Reviewing ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Scorn,’ drunkenly: Bottle #4


It didn’t take even the whole of this bottle to get through the remainder of Black Sun and the whole of Scorn. Yay, less tropey bull, I suppose, but all I have left besides two bottles of bellini (one of which I had during dinner) is this feeling of meh.

Drink breakdown for the remainder of Black Sun:

Preliminary sip: 1

Satanic tropes: 5

Run-of-the-mill Christian tropes: 2

Sexist, racist, -ist: 2, and I have a feeling that there would have been one fewer if the narrative wasn’t trying so hard to ship-tease Christine and Patric, because she leaps to him for rescue, which sounds unutterably corny to me. The second one is some gender bullshit about Patric wanting to kick some ass to “assert his masculinity.”

Anyway, the major thing that happens in the last of Black Sun is that Patric is captured by the Satanists and is crucified because Claude had made Patric say he was Christian in an Internet video. Like, straight-up crucified, even though he still isn’t Christian. Yay, irony.

And then Crusader Julian turns up before they can set Patric’s cross on fire and proclaims himself the Ass-Kicker on God’s behalf. And he commands the sun to darken, and it does, except Julian is being played by Master Ko, one of the Satanic council, and Julian’s power comes from Satan.

And the only other thing worth knowing besides actually unholy miracles is that the American cavalry arrives in the form of the 21st American Christian Militia. And I really wanted to slam down the rest of the bottle, but that doesn’t really count so much as a Christian trope, being more of a gun-nutty RepubliChristian wet dream. But fuuuuuck, it makes my brain hurt.

But moving on to Scorn.

Drink breakdown:

Prelim. sip: 1

Satanic: 7

Run-of-the-mill Christian: 9

Various –ists: 1

And we have another come-to-Jesus the fuck outta nowhere, except this time it ends with Julian blowing off a policeman’s head because he didn’t genuinely convert. And Julian has renamed himself Julianus Secundus Christi, Julian the Second Christ, which sounds incredibly corny even though Master Ko prompted Julian to accept it. I’ll give Carver credit for pretty much imploding the come-to-Jesuses almost dictated by Christian fiction, because that trope grinds my gears, hard.

Patric and Father DeMarco (I haven’t mentioned him, but he’s been doing his part to forward the plot) go to the Vatican to meet the Puppet Pope with a bunch of other cardinals and bishops and church-peeps. The nameless others are impressed by Puppet Pope, but Patric and DeMarco are not, and DeMarco ends up denouncing Julian as a deluded pawn of Satan. No one believes DeMarco, and he’s excommunicated by Puppet Pope and leaves to do some plot elsewhere. Patric is pretty much held as a prisoner, and Master Ko taunts him by showing him Natasha in a drugged sleep, still cookin’ that baby, which is a “candidate,” Master Ko explains. One candidate among many, as we are shown a bunch of other sleeping, pregnant women.

The Americans are frustrated to find that they’ve come pretty much as their French counterparts were destroyed, but Christine, being rescued by them, gives them the idea to destroy the Temple of the Dragon in Paris, which they are happy to do.

And blahblah, dragon temple destroyed, Lust-lady has the surviving Christine transported to Rome to meet Puppet Pope, Patric attacked Puppet Pope trying to find Natasha again and is now going to be crucified and burned again because Puppet Pope found out he wasn’t really Christian.

And then climax happens when Puppet Pope gets his head popped off by fake-angel-of-light Lust-lady, who then reveals herself as a demon with an antagonist monologue. But then a real angel shows up and BOOM, deus ex machina, motherfuckers. And the Vatican implodes and that is presumably the end of Natasha, which clears the way for a final Christine–Patric shiptease.

But though they’ve been poking Patric’s come-to-Jesus along with some run-of-mill Christian tropes, we never actually see him converted. Eat it, come-to-Jesus trope.

So, to sum up this trilogy.

Pretty much the only narrative reason Satan reveals himself is to justify the organized Satanic religious bullshit as the basis of the worldbuilding. And the narrative purpose of the organized Satanic bullshit is to be debunked. That’s just pointless, really. I go to the effort of suspending my disbelief to be convinced that this is a thing that could happen (okay, not really) only to be told that the thing I already know is bunk is bunk? Thanks, so much. Even if the wider audience is dumber less savvy than I am, an entire exposition was spent to make it seem plausible (if that were possible). This is tilting at strawmen you propped up yourself. Your premise is bad, Carver.

Maybe I could forgive the rest of it if my tastes ran more to pulp thrillers, but I don’t think the story behind the Satanic debunking was all that good. It would have had more potential if Carver had focused on the characters rather than the ’splodey subplots.

And damn, those subplots went nowhere. Natasha was pretty well stuffed in a fridge after the first book only to become a loose end to be tied up. The French Christian commandoes? Rendered inert by the end of the second book. The American Christian Militia [blorf]? Killed off like red shirts after they advanced the plot enough to justify getting Christine to the Vatican.

This could have been interesting if Carver had really worked to explore the mental/emotional/spiritual difficulties Patric and Christine faced. Patric gets a half-assed treatment, and Christine’s potential is all but ignored. But I dunno how well that would have gone because the philosophy/theology in this trilogy is Not That Deep. But at least we weren’t more than threatened with Calvinism. Thank God for small mercies.

And we never found out if Lust-lady was Father DeMarco’s possessed daughter. It was foreshadowed, but maybe Carver was just too damn tired with this project to want to do anything more than tie up the ends and shove it off on the publisher. Or maybe I’m just more creatively awesome. I like that theory. Even though he’s actually finished something and I still hate all the fetal novel-things on my hard drive.

ETA: ‘Splainer. Remember back when I said that this demon-lady reminded me of Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist? In the first anime, Lust had a backstory of being the lover of Scar’s older brother, who died and was brought back as a humunculus by human transmutation. That is Grade A stealable material, but if Carver’s never seen nor heard of Fullmetal Alchemist, he wouldn’t see it as an obvious conclusion like I would. But it would still be a cool/cruel twist, that DeMarco’s deceased daughter could have been used as a tool of Satan.


5 thoughts on “Reviewing ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Scorn,’ drunkenly: Bottle #4

  1. Well I’m glad you enjoyed the series, relatively speaking. I know these books aren’t perfect and when I look back over them, I always find something I’d like to change. But hey, they are what they are.

    I have no clue as to how you got the idea that the woman-in-black was Father DeMarco’s daughter. And the American Christian Militia was meant to be a caricature (satire, remember?). But all in all, I think you got the vibe of these books, and I think the best compliment comes from the fact that you read them so quickly (a reader last week read all three books in two days). Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, on to the next.

    If you have the stomach for it, check out the tie-in short story series The Jerusalem Chronicles. It’s Tourec’s backstory. And if you want something wildly different, grab my nerd-tattoo-California-party novel Indelible. I’m sure you’ll find lots to love and hate in that one too. I crank them out pretty regularly so I’ve got lots more in the pipeline. Just keep the booze handy.


    • Like I said, I partially got the woman-in-black thing from the character Lust’s backstory from the original Fullmetal Alchemist series (Lust was the name of the character I had posted a pic of for Woman-in-black). I was guessing, basically, and I thought it could have been cool. You also mentioned that both woman-in-black and whatshername had black hair, and since you tended to skimp on physical description for other characters, I took the mention as foreshadowing (maybe because my tastes run to pulp mysteries, where plot often hinges on a mentioned hair color). Oh, well.
      But I live in the South, where RepubliChristianism can be found unironically with relative ease. Like from a couple of my relatives on my Facebook newsfeed. The Law of Poe comes in effect when you know people who legit believe that Obama has it out for Christians in America and/or use the phrase “cold, dead hands” in relation to their gun collection.


  2. Loved this whole takedown. What makes it even better is how well the series’ author is taking it. That was a most unexpected delight. And like you, I’ve got a truly unsettling number of relatives and ex-friends from my fundie days who would find absolutely nothing satirical about any of the series’ ideas.


  3. I was just having fun letting my inner Goth come out and play. I have no illusions about trying to please everyone…I just write what I want to read and hopefully others will too. Fiction writers shouldn’t be too serious about their books and readers shouldn’t either. At the end of the day, it’s just entertainment.


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