We at the LHC Institute for Ranting and Wittering would like retract the incorrectly published details concerning the fictitious work, The Atlantis Code (blog post dated 22-03-11) Henceforth, our writing and editorial staff would like to issue an unreserved apology to its author, Charles Brokaw. TAC is most certainly not the worst book ever written and in the spirit of freedom of the press, it was unfair and unnecessarily critical to label it so (even if it was merely a speculative assertion). We hope to undo any offence that might have been caused to Mr Brokaw or to his fans and sincerely hope they won’t be pressing charges.
We can unanimously and categorically confirm however that its sequel, The Lucifer Code, is in fact the worst book in existence and wish this to be put on record.
Ok, best to get the theological ‘oomph’ out of the way, because for all its 516 pages of noise, this is what the entire story amounts to (I’m not even going to bother hiding the spoilers):
The Vice-President of the United States is, in fact, the devil. No, really. He has a scroll read at him and vanishes in a puff of smoke. There’s some Middle Eastern politics, too. fin.
Heeeee’s back: Professor Thomas Lourds, the academically astounding and sexually unscrupulous scourge of terrorists, attractive women and religious zealots the world over.
And this time, he’s got a goatee. No, really.
But fret not, dear reader; Lourds still wears his customary khaki shorts with football top and he’s still the same colossal tool that we loved to loathe in TAC.
Worried that he might have been over-polishing his hero, Brokaw this time reins in his enthusiastic projecting (sort of) and reminds us constantly that “Lourds is no Harrison Ford”. Of course this leads to some wonderful irony as the book proceeds to steal numerous bits from Indiana Jones and every other film I imagine Brokaw has in his adolescent DVD collection.
Once again, we have two bits of tott- I mean er, women, for our hero’s delectation: the exotic Prof. Olympia Adnan and IRA cutie Cleena Mckenna. I assume Lourds ditched the last pair shortly after their dinner date (what a guy). Anyway, TLC‘s ‘romance’ unfolds in much the same way as it did in TAC: Olympia sleeps with Lourds immediately, while Cleena initially detests the bearded git. However, by the end of the book, she succumbs to his charms, whatever those may be; answers on a postcard, please. Oh and Lourds is still remarkably good in bed, in case you were worrying that he’d lost his mojo.
If a book manages to put me in an angry feminist frame of mind, then I suppose that in itself is quite an achievement. Firstly, there are the leering, drooling, gropey descriptions of the female characters, in which it isn’t clear who is talking: Brokaw or Lourds. Secondly, I simply refuse to accept that anyone would find this smug, nerdy, goatee-wearing berk attractive in the slightest. Even someone totally bereft of their senses and thikastooshortplanx would have reservations. But no, they all have a good fawn. And Lourds loves it. What a guy.
But that’s enough about him. Back to the book:
Brokaw’s style remains wonderfully inconsistent, to the point where I doubt he even re-reads his own work. You can spot the good days and bad days. On a good day, TLC is actually perfectly readable. On a bad day, it is turgid, clunky and throw-the-book-across-the-room frustrating.
Brokaw still employs his tried (tired?) tactic of introducing a new character: have them say a couple of lines of dialogue, before launching into a complete biographical account of their life up to that point. The characters are then considered ‘developed’ and their subsequent speech and actions are there purely to shove the plot forward and occasionally to give Thomas Lourds a bit of libidinous entertainment.
I think Brokaw expended his vitriol towards Catholicism in the first book, so the RCC takes something of a back-seat here. Indeed, it transpires that Lourds had a kindly old priest as his mentor, so I suppose they’re not all bad.
Instead, we have shady CIA suits, staring intensely at walls of monitors and sending ‘assets’ after Lourds and his entourage. Jason Bourne and James Bond are both name-checked and the action flings itself all over the world, with dates and place names zooming on screen at the start of every scene. Oh sorry, I forgot: IT ISN’T A MICHAEL BAY FILM. You’d be forgiven for getting mixed up, given that there are trailers for Brokaw’s works on his website…
So what is it that makes TLC so buttock-clenchingly worse than TAC? With the Atlantis myth, there was at least some scope for imagination and invention. Brokaw decided to superimpose the Catholic Church, mix in a bit of dodgy theology and hey presto, a conspiracy was born. With TLC, he instead talks in great detail about what really interests him: political & economic crises in the Middle East, with some spy pulp thrown in for good measure. Snippets of dull dialogue are interspersed with multi-page encyclopaedic descriptions of cities and political situations. At times, it felt like I had strolled into Wikipedia (the editorial quality is comparable). As if that wasn’t bad enough, Brokaw is one of those people who clearly gets a kick when describing technology...
So if you’re looking for a 2-hour, departure lounge distraction with some silly adventuring, you’re in for the dullest shock of your life. The preposterous conspiracy-nuttery and overblown stupidity of TAC at least made it a ‘page-turner’. However, Brokaw’s politico-economic tracts and soporific ramblings make TLC a page-sticker-togetherer.
Indeed, he gets so carried away talking about the ins and outs of the political and economic ramifications of Middle Eastern tension that he darn near forgets to include the obligatory explosive ending. The events of the story are hurriedly wrapped up in about 20 pages.
Why do I read these godawful books? Because it actually inspires me (as it should any literate person) to write something better. Expect another retraction when I have read the next sequel, The Temple Mount Code. Who hasn’t he covered yet? Ah yes, the Muslims. Should be interesting.
One final piece of advice: don’t get these for your Kindle or E-Reader; you’ll end up having to buy a new one.
I thought I’d end with a few of TLC‘s gems, to celebrate Charles Brokaw’s unique approach to the written word:
A British character’s outburst during a high-octane scene:
“The bloody car is out of control. Let’s see if we can survive the impending crash, eh?”
You can never over-describe:
“The huge hideously dead corpse”
I think I know what he meant to say…
“Her smile was cold enough to adorn a morgue”
“the white elephant in the room”
“His kidneys also suddenly declared they were losing the war against containment […] he’d rather die with some dignity. That meant no wet pants”
This is DIALOGUE:
“The addition Cisco Systems made of the Mobile Electronic Systems Integration has tied together a lot of information from all over the city”
“he’s got answers to some of what’s wrecked my world”
The chivalry of Thomas Lourds, BSc, MSc, PhD, GiT:
Lourds: “Ogling is one of those male traits that I’m afraid is hard-wired into every cell of my being. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”
“he was too aware of her gender to ignore her”