It’s Got Sex!

It’s snowing this morning, for the first time since I got back. Probably not very cold out; the heater isn’t having any trouble keeping it livable in here. Soon I had to leave; I was going to town for a fuel run. But I still had much of a pleasant morning to kill.

Looking for something I hadn’t read before and failing, I picked up Vin Suprynowicz’s The Black Arrow. Oh dear, oh dear. TBA is to me the Battlefield Earth of freedom fic – literally so bad it’s good. If this book were a movie, it could only be watched at drunken Saturday-afternoon parties when Mom’s not home. It’s more than a bit depressing that Suprynowicz, a man who has written excellent volumes about all that is wrong with current society, seems to believe in his inner heart that only a superhero can save us from it.

But it’s all here, in breathless prose. The billionaire former rock star, Andrew Fletcher (get it? Fletcher? You know: Arrows, fletching…) – who could have been an NFL star, but made the right choice – leveraging the millions left to him by his righteously capitalistic family into a quietly vast financial empire which subsequently bankrolls the consistently successful operations of the (literally!) underground rebellion led by … The Black Arrow! Who actually makes a swooshing noise when he enters and leaves rooms. I did not make that up. I will go to my grave wondering if, in the movie version, Viggo Mortensen would have ended up playing Fletcher or Jean-Claude Renaud, the vaguely European ex-mercenary who is casually described as looking remarkably like Mortensen. It’s the dimple in the chin, you know. And the Tragic Past.

Fletcher can also tell the future. Really. And need I mention his sexual prowess? Because Vin seems to think it deserves a lot of ink. His Tragic Past almost goes without saying, because it’s pretty much the only thing about this character that isn’t remarkable in the story – everybody here has a tragic past, except for the girlfriend he pursues so nobly, who lets him down at the end. But not to worry because his One True Love, ever waiting in the wings, has a past tragic enough for them all. Hell, even the villain has one.

(To be fair, I actually think the girlfriends are a nice allegorical touch. There’s very little here that could be called subtle, but Suprynowicz lets us know his opinion of “mainstream” libertarianism in a manner that, by contrast at least, is positively lyrical.)

Oh, the villain! Dear god, the villain.

The mustache-twirler, the evil man who exists purely for the joy of being evil, is such a stereotype in bad fiction that it’s rarely actually seen, like “a dark and stormy night.” It’s a cliché, a joke. But our villain twirls his mustache with such cackling abandon it’s hard not to root for the guy. He’s actually the best character in the book. At least he has a plausible backstory, which alone gives him reason to feel superior to Fletcher.

Unlike other more conventionally bad fiction, TBA does possess an actual plot and the plot does hum right along. It’s filled with unlikely occurrences and frequently interrupted by lengthy meditations on love and sex and politics and sex and sixties bubblegum music and sex, but it is present. Suprynowicz has done his homework here – his book contains a False Crisis and a True Crisis and a Climactic Battle and a Resolution, tick tick tick, right on schedule. And not one firearm ever uses a “clip.” The usual annoyances of bad fiction do not apply here, no, we’re on to grander and sterner stuff. This is the book Unintended Consequences would have been if Ross had trimmed 600 pages of quasi-historical quacking and given Henry Bowman precognition. And a stronger sex drive. And a black mask.

And did I mention it’s got sex?

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to It’s Got Sex!

  1. Big Wooly says:

    Thanks for the review! I haven’t read that one yet but I have read and enjoyed Unintended Consequences. How about some recommended reading material for us while it’s snowing it’s arse off up here on the mountain?

  2. MamaLiberty says:

    I loved TBA… kept seeing Batman and cast.

    Anyway, a good read is, “Neither Predator Nor Prey” by Mark Spungin.

    http://www.neitherpredatornorprey.com

    My own book should come out in the spring. 🙂

  3. CorbinKale says:

    Best book review, ever! lol

  4. jack says:

    Joel,

    Don’t diss Vin too much… It’s delibarately cast into this particular genre. Think Robin Hood, or Batman…

  5. Tom B says:

    Stephen King – “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.” Maybe Suprynowicz is literary Taco Bell?

  6. Tam says:

    Great Review Blurbs You’ll Never See On A Dust Jacket:

    “…the Battlefield Earth of freedom fic…” -Joel

To the stake with the heretic!