neadods: (bleh)
(wow, it's been a while since I wrote one of these!)

Dear Author:

I know that you're British. I know that you're trying to set a scene very quickly. I know that America is surprising in how much territory our regional accents cover.

But just for the record, not everyone from New York sounds like they come from Brooklyn. And for that matter, Guys and Dolls is not an accurate record of Brooklynese.

Also - and again, I get it that you're British and this may be something that you either don't think about or don't want to think about, BUT! 1976 was kind of an important year in America. Especially July. Something about an anniversary of something, now what was it, it involved guys in red coats and a Declaration and some fighting, and yes we've made up and all, but you may have heard the odd mention of the event in your history classes?

SERIOUSLY. We as a nation didn't look up on July 4, 1976 and go "wow, it's the Bicentennial!" and then forget about it 24 hours later. Yes, it was particularly intense in early July, but it was kind of a year-long thing, especially for any state that counts as one of the original 13 colonies.

So, no, setting a story in New York on July 16, 1976 and not mentioning a certain little detail even in passing kind of stands out, no matter what the story is really about.

It especially stands out to old coots who *remember* 1976. Not all of your audience is knee high, I'm just sayin'.
neadods: (Default)
Top posting rather than putting it in comments over and over... (See previous post for context)

Yes, The Merry Misogynist might be an accurate description of the book's contents. But is that necessarily a good thing? Because I was thinking last night about descriptive titles and what some of the books I've reviewed might have been called if the title is a description, no matter how blunt, of the contents/villain/attitude:

I Miss the 60s Before Feminism Ruined Everything

Femjep-o-rama!

All Women Are Castrating, Lying Bitches

She's Cute, But She Needs the Right Man to Save Her (a comedy)

Revenge of Femjep-o-rama

I Heart Torture Porn

I Only Added The Murder For Marketing Purposes; Don't Worry, It's Mostly a Quirky Romance

Lydia Bennett Is My Greatest Inspiration

Femjep-o-rama Returns

Ripping Off Famous Classical Authors 101 (102, 103...)

Why Do All The Reviewers Call My Heroine "Mary Sue?" It's Not Her Name!

Sex Sells, Plot Doesn't: Suck It Up and Stop Looking for Logic Cos You're Only Gonna Get Lube

The Series Didn't Sell, So I'm Wrapping Everything Up Now The Contract's Ending

I Might Have Signed the Contract, But I'm Bored to Tears With This Series So Don't Expect Me To Put Effort Into It

Bride of the Son of Femjep-o-rama


...I'm sure you can add more in comments
neadods: (Default)
Dear Author,

I try not to judge books by their covers, but I'm damn well going to judge a title like The Merry Misogynist. Really? REALLY?? The overwhelming number of cozy readers are women and you're seriously trying to entice them with THAT title? I don't give a shit what it's about; I wouldn't be caught dead with that title in my possession, nor could I seriously recommend it to anyone else no matter how well it's written... which frankly, I doubt it could be, because any halfway competent author or publishing house should have sent up a forest of red flags on that one.

Signed,

People like you are why I left the mystery reviewing biz
neadods: (bleh)
Dear Author,

If you're interested enough in publicity to turn your book's title into a URL, I've got one word for you: EXCERPT!

I don't care if three other published authors, your publicist, and your mother think this is the greatest novel since Dickens, will cure psoriasis, and serves as both a dessert and a floor wax. (Publicists say that to all the girls.) I want to see for myself if it's going to make me spit acid like a velociraptor with reflux.

Signed,
I don't think so!

(I have signed up for another one sight unseen having found the excerpt: Fearless Leader is right about that one. It sure as hell isn't the standard cozy!)
neadods: (do_not_want)
Dear Author,

Damnit, in an otherwise useful and evenly written book, why did you have to have a sudden chapter of constant fail? And so pointlessly! All you had to do was not make such blatant and sweeping generalizations about your readership.

Your chapter on the household notebook could have been so useful, too. I have a similar concept and it's the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, and other animal kingdom apparel or anatomy.

But no. You just had to define "everyone" as parents of small children, parents of school aged children, or parents of grown children. Period. And even they apparently don't have overlapping interests, because in your examples the parents of none of these children play sports themselves, nor do the parents of any but adult children make gift lists or travel.

*headbang*headbang*headbang*

And then, while I'm still trying to recover from that, barely a page later I hit how to handle an emergency request for bake sale items as "Note it on the calendar and add 'cake mix' to the shopping list."

Lady, there are some of us who like to bake. Men and women and yes, even children. (When I was a kid, I wasn't allowed to eat a lot of store bought sweets, but I was allowed to bake little coffeecakes anytime I wanted. By the age of 11, I could whip out a pan in 30 minutes flat without looking at the recipe.)

What KILLS me is that making the overall point without being irritating or offensive or exclusive would have been so damned easy! All you had to do was say "Everyone needs this book. You will customize yours to contain all the details about calendars, sports events, gift lists, etc., that you need..." and "Note it on the calendar and add whatever you need to the shopping list." There. It's clear, it isn't drawing attention saying "see, I'm being PC," and it doesn't have anything in it to irritate or offend anyone.

Would that have been so damned difficult?


ETA: It is not a good sign that my response to the very second ingredient in the "uber shopping list" for The Stocked Kitchen was "EWWWW, YUCK!" There are going to have to be some changes. (Seriously... why raspberry jam and not strawberry?)

Dear Author

Oct. 4th, 2009 05:44 pm
neadods: (disgusted)
Dear Author:

When you brag about how you've never lived in one place or held a job for more than a couple of years at a time and then you go try to get a job that requires a lot of experience and nobody takes you seriously? It's not just 'cause you're a girl.

Also, that bit about how your childhood was worse than anything Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens could dream up together, and how your young adulthood was more exotic than any seven travelogues rolled into one? I can read Marysue fiction for free on the Internet, honey.
neadods: (Default)
The good news - Dad is off the cane already! He only takes it for when he'll be on his feet for a while, but otherwise he can walk unassisted and can drive again. (That last being particularly important to him.)

ETA: My review for The Prosecution Rests is up on Reviewing the Evidence.

ETA 2: Thank you to whoever nominated "Naughty or Nice" for a CoT award. However, I've declined it as ineligible - although posted to Teaspoon in '08, it actually dates to '06 in my journal.

And finally, the rant. Part of this is aimed at myself, because I only have myself to blame for picking review books in genres I don't like. But I have GOT to ask, even the people who like this stuff - is it really remotely realistic that the government is going to find all kinds of money and technology to "enhance" soldiers and nobody, nobody at all is going to spend a moment thinking about a failsafe? And just to ice the cake, they're going to give all these fighting enhancements not to loyal soldiers who volunteer, but to soup up the abilities of psychotic criminals, because they aren't "missing anything" if it doesn't work... but if it does work, you've just made your own enemy stronger, faster, deadlier, and given them a reason to hate you? And, as I just pointed out, forgotten the damned off switch.

I'm sorry, in what planet does this make sense?*

That hurdle over, I've got to deal with a publisher and author who don't know what "psychological horror" is. Psychological != physiological. Psychological horror messes with your head. It doesn't have to rely on blood and guts and gore because it is *messing with your head.* The minute you have to crack open a copy of Grey's Anatomy to figure out what's dripping off the ceiling, you have gone to physiological horror, dealing mainly in the surprise of what body part is going to go flying next.

And that's not horrible. It's scary, but it's not actually horror; it's just gross.

That the author has actually gone on Amazon and said "Don't buy this book, it's just too scary" is the final hubristic straw. Let me just say that I agree that he's half right.


*Presumably the same world in which an Important Hidden Secret lays dormant for century upon century until Mary Sue/Marty Stu comes along to liberate what has been unknown by all... except for the huge underground cabal that protects it, the other huge underground cabal that is trying to wipe it out, and the huge collection of artists who are working it into the architecture, murals, paintings, music, and crossword clues all through those centuries.
neadods: (Default)
Took 12 pages of notes at "Malvolio's Revenge" last night and will type up all when I have the time, hopefully tonight. (I'd say so at Facebook but I still don't even know how to respond to comments there. I'm flunking Facebook.)

Dear Author: Do not be using the finale moments of very famous movies for your plot twist. The reader is supposed to think "I never saw that coming" not "I can see that every time I reach for my DVD collection."

Regeneration episode casting spoilers are sweeping through fandom at the speed of squee. I'm throwing open comments not for the spoilers, but for the most silly "why he'll regenerate" theory you can come up with.

I'll start with a couple:

- Ten poisons himself with hair gel overexposure.
- Donna's mother and Martha's mother meet, compare notes, and take a hit out on him.
neadods: (facepalm)
Dear Publicity Agent,

I've never seen such a big package of articles and general press stuff for a review book. Seriously, I'm impressed.

But also seriously - did you really need to include the newspaper articles that make it clear your author is not only writing the Maryest of Mary Sues (and I mean that quite literally) but is also COMPLETELY OUT OF HER MIND? And I don't mean "wrapped up in her own ego" crazy, I mean "absolutely unequivocally fucking nuts" crazy.

I still can't decide if you're that thrilled she's gotten press, any press, or if you're trying to subtly warn everyone.

Signed, the creeped-out reviewer




(And yet this will still be one of the most sarcastic reviews I've written. Not the nastiest, but sarcastic.)

Dear Author

Feb. 4th, 2009 07:24 pm
neadods: (disagree)
Dear Author,

The whole superior journalist thing of "I went to investigate these losers and then found out they're decent interesting people" trope only works if your disgusted bias doesn't continue to ring through every chapter and description.

I was quite interested in reading "Cookoff" Ms. Sutherland; there aren't many books about the people who like to compete in cookoffs, and recipes are always a nice touch. Such a pity that your attitude was a turnoff, from your oh-so-disingenuous discovery that liberated women like to compete through your "Well, I've entered a contest but I'm not like many others" conclusion. This was supposed to be about cookoffs, not "my superiority complex, let me show you it."

Could you - could *anyone* - possibly be shocked that modern women enter contests for prestige, prizes, and, oh, let's not forget the cold, hard cash? And why is cooking somehow retro and antifeminist as opposed to, say, beauty contests? At least cooking is a skill. You described people driving for miles to get the right presentation dish, but nobody had to vaseline their teeth and glue a swimsuit to their ass to be judged on their waist and tits.

You certainly judged by ingredients and tools. Scallions are not automatic indicators of haute cuisine. There is no "war" on crock pots except in the mind of technology snobs. (Little hint: All those pre-technology recipes that say "long slow simmer"? What the hell do you think a crock pot DOES?)

But that's nothing on how you judge the way people spend their time. You're above convenience food, I get it. But how dare you talk about how you can't understand how people can "drive for hours" and not want to spend time in the kitchen? Maybe they're using convenience food because they're tired and hungry and don't want to pfaff around in the kitchen. And it's not like you approve of anything else people do outside the kitchen. I notice that every chapter includes a dismissive description of the parties and events surrounding the cookoffs. Parties in bars are drunken orgies where women spray nameless liquids. Dressage is "interminable prancing to music."

And then there are the people. You're nice... to a few of them. But you will keep throwing in those little digs about "widening hips," "a gangster moll," women talking about hair dye, and (in almost every chapter) people talking to "no one at all." After that was repeated a few times, I started to think that they were probably trying to talk to you but couldn't penetrate the bubble.

Actually trying to put your money where your mouth was in the final chapter showed a little humanity. Such a pity that by then I was fed up with your dictations on the "right" ingredients, tools, and forms of cooking.
neadods: (Default)
Welcome to the Critic's Eye View, which will be an irregular series of posts regarding the good and bad in the books I read. Unlike the Dear Author posts, which basically exist to blow off steam about books I review, Critic's Eye View is meant to be a more in-depth objective analysis of why I'm liking or disliking what I'm reading for pleasure.

First on the chopping block: Wild Goose Chase by Terri Thayer.

WGC was one of the giveaways at this year's Malice Domestic. Malice and Bouchercon give away books hand over fist - it's a way for newer authors to be discovered by readers, peers, and critics; it makes way for newer editions (one year they were handing out boxes of Donna Andrews books because they had an old price printed on them); and it empties out their back stock. So that it was a giveaway is not a reflection on quality.

Frankly, I was very excited about WGC, because it's set in a quilt expo and I used to quilt, I used to travel hours to go to the Williamsburg expo, and I've even had some shop experience. Unfortunately, that excitement didn't last long (indeed, this analysis won't last past page 30, because that's when I hit overload and wrote the Dear Author post.)

The Setup: Nothing Wrong Here )


First Problem: Only The Author Automatically Likes the Heroine. )


Second Problem: Leave Your Issues In Your Magazine Rack )


Third Problem: Don't Diss the Audience )


Fourth Problem: FFS, Do Your Damn Research! )


Fifth Problem: There Shouldn't Be Half A Dozen Immediately Obvious Alternatives )

In short, do your homework, and don't insult your readership's gender, appearance, hobbies, or intelligence.
neadods: (Default)
Dear Author isn't just one of my tags, it's a blog. (Not by me.) In this post, an author illustrates how to never get another good review in her life.

I have had someone do that to me, by the way. Not get in my face over a bad review (surprising, considering how many options there are; I'd better be wearing track shoes if I ever meet Hess... or perhaps she should be, because the problem with insulting people is sometimes they find out about it and Have Opinions In Return.) No, this is a woman who got up in my face because I objected to being handed 300+ unbound, unnumbered sheets to review and sniffed that I obviously didn't know a lot about real authors and real publishing if I was going to be THAT way.

(The garbage can was That Way over yonder, which is all I'm going to say about the fate of that one.)
neadods: (do_not_want)
Dear Author,

One of the nasty things I'm going to say in the book that inspired the previous letter is that too much time was taken recapping the other six books in the series, and that in one case, the exact wording was reused to introduce a character - presumably because that author didn't figure the beach-reading crowd would realize the redundancy 6 chapters apart.

Imagine my thrill that you have
1) spent over 50 pages recapping the single book before this one, often repeating concepts, and
2) described the same character with the same phrase EIGHT TIMES IN AS MANY PAGES.

For all the flaws in the other book, there was at least a faint attempt to set up a plot, and said attempt appeared in the first chapter. In yours, there are 50 pages of reminders that I shouldn't have bothered with this book first.

I'm giving up. At this point, any review would be a retread of the flaws from one book and the plot from another anyway, because you've pretty much combined the worst of both.
neadods: (Default)
My review for Acts of Nature is up on Reviewing the Evidence. (Wow, that turnaround was particularly fast!) Obviously, I need to hustle on the last June & July books.

Speaking of which:

Dear Author:

I remember a long time ago, there was a fanzine that promised "200 pages of hot, hot action, and that's before he even gets his shirt off!" This was accomplished through a combination of printing on only one side of the page, huge font size, acres of white space, and last but never least, really crappy writing.

I mention this because you should not start your book suggesting that it has taken 6 novels to tell one storyline. It has only taken that long because your page count is miniscule, your typeface rivals Books For The Blind, your per-page white space looks like the arctic, and your plot points move more slowly than an overpadded episode of Lost. That you've had the nerve to sell these overinflated novellas at hardback prices adds insult to injury.

I thought your first two books were hilarious, but then you started seeing how little you could sell for how much on a per-volume basis. Just because I get this crap for free doesn't mean that I'm not going to point this out to the people who might otherwise cheat themselves paying you $24.95 for 1/3 of a story.
neadods: (Default)
Dear Author,

In the first 7 pages of your book, I learn the following things:
- the number of magazines published by Harper's
- the size and location of the Harper's HQ, down to cross-street names
- the decorations on the interior and exterior of the building
- the dress code in the offices
- the view from one window
- the height of the Brooklyn Bridge approach
- the geographical direction of the iron struts holding the bridge
- the geographical direction of the train that runs under the bridge at that point.

What I have not learned:
- what the book is about
- why I should care about any of the characters
- exactly when it is set


Seriously, you can take the time to tell me that the north-south train runs under a set of east-west iron struts beside the 5-story building with gargoyles on it, but you expect me to deduce what friggin' YEAR it is?

If you want to write a book about the construction of New York, or the publishing business in New York, or whatever nonfiction it is you're trying to write, then just write that please, and stop trying to pass it off as fiction. According to Amazon, this is about your 4th book, which makes this incredibly bad opening even more full of fail, as you should certainly know better by now. As far as I can tell, your book doesn't actually start until Chapter 2, which is 17 more pages than most readers are going to put up with, and 16 pages after you stood a chance of a flattering review.

PS - Making me google your various hints to figure out the date in the middle of chapter 6 because you STILL hadn't given the date? Not good. Finally obliquely giving a date that does not match? Worse.
neadods: (Default)
In a rush on my way out:

If you've seen Poison Sky yet, go read [livejournal.com profile] wendymr's character interlude Given the Choice. If you haven't, bookmark for later. Her Donna is perfect. (Can't quote 'cause of spoilers.)

And another in what will probably be a burgeoning series:

Dear Author,

So, you've got a fish-out-of-water protagonist who is thrown into a new world by inheriting a niche business upon which the series is hooked. Well that's... the second time I've read that in two weeks. Okay, not your fault. It's a perfectly good means of kick-starting things.

However, you've kicked it right over. And that is your fault.

First of all, if your protagonist is supposed to be a silicon valley hotshot, she would not be frantic that one of the antagonists "crashed" a laptop by "pulling out the power cord." Apparently to your computer expert's surprise, that won't crash a properly functioning laptop. No, closing the lid on it while it's running won't crash it either. I promise.

Many, many of the "middle-aged" (ta so very much for that repeated description) practitioners of the craft you've chosen as a hook actually OWN laptops. Surprise! It's called the 21st Century, my dear. You might want to join it before you write a couple of pages of how your protagonist is frantically fighting across the sea of people to save the data and check the poor "abused" laptop.

Speaking of abuse, your character isn't quite as hard-put-upon as she likes to think. First of all, that uber-cutesy sister-in-law? Yeah, she's passive-aggressive and all, but I find it hard to believe that she's that much of a technophobe. Because she IS running a successful business and one of the bigger-ticket sales items in said business is - Gasp! - craft-oriented software. No, really. I told you your audience was familiar with the 21st century. Even if your antagonist didn't like it enough to stock, if she's that familiar with the market I guarantee you she knows about the stuff... even if you obviously don't.

And then there's the female assistant of the Very Famous Female Celebrity. That scene where she is stopping your protagonist from waltzing in on the VFFC? And gets really nasty when she instantly catches your protag's lie about a nonexistent meeting? She is not a jumped-up bitch with delusions of grandeur, she is doing her job. It's an important job, and the fact that your protag has to shove her to get the room key does not mean that your heroine has triumphed over the pettiness of people around her. It means that she was doing her job and your protagonist has committed assault.

Oh, and by the way... having said protagonist bitch about "the noise of all those women's voices" and muse about wanting to go back to being surrounded by men talking was creepy. That she then lies to and assaults an assistant while bitching mentally that she's always been blocked by "women whose only power comes from doing their jobs other people" isn't a blow for feminism. It's "My skanky issues with my own gender, let me show you them."

Fortunately, this is a Malice pickup and not an assigned RtE book, so I don't even have to skim it. Please learn a little bit about your chosen hooks and leave your issues behind in copyedit next time

Signed,

I need to read a historical true crime to wash my mind of THAT cozy!

Dear Author

May. 5th, 2008 08:12 pm
neadods: (Default)
Backlog of review books means a lot of reading... which means a lot of headbanging and a few more installments of venting.

Dear Author:

The 1905 census puts the population of NYC at a touch over 4 million people. I haven't looked up theaters, but "more than one" is a very safe bet. Therefore, please to not have everybody meeting everybody else. With that many people, you can go out to three degrees of separation without losing the audience. Trust me.

But even more than that, please to be finding your heroine's brain. She had one once, but it seems to be on an extended vacation. My review is going to be snarky about the first point, but downright nasty about how Encyclopedia Brown could have solved this faster than your heroine, at least until she finally dropped the idiot stick.

Signed,
there's a reason I lose interest in series books somewhere between #5-#7



Dear Author:

There are ways to make a book-within-a-book work. For the record, your following choices are not among them:

1) Making the internal book a generic puzzle with generic characters who speak cliches of profound obviousness: "I fully expect that we're going to have to do a lot of digging to get at the truth." Le duh. Oh, and congratulations for being such an excellent example of Linnea's Law: There's Internet fanfiction better than some professionally published fiction.

2) Interrupting the internal action to describe such pulse-pounding "real-life" moments as the self manicure, the BLT sandwich, the haircut, the second manicure, the spilled nail polish, and the bubble bath.

And bad as those are, there's nothing as flat-out dealbreaking as your worst-of-both-options choice:

3) Having the "real" character spend several pages summarizing the actions of the "fictional" ones.

I am a woman reading a mystery book, and therefore consider it profoundly redundant to be told all about the experiences of a woman reading a mystery book. (Especially if, given the choice, I'd frankly enjoy myself more with the manicures, sandwich, or bath.) Still, if you consider it okay to gloss over the story, I'm going to return the favor, because at this point, the only reason I'm slogging through this dog is the pleasure of writing the negative review.

Signed,

It's not helping that your detective is also holding the idiot stick.

Dear Author

Apr. 2nd, 2008 05:36 pm
neadods: (Default)
In case anyone was interested, the answer was "I took as much as I could carry." I wrote two book reviews, read and wrote another review, finished Yarn Harlot's latest book, and finished another rectangle for the knitalong afghan. I had time to do this in the 10 minutes to jury selection for my panel that stretched for about 5 hours until they told us to turn the cards back in and go home.

And also, thanks to Tangled Skein having the rare 5.5" double-pointed needles in larger sizes, the Swiss Army knitting kit is done without any special work on my part. Two short needles, two point protectors, and a hotel sewing kit equipped with stitchmarkers and those itty bitty scissors. Add yarn and done!

However, that book I read? Hoo, boy, did I wish I could write a Dear Author right there! So, to get it out of my system:

Dear author:

There is more to having a feminist heroine than making her female. Even if you make her a progressive woman. Even if you give her an education and the aspiration to hold a job at the turn of the previous century. Especially if you make her a socialist suffragette with an Oxford education and then forget to remind her that the working poor she's always worrying about includes her own servants, whom she treats like furniture.

Making her repeat "I have an education and I want to be a journalist and I won't let men push me around" doesn't actually count when the pedal hits the metal feminism-wise. She has to actually back up those words... and frankly? Not seeing too much of that. I've been reading crime stories for years now, and you've written the first one where the investigator never actually talks to the victim's friends and family or investigates the scene of the crime. That sort of thing is for the menfolk, apparently.

It's not a feminist novel when most of the other characters are women too. Even when the suspect is an art-loving, recreational-drug-taking, socialist suffragette lesbian. Even when the victim is an art-loving bisexual free love proponent. It's I-think-I'm-so-edgy bingo, but it's not automatically a feminist novel.

It's not even a feminist novel when the plot revolves around birth control.

It would be a feminist novel if the heroine did more than bitch and flounce and sass at men, or if women weren't being picked off like flies, or if men weren't deciding to control women's fertility... but that's not the book you've written.

Signed,
A reviewer who likes good feminist crime and good historicals, and wish she'd just read a book that rated as either
neadods: (disgusted)
Dear Author,

Congratulations! Assuming that the review of your novel novella longish short story published in very large type ever gets published, you will have the warm glow of knowing that you have inspired me to create a brand new Internet law, and I sincerely hope that "Linnea's Law" will quickly take its place right up there with Godwin's & Sturgeon's.

On the other hand, since you will also have the warm glow of outrage over some of other things I have to say about your should-be-put-to-death prose (I'm still trying to decide between "the only reason I can't call the characters paper thin is that this is an electronic book" and "these characters would need some major fleshing out to achieve two dimensions") you may just hope that it never sees the light of day.

Linnea's Law: When a "professionally" published book is worse than Internet fanfiction. (This goes double for ebooks and triple for ebooks about the Internet.)

Signed
I'm going to spork my eyes out before accepting any other electronic or unknown press book for review. Getting a tiny press to publish it doesn't fix the problems, it only adds killing a tree to your sins.

PS - Before the published-on-paper authors who also write for online media get up in my grill, I don't mean you. Usually. Despite the ample evidence of Sturgeon's Law that the publishing houses churn out annually, when publishers put their money where their editors/printers/advertisers/shippers are, somebody somewhere at least sincerely thought the final product was worth that money and effort. As far as I can tell, epublishing is the new vanity publishing for people who can't afford to chop down a tree.
neadods: (facepalm)
Dear author:

The fact that you couldn't get the chapters on your intricate politico-scientific-historical-conspiracy thriller to be longer than a page or two should have been your first clue that your plot was only half-baked.

Or maybe a quarter baked. Because the idea of hiding messages in DNA? Moderately interesting, in a *giggle*snort* way. But hiding messages about cycles that, by the time humanity (re)discovers DNA sequencing, will have repeated about four or five times? Um, hello? The reaction to The Great Big Fancy Coded Message shouldn't be "Le duh! We have been paying attention to recorded history, you know."

Signed,
Oh, please, is there anyone on this Earth who DOESN'T know that by now?




Dear Every Author Who Writes Conspiracy Thrillers, Ever:

Please to be knocking off the plots that hinge on the following premise: There is abstruse knowledge in the world. There is a hidden cabal that kills anyone getting close to the hidden knowledge. Therefore, the catalyst tells the protagonist "I have seven seconds left to live, so I'm going to pass on my abstruse knowledge in a crossword/sudoku/rebus/cross-stitch pattern/linguistic puzzle for you to figure out over the next 300 pages."

Because honestly? If you want to spike the wheels of hidden homicidal cabals, post the damn thing in plain English on your MySpace and watch them disappear in a puff of "Oh, god, I can't kill the whole Internet!" Or possibly laughter that they've been so crazy to believe whatever it was in the first place.

Special "Oh, PLEASE" award to plots based on the SuperSekrit Killer Klutzes deliberately posting codes and secrets just to prove they're unbreakable and then wetting their pants when somebody breaks it. (Yes, Bruce Willis movie who's name I've forgotten, I'm looking at you.) SuperSekrit things are not secret anymore when they've been in a major newspaper. Period. Even if you add the magic words "neener, neener, betcha can't figure this out."

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