Literature: Alcatraz Series
So there I was...
This series is not written by Brandon Sanderson
. I know, that's what it says on the cover, but Covers Always Lie
. I'm Alcatraz Smedry, and I'm the real author of this series. I always tell the truth. Except when I lie. The reason it says "Brandon Sanderson" on the cover is because otherwise the Librarians would never allow it to be published. Brandon Sanderson has agreed to use his name as a cover for these series. He also writes a lot of his own books, but they are mostly a bunch of made-up fantasy stories about mist
and other such silly stuff
. I've taken a look at some of his books, and most of them are really long, really big, and would make for a good Doorstopper
, or maybe a blunt weapon.
The books I write are not overly long, and they are not fantasy, though we have to hide them in the fantasy section of bookstores and libraries. Neither are they, despite what others may have told you, light-hearted comedic fantasy books for children and young adults that can also be enjoyed by adults with a good sense of humor. Instead, they are serious, completely true books about politics, economics, history and my adventures fighting the Evil Librarian Cult that rules most of the world (The Hushlands) and is trying to take over the rest of the world (The Free Kingdoms).
What, you mean you don't believe that the Hushlands are controlled by an Evil Librarian Cult that uses its monopoly on information to manipulate the world into believing a bunch of lies? Well, just look at what they call themselves. Lie
-brarians. Kind of obvious, isn't it?
Anyway, about me: I look like a normal, ordinary American kid, but I'm not normal. I'm a Smedry. (I know, the last name kind of gives it away.) The Smedries are a highly respected family in The Free Kingdoms; so respected that knights and such tend to call us lords and do what we say, even if we tell them to hop on one foot. One of the reasons we are respected is that we all have special Talents. For example, my grandfather is always late, one of my relatives is good at talking nonsense, I have an uncle that is really good at getting lost, and a cousin of mine is really ugly when she gets up in the morning.
My Talent is breaking things. Doorknobs are my specialty, but I can break everything from a chicken to an airplane. I'll probably break this Web site a few times, so if you see something broken, there isn't much point in trying to fix it because I'll probably break it again. I know that doesn't sound like much of a talent, but consider what would happen if someone tries to shoot a gun at me. The gun would break before it could even shoot.
Anyway, I'd tell you more, but if I tell you too much, you won't need to buy my books. Make sure you buy my books. For every one you buy, we donate money to the Alcatraz Smedry Wildlife Fund For Buying Alcatraz Smedry Cool Stuff. You can even use it as a coaster.The series at present consists of four books:
- Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (2007)
- Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (2008)
- Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009)
- Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (2010)
Also, I would really like it if you don't confuse this with The Alcatraz
. Or Alcatraz
, for that matter
This series provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: A lot of the Smedries are intelligent academics while at the same time being eccentric, absent minded or just plain strange.
- Action Girl: Bastille is a perfect example of this, though I'm not sure I would use this term to her face. She is a 13-year-old knight and an expert fighter.
- Specifically, she's of the Little Miss Badass variety, though I doubt she'd like that much more.
- Affably Evil: She Who Cannot Be Named actually makes great chocolate chip cookies when she's not plotting the downfall of her enemies.
- Author Filibuster: More like narrator filibuster. I frequently break the action to say various random things that may or may not relate to the story. For example: "Blah, blah, sacrifice, altars, daggers, sharks. Blah, blah, something pretentious. Blah, blah, rutabaga. Blah, blah, something that makes no sense whatsoever. Now, back to the story."
- Awesome McCoolname: The name Smedry actually means "Oculator". note
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: Brandon Sanderson is well known for playing with tropes. In this series, he also lampshades them left and right.
- Blatant Lies: Just about everything Librarians tell you. Physics, for example. And Napoleon. And, well... okay. Some of my narration isn't entirely accurate. Admit it, though. You totally thought I was a fish.
- Black Magic: Dark Oculary is an evil form of Ocularlry comprable to
- Blessed with Suck or Cursed with Awesome: All the Smedry Talents contain elements of both, to one degree or another. They take what seems like a major disadvantage and turn it into something that can be useful. For example, Grandpa Smedry is always late, which is usually a real pain, but it has also saved is life on multiple occassions because he keeps showing up too late for his own death.
- Brick Joke
- Cats Are Mean: Kittens are cute so that they can draw you in, then pounce on you for the kill. Seriously. Stay away from kittens.
- Changeling Fantasy: I start out seeming like an ordinary boy, but it turns out that I'm from a family of practicaly artistocratic magic wielders.
- Chekhov's Gun: Not only is the trope played straight a number of times, I explicitly mention the trope by name, it in the second book, and reference it again in the fourth (although that time I was talking about Chekhov's Blue Teddy Bear).
- Cheerful Child: Aydee Smedry is always perky, happy and outgoing.
- Cool Airship, or maybe Cool Plane: The Dragonaut isn't technically an airplane that uses jet engines or an airship that uses oversize balloons to fly, but it is cool and it flies, and there isn't a trope for "Cool Silimatic Flying Glass Dragon" so I had to put this somewhere.
- Death by Newbery Medal: This trope isn't used, so much as it's repeatedly mocked. I always go on about how authors must hate mothers and dogs because they are always trying to write meaningful books that kill off one or the other, or sometimes even both.
- Department of Child Disservices: My child services worker was always telling me how useless I was. Turns out she was my mother. I know, great parents I have, right.
- Destructive Saviour plus Nice Job Breaking It, Hero plus Person of Mass Destruction: Hey, I did say I was good at breaking things. This comes into sharp focus at the end of the fourth book, when my defeat of an invading army also manages to do a lot of damage to the city I'm defending, as well as breaking the Smedry Talents.
- Discussed Trope: Sometimes the characters will discuss a trope, but more often I explicitly describe what tropes or Narrative Devices I'm using in my capacity as narrator.
- The Ditz: Australia Smedry isn't dim-witted. She just has trouble remembering that she is smart.
- Dungeon Crawling: Every time we infiltrate a library, ranging from a typical American local library to the Library of Alexandria. Complete with traps, monsters and villains.
- Eccentric Mentor: Grandpa Smedry is about as eccentric as they get.
- Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: The crystal swords used by the Knights of Crystallia.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Er, actually, dinosaurs are a bit annoying. They can be useful if you want to cause a distraction in a library, though.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Especially chain-saw wielding sharks.
- Eye Beams: Any Oculatory lens with "-bringer's" in the name (e.g. Firebringer's Lenses, Frostbringer's Lenses, etc).
- Kid Hero: Alcatraz Smedry, though I'm not nearly as heroic as people think I am.
- First-Person Smartass: You see, that is the sad, sorry, terrible thing about sarcasm. It's really funny.
- Foreshadowing: You'll notice that I often mention ideas I'm going to explain later in the book. Sometimes I do this because it makes nice foreshadowing. Other times, I'm just trying to annoy you. I'll let you decide which is which.
- Foregone Conclusion: Will Alcatraz Smedry be sacrificed by Evil Librarians? Will he be killed by a Dark Oculator? Will he die when he breaks his own flying dragon ship? Will he be killed in the deadly pit filled with sharks who are wielding chainsaws with killer kittens stapled to them? Of course not, because I'm still alive to tell the story. The suspense comes from finding out out I overcome obstacles and whether or not anyone else dies. Of course, Bastille totally dies at the end of book 2.
- Functional Magic: Even when the Free Kingdomers call it Silimatic Technology.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: I quote Kaz using "Rocky Mountain oysters" as an expletive. While this doesn't seem to go with his use of nuts as curses throughout the rest of the book, some people may know that Rocky Mountain oysters refer to an entirely different type of nut.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Oculators use lenses that have a variety of powers. Each type of lens has its own function. These include tracking lenses, lenses that shoot laser beams, lenses that generate whirlwinds, etc.
- Great Big Library of Everything: The Library of Alexandria is a massive dungeon like place with almost every book in the world, however it is run by undead librarians that try to steal your soul.
- Guns Are Worthless: Seriously, you've got better luck with a knife if you're going up against the Smedry Talents.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Bastille dies at the end of book two, which you probably didn't want to know, so that's why I'm putting it behind a spoiler tag.note
- Hidden Agenda Villain: Not even the other Librarians seem sure what Ms. Fletcher is up to. But I usually assume it's nothing good. Finding out she's my mother, Shasta Smedry just makes her mysterious motives harder to deal with.
- Humongous Mecha: The Evil Librarians have giant robots (and robats. Yes. Really.) as part of their arsenal. Bastille claims they are Awesome but Impractical, but they still pose a real threat in Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
- Human Sacrifice: So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians...
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Inverted. The Librarian minions can generally shoot just fine. It's just that Smedry Talents can make them almost impossible to hit. For example, Grandpa Smedry is always late to where the bullets are going to be, and guns tend to break when fired at me.
- In Medias Res, or maybe an Action Prologue: The opening of the first book start with me about to get sacrificed on an alter of outdated encyclopedias, but then I skip to a story of my childhood growing up, and leave the reader hanging.
- Insistent Terminology: there are most definitely no libraries in the Free Kingdoms. Those big buildings full of books are archives, all right? The Royal Archive in my home city even has a sign over the door saying "The Royal Archives (not a library!)".
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Of course, Our Dragons Are Different. For example, the Dragonaut is a dragon shaped flying ship, with six wings, and six legs. Oh, and it's made of glass, of course.
- It Runs in the Family: "A family full of eccentric, weird and sometimes insane relatives..." Yeah, that sounds like mine. We're especially noted for our recklessness, which annoys Bastille no end.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Because I do all my narration in first person, and I'm the main character in the book, there's no fourth wall for me. Sometimes, even within the dialogue, I'll makes a reference to how the events of the story would appear if I wrote them as my memoirs.
- Lemony Narrator: though I really prefer macaroni and cheese.
- Lethal Joke Character: Literally everyone with a Smedry Talent. For instance, Grandpa Leavenworth has a Talent for being late, and makes himself virtually invincible by doing things like arriving late to a spot where bullets are going to be, and my cousin Australia can be a Master of Disguise using her Talent for waking up ugly.
- Alcatraz, she is your mother.: My emotionally abusive case-worker turns out to be an Evil Librarian cultist. Then it turns out that she's my mother.
- Magical Library
- Magitek: Silimatic technology might be considered either this or Magic from Technology. Just don't let a Free Kingdomer hear you call it "magic."
- Making a Spectacle of Yourself: Sometimes it seems like the cooler a Lens is, the more uncool it looks.
- The Masquerade: The Hushlands are controlled by Evil Librarians who use their control of information to teach all sorts of lies about history, economics, geography, physics, etc. The Free Kingdoms are continents that have not yet been conquered by the Evil Librarians, so they don't even appear on Librarian-approved maps. For example, one of the Free Kingdoms is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You didn't really think there was nothing but water and tiny islands in all that space, did you?
- Medium Awareness: Not so much in the first few books, but Medium Awareness starts showing up a lot in the Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. For example, characters would refer to the "last chapter" or say that a trip took several chapters to complete. Of course, the fourth book is bizarre even by the standards of this series and this could be in large part because of my sterling narration.
- Meta Fiction: By the bucketful. For example, I constantly comment on my own Narrative Devices, usually as a way to convince you all how unheroic I am.
- Milkman Conspiracy: The aforementioned cult of evil librarians that control the world.
- Minovsky Physics: The various types of glass. And brightsand.
- Muggles: Hushlanders.
- Muggle Foster Parents: I went through dozens of sets of Muggle Foster Parents. None of them would keep me for long because of my unfortunate tendency to break their most valued possessions.
- My Little Panzer: Teddy bears that double as hand grenades.
- Noodle Incident: There is a story I could tell you about that, but as it involves egg beaters, it is not appropriate for young people.
- The Noun Who Verbed: Alcatraz shrewdly guesses that "She Who Cannot Be Named" must be so fearsome her name is taboo. Turns out people just can't pronounce it.
- Other Stock Phrases: "So, there I was..." is the opening for every book in the series.
- Out of the Frying Pan:
It seems that no matter what I did, I ended up in even more danger than I was before. One might even say I was "out of the frying pan and into the fire"... Personally I say "Out of the frying pan and into the the deadly pit
filled with sharks
who are wielding chainsaws
with killer kittens
stapled to them." However that one's having a rough time catching on.
- Painting the Medium: I sometimes use some unconventional text formatting to communicate things.
- Parental Abandonment: I grew up thinking I was an orphan, only to eventually find out that both my parents are Well-Intentioned Extremist types: one of them fighting for my enemies, and the other one pursuing a plan that might inadvertently destroy the world. Also, neither have much in the way of parental skills.
- Pink Is for Sissies: While the dragon shaped flying glass ship was awesome, I was not very happy about having to travel in the pink butterfly shaped glass ship. You'd think they could have found something more masculine.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: As everyone knows, all British are refined, calm, and well mannered, even if they are a bunch of dinosaurs.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Smedry family, although we're technically not royal, just highly-ranked nobility.
- Rule of Funny: My books aren't written to be funny. The reason they include all sorts of seemingly bizarre things is because that is what the world is really like. It is only because of Librarian Lies that you find dinosaurs with British accents funny instead of normal (if extremely annoying).
- Scary Librarian: Not all librarians are evil cultists. Some librarians are instead vengeful undead who want to suck your soul.
- Semantic Superpower: The Smedry family Talents.
- "I hadn't forgotten how my mother'd given Himalaya up to be executed, nor how she'd sold me her own son to Blackburn, the one-eyed Oculator. Or how she killed Asmodean".
- Quentin's nonsense phrases include "Wasing not of wasing is" and "Churches, lead, very small rocks, and ducks."
- "At this rate, it won’t be long before this story departs speaking of evil Librarians, and instead turns into a terribly boring tale about a lawyer who defends unjustly accused field hands. What do mockingbirds have to do with that, anyway?"
- I use Plato and the Platonic Cave concept to explain why Hushlanders never realize that they are being kept ignorant. I also use Plato to proof that somewhere, there must be a perfect slice of cheese cake.
- I quote a dinosaur saying "Honestly, claiming that velociraptors were the smartest dinosaurs. I knew a velociraptor in college, and he failed chemistry!"
- "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."
- I also reference The Count of Monte Cristo, Hamlet, and countless others. You could say that this is a Reference Overdosed series.
- Single-Use Shield: Bastille wears a jacket made from spun fibers of Defender's Glass. It can take one blow that by rights should kill her, but then it's ruined and she has to get another.
- Speak of the Devil: Subverted with She Who Cannot Be Named. She isn't called that because it summons her or because her name has become a curse upon the world, but because few people can pronounce her real name.
- Stock Yuck: Fish sticks are the most disgusting thing in the world. I had to invent a word (crapaflapnasti) to describe something that disgusting. This, of course, means that crapaflapnasti can only be used to describe fish sticks.
- Stun Guns: Both the Librarians and the Free Kingdoms have weapons that can put their targets into a coma for an indefinite amount of time. The cure for each is a secret that is not known to the opposing side, meaning, for example those that are put into a coma by Librarian weapons can only be revived by one of the few Librarians entrusted with the cure. While these weapons do reduce the death rates for warfare between Librarians and the Free Kingdoms, they don't result in complete Non-Lethal Warfare, as a lot of other weapons, like swords, don't have a non-lethal setting.
- Supernaturally Marked Grave: Allekatrase the First exists in a state of perfect stasis, owing to Allekatrase using his Breaking Talent on time itself there.
- Take That: The first book ends with Grandpa Smedry delivering a bit of a rant about how silly it would be to leave Alcatraz for a whole summer at a boring place he hates to live at, with people who aren't his real family and don't know anything about the magical world he's become a part of.
- Talkative Loon: Quentin, one of my cousins, has the power to say utter nonsense. It makes him an excellent spy, since he can arrange to be literally unable to reveal information no matter the torture without actually having to kill himself.
- Theme Naming: Inverted. The Librarians aren't named after mountains, and their enemies aren't named after prisons. The mountains and prisons are named after the people.
- The Nudifier: Stuff-eater teddy bear grenades are weapons being used against the Librarians. Guess, who gets hit out of the main characters? Alcatraz.
- This Is Reality: When people try to give you some book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them you don't read "fantasy," because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.
- Translator Microbes: The Translator's Lens allows the user to translate any written or spoken language - even the Forgotten Language.
- Unreliable Narrator: I Resemble That Remark!
- Unusual Euphemism: Shattering Glass!
- Grandpa Smedry tends to use alliterative exclamations like "Clustering Campbells," and Kaz will use various words likes curses. Even the often uttered "gak!" is occasional used almost like a swear.
- Villain Has a Point: The librarians are usually wrong about the dangers of letting silimatic technology be commonly used. However, they are unfortunately right about how giving everyone in the world Smedry talents, like my dad wants to do, would be the worst idea ever.
- Walking Tech Bane: Not just technology but pretty much everything. I even broke a chicken once. It's not just me; Smedry Talents in general tend to be particularly effective against Hushlander technology.