Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rapture Fiction lulz

To the Valley of Dragons is a piece of rapture fiction being heavily promoted by its author on various message boards, so I thought I'd check it out. It is amazing. By "amazing" I mean the hero is both lean and heavily muscled. I am hoping that we will later discover he is both black and white, as well as young and old, tall and short and possibly dead and alive.

First of all, I would like to note a technical detail about publishing a work of fiction on blogger: your chapters will be in reverse order due to the way blogger publishes posts. If you have a prologue and then Chapter 1, it would be a good idea to include a link to the prologue at the beginning of Chapter 1. (Not that the prologue helped with comprehension or anything.)

The prologue involves a look at Satan, renamed Xandrous (I guess someone doesn't like Linux) plotting his something. He looks like a dragon, I think. A black dragon. Because good things are white and bad things are black. Demons are called "drayan'os" and angels are "drayan", which is really amusing because the drayan are a race introduced by Star Trek Voyager.

I'm thinking "a bit derivative" is likely to be the least of my complaints about this.

So anyway, off to Earth. Or an Earth-like planet. Or something.

The theme of Chapter 1 is mini-info dump and ellipses for no particular reason at all.

Drogan fought on as men were fighting and dying all around him... He had joined the Duke of Grey Home's army as a youth, imagining a life more glorious and exciting than working at his father's forge as an apprentice blacksmith for the rest of his life. Now the lean, yet heavily muscled, blond haired and blue eyed man was in his twenty fifth summer and a seasoned veteran in Duke Nordhelm's army, and had quickly risen to the rank of sergeant over his own squad. Having served already in more campaigns than many of the older veterans, he had earned the right to forgo many, but he always volunteered, was always willing to do his duty. He, after all, had nothing else but the army now.

So, how many people, exactly, work as an apprentice blacksmith their entire lives? Was Drogan especially bad at blacksmithing? That description of Drogan? Every single character is described that way: size, hair, eye color just splatted into the text as if culled from a driver's license. I would also like to register my complaint against the phrase "seasoned veteran". Unless you are trying to convey the fact that your character has been rubbed in spices, veteran and seasoned mean virtually the same thing.

Following an info dump of Drogan's tragically tragic past:

Now he commanded a squad of ten men, his company given the task of routing raiders that had been attacking and pillaging outlying villages much like his own, through a pass in the southern tip of the Axeweaver Mountains. The nomadic raiders of the Barren Wastes to the east, were little match for the leather and chain mail armored men of southern Erinor, this campaign, but often it was quite different. The Barren Waste's nomadic people, or the Haira'hem as they called themselves were well trained fighters, often striking quickly and disappearing into the dunes and sandstone canyons of the desert wastes. They wore loose fitting hooded clothes that blended with the colors of the desert, and wore a cloth mask wrapped at the bridge of the nose, covering the bottom half of their faces. They rarely carried a shield, although sometimes a small buckler, and fought with two weapons... a sword and spear, two swords, two spears, whatever the haira'hem's preference, and they were unmatched in their skill with a bow. Except perhaps by the elves of the Forever Lands to the east, or those elves of the Griffonwood, bordering the eastern edge of the Axeweaver Mountains. And Drogan himself, as brave as he was, would think twice before following a haira'hem into the dunes or canyons alone.

If the Haira'hem sound familiar to you, they should. They live on Arrakis where they are called the Fremen. The rest of that paragraph is a discussion of the archery skills of the elves, so now we're smack in the middle of Lord of the Rings meets Dune. All we need now is for Frodo Atreides to wander by on his way to carry a ring made of spice to a volcano.

Next we meet Kendrick. He's a priest of Jandrous/Jesus and he's a nice guy. Really nice.

The slender, short dark haired, and blue eyed Kendrick lived a humble life, but this is what he loved to do. Being a priest was his dream since childhood, and now the life of a follower of Jandrous, and a priest, was all he knew... and he loved it.

Kendrick, who is either short or has short hair, is going on an adventure.

"Young Kendrick. I need a favor of you," the older, white haired and bearded priest said. He glanced around, and his blue eyes darted left to right. He held a wooden tube in his right hand, and in his left was a travel pack made of brown leather.

Do brown leather travel packs signify something other than black leather travel packs or canvas travel packs?

"Uh.... yes... of course brother Donnagan," Kendrick replied, taken by surprise and a bit confused. "What is it you need of me?" Donnagan pushed the tube into the pack, turned Kendrick around by the shoulders, and with one arm around his shoulders urged Kendrick back out the doors and back into the cold winds outside. He whispered quickly as he lead the young, confused, priest around the back of the temple to a small stable. He whispered urgently as he led Kendrick inside.

Young Kendrick, confused, is confused. And young.

"I need you to take the letter in this pack here to the temple in Seaport." he whispered. "I need you to travel quickly, and I need you to travel now. You can take my horse." The old Donnagan was already fastening a saddle. Finally sensing a chance to speak himself, Kendrick questioned the old man.

"Uh... Donnagan... I mean brother Donnagan," he said very much confused and even quite frightened. "I've never even been out of Danir! I wouldn't even know how to find my way to Seaport!"

"I've given you a map in this pack," he whispered. "You will follow the road southwest to Ulrich, then further west to Kilmore, leaving the kingdom of Rylos. And then you'll head to Wolves Tooth which is in Kyrolis. From there, a road moves south through the Axeweaver Mountains and into Bloodgate... a city in the mountains. From there you will head southwest into Erinor, to Castle Erinor and then skirt along the Griffonwood, south to Newblade, Greyhome, and then Seaport. If you stop at all the places I mentioned or some of their outlying villages, you'll be able to replenish your supplies... and I've given you money, food, and warmer clothes... and you should have an occasional bed for the night."

Oh, so here's Frodo, being sent southwest and then further west and then south and then southwest and then south. I wonder if he'll run into a big spider along the way.

And the the trumpet sounds and the Rapture begins. I can't wait.


  1. I glanced at Anthony David Rosenthal's webpage. And had a hard time getting past this:

    "and it's characters."

    I guess he missed class when grammar, spelling and syntax were discussed.

    What dreck.

  2. Writing good fantasy fiction is hard. That's pretty bad, but I give him credit for having the nerve to expose his efforts to the public. I've made a couple of attempts in that vein in the past, cringed when I read what I had written, and then erased it.

  3. There is a reason nobody's seen my fantasy fic.

  4. Unfortunately, if that guy keeps at it, it is always possible that some Christian publishing house could pick him up. Some of them have extremely low standards for writing. I have relatives that know I like science fiction & fantasy, and who have sent me Christian-themed books of those types. Most have been amazingly bad in every respect. So he might have a shot at getting published.

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  6. Also, what is it with all the blacksmiths? I mean, is that the only medieval trade that people know about? Can we please, once, have a character who's left his job as an apprentice farrier, or a shoemaker, or thatcher, or something?

  7. Michael: all men everywhere prior to the Industrial Revolution were soldiers or blacksmiths. All women were wives or tavern wenches.

    That's to say nothing of the full 25% of Europe that were secretly princes and princesses being raised to be blacksmiths or wenches.

  8. @ PF - "All women were wives or tavern wenches."

    Or witches. Don't forget about the witches.

    Oh, and I forgot - the "Haira'hem"? Aiel with swords. (Which doesn't actually contradict your point, since the Aiel were more or less Fremen anyway.) $5 says a "good" Haira'hem joins the party at some point.

    I dunno. I write a lot of fantasy - or I used to, before I had small children to utterly devour my free time - and things like this make me want to choose a different genre.

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  10. Quasars Rules of Writing

    Rule One: if you're a modern person living in a modern society, counting the number of "summers" rather than simply specifying how old a character is forbidden. Under pain of being fed to rabid penguins.

    Rule Two: Marty Stu authors will be shot on sight. With a water pistol. Filled with a mix of capsicum spray, hydrochloric acid and flesh-eating bacteria.

    Rule Three: Blonde hair and blue eyes is all well and good, but when they're your main characters only defining features you had damn well better be a neo-nazi. Otherwise, be prepared to be locked in a small glass room with a bunch of mimes for the next three years.

    Rule Four: Informing the reader of favorable attributes should be done in such a way that it doesn't sound like you have a mini-orgasm every time you imagine the character. Unfavorable attributes, for example suicidal overdependance on a military environment, should not be described as if it was further proof of your characters awesomeness: eg. "always willing to do his duty".

    Rule Five: Naming conventions for geographical locations should be established. Randomly joining two nouns together doesn't count, unless you want to find both nouns applied to your body in a overly creative manner. (I'm not certain how this applies to weaver, but axe speaks for itself. And as for Griffen-wood, well I'm not sure how we're going to find a male griffen but I'm up for it if you guys are...)

    Rule Six: Comma's should be use responsably. In the event that they are not, one ball bearing will be dropped on your head for every unecessary instance of one. From orbit.

    Rule Seven: If an enemy is no match for you, then they're no damn match for you. Contradictions of this nature will be punishable by spork.

    Rule Eight: Elves. No. Just No. Under pain of not being Tolkein and having elves in your story (widely considered to be punishment enough).

    And that's only from the first two quotes. Feel free to add more rules to the list, guys!

  11. PS: Overelaborated travel logistics. In a rapture novel. Whoa, deja vu.

  12. @ Quasar - "Overelaborated travel logistics. In a rapture novel. Whoa, deja vu."

    I came *this* close to losing another keyboard.

  13. Oh bleepity bleepity bleep bleep!

    I made the mistake of going over there and reading some more of that drek. PF didn't quote the worst of it by half.

    The prologue provides us with one or two segments of beautiful prose:

    Satan/Xandrous's first words: "SON OF THE ONE GOD!!!" of the one god... the one god...one god... he echoed.

    Echo is not a verb. I'm imagining this guy repeating himself over and over, lowering the volume each time.

    Also, use of multiple exclamation marks needs a freaking reason.

    Paragraph three: Xandrous turned toward the massive gathering of drayan'os behind him, all as black as himself, devoid of all color... almost as though they sucked in and swallowed all light, and he spread his arms wide as if to take them all in, chuckled, and roared... his echoes seemed to last forever, loud enough to escape the underworld and perhaps reach the ears of the mortal world... perhaps to reach the the ears of the heavens as well.

    No, I haven't cut anything out. Those ellipses are in the original. And how do you turn toward something behind you?

    Jesus/Jandrous talking to Yahweh/Unamed Deity: Raising his head to look upon his father with eyes that appeared full of joy, sadness, and fierceness together,

    Jesus is schitsophrenic, apparently. And has daddy issues.

    Later on, immediately after PF's last quote above: ... given you money, food, and warmer clothes... and you should have an occasional bed for the night."

    "WAIT!!!" Kendrick Exclaimed.

    Argh! Don't scream at me, Kenny! The travel logistics must have really got the poor kid excited for an outburst like that.

    "And then you will travel southwest by northeast for seventy-three point two-four miles-"


    I also note that Kendrick gets the same number of exclamation marks as Satan. Foreshadowing? No wait, that would imply some actual thought was going into this. Nevermind.

    And then there's this: The blast of the trumpet carried out before him. Planets and stars exploded or moved from their orbits at the power of the sound wave. Great space fairing rocks floating in the weightlessness of space were blasted to nothingness. Some stars merely puffed out like a candle in the wind, as the sound wave carried out toward the little blue planet so far away.

    If you're being metaphorical again, don't describe the call to war, twice, as a sound wave in space. Remember: in space, no-one can hear you scream at the godawful prose.

  14. ummmmm.... actually it's not a "rapture" novel. No disappearing of people in my book just so the non-believers get left behind to deal with a load bad stuff. Kirk Cameron does not play the role in the movie adaptation. It is however a bit allegorical. No point in denying that, as it is pretty obvious. And I'm not sure I like the term "christian fantasy." I think perhaps christian inspired fantasy is more fitting. I'm not exactly staying true to the gospel here, just drawing some inspiration. If I said this was the gospel of Christ I'd likely be labeled a heretic or something. Drayan were in Star Trek? No kidding? Man... I love ST but I knew there was a reason I didn't like Voyager. Well now I know and I suddenly hate what I thought was a clever name. Go figure.

    The Haira'hem are not all bad. There are many good Haira'hem. Not planning in having one join the party. But you never know.

    And excuse me for a few typos here and there. I'm a human being, not a computer. Geeze. Ya'll are tough over here.

    And yes... I like ellipses.

    Ok, all that being said, yes I am a christian. But I'm not going to shove my beliefs down your throats either. That's not my way. And I have to say one more thing... To the guy with the neo nazi comment. I'm German Jew by blood, so no supreme race in my story. Racists kinda tick me off. Gotta love those early assumptions, right?


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