Saturday, October 19, 2013

Twistaplot #17 Ghost Riders of Goldspur

Last time an amazing space adventure was ruined by United Nations propaganda so I think it's time to go back to Twist-A-Plot, where terrible plotting and misplaced sarcasm do the ruining instead of the New World Order. Today's choice is perhaps the perfect antidote to that, featuring the Wild West, guns as a solution to problems, and improbable time-travel/untreated narcolepsy plot devices. Will this series finally produce an entry that doesn't earn my wrath? Well, you're not going to find out re-reading the opening paragraph over and over, which I assume all readers do unless I explicitly give permission to enter the main body of the review with a clever transition sentence. Let's saddle up!

Welcome to Twist-A-Plot World, where nothing can possibly go wrong.

Like many epic tales it begins with passive listening as a member of a tour group. I'm told that it's the Centennial of some rather nondescript wild west crime spree. Some outlaws came into town, robbed it, set everything on fire and left. Again, kind of blah. It's not like they shot someone for snoring too loud or used a stolen gatling gun to try to take over the Territory of Arizona or something. I'm so stoked about this that I'm all "Wow! One Whole Century!" Yes, kid, this is what passes for excitement before your body's internal chemistry suddenly changes and causes you to constantly think about breasts to the exclusion of everything else. 

Stay tuned for my complete review of the "Time Life Wild West" series, starting in 2038.

There's a legend that the outlaw Harley Brothers are condemned to ride the west forever until they are brought to justice, which is just enough of a supernatural foot-in-the-door for a sudden dust storm to transport me back to the very day of the incident! This is my big chance to stop the crime, destroy the city's future tourist industry in the process and maybe buy a few shares of Microsoft Telegraph and Gas Lighting.

I'm allowed to take "I don't know what to do!" as an option and this results in meeting local Hard Man "Darby" who wants me to send a message to a "stage." Instead I ask him what century it is, because that's a nice and reasonable thing to ask. I consider this deep and immersive role-playing, since it seems the kind of person who would yell things out during a tourist trap speech might also have issues with ordinary human interaction.

Here's the answer I expected.

Instead of the anticipated "You some kind a mo-ron?" someone yells "cut" and you can probably guess where this is going. It's some sort of television show about "legends and how they affect the mind" that might have worked in the eighties before the idea wizards in charge figured out the average electronic toilet viewer just wants to point and laugh at rural America and not think too hard. The "dust storm" was just a lame special effect, everyone else was "herded" off the street and for some reason they allowed me to blunder into their shooting. 

I get one final bit of social awkwardness, lamenting my "dumb" behavior, while the director is all "could have been worse kid, much worse."

 "Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!"

In the interest of fairness I can't really review this one based off of the short run I had. The story at least seemed to promise action and I didn't have to flip a coin or answer any personal questions to make a decision, which for this series represents progress. On the other hand I got a modified "It was all a dream!" ending. We'll call it a wash.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.  

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