one or two minor puzzles that access to a google search engine could have solved in 20 seconds because her role in the narrative was actually just to listen to Robert Langdon's verbal diarrhea about symbols and junk.
Rest assured that Elizabeth was extremely hot and was an expert in bikram yoga, which was not at all relevant to the plot of the novel but would lead to at least one uncomfortably sleazy exchange of dialogue between Elizabeth and Robert at the end of the novel in which it would be "implied" that she could finally use those skills for something worthwhile - in the bedroom.
Behind them stood acclaimed philanthropist Anders Grange, a powerfully built 45 year old man with silver hair, who stalked the room like a timberwolf, back straight and proud and on two legs but totally like a wolf at the same time. Grange had been Langdon's best friend since their childhood, despite not having been mentioned or referenced at all in any of the previous three Robert Langdon books.
When Anders spoke, his voice was far away yet disturbingly close. 'I have heard of the AAA. They are very old and powerful,' he reminded. 'The legends say they possessed an ambiguous artifact that granted them power over life and death itself.'
His voice was suddenly as wistful as a blade of grass waving in the sunlight and implied very subtly that he would ultimately turn out to be the sole bad guy responsible for the global conspiracy.....


  1. So, I have to TEACH The Lost Symbol (never mind why or for what college) and I have to say, this has inspired me to plan a lecture called "Gary Stu? Who, Me?"

    Dan Brown's mere existence is a travesty. You with access to Death Stars should get on that.

  2. OMFG, this is brilliant!!!
    For some unknown reason I keep buying Brown's books out of the bargain bin, every time I do, I just end up yelling and ranting about it... you'd think I'd learn.
    The final straw for me though was Deception Point which I recently read, it was chock-a-block full of the dumbest scientists ever to grace the pages of fiction; as a scientist myself (and not unfamiliar with many aspects of the "plot") I find it highly insulting...not to mention irritating.