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Old 08-24-2010, 01:14 PM   #1
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Cliff Hangers

Okay, I'm old. I grew up before television but the Saturday afternoon matinees were staples. Every matinee started with a "selected short" that was sometimes the Lone Ranger or Buck Rogers or, my personal favorite, Tarzan.

At the end of each short weekly section the hero would be consigned to sure death and at the beginning of each weekly section he would be saved from the certain death promised the week before. Sometimes the saving would be so improbable that even a theater full of gullible ten-year olds would scream with laughter. Some weeks they didn't even come up with a saving strategy. He just was.

Now I'm old and still love movies but I read a lot. Some books are a good read till you get near the end. Then it's as if the author said, "I'm tired of this book. Time to end it."

I just finished a book where the ending was brought about by two characters who had been killed earlier in the book. Now one had been killed about 150 earlier but the only evidence of his being killed was the protagonist, and killer, had said he was killed. Aha! He lied. The second Lazarus was killed not far before the end of the book. The killer hugged him, shot him three times with the pistol pressed against his chest, and, son-of-a-gun, never noticed her was wearing a bullet-proof vest. He then buried the guy but the guy dug him self out of the grave, a neat trick, and lived.

In the cliff-hangers of my youth I'd invested only fifteen minutes watching the selected short. The ending, for the segment, was exciting and the rescue often hilarious, but when it's a book, it seriously irritates me.
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:29 PM   #2
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...Now I'm old and still love movies but I read a lot. Some books are a good read till you get near the end. Then it's as if the author said, "I'm tired of this book. Time to end it."...
Sounds like the last David Eddings book I read. The humans and good gods kept battling against a bad god. The plots became identical with the humans and bad gods winning against the bad god only to have the bad god rebreed its minions and again the humans and good gods got to fight them again...and again...and again until, at the end of the last book, another good good god steps out of hiding in the the background and says (essentially), "I'm tired of this nonsense" and, POOF!, she fixes everything in a blink. Big whoop!
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:51 PM   #3
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I just finished a book where the ending was brought about by two characters who had been killed earlier in the book. Now one had been killed about 150 earlier but the only evidence of his being killed was the protagonist, and killer, had said he was killed. Aha! He lied. The second Lazarus was killed not far before the end of the book. The killer hugged him, shot him three times with the pistol pressed against his chest, and, son-of-a-gun, never noticed her was wearing a bullet-proof vest. He then buried the guy but the guy dug him self out of the grave, a neat trick, and lived.
I'm still mad at Michael Critchon for what he did with the character Malcom in Jurassic Park. In the book, HE DIES. It's clear he's wounded, possibly fatally, and then there's a sentence at the end of the book stating that the other characters had attended his funeral.

Then JP made a TON of money, so the author decided it was time to resurrect the character. As I recall, the wording in Lost World (the sequel) went something like "news of his death had been greatly exaggerated". Whatever.
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:17 PM   #4
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I believe the technical term is called "deux ex machina." The classic version of this of course being "s/he woke up and it was all a dream."

Unfortunately, some writers are simply not creative enough to come up with a good ending. Or, as I have sometimes put it: Fully half of all Americans believe they have at least one book "in them." Unfortunately, in many cases, that's exactly where it should stay.

Eric (Yet another wannabe, so I shouldn't talk, though I do earn my living as a writer, albeit mostly in advertising and for various websites).
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
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Fortunately for us there's a lot of different authors out there. The trick is finding some you like. It's like the old fairytail--you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.
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Old 08-24-2010, 07:27 PM   #6
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Fortunately for us there's a lot of different authors out there. The trick is finding some you like. It's like the old fairytail--you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.
Yeah, but often that prince will later turn out to be a toad.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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One of my favorite phrases repeated by writing instructors is, "The end is in the beginning." If a story doesn't end with a resolution of the conflict shown in the beginning, then it's probably going to annoy the heck out of me. :P
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:31 AM   #8
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I believe the technical term is called "deux ex machina." The classic version of this of course being "s/he woke up and it was all a dream."
Nowadays, the most frequent "deus ex machina" is computers (or hackers), they can solve anything with a computer and the Internet, just in a few seconds with a couple of key presses. It is so in CSI-like TV shows, and it was the most annoying thing I found in the Millennium trilogy. I know any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic[*], but come on!
[*] 3rd Clarke's Law.
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:29 AM   #9
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Maybe the first case of fictional computer genius was in the famous 1960s weird but wonderful TV seies, *The Prisoner*, Jellby.

It sounds so bloody daft now after just four short decades or so, but the ultra-smart hero, kidnapped MI5 spy Number Six, beat the world's most powerful computer -- a thing that threatened civilisation as we know it -- by blowing its electronic mind simply by typing in the one question no computer ever could answer ... the single word *WHY?*

Eee, we've passed a lot of water since those days of technological innocence, eh? Hoots. Neil
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:39 AM   #10
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Nowadays, the most frequent "deus ex machina" is computers (or hackers), they can solve anything with a computer and the Internet, just in a few seconds with a couple of key presses. It is so in CSI-like TV shows, and it was the most annoying thing I found in the Millennium trilogy. I know any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic[*], but come on!
[*] 3rd Clarke's Law.

You are obviously not a teacher of creative writing to children . I taught junior high school for nine years and always had my kids try to write their own stories. I think about every third story I would read from those kids ended with them waking up from a dream. Though in science fiction, you're right, every other story ends with a computer being broken into and a brilliant solution being made available.
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:42 AM   #11
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Maybe the first case of fictional computer genius was in the famous 1960s weird but wonderful TV seies, *The Prisoner*, Jellby.

It sounds so bloody daft now after just four short decades or so, but the ultra-smart hero, kidnapped MI5 spy Number Six, beat the world's most powerful computer -- a thing that threatened civilisation as we know it -- by blowing its electronic mind simply by typing in the one question no computer ever could answer ... the single word *WHY?*

Eee, we've passed a lot of water since those days of technological innocence, eh? Hoots. Neil
And Mr. Spock permanently tied up the Enterprise computer by having it calculate Pi to the last numeral. . .yep, them were the days.
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