September 6th, 2009
|08:58 am - That's what 'hero' means|
I read slacktivist every week, to follow his page-by-page critique of the Left Behind series. Why do I care to read a criticism by an Evangelical Christian of an execrable series of books by two other Evengelicals? Because in ripping their writing to pieces he reveals what makes bad writing, bad plotting, and bad philosophy.
In this week's instalment he destroys a scene from Book 2 'Tribulation Force'. Context: the Antichrist ('Nicolae Carpathia' - sic) has established one-world government, and four American Christians have formed a secret resistance cell. One of these, reporter 'Buck Williams', has been invited to interview the Antichrist. He meets with his pastor to discuss how to make the most of the opportunity. This is their plan in its entirety:
"You should have some sort of plan, go over in your mind what you might say or not say, that sort of thing." Slacktivist explains that the feebleness of this plan is of a piece with the outlook of the book: resistance is futile, the prophecy must play itself out, nothing can be done.
Here is the scene LaHaye and Jenkins are stumbling toward: Nicolae sits in his office, meditating on his evil scheme and the worldwide suffering it will cause. In walks the hero.
If that hero is anyone other than Buck Williams, then we're in for some fireworks. Pick a hero, any hero. In walks Buffy Summers, armed with wisecracks and a nasty scythe-looking thing, matter-of-factly informing Nicolae that his scheme stops, now. In walks the Doctor, unarmed except for a sonic screwdriver and a boundless, inexplicable confidence, cheerfully explaining to Carpathia that he gets one last chance to do the right thing, to leave the planet alone for good. Or else.
Substitute any hero you like. The exact proportions of violence/redemption threatened/offered may vary, but every hero will -- one way or the other or both -- step forward to try to stop him. That's what "hero" means.
Someone in the 400+ comments which follow runs with this thought: how would The Doctor handle the antichrist? That depends, which Doctor?
#1, grandfatherly authority: "Now listen here, young man. You've involved yourself in matters quite beyond your understanding, whatever your pride may tell you."
#2, clowning misdirection: "Here's a man who believes he's already won, yes a man who looks upon his works and finds them good, without ever realizing the depth of the trouble he's in!"
#3, smooth threats: "Carpathia, there are forces arrayed against you which will destroy everything you've worked for. It's not too late to change your mind."
#4, cheerful condescension: "Nikolai, Nikolai, Nikolai, Nikolai. Here you are thinking you have an entire planet at your fingertips, and yet the clock of the cosmos is ticking away on you."
#5, solemn warning: "We'll stop you, Carpathia. I don't yet know how, I don't yet know when, but I do know that you'll be stopped."
#6, angry bluster: "You think you can just come in here, and take over the place? You think you're even up to that? Why, even such a sorry bunch as Humanity will have your tail in a sling in no time!"
#7, quiet death: "Carpathia, others have walked down the path upon which you stand; and all of them begged for mercy as their palaces crashed down around their ears. You can choose now whether to join that list of footnotes to galactic history."
#8, frantic mercy: "Time's running out, Carpathia, and there's only so much I can do for you! Think about your choice, and think carefully, for the moment's fast approaching where further though will be impossible!"
#9, feral anger: "Your reign has ended, Carpathia, whether you know it or not. History is about to roll over you, and I'm the man offering to pull you out of the way."
#10, : "I know, Nikolai, look at you! One world, one religion, one currency, one football league on the one telly channel! You've got it all, you're the man on top! But then another man comes to you with a warning, a man who's just trying to help, and a man like you has to ask yourself: Do I know what's coming next? Do I really, really know what's next? [pause] 'Cause you don't. But I do. Give it up, Nikolai. Give it up, or we'll both be so sorry."
Good characterisation. That last one is brilliant I think, and 1 and 3 are particularly good. ETA - and I can just imagine Tom Baker's eye-rolling way of saying 'cos-mos'.
And edited again - and here's a good one. Omar, from The Wire:
"I hear you good with languages. How many different ways can you say Omar coming? Cause I'm coming."
I get a bit bogged down in the slacktivist comments thread most weeks