Feb 5, 2008

Blue Pencil #4: The Last One Standing

At Xlibris, science fiction is almost as big as self-help books and collections of poems about cats. It is from this deep well of imagination that I draw the latest subject for my snarky dissection: The Last One Standing, by Anthony L. McLaughlin.

In the year 2085: the moon has been colonized and renamed Gaia and a conglomerate known as the Kage Ninja Tenkai has become known worldwide both on Gaia and on Earth.

Who but the sly and wily ninja would rename the moon after the goddess of the earth?

Within the same year a young man named Mac Karasagi joins the group and is immediately accepted in among its elite. However, one year later, Mac finds himself knee deep in the Kage Ninja Tenkai's dirty secrets and a large plot that is much deeper than anything he has ever been involved with. Now it is up to this young man to bring down the larges organization the world has ever seen, and it seems as if he must do it alone.
Wait, our fate is in the hands of Mac, who is involved in a plot which, while it is much deeper than anything he has ever been involved with, is nonetheless only knee deep?

Who checked this guy's references?

I suppose I'd better hit the excerpt and find out if this story is as riveting as its brief synopsis would suggest...
The Kage Ninja Tenkai Headquarters was a rather large building that stuck from the surrounding structures. The entrance hall, however, made up the bulk of the headquarters, about sixty five percent of it...
What? Oh, sorry. I must have fallen asleep. Where was I?
It was grandeur and perhaps the most memorable thing of the building.
More memorable than the fact that it's full of ninjas? That must be one hell of an entrance hall!
The floor was made of many large tiles, each cut out in measurements of three feet by three feet, all made of a very expensive granite-marble mixture. The texture was also very distinct, a large mass of dark swirls with the occasional calligraphy-like swoosh of white.
Ninja HQ also sports four bathrooms, spacious walk-in closets, and an attached garage.
Mac made his way across the large floor and up the grandeur staircase.
I'm beginning to suspect that Mr. McLaughlin doesn't know what "grandeur" means. He sure is fond of it, though.

Skipping a bit, as the author has established the impeccable eye for interior decoration that is the hallmark of the ninja, we find Marc approaching the receptionist:
She looked up behind her crescent spectacles, she wasn't an elderly lady but the glasses she wore made her seem a bit more elderly then she really was.
Wait, she's not elderly, but her glasses make her seem more elderly than she actually is? How does that even ... oh, wait. Ninja.
"Are there any more missions lined up for me?"

The receptionist looked back down at the monitor and clicked on a few things with the wireless mouse.
A wireless mouse? The future is even more awesome than I had imagined!
"Hmm, it doesn't seem so. We'll call on you when you're needed." Mac smiled and nodded to show thanks as he turned away and quickly headed out of the headquarters.
What the hell? A treatise on the aesthetics of ninja decor, a building full of ninjas, and we're leaving already?
Mac's house wasn't too far from here, he could easily make it from this distance.
Don't strain yourself, warrior of the future.
Mac waited for a red light to come up on one of the busy intersections and ran across the street so he could continue on to his house. Mac made a few more turns and crossed over one more street before he came to the street on which his home was.
I don't know about you, but in my imagination, ninjas frigging jaywalk. Any cop on the street will tell you that if you try to give a ninja a ticket, the ninja will kill you with it.
Despite the close distance his home was in a neighborhood that seemed like a suburban far away from any city. Neon City was well built like that, though, there were several neighborhoods that seemed like suburban areas which were blocked off by large concrete walls to reduce the sounds of the city.
Jesus. I wonder how the schools are.
Mac's house wasn't too large only one story but it seemed to make up for it with length.
As he approached it he could see that his wife wasn't at home, her car wasn't in the driveway.
A married ninja who lives in a nice suburban subdivision? They really don't make em like they used to. In the future, I mean. They don't, in the future, make them like they used to ... forget it.

And that's pretty much it for the excerpt. An exciting sampling of a science fiction ninja adventure, featuring neither ninjas nor anything resembling science fiction. It's right up there with the L.A. Times' home buyers supplement.

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