Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bad Lit

I am reading a book called Dean Koontz' Frankenstein. I thunk it would be a retelling in modern day, that sort of thing. It is set modern day (the modern day of 2005, remember then?), but it is more complicated. It's a marketing job, for one thing.

A closer look at the book cover reveals that Koontz teamed with Ed Gorman on this epic. Further closer looking finds that this is Book Two, “City of Night”. Argh, trilogy! The word trilogy has become code for Commercial Horseshit. Trilogies are now the effort of an author to extend pitilessly the primordial awesomesauce to the thinnest of reward. I HATE IT! Douglas Adams was honest enough, and clever enough, to produce Books Four and Five of his Hitchhiker Trilogy, but for the most part, trilogy means diminishing returns. Okay, that editorial is over.

The Koontz Machine teaming with Ed Gorman is another marketing knee jerk. Book One, you see, joins Koontz with Kevin J. Anderson. Who knows who guest stars in Book Three? I believe I have read Gorman, gritty thriller. I think I have read Anderson as well, Star Trek universe hack. So, okay, we're just gonna potter about with this epic.

I'm catching this in media res, but it seems some characters might already have a history with Gorman. It reads that way. Invite the author and his characters into your lucrative literary world. I think I have set the scene. I would likely not bother, but it is Frankenstein.

A friend in eighth grade urged me to read Frankenstein, which I did. The soliloquizing monster hardly matched the iconic omg of the Karloff expression. Past that, and read again with more adult eyes, it's a goodly chunk of story, and worth siphoning off of, for sure.

The Koontz cartel headed pragmatically towards the bottom line with this thing. I have read Koontz previously. I retain only a sense that of moderate competence trying to excite some interest in me, and not quite hitting the marker.


If you string sentences in a somewhat logical manner, and produce a plot that heads towards something, you've got readership's attention. I don't read a lot of this sort of entertainment, and tend to do so merely as a look-see, but I am willing to enjoy myself if given a chance. Tho this book paces well I'm really just reading to see how it manages because it is not held together well. Especially so because I know a Book Three lurks out there to further attenuate the story.

What we learn from the start: the book does concern Doktor Frankenstein and his creation. Victor has survived to modern day thru his scientific know how. He's Victor Helios now. I see a red flag…

The monster, now called Deucalion—Dave or Benny wouldn't do—also lives to this day. Further red flag.

So Victor has been busy. Fabulously wealthy, he's busy making a new race of humans. Replicants, they are all genetically modified to be more physically powerful, as well as fully adapted to accepting his orders. A genetic hierarchy exists amongst the replicants, Alpha, Beta, Gamma. Victor has been dispatching key people in New Orleans and replacing them with replicants. Reboot of humanity, with Victor Helios in charge. Sounds fun!

A pair of cops are on to this exploit and mean to put an end to Victor. It sounds hopeless but what do I know? These two characters seem like they might have existed prior to emigrating to the Koontz world. Just a guess. 

They are a wise-cracking couple, man and woman. Their snappy dialogue seems forced. The man is a softie while the woman is hardboiled. Her father, deceased, was wrongly accused of being a dirty cop. Oh, and they are sweet on each other, tho the woman is too hardboiled to let that get too icky.

Deucalion we aint seen much of. He's angry and revenge-minded but mostly been brooding offscreen. There's a lovely couple, super attractive, who are modified to be assassins. They're looking for the cute cop couple. Uh oh. Replicants can't give birth but the lady assassin has been showing signs of wanting children.

The lady cop has an autistic brother. An older woman that she befriended takes cares of him while she's off settling the score with Helios. The assassins are heading towards the lady cop's home.
Victor's wife Erika, several versions after the first, has been modified to Stepford Wife. She's been acting too curious however. Other replicants are also proving problematic, like they are coming to realize their enslavement by time, or perhaps just not as well devised genetically as Victor might have wanted.

At the dump where Victor stashes all the dead bodies, seemingly millions of them, some sort of evil life force apparently seeks to become a plot point.

A replicant that Victor modified to be autistic—I didn't quite catch why Victor did that—has escaped home base and seeks the cop's autistic brother. And that's where I am at with this book, about halfway thru Book Two.

The scale of Victor's venture is typically vast. I have no idea how two wisecracking coppers will settle the score. I do not look forward to any attacks on the autistic boy or the woman caring for him. Victor's friendship with and assistance to Joseph Stalin is just another stain on plausible. There's at least one more volume to this thing. I think I have done all the thinking I need to do on this book.