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The Christ Clone Trilogy by James Beau Seigneur is a Christian End Times novel series, fictionalizing the story of Bible prophecy being fulfilled Twenty Minutes Into the Future. As such, it technically qualifies as Science Fiction, but reads more like Techno Thriller mixed with Disaster Movie. The overtly supernatural content is introduced gradually from the second book onwards.
The story is told primarily from the viewpoint of the journalist Decker Hawthorne, and spans over several decades; it begins with chronicling his work on a scientific expedition to analyze the Shroud of Turin. An old friend of his, Professor Harry Goodman, is a member of the expedition, and later reveals in private that he has found living cells on the Shroud, which he plans to cultivate. Decker, though not particularly religious, is uncomfortable with the implications, and the two don't see each other for another several years. When he later meets the Goodmans' "adopted grand-nephew," Christopher, he can't help but suspect ... um, well.
Despite his initial unease, Decker quickly comes to think of Christopher as a very nice boy and good person. When the Goodmans die in a car accident, he becomes his legal guardian. But shadowy forces are at work, thinking the boy important to their vision of the world they wish to create. Moreover, as Christopher discovers that he has apparently inherited extraordinary abilities, it becomes clear to all that he has an important part to play in what is to come.
The trilogy spans (obviously) three volumes:
- In His Image
- Birth of an Age
- Acts of God
Provides examples of:
- All Myths Are True: The New Age cultist play on this to get the world ready to buy the lies of The Antichrist, who outright claims this to convince the majority of the religions of the planet to join him in persecuting the followers of God, who he paints as the villain at the center of this trope.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: One German character who comes to believe Hitler was unironically right get regarded as this by the Jews he murders and tortures.
- The Antichrist: Christopher Goodman.
- Anyone Can Die: Major characters, viewpoint characters, friends and family of the above, and Decker himself all bite the dust at various points throughout the series.
- Apocalypse How: Beautifully done done particularly in the second book, where a series of asteroid strikes manage to provide an almost-to-the-letter-literal interpretation of various Biblical prophecies while still being one hundred per cent grounded in scientific fact.
- Author Filibuster: Several characters make long speeches about why (fundamentalist) Christianity is the most reasonable faith there is. Perhaps unusually for Christian fiction, the villains also get to make their case, and it's not generally full of strawmen.
- Badass: Saul and Cohen are empowered as these by God.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: John, brother of Jesus is revealed to be an immortal who has been alive for over 2000 years and was partially responsible for the story of Prester John, though he didn't intend for it to happen.
- The Antichrist claims Lucifer was this for many different things, and even sells the lie that God, Lucifer, and all the other angels are a race of aliens.
- Caught Up in the Rapture: Subverted. When "the Disaster" (never referred to as "the Rapture" before the final installment) happens, the people who are raptured actually die. It's just their souls that are taken up to God.
- Clone Jesus: Well, duh.
- Consummate Liar: The Antichrist, Christopher Goodman is this in spades. He winds up lying to EVERYONE in the story and was doing so since he was a child. He even admits this with pleasure when Decker finally realizes it,
To tell the truth, something I do as little as possible these days.....
- For most of the story, he doesn't even have a Compelling Voice (a power he only explicitly uses once), he's just THAT good at being a deceiver.
- Milner has his own moments of this, but he's a small-time version of this compared to his boss.
- Cult: The Koum Damah Patar, an all-Jewish ascetic sect with apparent psychic powers. They dress in sackcloth and tattoo the name of God (YHWH) in their foreheads, but they are the good guys of the setting.
- The Lucius Trust is a far more subtle version until they no longer have to be later on in the series.
- Demonic Possession: The prophecy about 200 million horsemen (Revelation 9) is interpreted this way, on a continental scale. The result is High Octane Nightmare Fuel.
- Disc One Final Boss: Albert Faure Moore is this for the first book.
- The Dragon: Robert Milner, A.K.A. "The False Prophet."
- Technically speaking, the role is shared between him and Decker initially, with Decker acting as the non empowered version who works the propaganda on the mundane side of things, while Milner serves to be the superpowered version to bolster Goodman's own claims of divinity. However, Decker has a Heel Faith Turn after he realizes just how cruelly he was manipulated since day one.
- Easy Evangelism: One Orthodox rabbi is converted to Christianity by convincing him that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Messiah prophecies.
- Somewhat subverted for awhile though for Chaim Levin, as he holds out quite a bit until he becomes so sickened with the activities of The Antichrist that he becomes far more willing to hear this out, and his accepting this prompts a lot of others who follow his lead to do the same.
- Evil All Along: Decker figures this out about Christopher Goodman towards the end, and the whole world who was duped by his lies realizes this to their horror in the finale.
- Evolutionary Levels: The basis of much of the Antichrist's ruling ideology.
- Evil Versus Evil: Albert Moore is definitely not a nice guy, but his opponents are even worse.
- Exact Words: A lot of plot points hinge on these. In fact, The Antichrist tends to avoid outright lying by using a lot of taken out of context Bible verses to justify himself.
- Ironically, this does backfire on him towards the end, when Decker realizes the meaning of Tom Donafin's Exact Words to him, which winds up undoing all of Christopher's lies, forcing the latter to finally tell the truth for once.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Averted. Instead of disbelieving God when the divine judgments start hitting Earth, the populace turn into Nay Theists and join the vaguely super-naturalistic but assuredly anti-God Path of Inspiration instead.
- Heel Face Door Slam: In the finale, EVERYONE who follows The Antichrist discovers how screwed they are, and said Antichrist mocks them for figuring it out, telling them,
You made your choices, you always had a choice.
- Heel Faith Turn: While anyone who converts to God does this automatically, those who regret taking the Mark of the Beast are initially told they are too late, but are told, while leaving it deliberately ambiguous if it worked they still might be able to rid themselves of the Mark and still redeem themselves in eyes of God, but only if they consider the implications of the Bible verse: If thy right hand causes thee to sin.....
- Heel Realization: Milner comes to this realization far too late, realizing all the lies he swallowed just led him to Hell, prompting The Antichrist to laugh in his face.
- Decker has one when he realizes the one lie that Christopher Goodman has no explanation for that undoes all his other deceit. In the process, the latter comes clean, telling Decker how much of easily gulled patsy he had been since day one, all so Decker will wind up in Hell hating him. Decker instead has a Heel Faith Turn, which makes Goodman enraged when he realizes he he just prompted a soul to choose Heaven over Hell instead.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: The good guys of the story are framed as the villains thanks to a very clever campaign by The Antichrist and his minions to frame their actions as evil, and this is key to making The Antichrist look like The Hero for opposing them, and it also serves to turn people away from God in the process.
- Insistent Terminology: As Decker notes, "Life Completion Centers" is a sickeningly sweet way to refer to "Assisted Suicide Services", which are quite prevalent as the story wears on.
- "Communion" is The Antichrist's own euphemism for taking the Mark of the Beast, though since those who get it get a transfusion of his Clone Jesus blood, it makes sense.
- Killing people via guillotines is referred to a "renewal" or "liberation", since those who use them to kill dissidents are led to believe those that die will eventually be reborn with no memories of their former lives eventually. This euphemism is really one of The Antichrist's more insidious lies though, as he encourages this to make his followers more and more comfortable with mass murder, knowing all the while it's really just genocide under the premise of a comfortable lie to justify it.
- Immortality: The Antichrist has this thanks to his Clone Jesus status, and he conveys it to others with his own blood, in exchange for people taking the Mark of the Beast. And this turns out to be a lie, his blood does nothing, he just has demonic power slow and reverse aging to make people believe this is true.
- Just the First Citizen: The Antichrist makes a very big deal of not seizing ultimate power over the world, settling instead for an outward display of humility and rejection of said power while basically exercising it in all but name by using said false modesty to make it look like he assumes said authority reluctantly. Again, it's a lie meant to serve his ambitions of getting as many gullible souls to trust him so he can lead them straight to Hell
- Mark of the Beast: While otherwise followed in the exact spirit of the trope, as a suggestion by Decker to Goodman, who secretly gulled the former into making it, it has no bearing on the promises of Psychic Powers or Immortality promised those who receive it, it's merely done to prevent the latter from being given to those who would reject the former. Regardless, the symbolism is still a permanent rejection of God for those who take it.
- The Messiah: Played With. While The Antichrist is actually a intending evil for those he's claiming to save, he plays the outward role of this trope to the hilt while playing on his Clone Jesus status to retroactively canonize God as the real villain so he can lead people to believe he's really saving them from a God of Evil. The truth is the exact opposite, of course, but this lie is quite effective anyway.
- Path of Inspiration: The Antichrist uses a Parody Retcon of The Bible mixed with a mixture of various other religions and myths to sell people on how they need to reject God and explain how they can become gods themselves. Prior to him doing so, the Lucius Trust had been greasing the skids of the world's gullibility so they'd fall for this. He later reveals to Decker the full extent of how it was all an elaborate deception he set up and egged on for his own benefit later.
- Parody Retcon: Done by The Antichrist to The Bible, in order to sell people on the idea God is the real villain of the story.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Played straight. Beauseigneur offers a more "realistic" take on many of them than, say, Left Behind, but they all show up in order.
- He does, however, take a much more creative take on the ones that cannot be explained in a manner understandable via rational means, but the basic premise of the prophecies is always carried out.
- Psychic Powers: One of the stock promises The Antichrist makes is that his followers will get these. He does make good on those claims, but without revealing the catch: Those powers are provided by demons in exchange for them selling their souls, and will be yanked away once they have to face God's eternal judgment.
- To his particular horror, Milner in particular realizes just how badly he was led to his own destruction by aforementioned catch, and to Goodman's intense amusement, curses the latter for deceiving him as he is tossed into the Bottomless Pit.
- Rage Against the Heavens: The Antichrist encourages this to prevent people from turning to God, as his lies hinge on painting God as the villain.
- Religion Is Right: Premillennial futurist Christianity, that is.
- The Antichrist plays around with this. While he says that all religions are factual to some extent in regards to past and future events, he otherwise claims they (especially all the monotheistic ones especially) are wrong on how God Is Good. In fact, he encourages the rejection of religion in order to sell the claim God Is Evil.
- Satan: Satan is conflated with Lucifer, but with a twist. According to The Antichrist, Satan is a corrupted version of the word "Theatan", done because the "Th" sound was not translatable to other languages, so it's rendered as Satan to the human ear. Further, it's a supposed reference to the race of beings Lucifer is from, used as a slur.
- This is revealed to be a very obvious lie, and Goodman later admits he stole a term from Scientology and slightly modified it to make the lie work, though he also claims Scientology got the term from him.
- Scars Are Forever: God invokes this for all who die in his name rather than submit to The Antichrist. Decker discovers the scars from where he was decapitated remain even after his resurrection into the Millenial Kingdom, and he's told that God allowed all who were martyred to retain their scars to the extent it did not disfigure them, so as to allow everyone else to honor them for their willingness to die in His Name.
- Shown Their Work: The author really shines at this when writing many of the global disasters, particularly in the second book (see above). His take on the United Nations is a bit fantastic, but it takes far longer for it to reach One World Order levels of power as opposed to in Left Behind, and more of its basic functions are portrayed more accurately by the same measure.
- Spanner in the Works: Several appear in the story.
- Albert Faure Moore is one for Christopher Goodman as the Disc One Final Boss of the first book, trying to eliminate anyone who could prevent the latter from becoming Secretary General of the UN.
- Tom Donafin manages to be an even bigger one twice. First, he foils The Antichrist's attempts to change the circumstances of his prophesied death so he can deny God a victory by trying to have it done on his terms. Posthumously, his final words during his first moment of being the spanner provides the impetus to Decker's Heel Faith Turn, which triggers a severe Villainous Breakdown from Christopher Goodman.
- Strawman Political: The UN is portrayed as an evil empire in being, infiltrated to the bone with various New Age cultists ... who don't themselves exactly come across as sympathetic.
- In a bit of a subversion, said New Age cultists, while they are backed by a lot of rich and powerful people, they are stymied early on despite all that power, and are shown having to take a far more subtle approach to their Take Over the World ambitions for quite some time.
- Strawman Emotional: The Antichrist loves using this trope to make his enemies look bad, especially by trying to make his opponents look far more unhinged than himself.
- Take That: Most prominently, the major villains early on are "Alice Bernley" and her Tibetan "spirit guide."
- Taking You with Me: The Antichrist is well aware he's destined to ultimately lose, and he intends to deny God as many souls as possible out fo spite.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Most of the series is this (with the background set in the past and semi-present). The script was originally written in the 1980s, which shows in some sections.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Christopher Goodman works very hard to make himself look like the All-Loving Hero, because he needs to do this so he can paint God as the villain, and he's quite good at selling this lie to people.
- Wandering Jew: The mysterious leader of the Koum Damah Patar, Yokhanan Bar-Zebadee, also known as the disciple John.
- We Can Rule Together: The Antichrist makes this offer to Jesus. Predictably, it doesn't work.
- Wham! Line: The entire world finally realizes how they get suckered by The Antichrist when he refers to them, in Jesus' presence no less, as his "whores and sluts". That basically rips the veil off all his deceit in one shot, but Goodman intended it to be that way, as he wanted to see Jesus and all his now angry followers get mad at his deception of them into rejecting God.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Both sides actually weaponize this.
- The Antichrist uses the fact there are several events he can't control by spinning them to make God look bad for them. He does try to alter fate, or at least change the circumstances by arranging his own foreordained assassination to place by a killer of his choice, but God manages to outwit him and carry things out in a manner Goodman did not foresee, which angers him quite a bit.
- The side aligned with God tries to point out this very fact to warn people, but most don't listen because the Antichrist does a good job of framing them as evil for it.