The Edge of Darkness: Foreward and Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
Well, I know a consensus when I see it: Michael Murphy it is!
As many of you know, The Edge of Darkness is the fourth book in the Babylon Rising series. It’s also the last book in the series, but, as you’ll see, it doesn’t really feel like the last book. It feels like the penultimate book: only one or two subplots are even partially tied up, and new characters are introduced, who don’t seem to have an immediate purpose.
Tim LaHaye starts us off with this lovely dedication:
Dedicated to those who realize this world is in an irreversible mess and want to believe there is hope for a better world tomorrow.
This book came out in 2006. And LaHaye died in July of 2016. So he didn’t even see such a thing as a Trump presidency. Dude, you don’t know from irreversible mess.
He then spends the forward whining about North Korea and earthquakes and “Asian flu” as evidence that “we are indeed approaching THE EDGE OF DARKNESS.”
Dude, you don’t know from edge of…yeah, I did that already. LaHaye ends by once again praising his hero and engaging in a little self-back-patting because “this book could not be more timely.” Oh, I beg to differ, asshat.
Oh, Hulk, where are you when we need you?
Annnnnywho, Chapter One starts off just as all Chapters One start in Babylon Rising books: with Murphy In Media Res: this time, jumping off a moving roller coaster. And, just as in our previous book, The Europa Conspiracy, we cut back and forth between the action and Murphy’s pleasant day at “work” at Preston University. He rhapsodizes about the beauty of the school and the South, but in this book, is actually greeted by a horrifying sight: a stack of tests and “book reports” (in advanced college classes, really?). If there’s one thing Murphy hates in life besides uppity women and scientists, it’s doing the actual work of a teacher. So…
I think I’ll delegate those to Shari. She’ll hate me, but isn’t that what assistants are for? Doing all the jobs you don’t like? [he thinks]
What a colossal asshat. Not to mention a lazy prick. I love how he seems kinda surprised that there are a pile of tests in his office from the class he designed.
But he doesn’t get the chance to pawn off his work, as Shari gives him yet another package from Methuselah. And, because we can’t have any originality no matter what, there is an incredibly stupid poem inside.
Here it is in its entirety, so never say I don’t do anything for you:
Row, row, row your boat gently around the lake
Walk and talk and have a piece of cake
Ride, ride, ride the trolley
Be sure to stop and visit Molly
Dance, dance, dance the choo-choo
Visit the zoo and casino too
Round, round, round you go
Don’t be depressed by the big tornado
Search, search, search and find
Be sure not to lose your mind
Seek, seek, seek, like a mouse
You may even find a fun house
[Inconsistencies and unscannabilities are the author’s not mine.]
Shockingly, though Murphy is up on Colorado prisons, he is not nearly as familiar with amusement parks, and has to actually use the interwebs to find the answer to this nigh-unsolvable riddle.
Except when he starts to blather on about trolleys and the history of electricity, Shari asks him how he knows all this (just like she did in the last book). Except she just saw him Googling, so WTF? Seeing his opening, Murphy claims that he learned all this from his grandmother, who used to visit the Lakewood Amusement Park with a roller coaster called Molly’s Madness when she was a girl.
(Hilariously, the Lakewood Amusement Park was a real thing. Emphasis on WAS. This fascinating website chronicles the history of that particular plot of land. The amusement park, a great success in its day, closed in 1932 and the buildings were torn down. Eventually, a shopping center was built there. Scroll down and you’ll see a cool picture of the modern stores with the probable locations of the amusements labelled over them.)
But Phillips REALLY wanted to set his action scene at an old amusement park, so he spins this yarn about a supposed underground fun house that the owners wanted to build. (???) So Murphy heads to the Charlotte Hall of Records and library, “mostly working his way through endless red tape and the frustration of government bureaucracy.”
Poor baby. Is the eeeevil librul gubmint out to get you again, Murph?
In this alternate universe, warehouses are now on the old site instead of stores, and Murphy heads over there and fumbles around amongst surrounding trees to finally find a hatch down a winding staircase to an underground fun park.
This may be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. And just think about all we’ve seen in all the various works of entertainment on this blog. I’m almost numb to it at this point, so I’ll just state it outright: an archeology professor has followed the clues left by a deranged billionaire he has never met, leading him to an underground fun house built in the 1930s. This will somehow result in an expedition to find a piece of Bible history.
This makes Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom look positively realistic.
Anyway, the diabolical tricks of Meth start immediately, as Murphy is forced to traverse one of those old rolling-barrel type rides from Ye Olden Dayes.
And that’s when things get weird.
Really, really weird.
As Murphy reached the center barrel, an Asian figure in a black ninja outfit entered the third barrel. He resembled a young Bruce Lee…
Of course he did.
…and moved toward Murphy with the agility of a cat. He did not look too friendly.
A quick glance behind Murphy revealed another Asian, dressed in a dark brown outfit He had entered the first barrel after Murphy and was quickly gaining ground.
Another Asian? Are the Asians in this book going to be like the Moar Arabs in the last one? Does this one look like Bruce Lee, too? Or more like Jackie Chan or Jet Li? Or is Bruce Lee the only Asian action star Phillips knows of?
And, of course, turns out Meth is hiding somewhere, watching all this and laughing, just like last time.
And he brought his ninjas with him. As you would.
The two Asians looked like professionals.
Professional what? Ninjas? Is that a thing?
Maybe. But I’m against the ninja.
So is Murphy, since he quickly dispenses with Ninja 1 by just running up the side of the barrel and dropping down on him. Heh, some ninja.
Now that there is a conscious Asian and an unconscious Asian, Phillips feels free to refer to each as “the Asian” in turn. I’m almost tempted to consider this progress, of a sort. I mean, villains aren’t just Arabs. Sometimes they’re Asians, too! I can only imagine that had there been a fifth book, the villains would be The Hispanics.
The Other Moar Asian gets in two good kicks, even though “Murphy knew that he could hold his own if he could ever catch his breath and get his feet under him.”
Of course you could, pumpkin. Those mean ole The Asians just don’t fight fair, do they?
But Murphy finally triumphs. Now, you might think that with all Murphy’s karate training and punch-each-other-in-the-stomach training with Levi, his martial arts skills would win the day. But no, Murphy just flings his bag at the ninja, then when that floors him, drives his elbow into the guy’s head. Though we’ve already seen that the ninja can hold his own when he has his breath and his feet are under him.
But fighting dirty is okay when Murphy does it.
Gorram, folks, we’re already two chapters down. This underground fun park thing is already WAY too long.
And Murphy hasn’t thrown even one reverse punch yet. That makes me sad.