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The hero with a hundred pockets, aka the hidden grenade

graybyrd
Updated:

Enter our protagonist, still slogging along halfway through the third novel of a sci-fi series. He's steadfastly out-Schwarzeneggered Arnold himself, doing everything but leaping suitless from a space shuttle onto an enemy cruiser to bring it down with his bare hands. He's always more cunning, lucky, plucky and derring-do'able than any antagonist alive (or dead reincarnated).

In one scene, he's racing to the rescue down a hallway, running faster than any other creature except the dreaded slarn. At the last moment he spies a microscopically thin wire stretched across at ankle-height that will sever his feet and leave him pounding along on stumps.

He LEAPS and clears the wire, leaving the toe of his heavy leather boot behind. He stumbles, falls, and the bad guy pounces. The struggle ensues and our guy is left helpless, near-paralyzed, on his back. Seconds before the villain delivers the killing stroke, the hero with his off-hand fumbles in his pocket and activates a thumbnail-size gas grenade and flicks it into the air whereupon it explodes, instantly rendering the evil dude unconscious.

Never in two-and-a-half books did the author ever mention such a gadget, or why our hero 24-7 (Earth time) carries them in his pocket.

This is reader abuse, actually capable of causing brain convulsions. There should be a warning on the book cover. BTW, this is an eight-book series, published on Amazon. Names withheld to leave the guilty in obscurity.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

There's a special term for this sort of thing, but I call it the 'dumb author machine' because it's where they pull a rabbit out of the hat to fix a totally screwed up scene they can't be bothered re-working. If they had taken 10 seconds to mention the grenades before hand it would've been OK, but they couldn't be bothered going back to list his hardware properly. Mind you, this sort of screw up is more common in the post as you write stories than any other story type.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

There's a special term for this sort of thing


Deus ex machina, I believe.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Deus ex machina


God from the machine.

It goes back to the ancient Greek playwrights. They had a tendency to put their protagonists in impossible situations and then use divine intervention to get them out of it.

In producing the plays, various machines were used to have a god character lowered on to the stage (descend from the heavens) or raised up from below the stage (rise up from the earth).

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Never in two-and-a-half books did the author ever mention such a gadget, or why our hero 24-7 (Earth time) carries them in his pocket.

He (the author) should at least have shown a couple of other agents being blown to smithereens for 'accidentally' detonating 'that little device in their pockets'.

samuelmichaels

@awnlee jawking

Deus ex machina, I believe.


Indeed. There is a page on tvtropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AssPull) with an earthier name for the same thing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
graybyrd

Oh, lovely! Here's another one that you'll likely remember for years to come, when you hear it.

The "professor," a sinister character, key to much of the plot (unknown whether he'll save the human race or destroy it; 50/50 chance either way) against all protests drops from the hero's shuttle into an alien asteroid holding 'miraculous secret technology' he must gain. Cruiser-size drones attack, hurl themselves against both the asteroid and our hero's craft. Finally, the hero and his crew recover the professor from the shattered, scattered space rubble. He's wrapped in a cocoon like a chrysalis.

Back on their ship, they cut him out of the alien wrapping. "Oh, God, NO!" one cries. "He's DEAD!"

"No, he's not!" the hero cries. "He took HIBERNATION 7! It forestalls death for three days... we have time to save him!"

Fer crissakes... even the old 1940's and 50's Saturday Matinee movie writers would blush at dreck like this!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@samuelmichaels

There is a page on tvtropes with an earthier name for the same thing.

Yeah, but we literary types needed a more legit sounding title for it, so we borrowed from the Greeks, as we often do.

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Fer crissakes... even the old 1940's and 50's Saturday Matinee movie writers would blush at dreck like this!

Technically, that would be Deus ex drecka. 'D

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Deus ex drecka.


God from the trash?

I would think more "dreka ex machina", trash from the machine.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Darian Wolfe

Sounds like you're talking about a sonic screwdriver to me.

Replies:   graybyrd  Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I would think more "dreka ex machina", trash from the machine.

@Darian Wolfe

Sounds like you're talking about a sonic screwdriver to me.

Where do you think Dr. Who got it from. He was digging through God's trash one day, and ...

graybyrd
Updated:

@Darian Wolfe


Sounds like you're talking about a sonic screwdriver to me.


Perhaps that is the mythical 'deus torsion machina' infused with Hibernation 7.

Oddly enough, these horrid sci-fi examples are fun to rip into. Sorta like the early Star Trek or Doctor Who episodes with ludicrous stage sets, costumes, and antagonists.

When it comes to some sci-fi authors' antagonists, however, it seems a bit like the Russian dolls. They keep popping out of the void, like sharks. First, a small one; then a larger one, swallowing the first; followed by one even more omniscent and omnipotent, swallowing all that preceded... followed by yet another. And our hero stands at the ramparts, his laser sword in hand. Fortified with Hibernation 7, his voluminous pockets of deadly deus ex machina salvation gadgets in reserve.

Damn, but it indeed gets tiresome. I impatiently await whatever lurks in the unveiling of Book 8!

Wheezer

Err...why are you reading this drek - and apparently paying for it? Isn't there plenty of free drek here on SOL you could be reading. (I could use a boost in my download count, for example.) ;)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  graybyrd
Crumbly Writer

@Wheezer

Err...why are you reading this drek - and apparently paying for it? Isn't there plenty of free drek here on SOL you could be reading. (I could use a boost in my download count, for example.)

Often, you never realize that something is so 'drecky' until after you've reached the conclusion, though it sounds from the description, that they knew all along it was never going to improve. By the way, I've got plenty of my own dreck. (It isn't often we resort to so much Yiddish here on SOL, even mixing Yiddish with Latin.)

graybyrd
Updated:

@Wheezer


Err...why are you reading this drek - and apparently paying for it?


The first part of your question is a head-scratcher. Why, indeed? As for the second half, after running the gush of SOL content through the separator, there's only so much cream on top. Amazon's 'kindle unlimited' offers a flood of free content, quite often an entire 8-book series... such as the one mentioned.

Oddly enough, the series is (to my taste) a rather odd mix of fascination and revulsion. At some personal risk, I equate it to "Doctor Who" which, at first viewing, was so off-putting as to be rather violent. But like watching fish rot, there's a certain fascination... akin to wondering what creatures will show up to fight over the carcasses.

More simply, the books hold a certain fascination. It's an engaging storyline. Like dancing with a loud and homely girl, there's a suspicion that behind all that one might get lucky. With a gag and a sack over her head.

Perverse hope.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@graybyrd

Amazon's 'kindle unlimited' offers a flood of free content


No, it offers a flood of content on a subscription basis, not free.

Replies:   graybyrd
Ernest Bywater

@Darian Wolfe

Sounds like you're talking about a sonic screwdriver to me.


That's a drink made with orange juice and vodka which is then bombarded with high intensity sound waves until it emits noises of its own as the bubbles burst.

graybyrd

@Dominions Son

No, it offers a flood of content on a subscription basis, not free.


Picky, picky, picky ... you know what I mean, I'm sure. But it must be said, Amazon is a cunning entity. The 'unlimited' offerings are a shifting target; the more one seeks plums, the more they offer crumbs. From time to time Amazon sends an email, offering inducements. Then a flood of stuff appears. But most days I'm reminded of the old dollar bill on a string ploy... grab for it, and it's yanked away.

When the creators of Star Wars birthed the 'Evil Empire' I'm sure they had some multinational megacorp in mind.

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