Saturday, August 3, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure #2: Journey Under the Sea

After killing a witch for the final time and lifting the death curse I decided I'd stay with more of that single-digit goodness, this time with a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea knockoff. Amazing adventure, just add water. I usually don't talk about the copy I'm using, but I'd like to mention that I got stuck with the lame 2005 reprint that looked like it had been used as the only ball in a week long rugby tournament. In other words, it's not the good, old version, it just looks like it. Wonderful, haven't even cracked the cover (not like it needs it!) and I'm already prejudiced against this book. Plus, it's R.A. Montgomery, so I'm sure we'll be getting all his weird little trademarks, like anti-nepotism and an obsession with gliders.

Living under the sea: the solution to all of life's problems.

I'm an expert "deep sea explorer" who one day just decides to go take my wussy one-man submarine and find Atlantis. I mean, how hard can it be to locate something that probably doesn't exist? Yup, gonna go find a metaphor Plato used to make a point. No problem. Sadly, we don't get page after page of wet-brain ancient astronauts theorizing, instead it's just "yeah, I'm looking for Atlantis, so what?" I'm a man of action, clearly. Certainly not a man of thinking or doing research. 

If we make history "cool" and fill it with lies people will care about it again!

My personal sub Seeker, the obvious glider analogue in this book, is deployed from a research vessel. This is probably not even in the top one hundred ridiculous uses of tax payer money, but it's still pretty bad. I'm lowered via a cable into the darkest depths of the ocean. Then I'm told I've got this special anti-pressure diving suit that will allow me to leave the relative safety of the goofy dive-boat. As dumb as this is it's still better than "The Abyss."

I'm reminded this is the cash-in reissue, now with significantly worse illustrations, by the unbelievably stilted attempts to modernize the story by references to a "PDA" and the "latest microprocessors." Ugh. I leave the Seeker, maintaining radio contact with the research ship.Thankfully this revision is from 2005 or there would probably be mentions of taking pictures for Facebook and tweeting under hashtag AtlantisIsRealYOLO.

Technology and genital humor: combining them is not as easy as you might think.

I decide to cut loose from the line and head toward the ocean floor. Incredibly this suicidal plan is approved by the paper-pushers up above, suggesting they either don't fully understand the risks or just don't like me. So I'm descending into what Montgomery describes as a "canyon" but is presumably an undersea trench. We get exciting encounters with "bubbles" and a possible "grotto." Man, I can see why this whole "under the sea" genre got to be so popular. All the excitement of being wet, combined with slow movement and bad lighting. Yeah that's the good stuff. 

I decide to investigate a "round entrance." Really. Long, hard, tube-shaped object entering a wet hole. Paging Doctor Freud.

Imagine this, but in book format.

Anyway, through the entrance. I see what looks to my eyes like a dock, but probably represents the early stages of that kind of madness you get from a combination of crushing pressure, isolation, oxygen depletion and innuendo overdose. The searchlight attached to my sub isn't doing a very good job, so I get the choice to turn on the "laser." 

I hit the laser light and immediately get hit back with refined nonsense. There's a submarine that I immediately, somehow, recognize as one that got lost in the Bermuda Triangle a year ago! Did I mention the Bermuda Triangle is 2000 miles away! Whoa! Honestly, this is what should have been rewritten, instead of adding dated 2005 references to clash with the 1978 Sea Hunt nonsense.

And the main hatch is free of algae! What is going on!

I'm practically begging for the next entry to have a "The End" at the bottom of it.

The logical explanation behind the Bermuda Triangle.

I decide not to mess with the submarine. Instead, I keep going, finding the surface littered with strangely undamaged shipping. I speculate that Atlantis is capturing ships in the Bermuda Triangle and then taking them here. It certainly passes the Occam's razor test. I decide to get a closer look and am promptly murdered by sea snakes. There's even a loving description of toxins hitting the old "cerebral cortex." I'm told my life was "short and sweet." Yup, at least I'm gonna leave a beautiful corpse.

This is what my special diving suit probably looked like.
Yeah, I didn't get into this one. Putting the nautical equivalent of the bigfoot legend front and center didn't do this one any favors and the writing was surprising flat, considering we're in this underwater wonder world. Maybe I'll try it again when I get the proper original version. 

I regret nothing.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

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