The publishers have come out with this edition to exploit the holiday season. Like Harry Potter before, I’m curious what all the hype is about. Knowing my ability to absorb “genre fiction,” I guess I might as well write this day off.
When it came out last year, it was sitting on my room mate’s coffee table, and I probably should have read it then. From the back cover, the book is about someone who finds a hidden code inside Leonardo Da Vinci’s works. A secret society called the Priory of Sion exists to protect the secret revealed by the code and the Indiana Jones-alike and a love interest go off to unveil the astonishing truth.
I know this is genre fiction, but… C’mon! Where have I heard this one before?
Wasn’t it just the other day, waiting for my $1 double cheeseburger, I noticed a huge advert for National Treasure? I can picture Eisner’s yes-men at Disney saying, “Okay, we’ll do The Da Vinci Code, but instead of that a lame Italian, we’ll have the founding fathers to make it more American; instead of the Priory of Sion which nobody has ever heard of, we’ll use the Illuminati. Heck, we have every dollar bill in the United States advertising for us! And what’s more brilliant is no royalties to Dan Brown.” The last part probably sat well with ol’ Mike: Disney is still trying to convince the world they own Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. Yeah, and the Lion King and Atlantis weren’t ripped off either. Disney, you sure know how to tell them…I have newfound respect for your originality: I await Toy Story 3 with bated breath—that’ll show Pixar who wears the pants in the family.
No, that wasn’t where I heard it before… J.J. Abrams filmed the pilot to Alias in early 2001—you can tell because there is a scene where the heroine, Sydney Bristow, walks through LAX—definitely a pre-9/11 shot. When they were picked up two years before Dan Brown published his book, the series had morphed into a search for artifacts made by a fictional 15th century Italian, Milo Rambaldi who had a strange obsession with Rube Goldberg machines and the number 47. Since his death, his most loyal followers formed the Order of Rambaldi in order to safeguard his creations.
Is Dan Brown trying to give Disney a run for their money? Start with that, a dash of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, thieve liberally from the ideas of cyberpunk’s transformation to steampunk and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and you have an instant bestseller that practically writes itself. No doubt you need to liberally sprinkle in some religious references to strange practices such as glossalia to complete the theft. Science Fiction for the masses.
I wonder if in a hundred years they’ll be making holovids about secret messages left in the broadcasts of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh by Skull and Bones, the Club for Growth, Heritage Foundation, or that perennial whipping boy of the left, the Carlyle Group? That’ll be fun. I wonder who gets to play Mellon Scaife. I guess it’d be comforting for the masses of the future to know that America was in the hands of something more than a bunch of lazy ultra-rich who think the only way to protect a wealth they never earned is to dupe the rest of us into making ourselves poorer. God knows, I could really use such a comfort.
Darn and I love genre fiction too.
Why I picked up the illustrated version? Cynically, I’d say if we’re going to to steal from a TV show, might as well bundle the pictures with it. But really, it sounds a whole lot more fun to see the works of Da Vinci juxtaposed with the story. It’ll give it a sort of realism and detail like in Little Big Man. Neal, are you listening?
I hope this is well written. My expectations have already reached new lows concerning the story.
(I finished the book, but my review will have to wait until after Caitlin has read it. I don’t want to bias it for her. My rating: 4/10).
(Note to self: Better integrate my blog engine with my Book XML database so that I get the big referral bucks from Amazon. Plus, book covers would be nice)