Sunday, November 12, 2000

Dan Brown: Genius or Prolific Hack...???

[ May Contain Spoilers for Digital Fortress, The Da Vinci Code
&/or Angels & Demons--
As Well as Any & All Other Dan Brown Novels...!!! ]

The first Dan Brown Novel i read was Digital Fortress... i liked the cover illustration, i'd heard some good things about his books ( Da Vinci Code had come out a few weeks earlier ) and i was interested in Cryptography, The NSA & Super Computers.
My foremost impression of the book was that it was an 'Easy Read' which; to my way of thinking, is very important...! While experimentive prose of the sort that Mark Leyner might churn out is highly amusing and captivating, When i'm reading a 'story' i like the narrative to proceed in a straightforward and elegant manner.
Dan Brown has the ability to do this.
Furthermore; i enjoyed many of his ideas concerning cryptography and supercomputers...
But-- The book did contain many places where characters behaved irrationally & strained my ability to suspend my critical intervention of 'normal reality' logic & credibility.
Perhaps this is most easily illustrated when one is watching a movie like Star Wars or a Television program like The Greatest American Hero in which ones Ordinary Reality is tossed aside for the sake of Entertainment... The Secret to Successfully discarding a logical review is to make it clear from the get-go that reality has no place in this particular setting. The most egregious violation of this that i can think of; Is Bruce Willis' Movie The Fifth Element in which the narrative proceeds along a very straightforward Futuristic Science Fiction Space Adventure, and then in the last few minutes of the film, in order to resolve the plot dilemmas, Suddenly pulls a tangential 90 degree left turn into A Cheap Girlish Fantasy Dream Sequence. The only thing they forgot to include was Unicorns & Cherubic Elves.
But Returning to Dan Brown...
After Digital Fortress, i finally got tired of waiting for a copy of The DaVinci Code to turn up at the Library and so i bought a copy... It was just as amusing as Digit Fortress and contained many of the same Weakness'.
What i found most disturbing however was that it seemed to be constructed around the same scaffolding as Digital Fortress...!!! (?)
Was this just a Coincidence...??? Was i superimposing my own perceptions onto these two books...???
So to settle this; i then Read: Angels & Demons.
In the first few pages a was astounded and annoyed that; Yet again-- In the first few pages, a mysterious Character is brutally murdered...!!!
Other Startling Similarities:
  1. The Principle Hero is a Middle Aged College Professor that is pulled into the storyline by a fatherly figure who intends to exploit his apparent naivety.
  2. The Fatherly figure; or principle Guide, turns out to be their Arch Nemesis.
  3. The Secondary Hero/ine is an Attractive Female that is Sexually Bonded to the Hero.
  4. The Heroine is not quite as Innocent as the Hero.
  5. The Story contains a Major Character in a Wheelchair &/or is Terribly Disabled in some way.
  6. The Story contains a Major Character that is a Serial Murderer/Assassin.
  7. The Handler of the Assassin is Unknown to the Assassin himself.
  8. The Quest Involves lots of Running Around.
  9. The Catholic Church is Portrayed in a Untowards Manner.
  10. The Quest Involves Solving a Cryptic Puzzle.
  11. The Quest could be easily solved if only they brought in an Appropriate Specialist.
  12. No Character has a Unique or Regional Dialect or Accent.
  13. Each Story Contains at least Two or More Articles of TechnoJunkScience, But these are always Peripheral to The Storyline.
  14. Each Story Ends WithOut The Principle Mystery being fully Disclosed.
  15. While The Stories are Generally Free of comedic dialog or situations, The Ending is designed to be light-hearted.
  16. Rather than Cleverly & Subtly Explain important Plot-Necessities before the Climax, Brown waits until afterwards to Reveal what just happened.


  1. The Fatherly Figure / Principle Guide may or may not be Killed in The End.
  2. The Assassin may or may not be An Albino.
  3. The Character in the WheelChair may be good or evil.
  4. There may or may not be a Mickey Mouse Watch featured Predominantly as a Plot Element.

Notes by The Carbon Based Mistake:

  1. His Characters are plastic cliches. For gosh sake! He even had the "kiss the girl by the edge of a cliff" at the ending of DaVinci Code. I tell people who say they liked DaVinci Code 2 things, 1: that that are WRONG, and 2: they should read The Philosophers Stone by Colin Wilson
  2. ...did you notice how many times Dan Brown characters "wince" ? way too much.
  3. And that awful scene when the main character (which is clearly modeled after himself, dan brown) and the girl are in the Louvre and are trying to sneak out, and she calls him Mr. Langdon, and he stops and takes the time to flirt and tell her "Call me Robert" while the cops are after him!

Are these the signs of a Hack...?

Does Dan Brown have only One Formula to Write Around...??

Have you read any of this other books...

...Do they follow this same Formula or are they Radically Different...???



i was on a plane recently coming from Hawai'i to Los Angeles, and i happened to talk briefly with a Lutheran Pastor that had read one of Brown's books that i'd been avoiding; Deception Point-- Which he confirmed; had many of these identical Plot Elements...???

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