IN THE UNITED STATES SPECIAL SUPREME OVER COURT
FOR THE FINAL SATISFACTION OF GLOBAL JURISDICTION

X

READERSHIP OF THE WORLD, et al.,  :
xxxxxxxxxxxx Plaintiffs xxxxxxxxx :
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx :
vs. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx : CASE NO: ZZ9-PLRL-Z-LPH
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx :
DAN BROWN, et al. his novels, xxx :
particularly ANGELS AND DEMONS, x :
xxxxxxxxxxxx Defendants xxxxxxxxx :

x

TRAIL TRANSCRIPT : DAY SEVENTY-ONE, MORNING SESSION
X
BEFORE: HONORABLE HOPHGUD TAYSTE xxx
DATE x: December 5th, 2009 xxxxxxxxx
Place : Courtroom No. 2, 9th Floor x
Manila Building xxxx
228 Hazelnut Avenuex
Volcano Headquarters

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COUNSEL PRESENT:
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CLIFF KNOETZ, DVLS ADVC
xx For - Plaintiffs
X
RAY NASGON, ESQ
IGAN CHARLES CLEARLY-NOWTHER, ESQ
WEGHAT D'VUNCK, ESQ
xx For - Defendants
X
xXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX NOU MENON, ANY, ONE
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER
X
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THE COURT: I know this is going to be a very difficult, even painfully
challenging experience for us all, but I'm afraid there are procedures
which must be followed in court. Mr. Knoetz, you failed to correctly
read in your first piece of evidence yesterday. You can't go blurting
out quotes in a state of desperation. Things will degenerate into a
farce. I am striking Prosecution Evidence #1 from the record, and I
advise the jury to disregard it when the time comes to deliberate.
x
[JURY THROWS ITS COLLECTIVE FAECES IN A STATE OF OVER-EXCITEMENT]
x
THE COURT: I guess that means you'll have to forget about any failures
of characterization regarding the protagonist, Robert Langdon, yes?
X
MR. KNOETZ: In fact, your honor, I feel we will be able to satisfy the
court on that count, repeatedly. In fact, as detailing every example of
poor characterisation would render this courtcase interminable, I will
restrict this evidence to moments of first encounter with characters.
x
THE COURT: This case already seems to have gone on far too long, but I
suyppose the less reading I have to do the better. Continue.
x
MR. KNOETZ: Then with your permission I will read the following into
the record as Prosecution Evidence #2, regarding Vittoria Vetra, who
is the main female character of the accused document.
x
[PROSECUTION EVIDENCE #2]
Decending from the chopper in her khaki shorts and white sleeveless 
top, Vittoria Vetra looked nothing like the bookish physicist he had 
expected. Lithe and graceful, she was tall with chestnut skin and
long black hair that swirled in the back wind of the rotors. Her face
was unmistakably Italian - not overly beautiful, but possessing full, 
earthy features that even at twenty yards seemed to exude a raw 
sensuality. As the air currents buffetted her body, her clothes clung,
accentuating her slender torso and small breasts.
...
Langdon watched Vittoria approach. She had obviously been crying, her
deep sable eyes filled with emotions Langdon could not place. Still,
she moved towards them with fire and command. Her limbs were strong
and toned, radiating the healthy luminescence of Mediterranean flesh
that had enjoyed long hours in the sun.
[ANGELS AND DEMONS, PAGES 69-70]
x
MR.KNOETZ: As is clear, Mr. Brown is pitifully out of his depth when
required to present a female character as other than typical of hotel
room soft-core pornography. It should be noted that the "chopper"
which she dismounts in the first paragraph was a helicopter.
X
THE COURT: As opposed to a motorcycle, understood.
x
MR. KNOETZ: Er... yes. In any case, in Brown's pseudo-fiction a woman
seems to be chiefly characterised by her sexual qualities and/or
appearence. When expressing emotions Brown immediately struggles and
only attempts to do so via the mask of third-person interpretation,
deflecting his shocking lack of human empathy onto the character of
Langdon, who is unable to decipher the emotions active in the close
relative of a murder victim who has recently been weeping.
x
THE COURT: Disturbing.
x
MR. KNOETZ: Very. More so because, as is clear in The Da Vinci Code,
Robert Langdon seems to show a rather predatory sexual interest in
young women mourning the violent loss of a father-figure. But Langdon
connot be held responsible for Brown's choice of descriptors. I draw
attention to the phrase "she moved towards them with fire and command",
shortly after we are told she has two black eyes, and invite the Court
to speculate about what the hell Brown thinks he's talking about.
x
MR. NASGUN: Objection!
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THE COURT: Objectionable, certainly. Is that it, Mr. Knoetz?
x
MR. KNOETZ: Hardly. If I may introduce Prosecution Evidence #3,
describing central character Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca?
x
[PROSECUTION EVIDENCE #3]
He looked to be in his late-thirties, indeed a child by Vatican
standards. He had a surprisingly handsome face, a swirl of course
brown hair, and almost radient green eyes that shone as if they
were somehow fueled by the mysteries of the universe.
[ANGELS AND DEMONS, PAGE 170]
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THE COURT: Radiant eyes, luminescent thighs - strong theme of
radioactivity in this thing, is there?
x
MR. KNOETZ: Inasmuch as there are any strong themes, sir. However,
when required to describe strength itself as a characteristic Brown
has a tendency to go "a little overboard". Like Robert Maxwell.
x
[PROSECUTION EVIDENCE #4]
When the commander finally clicked off his phone and approached
across the room, he seemed to grow with each step. Langdon was tall
himself and not used to looking up at many people, but Commander
Olivetti demanded it. Langdon sensed immediately that the commander
was a man who had weathered tempests, his face hale and steeled.
His dark hair was cropped in a military buzz cut, and his eyes
burned with the kind of hardened determination only attainable
through years of intense training. He moved with ramrod exactness...
[ANGELS AND DEMONS, PAGE 153]
x
THE COURT: I'm afraid that reference doesn't really carry to a non-
English audience, Mr. Knoetz.
x
MR. KNOETZ: I apologise, your Honor - but Brown's clumsily excessive
descriptors are surely evident here: hale, steeled, hardened; ramrod
exactness, whatever that might signify. If this was any thicker, he
wouldn't be able to pour it on at all. Not to mention that he seems
unclear on the functioning of perspective.
x
THE COURT: Where are you going with this, Mr. Knoetz?
x
MR. KNOETZ: Just establishing that, when presenting any alleged
character, Brown demonstrates limitations inconsistant with "good
writing". Specifically, he shows a worrying reliance on anatomy:
x
[PROSECUTION EVIDENCE #5]
Langdon noted a man in a wheelchair exiting the building. He looked
to be in his early sixties. Gaunt and totally bald with a sternly
set jaw, he wore a white lab coat and dress shoes propped firmly on
the wheelchair's footrest. Even at a distance his eyes looked
lifeless - like two gray stones.
[ANGELS AND DEMONS, PAGE 36]
x
MR. KNOETZ: In fact, your Honor, you might say that my main point
of criticism here is in the character-eyes-ation. Hem hem.
x
MR. NASGUN: Ob-jection!
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THE COURT: Sus-tained, my God. Consider yourself held in contempt,
Mr. Knoetz. Any more punmenship like that and it won't matter if I
find for the prosecution or not, you'll never be found again. Think
you can give us anything that doesn't hinge totally on looks?
X
MR. KNOETZ: Just one, your Honor.
x
[PROSECUTION EVIDENCE #6]
Captain Rocher stepped forward in his red beret. Vittoria thought he
looked more human somehow than the other guards - stern but not so
rigid. Rocher's voice was emotional and crystalline, like a violin.
[ANGELS AND DEMONS, PAGE 347]
x
MR. KNOETZ: A crystal violin, presumably.
x
THE COURT: Good grief. I suppose you rest your case, then?
x
MR. KNOETZ: Far from it, your Honor.
x
THE COURT: Pity. Well I at least need a break. Reconvene after a
suitable recovery period, shall we?
x
[COURT IS ADJOURNED]
----------------------------------------------------------------------

X

_______________________
Nou Menon, ANY, ONE
Official Court Reporter

x

The foregoing certificalation of this tranyscript does not appley to any
reproduction by any means useless under the dialect control hand/eye
supervision of the certifycating reporter.
ddxxxxxxxxxxxx

I’ve got a few minutes before I’m due back in court, so I thought I’d wallow in nostalgia for a while and pick up Valhalla Rising again – it feels like sweet years since I’ve even thought about it.

Change of approach to the sea monster from now on, because life is too short to go through it chapter by page. Instead, we’ll have a plot summary of a reasonable subsection of the novel, examining a particular theme or detail as we do.

Ready? Here we go!

When we left our herpes, Dirk Pitt® had just unexpectedly lubed up Al Giordino in his cabin – but this is going to be left unexplored territory for now, because there is actual unexplored territory to be, er, explored. Charged with locating the sad wreckage of Emerald Dolphin, Pitt® and Al prepare to dive to the very bottom of the sea to find her sunken bones (I’m almost shedding a happy tear to be back with all these familiar friends). How will they achieve this? First by introducing a new poorly named friend in Sea Sleuth, an “autonomous underwater vehicle” (AUV, or “a swimming camera”), with which they find the wreck on their very first try, delve inside her and discover that the reason for her so rapid sinking was due to explosives – sabotage!

This is more of a revelation to them than to us, since this has been an established fact for about 130 pages. Having their target in sight, Pitt® and Al prepare to investigate first hand in the Abyss Navigator, a clumsily named four-man submersible, to find the proof they need. First they must select someone to join them on their trip to the bottom – and to prove that one woman is worth two men they select Misty Graham.

Ah, Misty.

Misty was a petite woman, full of fire and vinegar which sounds like a yeast infection to me. Her black hair cropped short for easy maintenance on board ship, she might have looked boyish disgusting if she didn’t have well defined construction Ah: titties, good. With light brown eyes under a pert little nose and soft lips, Misty had never been married thus proving herself a failure as a female.

So, down they go – in only the most literal of manners, mind you – nosing around in the wreckage and, on their very first try (again), discovering a mystery object at the site of the fire’s outbreak that will prove to have been the cause. Not a bad day’s work – but when they get back to the surface there is no sign of the Deep Encounter… they have been abandoned at sea…

…in fact, it’s worse: Deep Encounter has been hijacked! With the only competent men playing around at the bottom of the sea, a high-speed vessel arrives, a band of armed villains trick their way on board and take everyone hostage at gunpoint. The characterisation is typically villainous –

The hijacker did not look like a pirate, no peg leg, parrot or eye patch.

– demonstrating that Cussler understands his readers are not of the under-eight age group. So – what are two men and one unmarried woman going to do while they wait for death on the high seas, in a single-room submersible ,with no food or fresh water, no emergency flares – nothing but the lithe warm bodies that god gave them?

Well, improvising sources of food and water, they do everything but the obvious (apart from die), even though they have no way to flag down the rescue plane that fails to spot them, no doubt dooming them without hope.

“Then how will they ever find us?” Misty asked, her resolve beginning to crack. After a week of eating nothing but fish and going toilet with two sailors within arm’s reach, I’m not surprised.

Pitt® gave her a comforting smile and hugged her. “The law of averages,” he said, totally misunderstanding the concept. “They’re bound to catch up.”

“Besides,” Giordino chimed in, “we’re lucky. Aren’t we pal?”

“As lucky as they come. Now ram me, you Italian stallion.

Misty wiped a glistening eye, straightened her blouse and shorts wow, she really was worried and ran a hand through her cropped hair. “Forgive me. I’m not as tough as I thought I was.”

I can see why she lives alone, panic-stricken bimbo like that, her parents should have been sterilised. However, with things looking so grim for our beloved champions, their creator, Clive Cussler, having arranged a situation for them so dire that no logical escape can possibly be conceived – rescue arrives! Hearing the sound of classical music floating across the waves one night, they wave their failing flash light and scream for help – and just as it seems the passing ship will pass like a ship in the night, it turns.

The captain of this heroic vessel is quite a striking figure – in fact, you may wonder why I didn’t mention him in my run down of such naval characters a few months ago.

He was a large man, the same height as Pitt® but fifteen pounds heavier. He was also thirty years older. His grey hair and beard gave him the appearance of an old waterfront wharf rat. His, naturally, blue-green eyes had a glint to them, and he readily smiled as he examined his catch.

He welcomes them on board, ready to give them everything they need – but the first thing Pitt® wants is to report the crisis’s to Admiral Sandecker.

The old man nodded. “Of course. Come on up to the wheelhouse. You can use the ship-to-shore radio or the satellite telephone. You can even send e-mail if you wish. The Periwinkle has the finest communications systems of any yacht on the water.” The Periwinkle, eh? Sounds like baby talk for one’s wee-wee to me. Given their skill for naming boats these two should get on like a house on fire.

Pitt® studied the old man. “We’ve met before.”

“Yes, I suspect we have.”

“My name is Dirk Pitt®.” He turned to the others. “My shipmates, Misty Graham and Al Giordino.”

The old man warmly shook hands with all. Then he turned and grinned at Pitt®.

“I’m Clive Cussler.”

X

…speechless.

Jack West. Six consonants, two vowels. It’s the kind of name Clive Cussler would slap manfully on the ass, maybe before allowing his palm to rest and cup just a little too long before breaking contact – but enough of that old sailor! Jack West is a creation of Matthew Reilly, and he’s so pathetically keen to tell us all about him he blurts out all the good stuff straight away. Onto our blouse, if you like.

For example: Jack West is the fourth best soldier in the world – they had a vote, it looks like, and he almost won, so there. And he’s got a pet falcon called Horus.  He’s got two arms – and one of them is made of a robot! He’s way more interesting than any other fast-paced hero I’ve ever read about, no question. And he’s got two call signs, although that’s hardly an unique quality. The first was Huntsman and the new one is Woodsman, which is a pity, because it’s the only replacement call sign forced onto his team that is not cripplingly shameful and no-one remembers to use it after page 8. As for the person responsible for all that, allow me to introduce Lily. She’s, ah, well, er, she’s a, hum, er, she’s a ten-year old, uh, girl. Wow, barely an hour since I finished the first chapter and that’s all I can remember about her.

I’m going to have real difficulties with this book. For a start, if my use of blog tags was to fairly represent the frequency of limp-wristed characterisation and crappy images on display, the words gey and clip-art would stand eight storeys high while all the others lie squashed down to the size of your average sex phone line legal disclaimer (oh, and anyone who thinks about suggesting that the words one, hit and wonder describe my blog more accurately than they do Matthew Reilly’s career – I know it, and I got in there before you did, so kiss it).

Seriously, is this a novel or a copy of Computer Aided Design For Dummies? Aside from a handful of photographs so poorly rendered they could be depicting someone’s missing pets, the pictures look like MS Paint doodles at best. Worse still, so far as I can tell every single significant one (and there are plenty that don’t even achieve that status) appears directly before and completely reveals any potential surprises lying in wait in the text. Imagine you were going to write a scene in which your heroes enter an unknown room filled with traps; you might wish your readership to feel trepidation too; you might try to be a writer, and describe this exciting environment using words; and, if so, you might think a drawing of the room with prominent labels reading “direction of travel” and “spike-holes” could, possibly, reduce the impact a touch. Yep, not only are the pictures all really amateurish looking, they make the text of the book utterly redunde-

Hmm.

On reflection I’m feeling a bit more affectionate towards the pictures. However, to salvage what I can of my tag balance I’m going to tally up the number of clip-art spoilers and not bother mentioning the subject ever again (in your dreams)… talk amongst yourselves… well, yourself

Fifty.

That’s not including the repeating chapter icon, or the little bondage hieroglyph that pops up every now and then, so it could be over sixty easily. Some of the others are repeats too, occasionally with minor changes, but really – reilly – is this necessary? The thing’s practically a comic strip.

Many of these pictures take up entire pages. I think there’s a reason for this. I think it’s

the same reason why the entire text of the novel is about this fucking big on the page.

The same reason why, for maximum impact, some words get a whole line practically to themselves.

Themselves.

For impact.

With Italics.

Yeah, there’s quite a lot of italics too, but that’s another issue which I promise I’ll get to. As well as the massive, creatively formatted text and frequent pictorial interruptions, there is also the dazzling expanse of empty paper leading into every new subsection and, even more emptily, often ending them too. Time for some vital mathematics: the “story” part of this hardback novel incorporates 462 pages, and by an incredible coincidence I’ve just calculated that only 46.2% of them have any writing on.

Yes. Now it becomes clear. The novel Seven Ancient Wonders is in fact only comprised of Seven Actual Paragraphs, drawn out to extraordinary lengths in a cunning and, apparently, successful attempt to fool a publishing house that they’re actually holding more than the synopsis for a novel which Reilly has no intention of really writing.

Reilly writing.

Sorry, got distracted there for a second. Anyway, having finished chapter one, I can safely reveal a few things. It details the fast-paced assault on an ancient Egyptian tomb-like structure in the Sudan containing a lost body part of an ancient wonder, upon which resides one of seven golden parts of another ancient wonder, the collection of said parts being desired by West’s team, referred to as the Nine (until someone gets left behind, at which point they become the Eight for a bit), but also two evil groups: first, a shoot-first, blow-things-up-laughing-later evil American military force; and second, a pan-European evil military force, lead by an evil Jesuit priest named after an Italian footballer and his diminutive protégé, a seemingly evil ten-year old boy who is “exactly Lily’s age”, as Reilly and West tell us, preferring to just pour transparent piss over a potential plot point on its first appearance rather than letting us… wonder.

None of this matters, though. The heroes break in, get the treasure and a clue, escape from under the Evil Europeans’ noses, then are captured by the Evil Americans and have to surrender the treasure to them – quite like what happens in the first bit of Raiders of the Lost Arc, actually. Clearly this is a family adventure more or less suitable for all the family, with just a tiny bit of inappropriate family swearing and one of the family of heroes having his head blown apart by snipers… oh.

Funny that, because the reading level is probably suitable for my nephew and he hasn’t even been conceived yet. Not just the reading level either, because in order for the team to escape the evil clutches of one of West’s arch-nememises (the story has hardly started and he’s already got at least three, don’t be surprised if there’s an arch-Rameses before too long) their getaway Boeing 747 with mounted machine-gun turrets pulls an amazingly infantile-reality-satisfying rescue and spirits them all away just in the nick of time.

Now they are all safe, and can plan their next move. Lily has a jolly good cry over the untimely head-exploding of Noddy (whoever he reilly was) while West gets his head down for some kip – and dreams of lava… and booby-traps… and stone altars…

…in the present indicative…

Albert Giordino trudged across the gangway leading from the top of the dry dock to the deck of the Deep Encounter, lugging an old-fashioned steamer trunk over a burly shoulder. The sides of his shoulder were covered with colorful labels advertising hotels and countries around the world. … He paused at the top of the gangway and dropped his load on the desk. My God, the contempt. And the hygiene.

Giordino’s shoulders were almost as wide as his body was tall. At five feet four inches and a hundred and seventy-five pounds, he was all muscle. His Italian ancestry was apparent in his olive skin, broad back covered with black curly hair and tattoos of The Madonna, walnut-colored eyes and appetite for systemic corruption. Gregarious, sarcastic and jovial, his cutting humor often made those in his presence either laugh or cringe. Right, so he’s “gregarious, sarcastic and jovial”, but not funny.

Here he is, the man Dirk Pitt® has been waiting for. He makes quite an entrance, and being all muscle as he is I’m sure you’ll agree, whether you want him to or not. For his part, Pitt® tries to show disdainful self-control when he finds his old pal has arrived – the coy minx. You may think that I’m jumping to conclusions here, but… really, it’s as plain as the nose on my face.

“Can you restrain yourself?” Pitt® said in mock seriousness. “We don’t take kindly to barbarians coming aboard an elegant vessel.” Pitt* felt the pulse throbbing in his throat and thought, You can come aboard my eleg-

“In that case, you’re in luck,” said Giordino with a timely interruption, flashing a vast smile. “You could use a vulgar rowdy to liven up the place.” Pitt* felt faint. But he liked it.

“Stay put,” Pitt® said, liberally splashing on the Old Spice. “I’ll come down.”

In a minute they were unashamedly embracing like the old friends they were. And that’s okay. There is no shame in this. Though Giordino was three times stronger smelling, Pitt® always delighted in lifting the shorter man off the ground. Oh, how sweet. A euphemism.

We should really let these two get reacquainted in privacy, you’d think, but Dirty Ol’ Clive insists on stalking them back first  to Giordino’s cabin, and then Pitt®‘s. Along the way they discuss the collapse of his engagement (or, to put it another way, his heterosexual cover story), then the newcomer is forced to give his friend “a look of genuine respect and admiration” for his continued selfless avoidance of reward and recognition (although Cussler shows admirable restraint by not telling us yet again what for – I feel this is a significant personal breakthrough for him).

Massively dating himself in the process Giordino says of Pitt®, “You always play Humble Herbert. That’s what I like about you.” But IS that what he likes about Pitt®? IS it? I think there’s something more. And I think it’s more than reciprocated. It’s there for all to see. You just have to read between the lines. Go on, try. Here, take this passage (if you’ll pardon my phrasing) in which our man and his man discuss the mysteriously empty briefcase of Doctor Egan. I think.

Giordino picked it up and ran his fingers over the leather of the CASE, Jesus. “Fine grain. Quite old. German made. Egan had good taste.”

“You want it? You can have it.” You just need to ask me for it. Ask me. Beg me. God, talk dirty.

Giordino sat back down again and set the leather case on his lap. “I have a thing about old luggage.”

“So I’ve noticed.” Said “the old luggage”. Cute pet name.

Maintaining the metaphor, Giordino unlatched the catches and lifted open the lid – and nearly two quarts of oil flowed out into his lap and onto the carpet covering the deck. This is clear, I hope: the previously empty old luggage has ejected an unexpected quantity of non-specific oily fluid into the lap of another man. I mean “of a man”. These are the true joys of literature, in which powerful, unspoken meaning can be communicated to the reader through even the most mundane of everyday descriptions. Magical. He sat there in mute surprise as it soaked his pants legs and pooled on the carpet. After the shock faded, he gave Pitt® a very acidic look indeed.

“Owh my Gawd, you complete bitch, look at me, owh, I’m a mess, mmm, let me just, mmm…”

No question, right? No doubts out there, right? Women In Love, right?

Right.

I know I’ve been a bit mean about Clive’s writing so far, but sometimes he takes a time-tested staple of the literary arts and gives it an inspirational twist. For example: characterisation, which is undoubtedly all about drawing a picture in your reader’s mind, bringing a human being to life with mere words, and is surely one of the cornerstones of fine fiction. And, if I may ask a rhetorical question, what BETTER way to draw such a lexicographical picture than by having your hero look at himself in a mirror? Then he’ll be seeing those same words too! It’s so simple, it’s genius!

The face and body on the other side were not what they were ten years ago. The hair had yet to show any indications of baldness. It was still thick, black and wavy like a cataclysmic oil spillage perhaps, but grey was beginning to creep in along the temples. The piercing green eyes beneath dense eyebrows had yet to dim. They were eyes passed on by his mother, and they had a hypnotic quality about them that seemed to reach into the very soul of people who came into contact with him. Sleep… Women were especially absorbed by his eyes. SLEEP! They sensed an aura about them, something that revealed him as a down-to-earth man who could be trusted. SLEEEEEEEEP!

Very moving. Cussler effortlessly creates not just a telling picture, but somehow manages to make his hero seem very familiar to his reader, as if we already knew him well, as if his face was already one… in our… er

[Page 49] …opaline green eyes… tall… lean… black hair… wavy… touch of gray… craggy features – wait – [Page 105] …craggy features – Huh.

Hmm. I wonder if Cussler is going to re-describe his hero every fifty pages or so through the entire book. Maybe, while rescuing a school bus full of screaming doe-eyed choirboys he’ll catch a glimpse of himself in the rear-view mirror and be transported on wings of memory to – well, let’s not get ahead of our selves. Repetative or not, it’s powerful stuff. Something tells me Dirk Pitt® is quite the pork swordsman. I can’t speak for the women out there – men haven’t been allowed that privilege since the 1950’s – but I’ve got to say – well, the 70’s – I’ve got to say that this humble man is pretty damn absorbed by those eyes too. And who wouldn’t be, with auras like that? Pitt® himself continues staring into the mirror (not to mention lightly running the fingers of one hand over his body) for another six paragraphs while thinking deeply. About things like… family.

Yes, he thought, his facial features came from his mother’s side of the family, while his humorous outlook on life contrary to conventional notions of genetics and his tall, lean body had definitely been passed down by his father prepare for redundancy and his father’s ancestors.

Like… love.

Two of his former loves had died under tragic circumstances, Summer Moran in a devastating underwater earthquake off Hawaii, and Autumn? Maeve Fletcher, shot by her sister off the coast of Tasmania. WOW. Like, just, WOW. He must really love the sea. And the soaps.

It was Summer who that’s “which” for a season, Clive, which never ceased to haunt his dreams. He always saw her swimming into the depths to find her father who was trapped in an underwater cavern, her lovely body and flowing red hair and “brilliant mind”? …no? vanishing into the green water of the Pacific. When he’d reached the surface for air and found her gone, he’d tried to dive back, but the men in the boat that rescued him knew it was hopeless and physically restrained him from returning. Physically , was it. Mm-hm. Had to be really, their psychic powers would have been no match for the aura of his eyes…

Like… hobbies.

Since that time, he had lived only for his work on and under the water. The sea became his mistress. Oh. Well then, fair enough. Except for his home in an old aircraft hangar on one corner of Washington’s Ronald Reagan Airport, which contained his car and airplane collection, train set and teddy bears, he was always happiest when on a research ship sailing the oceans of the world. Pulling Babes.

OH. “Summer” was her name. Okay, I got it.

Anyway, after musing thusly for a page or so, Pitt® decides to get his head down for some well-earned post-rescue-and-slaughter kip, only to remember that mysterious hottie he twice saved and who completely disappeared… how intriguing. Convinced she didn’t jump ship with the other tearfully grateful landlubbers – now on-board the Earl of Fucklesfield – he gets dressed and searches the ship from top to bottom, eventually finding her curled up asleep in a storage crate. Yeah. So he writes her a note.

Dear Lady,

When you wake, please come to my cabin on deck level two, number eight.

Dirk Pitt®

As an afterthought to entice her, he added,

Food and drink will be waiting. You can have coffee, tea, or Me.

He laid the note gently on her chest that’s assault, softly closed the lid to the crate really? and quietly stepped from the parts room to find a hammer and nails.

*

At slightly past seven in the evening, Kelly rapped lightly on Pitt®‘s cabin door. He opened it and found her, eyes lowered sheepishly, standing in the passageway, still clutching the handle of the leather case. He took her by the hand this is making me feel a bit uncomfortable and led her inside. “You must be starved,” he said, smiling to show he wasn’t angry or annoyed, as he understood these things to work. Eight hours later, her body was pronounced dead on the scene.

There’s something rather creepy about this guy, something that only gets creepier the longer he refrains from getting his thang on with this lusty wench. She’s his for the taking! What’s he waiting for?

Regardless, after his imminent victim scoffs down some sandwiches and good, wholesome milk, the Dirty Old Man of the Sea® and she get to talking, about her wonderful father’s genius, who would want to kill him, and what could possibly be in his mysterious briefcase. Why mysterious, do you ask? Because even Kelly doesn’t know – she doesn’t work with her father, being a merchandise analyst. Despite this career choice having nothing to do with the sea, Pitt® deigns not to spit in her lovely face.

Pitt®‘s lips spread slightly in a grin. Like I said: Creepy. “Not as exciting as creating new forms of energy.”

“Perhaps not,” she said, with a toss of the head that sent her light brown hair swirling in a cloud around her neck and shoulders, “but I make a good income.” Oh my god, is she SHEDDING it?

Hair loss horror aside, it turns out that not only did Papa Egan perfect a high powered, ecologically friendly super engine, he also perfected an impossible to replicate frictionless super-oil that would have made the world a perfect place for everyone except the EVIL oil companies, had his plans to share his discovery publicly been allowed to go ahead – aa-a-and, he had another, even more amazing project under his belt, “something that would cause an unbelievable impact on the future“.

What could it be? Nobody knows. But maybe the answer is in… The Mysterious Leather Briefcase! So, finally, at long last, Kelly opens the case her father was killed for – and discovers – it’s empty.

Bombshell.

Look, be reasonable. I can’t be expected to reproduce the whole damn book for you, page by page; but, equally, I know I can’t run the risk of missing out a single excellent John Hancock nor priceless example of character illustration. So, for your delectation, I will pause on occasion to offer up some of the choicest cuts. For our first diversionary outing, let’s meet those with rank. Only one really juicy name and we’ve already encountered him, so we’ll start with that; but the descriptions – well, I know I pluralised there, but…

Captain Kermit Burch

Kermit Burch came almost immediately, wearing only a pair of polka-dot shorts. I’m not above a bit of quote mining to fake a smutty moment. Oh no.

Admiral James Sandecker

…the flaming red hair with all trace of grey tinted away, the matching Vandyke beard, trimmed to a sharp point, the blue eyes that had to be flashing like neon signs from heartfelt satisfaction. I wonder if they make that little tic-tic noise every time he blinks.

Captain Malcolm Nevins (surprised it’s not “Ben”, actually)

Nevin’s ruddy features, usually humorous and pleated, excuse me? were set in concentration; his limpid “Transparent”? “Peaceful”? grey eyes squinting and uneasy. Er. Transparent then. I guess…

– and his ship, the Earl of Wattlesfield

After this day, she would be as famous as the Carpathia who the what now?, the ship that had rescued the Titanic survivors. Oh yeah. It got a big mention in that film with Di Caprio in, didn’t it. You know the one, what’s it called – “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”

Captain Jock McDermott

A sandy-haired Scotsman do tell with a narrow beaklike nose and hazy green eyes, he had spent twenty years in oceangoing tugs. But for the jutting jaw, and eyes that seemed to focus like light beams that’s pretty poor right there, he might have passed for Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s bookkeeper. Not too sure it’s legit to use other characters from literature, particularly much better literature, to describe your own. Anyone have the slightest idea what Bob Cratchit does look like ? Blind and chinless, perhaps.

– and his ship, the tugboat Audacious

…like an overweight greyhound after the rabbit…

Captain Morris Baldwin

Captain Morris Baldwin was a man who walked a straight line and never deviated sounds like the recipe for a lifetime of bruised shins … His only home was the ship he served. If he had a wife, which he did not, or a home, which he found a waste of time, he would have been an oyster without a shell. Nope. To that I can think of nothing to say. This sentence thus receives the Dan Brown Award for Absolute Failure.

His face was a stern mask, red, ruddy and never cheerful. He gazed through beady dark walnut eyes under heavy lids that were set and grim. Only the magnificent silver mane gave him an air of sophisticated authority amongst the park-bench crowd. Who all call him “Captain Oyster”. And make him dance sea jigs for gin.

– and his vessel, the… [rolls] …Golden Marlin. FUCK IT.

Chief Warrant Officer Mack McKirdy and, I wonder, where exactly is the blue-eyed, ruddy, bearded-boyo that is First Mate Llewellyn “Taffie” Jones-the-Waves hiding himself then? (He’s Welsh, btw)

…a grey-haired, grizzled sea dog for pity’s sake with a beard like that of a sailor on an old clipper ship. He acknowledged Giordino’s presence with a curt nod and a wink of one blue eye and a yarr-hah-harrr and a song about rum and then they took turns rogering the ruddy cabin boy until he split down the middle. A sailor’s life for meeeeee.

Captain Jimmy Flett

He was short and burly, with a face turned ruddy from long years of a love affair with scotch whisky, but his blue eyes had somehow managed to remain clear and bright. HOW AMAZINGLY DISTINCTIVE OF HIM.

Sod this for a lark, they’re all exactly the fucking same. I’m going to bed.

Twelve miles to the south, a pair of opaline green eyes gazed – Wait.

“Opaline”? Dictionary… “Opalescent.” Hmm. Dictionary… “Having or emitting an iridescence like that of an opal.” Okay. Better just… Dictionary.

“Amorphous mineral, can be almost any colour, hydrated silica.” Oops – no, actually, I know what an opal is, I meant to look for something else… “Displaying a spectrum of colours that shimmer and change due to interference and scattering as the observer’s position changes.”

Right. So, this person here just has the dreamiest eyes… or one damn fancy set of contact lenses. Fine, whatever. Where were we? Let’s skip ahead to the genius bit.

He was a tall man, three inches more than six feet nicely put, and a lean 185 pounds. His every movement seemed consciously planned or “slow”. The black hair was wavy, almost shaggy, with a touch of grey beginning to show at the temples. The face was a face that knew the sea above and below to paraphrase Zapp Brannigan, it should “prepare to be sailed again and again. The tanned skin and the craggy features revealed a love of the outdoors. He was obviously someone who spent far more time under sun and sky than under the fluorescent lights of an office at least Cussler knows who he’s writing for. You worthless drones.

The early morning tropical air was warm and humid. He wore denim shorts under a colorfully flowered Hawaiian aloha shirt. His narrow feet that stepped straight as a spear were strapped into sandals and in frank disbelief I must respond, “You say WHAT now?”. It was the uniform of the day for Dirk Pitt®

And with that flawless introduction we are brought face to face with our hero, and do you see, do you recognise the depth of genius this novel represents? Because this is a Dirk Pitt® novel, get it? – and this degree of description, on past experience, can mean only one thing:

Dirk Pitt® is going to die.

I’m almost literally shitting myself with the thrills. It’s a master-stroke. I mean, I can’t believe Cussler’s really going to do it, just kill his hero like that, he’d be crazy – but there it is, undeniable, in black and white. I can barely bring myself to turn the page, and it must be for this reason.

Dirk Pitt® immediately gets to work demonstrating what a blisteringly masculine force he is by ordering the [rolls, rolls] Deep Encounter, an ocean survey ship he isn’t even the captain of, to charge full speed towards the blazing Emerald Dolphin. When the captain – name of Kermit Burch – does reach the bridge, he’s only too quick to back up the man of the hour to come.

See what a pissy, snivelling wretch First Officer Sheffield was by comparrison? Couldn’t even order a mayday without a captain on hand to tell him “okay”. I hope that fucker burns, just out of reach of a fire extinguisher and a glass of water.

Running at 120% speed, the Deep Encounterjesus … the Deep Encounter charges to the rescue, her noble crew hard at work preparing to take on two thousand passengers – not that they have any way of knowing how many passengers there are to be rescued, nor that the ship in question even has passengers, since no communications have been received from her. But neither they nor Clive Cussler let this stop them from getting ready to load up with enough people to literally sink their vessel, thus no doubt saving them straight to the bottom of the ocean. But at least they won’t burn.

Unlike the absolute festering sore that is First Officer Sheffield. The twat.

Being about as far from Fuck Officer Sheffield as it is possible to be without also being called Dirk Pitt®, Captain KERMIT is quick to call other nearby vessels for assistance, quickly contacting a British container ship called the [rolls] Earl of [rolls] Wattlesfield, and a blessedly unspecific Australian missile boat, but which I am going to refer to now as almost certainly entitled the good ship Dingo’s Kidneys. They both come a running too, but they won’t be there before the Deep Encounter is, oh no, because that wouldn’t be fair.

…nope, I can’t let it pass. The “Deep Encounter”. It’s pathetic, really. Over the rest of the chapter, in fact over the five chapters which cover the rescue to follow, the only word that occurs more frequently than Deep and Encounter seems to be “holocaust”, referring to the fire, and all I’m denying here is that perpetually hitting us with the same over emotive words and phrases is a good way to drive up tension. If there is even one genuinely deep encounter waiting over the horizon of this entire book, I’ll be astonished.

So, there’s a rescue to be achieved, eh? I wonder how that goes. I’m guessing it will be with detailed reference to the practices of Wikipedia, coupled with a hint of Dan Brown’s talent for the old Copy and Paste routine.

“Families with children first,” McFerrin shouted through his bullhorn to the crew. The old tradition of women and children first was now commonly ignored by modern seamen[citation needed] in favor of keeping families intact. After the sinking of the Titanic, when most of the men had gone down with the ship, leaving widows with fatherless small children, practical minds[citation needed] had felt that families should either live or die as one[citation needed as to how this differs from “women and children first”. Surely it just means “father’s next” – unless we are to believe that one baby-having family might be sacrificed undivided so that some rich fat turd sailing in Executive Class can escape along with his rich fat family. Actually, I can see that.]. With few exceptions[citation not forthcoming], the younger, single passengers and senior citizens stood back bravely and watched as crewmen lowered husbands, their wives and young children down to the Deep Encounter, where they found themselves safe on the work deck amid the submersibles, robotic underwater vehicles and hydrographic survey equipment. Next came the elderly who had to be forced to drop over the side[clarification needed], not because they were afraid but because they believed the younger people, with their lives ahead of them, should go first[citation needed of exactly how the practical minds justified disagreeing with THAT].

I’m not going to ruin the rescue any more, at least not any more than Cussler did pages ago when, if you recall, he told us outright that only “more than one hundred” lives would be lost out of “more than two thousand” passengers and crew. True to his word – although this will be seen in time to be an accolade Cussler is regularly unworthy of – Dirk Pitt® and his merry men do save the day, impossibly manage to fit almost EVERY LIVING PERSON onto their boat and just manage to avoid having a very deep encounter by throwing everything not nailed down overboard, until finally the Earl of Wattlesfield and the Dingo’s Kidneys arrive and relieve them of their tearful, grateful burden. Dirk Pitt® even manages to personally save one incredibly hot super-babe not once, but twice. Wanna know how? Do ya? Do ya? DO YA? Well tough shit, ‘cos I’m not telling!

Not until next time – hah!

I need to finish now. Want something to send you off with? Well, take this:

Pitt® and Burch, standing beside each other, stared up, startled to see the crew of the frigate turn out as if for a formal military review does this mean “in drag”?. Then suddenly, as the Deep Encounter entered the gap between the two ships, the silent tropical air was shattered by the whoops of the ships’ air horns and the cheers of the more than two thousand survivors really, that many who lined the rails of the containership and frigate. Pandemonium broke out across the water. Men, women and children all waved wildly and shouted words that went unheard in the din. Shredded newspaper and magazines were thrown in the air like confetti. Only at that moment did everyone on board the Deep Encounter fully realise what their magnificent exploit had achieved.

They had gone far beyond the rescue of sigh over two thousand people; they had proven that they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to save other humans hoo-manz. Tears flowed unashamedly from the eyes of everyone.

Long afterward, the men and women of the survey ship could never describe it accurately. They were too moved to fully absorb the event much like Cussler’s Kleenex as he typed with one hand, engorged on his hero fantasy. Even the tremendous rescue effort seemed like a nightmarish dream in a distant past. They might never forget it, but they could never do it justice with mere words.

Just like Cussler. You’ll be interested, I’m sure, if not actually shocked to know that there are no quotes on the back cover of this “best-selling” paperback from any writers praising it as a great work of literary art. Fortunately, in chapter three, one is provided for us and I will reproduce it here in full to completely set the record straight once and for all. What can one say about both the book and the burning vessel within?

“a grotesque monster beyond the imagining of the most demented horror writer.”

~ Clive Cussler, author of Atlantis Found

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PS: we never learn what happens to Fucktard Orrificer Spleffield. At a certain point he just stops being referred to and that’s that. Personally, my disgust for him runs so deep that I hope he was cast overboard and violated to death by a narwhal. He was a “man” truly deserving of a deep encounter. With a narwhal. In his anus. A narwhal horn-thing going deep into his anus, encountering it that way. Have I spelt this out sufficiently now? Good.