TF: As sands through the hourglass …

Tribulation Force, pp. 399-400

A lot can happen in 18 months. Or not.

We land a bit awkwardly after our leap forward in time to learn that our heroes’ circumstances have changed, but they themselves have not. They have not grown or learned or discovered much of anything new about themselves or the world around them. The chapter that follows that abrupt “Eighteen months later” time-skip reads like we’re returning to a bad soap opera that we used to watch every day but haven’t seen in years.

I suppose the idea of a soap opera requires a bit of explanation these days. There aren’t many of them left post-TiVo and post-Oprah.

I’ve never been a fan of soap operas or a regular viewer of any soap, but I’m fascinated by the idea of them and I admire the high-wire act involved in their production. Consider the ceaseless work involved in creating and producing an hour-long drama every day. Five teleplays have to be written every week, 52 weeks a year. Actors have, at most, a few hours between receiving their lines and performing them, usually in a single take. The frantic rush of such a schedule means it’s impossible for the writers and actors to do the best work they might be capable of doing. A first take of a first draft doesn’t allow for much exploration or for care and craft. Yet over time, through sheer volume, the characters attain a kind of reality as months of hastily written dialogue and unrehearsed performances accrue to inform the scenes that follow.

That’s the kind of marvelous thing about soap operas, and I don’t want to seem like I’m sneering at them because — considering the enormous implausibility of the endeavor — it’s a miracle they work at all.

But the bigger downside of the soaps is that they also seek to be accessible to new viewers, or to former viewers returning after a long time away. So they strive to retain a familiarity and a constancy that makes it easy for new viewers to jump in in the middle or to pick up months after they left off. That means the characters cannot be allowed to change or grow or learn. And a story in which the characters do not change or grow or learn isn’t really a story at all — just a disconnected sequence of episodes. This procession of events — of tragedies, affairs, diseases, betrayals, reversals, abductions and evil twins — turns out to be meaningless. It isn’t allowed to mean anything to viewers because it doesn’t mean anything to the characters. If it meant anything to them, then they would have to learn and grow and change.

And so here we turn a single page in Tribulation Force and find, suddenly, that we have been away from our heroes for 18 months, missing out on the daily soap opera of their lives. Yet that turns out not to matter. Rayford Steele is still exactly the same person he was 18 months ago. Buck is still Buck. Chloe is still Chloe. Nicolae, Steve, Chaim and the rest are all unchanged and unaltered. The world around them is slightly different and the authors spend the rest of this chapter sketching out some of those changes, but the characters themselves may as well have spent the past 18 months cryogenically frozen.

I suspect that much of the reason for this great leap forward was the chance to offer an accelerated, condensed account of those developments that Jerry Jenkins needed to avoid describing in more detail either because they do not interest him or because he does not understand them (or, probably, both). For instance, skipping ahead allows Jenkins to gloss over the implausibilities and impossibilities of Nicolae Carpathia’s rise to global power. Neither Jenkins nor Tim LaHaye is able to describe or imagine how such a thing might really happen, or to deal with the many, many reasons why it never really could. But the time-skip lets them leap over such holes in their plot — their supposedly divinely ordained and prophesied plot — picking up again later after the implausible and the impossible has, somehow, become a fait accompli. The time-skip thus functions like Phase 2 in the Underpants Gnomes’ business model.*

It may suggest something about our authors that the romantic attachments of our two main heroes are another key point they chose to breeze past through the time skip. Here again I am of two minds. Part of me protests that this is too important to skip over — readers shouldn’t turn a single page and suddenly learn that Rayford is on the verge of marriage to some character we’ve never seen and heard mentioned only once. If we’re going to care about these characters and about their relationship, then we need to be shown some of the history and development of that relationship.

But then I think about what such necessary and important scenes would have been like as described by LaHaye and Jenkins and I stop protesting, deciding instead just to be grateful that I will be spared having to read any of that. If Rayford’s “courtship” of Amanda White had to happen, then it’s just as well that it happened offstage, in the interim we skipped.

The Steeles, we learn, are still living in the Chicago suburbs despite Rayford’s new job being based in New York City. “The strain of living in Chicago while flying out of New York showed on Rayford’s face,” we read, although presumably that strain appears rugged and manly rather than haggard and peaked.

For months it had been all he could do to look at himself in the mirror while dressing for work. Often he packed his Global Community One captain’s uniform, with its gaudy gold braids and buttons on a background of navy. In truth, it would have been a snappy-looking and only slightly formal and pompous uniform, had it not been such a stark reminder that he was working for the devil.

Yes, he’s still “working for the devil,” hating it and hating himself for doing it – scarcely able even to look himself in the mirror. He took the job as Nicolae’s personal pilot because Bruce convinced him that the best way to serve God was to meet the daily needs of the Antichrist. Rayford accepted the weird logic of that – which kind of makes sense if you accept LaHaye’s idea of prophecy – but he still despises his boss and his job and his daily routine. I would say that it was his conscience working on him, except that Rayford doesn’t seem to have a conscience.

I’m not sure how a uniform can be both “snappy-looking” and “pompous,” but the general description of the thing – a kind of 1970s drum-major style – is all wrong. Nicolae Carpathia is taking over the world, assuming unchecked absolute power, through sheer persuasion and charisma. For him to have any hope of succeeding, he’s going to have to do better with the optics, the style, imagery and fashion of his new global regime. Take a clunky name like “Global Community” and add clunky, gold-braided uniforms and this thing is never going to sell.

[Chloe] had even offered to move with him to New York, especially after Buck had relocated there a few months before. Rayford knew Chloe and Buck missed each other terribly, but he had his own reasons for wanting to stay in Chicago for as long as possible. Not the least of which was Amanda White.

“I’ll be married before you will if Buck doesn’t get on the ball. Has he even held your hand yet?”

Chloe blushed. “Wouldn’t you like to know? This is just all new to him, Dad. He’s never been in love before.”

This chaste courtship of Buck and Chloe is another factor explaining the need for the time-skip. They have been dating for a year and a half and they do not yet hold hands. A kiss would be, for them, unthinkable. This is such an unreal, unprecedented romance that it would have been impossible to render it on the page without making Chloe’s excuses for Buck like the one just quoted begin to sound strained, desperate and delusional.

“This is just all new to him,” might work for a week, or maybe for a month, but in real life, if someone refuses to so much as hold your hand for more than a year then you have to suspect something is deeply wrong. As a general rule, I’d say that you can get through three or four dates without so much as a kiss goodnight while still clinging to the belief that the guy is interested in you, but just trying to be a gentleman. After six dates — or 10, or 12 — you’ll start to suspect that he enjoys your company but isn’t actually attracted to women. But by the 20th date, or the 30th, you’d no longer be wondering if he might be secretly gay – by that point you’d be suspecting that he was secretly a serial killer, and that after his chaste, no-touching farewells he was sneaking off to some lurid subterranean chamber of horrors like something out of Criminal Minds or Silence of the Lambs.

Chloe and Buck don’t need to “miss each other terribly” just because she’s in Chicago and he’s in New York. Living in separate time zones doesn’t really change a relationship like theirs. Even when they are together, they do not so much as touch one another.

I cannot imagine how this could be sustained for a year and a half. Jerry Jenkins apparently couldn’t imagine that either, so he skipped past it, then quickly summarized it after the fact.

“We close on this house two weeks from tomorrow,” he said. “And then you either come with me to New Babylon or you’re on your own. Buck could sure make life easier for all of us be being a little decisive.”

“I’m not going to push him, Dad. Being apart has been a good test.”

I doubt that any relationship needs another “good test” after already being tested by more than a year of no-touch chastity. And if one still feels the need to create and apply “tests” to make up one’s mind after more than a year and a half, then I suspect one has really already made up one’s mind and that it’s probably time to move on. Especially if, you know, the world is ending and the universe is going to be ripped apart by a petulant god in only five and a half years.

But we also learned about two other developments from what Rayford just said. I don’t think either one of them is even slightly believable.

First we learned that the construction of New Babylon in the Iraqi desert is nearly complete – that this new global capital and most-massive-ever military base has been successfully built from scratch and is now a functioning, habitable city.

Not a chance. The task of creating a viable new city of any size in only 18 months, in the middle of nowhere, already strains credibility. The idea that this ex nihilo metropolis must also out-London London, out-Rome Rome, and out-New York New York makes this simply unbelievable.

Granted, my skepticism here is informed by a bit of experience and hindsight not available to the authors when they were slapping this book together 15 years ago. In 1996 it might not have been as altogether laughable that such an impossibility might seem more possible if one added the full concentrated effort of the United Nations. But here in 2011, the idea of the UN quickly and successfully completing a massive construction project in Iraq serves as yet another reminder that Tim LaHaye’s alleged “Bible prophecies” could never, ever come true in this world or in any world anything at all like this one.

The other thing we just learned from Rayford is that the housing market has supposedly bounced back enough post-Event that it is again possible to sell one’s home rather than just leaving the keys in the mailbox and walking away.

Here again we have the advantage of the wisdom of hindsight – the ongoing foreclosure crisis arising from the Great Recession makes it glaringly obvious to us that the Rapture’s effect on the housing market would be devastating and enduring. But even in 1996, that should have been obvious enough if the authors had given even a moment’s thought to what the economy of a post-Rapture world might be like. I’ve touched on this a few times earlier, but mainly just to note how vast the economic effects of the Rapture would have been and to marvel at how massive an oversight this is on behalf of the authors.

In the last book, when Buck was out car-shopping and apartment-hunting (see “LB: What a world, what a world”), I wrote about how strange it was that he seemed to be doing this in a world in which the Rapture had never occurred:

The economic impact of the Event would seem to be devastating. It’s hard to see any way that the world wouldn’t be plunged into a global depression that would make the 1930s look like a Golden Age. Tens of thousands of businesses — those that catered to children and parents — would be wiped out entirely, overnight. But every remaining business would find itself with a massive surplus of inventory and production capacity. Despite the millions of instant job vacancies from disappeared employees, there would still need to be massive layoffs as global demand drops by 30 percent or more. All those vacant homes point to all the mortgages, car loans and credit card debts that would suddenly be in default. So now the banks are failing — along with the insurance companies, and …

Why would someone by buying Rayford’s house? Why not just stake a claim on one of the millions of newly vacant ones? We know the buyers aren’t looking for a bigger home with room for their children, and we know they no longer care about moving somewhere with a good school system — so what’s the attraction to this particular house or neighborhood?

Anyway, Chloe adds that she hates “the idea of leaving Bruce alone at New Hope.”

“Bruce is hardly alone. The church is bigger than it’s ever been, and the underground shelter won’t be much of a secret for long. It must be bigger than the sanctuary.”

So one character, at least, has changed and grown since we saw him last.

Bruce’s underground shelter was originally conceived as a secret hidey hole for just four people – himself and his exclusive inner-, inner-circle of Rayford, Chloe and Buck. But now, 18 months later, it seems that Bruce’s circle has expanded. He’s begun making room for more people, trying to reach out to provide safety to the entire congregation.

Bruce has learned something. He has changed and grown. No wonder the authors decide to kill him off.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* The Underpants Gnomes were a bit in an episode of South Park, the irreverent cartoon created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone – that is, the prestigious, Tony Award-winning duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Originally intended, I think, as a spoof of dubious dot-com start-ups, the gnomes have become proverbial due to their personification of an all-too-common form of illogic. The gnomes — tiny creatures in pointed hats just like those garden statues — set about stealing underpants to get rich. They explain their plan this way: “Phase 1: Collect underpants; Phase 2: ?; Phase 3: Profit.” (Here’s a clip on YouTube.)

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 85: 'Sunday morning coming down'
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 86: 'Full House'
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 87: 'Episode IV'
The Left Behind franchise is coming for your children
  • Michael Cule

    The virginal Chinese couple does sound like the urban legend but I’m quite sure that people have been brought up in ignorance of the fleshy realities and been confunded by actual experience. The suggestion that Ruskin didn’t know that women have pubic hair until his wedding night has been cast in doubt in recent years but it is sure that though the idea of marriage and intercourse interested him, the reality for one reason or another didn’t. And abstinence only sex education would not be the disaster it is if people couldn’t be kept in ignorance of even the most basic facts.

    Oh, and the whole topic reminds me of a joke. A working class terraced house. In Yorkshire. The wife is reading a book about sex in marriage. After a while she looks up with a puzzled expression.

    “Harry, do we have sexual relations?”
    “Of course we do you silly cow!””Funny we never hear from them…”

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Bificommander

    I was kidding in the sense that since Catholics in LB are such gigantic strawman, wholly disconnected from what your average Catholic believes for the sole purpose of ridiculing it, adding this negative sterotype seemed a logical next step.

    I am an atheist btw, and on the serious side: I don’t think the current scandals say anything about the ‘average Catholic’ nor about the Catholic believes and doctrines. But the scandal and the response does, in my opinion, tell us something about the Vatican’s hyrarchy. The same power block that’s aggresively campaigning against any laws that would let people do things the Vatican doesn’t like them to do has seemingly used it’s influence to prioritize protecting it’s image as a moral authority above obeying the law, granting justice to the victims, or preventing further crimes. When they long-awaited apology came, someone had found it neccesary to include the child abuse cases as one of the various problems that were encountered by the priesthood, with the concept of women being appointed as priests being another one. In the same line. I think someone on the writing staff there really does seem to regret the abuse cases more as a doctrinal lapse on the part of the priests than as a crime with victims.

    Short version, I don’t think Catholicism as a religion has a problem. As an organization, it does.

  • Tonio

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree that the scandals are about the hierarchy rather than the doctrines or the believers, and I’ve protested when I’ve heard some extremists insist that every Catholic bears some guilt for the scandal.

    I think someone on the writing staff there really does seem to regret
    the abuse cases more as a doctrinal lapse on the part of the priests
    than as a crime with victims.

    While that’s possible, I see the more likely cause as simply the belief that what’s good for the hierarchy is good for the Church or the religion as a whole. What you state could be a  subconscious rationalization for protecting their power. Does it remind you of resentful whites who treat being accused of racism as worse than actually experiencing racism?

  • caffinatedlemur

    Yes, Buck & Chloe’s miraculous chasteness is still really strange, but did anyone else notice the veiled ultimatum Rayford is giving Chloe?

    “you either come with me to New Babylon or you’re on your own. Buck could sure make life easier for all of us be being a little decisive.”

    Either be under my household & my watchful eye, or get Buck to propose to you because if he doesn’t you’re going to be alone in Chicago. Nice Madonna you got there…would be a shame if something Hattie-like happened to you.

  • Anonymous

    Prescient you were in describing what happens when demand falls precipitously.  In the real world the continued low demand is keeping the economy in dire straits with high unemployment only instead of losing 1/3 of the consumers, we only lost 1/3 of their income. But wait, the effect is the same. 

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    The frantic rush of such a schedule means it’s impossible for the writers and actors to do the best work they might be capable of doing. A first take of a first draft doesn’t allow for much exploration or for care and craft.

    I do not believe this is true or fair. A friend of mine writes for a soap opera; what happens is that different writers develop different storylines and get given particular episodes, but the storylines are planned months in advance. There are deadlines, but it isn’t a frantic rush. 

    Likewise, they take an interest in developing the characters. They can’t change beyond recognition, but then real people don’t do that either. 

    Based on talking to my friend, I think soap opera writing involves a great deal more care and craft than you give it credit for.

    I don’t know any soap opera actors, but I think it’s perfectly possible there’s care and craft in their performances. If you play the same character for months or years, after all, you can make a case that every performance is also a rehearsal: by playing the character in one scene, you get familiar with their persona, their attitudes, their physicality, their essence, and you take that essence forward into the next scene.

    And come to that, frantic rush is not necessarily a bad condition to work under. I finished one book in exactly that, a frantic rush. The result was that I stayed in a state of permanent, high-wire imaginative tension that pushed me to make leaps and take decisions and jump from peak to peak; it was one of the most extraordinary months of my life. And it produced work I was very happy with. 

    Art always involves a degree of improvisation, and improvisation can happen fast. The idea that having or taking longer to create something means it’ll be better just isn’t true. 

  • muenchner-kindl

    Tonio: “I agree that the scandals are about the hierarchy rather than the
    doctrines or the believers, and I’ve protested when I’ve heard some
    extremists insist that every Catholic bears some guilt for the scandal.”

    The blame goes to the normal Catholics, too, for not leaving this corrupt broken system, once the systematic cover-up became known. There comes a line where you must leave an organization or group because of what they have done (or said) being against your morals and beliefs. Most Catholics are still kept in line not because they believe every dogma, but a combination of inertia, fear of Hell if they die outside the Holy and Only Church, and neighbours ostracizing them. But that’s not a moral attitude.
    If every Catholic left the Church in protest, not only would the tax revenue for defending the priests in lawsuits dry up, it would send a signal to the higher-ups that “the way you’re doing things is not okay, mmmkay? So change things, and we will consider coming back”.

    It’s similar to political parties: if the Republican/ Democratic party spokesperson says something that is reprehensible, either that guy has to go, or the party members. If they stay, they will be counted as agreeing with tea partiers etc.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not really that easy for Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.

    “Being Catholic” is as much a cultural identity as it is a religious identity.  There is immense familial and cultural pressure to remain Catholic even in the face of widespread institutionalized corruption and disgrace.  I don’t think anyone who wasn’t born into a Catholic family can really grok what tremendous cultural pressure there is to remain Catholic.  Beyond this, too, there is the strong belief that there is no salvation outside of the Church.  If you try to leave the Church, very often you are trying to overcome decades if not *generations* of dogma that says YOU ARE DAMNED FOR ETERNITY if you leave the Church

    Besides, what does it mean to “leave” the Church?  To stop paying tithes or donations?  To stop going on Sunday?  To decline the Sacraments?  To stop going to confession?  Any one of these can result in any number of ‘punishments’ that can be exceptionally frightening to someone who not only has been a devout Catholic all their life, but whose family has been Catholic for generations.

    This is an interesting perspective, however, because we have already established that one cannot hold the members of a faith to be responsible for the actions of other members of that faith, even if they claim to be acting in the name of that faith.  Does this extend to the laity of that faith in relation to the established clergy?  Other than shedding their Catholic identity and passively protesting a hierarchy which has established that it will not listen to the laity and has adopted a patronizing “We know what’s best for you” attitude, what can Catholics do which will not to their perception, put their souls and lives and culture at risk?

  • Lori

     This is an interesting perspective, however, because we have already established that one cannot hold the members of a faith to be responsible for the actions of other members of that faith, even if they claim to be acting in the name of that faith.  Does this extend to the laity of that faith in relation to the established clergy? 

     

    I would say that it doesn’t, at least not in all cases. The other members of the laity are peers. The hierarchy is the official church. The Pope’s position is ostensibly the Church’s position. That is not the same thing as Joe Schmo the pew-warmer saying something stupid or appalling. Also, the laity, at least en masse, as a power over the Church that no one really has over a fellow church member—-money. The inexcusable policies of the the Church hierarchy toward decades of sex abuse would literally be impossible if they didn’t have the deep pockets to support it. 

     Other than shedding their Catholic identity and passively protesting a hierarchy which has established that it will not listen to the laity and has adopted a patronizing “We know what’s best for you” attitude, what can Catholics do which will not to their perception, put their souls and lives and culture at risk?  

     

    Obviously no one who isn’t Catholic can possibly answer this question and I wouldn’t presume to try. My question looking into the situation from the outside is this—why don’t more Catholics feel that their souls, lives and culture are placed at risk by continuing to support an official Church that aids and abets horrible sexual abuse of vulnerable populations? 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Most Catholics are still kept in line not because they believe every dogma, but a combination of inertia, fear of Hell if they die outside the Holy and Only Church, and neighbours ostracizing them.

    Citation please, unless your name is Most Catholics and you’re speaking about yourself in third person.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    Cross-posted:

    @Kit Whitfield: A friend of mine writes for a soap opera; what happens is that different writers develop different storylines and get given particular episodes, but the storylines are planned months in advance. There are deadlines, but it isn’t a frantic rush.

    I don’t know anyone who writes for a soap opera but what I know about the industry reflects what you wrote. If one watches for a long period of time one can detect the different “voices” of different writers. I do know that storylines are worked out far in advance if, for no other reason, exigencies of scheduling. Stories have to progress around the holidays and life circumstances of the actors. People who go to conventions and frequent fan boards are often aware of stories far in advance of their appearance on the shows. Indeed there have been a number of times when story directions are floated and then nixed when fan response is not favourable.

    I very much second Kit’s statement And come to that, frantic rush is not necessarily a bad condition to work under. Some of the most inspired, brilliant and loved books, movies and radio shows were produced in this fashion. Indeed some people find that they do their best work only under conditions of urgency.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I very much second Kit’s statement “And come to that, frantic rush is not necessarily a bad condition to work under.” Some of the most inspired, brilliant and loved books, movies and radio shows were produced in this fashion. Indeed some people find that they do their best work only under conditions of urgency

    Why, hello there NaNoWriMo!

    (And the same logic pro and anti raises its head there, too; you get people insisting that it’s a waste of time because nothing good can be written in such a short time-frame, ignoring that the goal is a finished draft, not a publishable one; and you get people all for it saying the draft would never have gotten finished at all without the pressure of the deadline.)

  • Mackrimin

    Why would someone by buying Rayford’s house? Why not just stake a claim on one of the millions of newly vacant ones?

    Well, for starters, Rayford’s house has actually been lived in continously in the last year and a half, and so is likely to still be livable and structurally sound. This is in contrast to the houses that have been empty for that time, and are thus at the very least infested with pests.

    All this is, of course, assuming the empty houses are even _standing_ anymore, instead of having burned down because someone disappeared while making food. And of course with apartment blocks it’s even worse, since all it takes is even a single True Believer living here to doom all his neighbours.

    Finally… What makes you think you could just “stake” a vacant house? They still belong to someone, be that a still-living relative or the bank. Our fine economic system not only allows but actively encourages holding assets you don’t need but others might so you can impose your own extra tax on them, and this is unlikely to change just because you remove all the Real True Christians from the world.

  • Lori

    Since I’ve still got The Terminator on
    the brain I counter with perhaps my favorite declaration of love from from the
    movies, “John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know why at
    the time. It was very old. Torn…faded. You were young, like you are now. You
    seemed just… a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at
    that moment. I memorized every line, every curve… I came across time for you,
    Sarah. I love you. I always have.”   

     

     
    Ah, we have to find some other end of the world couple to use as a comparison to Chloe & Buck. I have a soft spot for Sarah & Kyle and getting LB cooties on them is making me sad. 

     

      I’m reminded of the old tradition of prospective grooms asking
    the woman’s father instead of her, which lives on today where some grooms ask
    the parents for their blessing. 

     

    True story. My parents have been married since dirt was new. When my dad decided to propose to mom he wanted to do things right, so he went and asked her father for his permission. My grandpa’s response was, “Don’t ask me, ask her. She’s the one who’ll have to live with you.”

    My grandpa died when I was 10 and I still miss him. 

  • Anonymous

    True story. My parents have been married since dirt was new. When my dad decided to propose to mom he wanted to do things right, so he went and asked her father for his permission. My grandpa’s response was, “Don’t ask me, ask her. She’s the one who’ll have to live with you.”

    I attended a very formal church wedding once, where the minister asked, “Who gives this woman in marriage?” and the bride’s father stepped forward to say “She gives herself, of her own free will.”

  • Amaryllis

    I attended a not-very-formal wedding recently, second marriage for both.

    Celebrant: Who gives this woman to be married to this man?
    Bride’s children and parents: We do!
    Celebrant: Who gives this man to be married to this woman?
    Groom’s daughter and nieces: We do!
    *laughter all around*

    No, a woman’s children don’t own her any more than her parents do, but it was a cheerful little moment.

  • Anonymous

    Buck and Chloe are not only RTCs, they’re shiny new converts.  So I can see them waiting for marriage to have sex.

    Exactly.  In this universe, there’s a very understandable reason why Chloe and Buck aren’t getting it on yet: they’re terrified of eternal hellfire.  I would be too, if I lived in their world.  You do not mess with TurboJesus.  I think the conversation between the Steeles would realistically go something like this:

    RAYFORD: So, sweetie, it’s been eighteen months and I haven’t seen you and your boyfriend even hold hands yet.  Why is that?

    CHLOE (cowering, wide-eyed, trembling): Because God is real, and he is ALWAYS WATCHING.  [rocks back and forth, chews off fingernail]

    RAYFORD: Okey-doke.  Say, what sounds good for lunch?  Boston Market?

    The problem is that L&J don’t want to present their God as somebody who induces twitching terror in his followers (just in his enemies), so they can’t go this route, and instead have Chloe all coy and saucy like hers is the most natural situation in the world.

    The other problem with the hellfire explanation is that, as noted, it makes no sense why Buck and Chloe would wait a year and a half to make their relationship safe and legal in the fiery, judgmental eyes of God.  If I were a young man in Buck’s shoes, and there was a lady I was sweet on, and we’d reached the cookie-sharing stage of our relationship, the very next day I’d be heading to Target to buy a male chastity belt for myself and an engagement ring for her.  You can’t be too careful, even if you think you’re already saved; Bruce Barnes can tell you all about that.

  • Tonio

    I had read that male chastity belts existed but were far less common than the female ones. Apparently the more common device for males had nothing to do with intercourse, but was instead used by parents to prevent their sons from puling themselves through puberty.

  • Lori

     In this universe, there’s a very understandable reason why Chloe and Buck aren’t getting it on yet: they’re terrified of eternal hellfire.  

    This is indeed an excellent reason for them not to engage in premarital hanky-panky-spanky. It’s not a good reason for them not to be married.

    CHLOE (cowering, wide-eyed, trembling): Because God is real, and he is ALWAYS WATCHING.  [rocks back and forth, chews off fingernail]  

    This is possibly a good reason for them never to have sex at all (not everyone enjoys being watched). The thing is, they do eventually get married and have a child. 

    There are many perfectly reasonable ways to write a post-rapture relationship. L&J, as per usual, settled on the one that fails to make any sense at all.

  • Caravelle

    Wooo ! Meet the bride and Bruce dying soon ? But what will we count down to next ???

    I would say that it was his conscience working on him, except that Rayford doesn’t seem to have a conscience.

    Of course not. By expressing his distaste for Nicky MenezAre Rayford is doing nothing more than marking his allegiance to Team Tribble. Team Tribble members are supposed to hate Team Antichrist members, so Rayford expresses hatred of the Antichrist.

    Notice how this expression of hatred comes up at the end of a paragraph describing Rayford’s spiffy new uniform. Nice try on being sneaky Jenkins but I see what you did there.

    Speaking of Antichrist, I came across this nice song recently :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-vDhYTlCNw
    and a creationist poster who saw the same link called it an “antichrist song”. So you know it’s good !

  • Bificommander

    Awesome song. I hope Fred sees it too, I think he’d like it.

    It reminds me of a plan for an RPG game story I had. It would be kind of a JRPG. Now, the revelation that whatever Christian Church equivalent is *gasp* evil in JRPGs is by this point about as suprising as the suspect that was arrested 12 minutes into the detective show turns out to be innocent. That alone is a good reason to throw that one out. But, based in great part on my experiences on Slacktivist, I thought I’d found a nice alternative. The ‘bad’ faction of the church would lock themselves in the room holy scriptures (that I imagined would be in the form of large crystal blocks with small pieces in them, that would just be pretty sparkles from most angles, but from a few specific angles the sparkels would form words. If you’re gonna leave a message to your creation, do it in style I say) and study it intently to derive the pure truth from the Gods’ words to his creations. The ‘good’ faction would agree on the importance and divinity of the scriptures, but stress that it is a bad idea to study it only and lock yourself away from the true gift of the Gods: The world, life… the scriptures were more of a troubleshooting guide because humans (or whatever fantasy equivalent races I could come up with) aren’t perfect and can’t understand everything the Gods meant for the world. But just studying the guide without ever looking at the world is pointless. It’d be like Fred’s analogy of the Bible as map. It’s important to him, but if the place where you think you are on the map doesn’t look anything like where you can see you’re standing, you’re reading the map wrong. (Can’t find the article right now, only the one about Al Mohler seller of defective maps, and that one I didn’t find quite as good)

    Anyway, long tangent. Guess the essence is Thanks for the song, and thanks for the slacktivist site, and all its posters.

  • Anonymous

    What really bothers me about the Chloe and Buck thing is, why couldn’t Chloe ever think of just holding Buck’s hand?  No matter how “traditional”, meek, passive, and submissive she may be, I just can’t imagine any woman who is sexually attracted (or even just romantically attracted) to a man to be too shy to reach out and touch his hand.  I admit I haven’t been following the series since the beginning so I don’t know how passive Chloe is, but I still can’t imagine her being so passive that she would considering taking his hand as “making the first move”.  I really think that most women would stop waiting and kiss the guy or move on and find someone else.  It really is baffling that the authors seem to have never considered the possibility of this woman kissing her boyfriend instead of waiting for him to kiss her.

    I don’t have a problem believing the virginity.  Many people strive for that and a few even achieve it.  But even most people who waited for marriage have held hands and even kissed before marriage and felt perfectly fine about it.

  • Mau de Katt

    In the Millenium, they would live and labor together with [their son]
    Kenny and raise him, but as there would be no marrying or giving in
    marriage, their relationship would be wholly platonic.

    Yanno, it just occurs to me — “Traditional Christianity” (and especially RTC-dom) reads this as a way to euphemistically say that there will be no sex in heaven, because on Planet Earth, one is allowed to have sex ONLY in the confines of a traditional one man/one woman Christian Marriage.   But that Is NOT what it actually says

    One of the LaJenkins Rules Of Real True Christianity [TM] is that the Bible must be interpreted literally, so we have the final armies at Armageddon, including TurboJesus Hisveryownself, riding actual horses (which is incredibly archaic and downright useless, if not just plain silly, in a “near-future” modern warfare setting); real-horse-headed-talking-real-giant-locusts; building Antichrist HQ/Best Modern City Evar in the Iraqi desert in just 18 months, etc.

    So — the actual, literal, plain-text reading of that particular Bible passage is that no one will be getting married in heaven.  I take this to mean that in heaven, one can have sex with anyone and everyone whom one chooses.

  • Anonymous

    Before you guys get carried away regarding Buck and Chloe’s chaste relationship, I should note that I read ahead later in the chapter to the flashback of their first kiss — which takes place about six months into the 18-month leap…
     

    He embraced her and pulled her close. Her hands were at her sides, and her cheek was on his chest. They had held each other before, and they had walked hand in hand, sometimes arm in arm. They had expressed their deep feelings for each other without mentioning love. And they had agreed not to cry and not to say anything rash in the moment of parting. 

    [redaction of pointless blather] 

    Buck had already planned his first kiss. He had hoped to find a reason to simply brush her lips with his at the end of an evening, say good night, and slip away. He didn’t want to have to deal with her reaction, or deal with kissing her again just then. It was going to be meaningful and special, but quick and simple, something they could build on later. But now he wanted her to know how he felt. He was angry at himself for being so good at writing but so incompetent at telling her to her face how much she meant to him. 

    [redaction of additional pointless blather] 

    Her tears rolled over his hands, and she began to say, “How would I—?” But he lowered his mouth to hers, cutting off her words. And it was no quick touch of the lips. She raised her hands between his arms, wrapped them around his neck, and held him tight as they kissed. She pulled away briefly and whispered, “Did you only say that because you’re leaving and—” But he covered her mouth again with his. A moment later he touched her nose with the tip of his own and said, “Don’t doubt my love for you ever again. Promise.”

  • Lori

    That is so wrong. I think I’m going to stick with thinking of them improbably and illogically chaste because it’s better than what’s actually in the books. 

  • Anonymous

    He didn’t want to have to deal with her reaction, or deal with kissing her again just then.

    That’s not closest case or serial killer, that’s textbook sociopath.

    They had held each other before, and they had walked hand in hand, sometimes arm in arm.

    There is something… backwards about that.  These appear to be listed in ascending order of “seriousness” – but it seems like “holding each other” is a lot closer to wet hot monkey-lovin’ than walking “arm in arm.”  I mean – walking arm in arm is what the coach does when you’ve just gotta make that play, slugger.

  • Bificommander

    Well, as far as sappy love scenes go, that’s no too terribly written. Except for the obvious part where this is Buck kissing her to shut the uppty woman up, and ending with a demand that she promises she’ll never doubt that he means well for her. With any other authors I might just put that down to me thinking too much about a poor formulation of an otherwise romantic guesture, but this is L&J we’re talking about. I can’t assume this isn’t gender politics disguised as a romantic scene.

  • Lori

     Except for the obvious part where this is Buck kissing her to shut the uppty woman up, and ending with a demand that she promises she’ll never doubt that he means well for her. 

    Yes, the kiss is of the “shut up, turn off your brain and abandon your survival instincts” variety. Now that’s real love. It’s also a nice touch that in the midst of romancing Chloe Buck manages to squeeze in a self-congratulatory thought about how good his writing is. Nothing like a delusional hero. Then there’s the crying. Chloe cries enough over his stupid blah, blah, blah that “her tears rolled over his hands”. 

    I can’t even. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s also a nice touch that in the midst of romancing Chloe Buck manages to squeeze in a self-congratulatory thought about how good his writing is. Nothing like a delusional hero.

    What are the implications of the fact that Romeo is a stand-in for Jerry Jenkins?

  • Lori

     What are the implications of the fact that Romeo is a stand-in for Jerry Jenkins?  

    I can’t even think about that. I just ate lunch and I’d like it to stay down. 

  • Anonymous

    PETER FALK: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure.  This wasn’t one of them.”

    YOUNG FRED SAVAGE: Ugh.  Grandpa, I thought you said this wasn’t gonna be a kissing book!

    PETER FALK: These are very important plot points here.  There’s character development, there’s —

    YOUNG FRED SAVAGE: [beseeching look

    PETER FALK: All right, all right.  [flips ahead]  “Eighteen months later, World War III happened.”

    YOUNG FRED SAVAGE: World War III is good!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    “gaudy gold braids and buttons on a background of navy”

    Really?  That’s supposed to be gaudy? The dress uniforms of Marines are gaudier than that.  Even the Army. Even the SS!  And they’re based on something meant to be hard to see in combat. And, hey, it’s not like Nicolae’s pilot is trying to avoid being shot at. It’s a ceremonial uniform at worst.
    Seriously, field combat uniforms pre 1900 were much gaudier than anything you could do with those simple elements. Did these people every see what a zouave or a Guards Chasseur dressed like?  Is Rayford forced to wear a pelisse and a bearskin in the cockpit?
    Okay, sure, it’s silly to dress up someone no one ever sees in a fancy uniform, but then airline pilots have uniforms, too. This sounds more like a 19th century Bavarian train conductor’s uniform.  Except less gaudy.

    Remember, it’s axiomatic in war that the side with the best uniforms loses.  Maybe Jenkins heard that somewhere and decided to give Nicky a taste for fabulous uniforms for every designated office in the NWO.
    Which he personally designed, of course.

    Or possibly, he just had one made for Rayford to display what a pompous ass he is, knowing that Rayford would secretly love it and hate himself for it.

  • Anonymous

    I told you!  Aiguillettes and picklehaube!  PICKLEHAUBE!  You don’t get much ‘gaudier’ than that!  And I rock the idea that the antichrist’s personal pilot is wearing a pickle-spike helmet! IN the cockpit!

    Maybe I just like the word ‘picklehaube.’

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Well, the Grande Armee certainly outdid the Prussians in gaudiness. 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GericaultHorseman.jpg
    So did the French 2nd Empire poliu with the red trousers. (That’s why the Prussians won in 1815 and 1870!) But when the Kaiser dropped the Picklehaube merely because it was insufficiently shrapnel proof and sort of a ‘kill me’ flag for British snipers, that’s when they lost WWI.  That follows somehow, I’m sure.  If necessary, I can offer a mined quote from somebody. Maybe Einstein or a founding father.
    Anyway, I digress.
    The more I think of it, the more I’m sure Meta-Nicky designed the most pompous uniform he could think of specifically for Rayford to be forced to wear.  It’s probably wool, too.
    Unfortunately, as Nicky is gay, his idea of tacky is what Rayford thinks is snappy and emblematic of his high status.  Thus does the RTC once again foil the plans of the Antichrist–this time through the kind of taste that thought up the uniforms for cardinals.

  • Tonio

    Wait…is Nicolae gay in the sense that he’s attracted romantically and sexually to other men and acts on those attractions? Or is he gay in the twisted RTC sense, where sexual desire is amorphous and “gays” are simply people who refuse to obey the rules for copulation? (I once heard someone describe seeing two hardcore outlaw bikers in a bar, both men, who were straight but kissed each other on the mouths simply to be rebellious.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    “Wait…is Nicolae gay in the sense that he’s attracted romantically and sexually to other men and acts on those attractions? Or is he gay in the twisted RTC sense”He’s evil.  How could he not be gay in L&J world? How could he not be gay and attempt to hide it until such time as he can ‘force it down everyone’s throat’? If that requires being obviously straight most of the time, that just shows that ‘gay’ is a choice–an evil choice. Like voting Democratic.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    “Wait…is Nicolae gay in the sense that he’s attracted romantically and sexually to other men and acts on those attractions? Or is he gay in the twisted RTC sense”He’s evil.  How could he not be gay in L&J world? How could he not be gay and attempt to hide it until such time as he can ‘force it down everyone’s throat’? If that requires being obviously straight most of the time, that just shows that ‘gay’ is a choice–an evil choice. Like voting Democratic.

  • Tonio

    He’s evil.  How could he not be gay in L&J world?

    Sounds like those two think of homosexuality as another manifestation of evil, as if gays were people who were seduced by the dark side. (Would make for some strange Sidious/Vader slash.)

    If that requires being obviously straight most of the time, that just shows that ‘gay’ is a choice

    There are many people who indeed believe that orientation is defined by behavior and not the other way around. These are the ones who may actually believe that closeted celibate gays count as straight.

  • Rikalous

    Sounds like those two think of homosexuality as another manifestation of
    evil, as if gays were people who were seduced by the dark side. (Would
    make for some strange Sidious/Vader slash.)

    If making out with another dude got me force lightning powers, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Hell, I’d do it just to be able to force choke people, especially if it worked over the internet. Incidentally, your metaphor makes the “join me” scene in the original trilogy a great deal more disturbing.

  • Bificommander

    Perhaps it’s like why he’s supposedly going to (try?) to make Hattie have an abortion. You’d think a global despot, or the incarnation of satan, wants to spawn a bloodline. But no, abortion is evil so of course the ultimate evil wants to do it. Or perhaps there’s actually 2 rules on the evil overlord list Nicky did read:
    18: I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
    19: I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.

  • Bificommander

    Perhaps it’s like why he’s supposedly going to (try?) to make Hattie have an abortion. You’d think a global despot, or the incarnation of satan, wants to spawn a bloodline. But no, abortion is evil so of course the ultimate evil wants to do it. Or perhaps there’s actually 2 rules on the evil overlord list Nicky did read:
    18: I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
    19: I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.

  • Anonymous
  • Rikalous

    Is the badass facial hair part of the uniform? Because if I was the despot, it totally would be.

  • Anonymous

    Or possibly, he just had one made for Rayford to display what a pompous
    ass he is, knowing that Rayford would secretly love it and hate himself
    for it.

    I can picture Rayford complaining to Nicky Colonel Bob that his uniform looks like every other pilot’s uniform.  What’s the point of being the world’s greatest pilot if you don’t immediately stand out in the airport lounge?  Because his assistant spends all of her time rearranging furniture and sending flowers to random people for unfathomable reasons, Nicolae doesn’t want to go through the ordeal of hiring a pilot again.  His staffing problems are legendary at this point.  Nicolae just calls a uniform shop for the most pretentious doorman or skycap uniform they have.  Rayford, of course, never gets the joke since he mistakes the confused glances and stifled laughter as jealousy and giddiness from being in the presence of the world’s greatest pilot.

  • Lori

     Did these people every see what a zouave or a Guards Chasseur dressed like? 

     

    I’ve recently been reading about the zouave groups that formed in America just before and in the early days of the Civil War*. Their outfits were quite something. 

    Adam Goodheart talks about them in his new book, 1861: Civil War Awakening.   

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Yep, zouave tactics were a French innovation in tactics for light troops.  Basically, they ran instead of marching and ducked when enemies shot at them.  But all that tended to stick were the cool uniforms. Which attracted bullets.
    Keep in mind that normal line soldiers in the French army wore RED trousers in combat well into the first world war, well after everyone else had gone to drab, difficult-to-shoot-at colors.  You know, against entrenched machine guns.
    It didn’t work out so good. But the change was mighty unpopular.

  • Lori

     Yep, zouave tactics were a French innovation in tactics for light troops.  Basically, they ran instead of marching and ducked when enemies shot at them.  

    Yes and the early American zouave groups were really more personal improvement and performance than militia. At one point Goodheart refers to them as the Cirque de Soleil of their day. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    And the primary requisite for joining this elite group was, of course, the ability to afford the fancy uniform.

  • Lori

    I actually think rich patrons supplied a lot of the money for uniforms and practice space and whatnot. The young man who ran the group was a broke shop clerk and so were a lot of the other members. They ended up doing a huge performance tour around the northern states, complete with cheering crowds greeting them like rock stars. Someone made money off that and it wasn’t the zouaves themselves.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Oh, certainly, although you want to keep in mind that there were lots of zouave units.  ONly the officers tended to be rich. Sometimes just the Colonels.  They were, prewar, rich men’s playthings in many instances, and of course, rapidly ceased to exist once actual shooting began.  Bond tours were about all they did after that.  They died too fast and the uniforms were too expensive.  Prior to that, the organizers paid for uniforms and trotted the men out so they could stand at their head in cool uniforms as ‘elected’ colonels.  Once the prestige factor came to be known, they proliferated.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Oh, certainly, although you want to keep in mind that there were lots of zouave units.  ONly the officers tended to be rich. Sometimes just the Colonels.  They were, prewar, rich men’s playthings in many instances, and of course, rapidly ceased to exist once actual shooting began.  Bond tours were about all they did after that.  They died too fast and the uniforms were too expensive.  Prior to that, the organizers paid for uniforms and trotted the men out so they could stand at their head in cool uniforms as ‘elected’ colonels.  Once the prestige factor came to be known, they proliferated.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Something else about soap operas that is relevant to the interests of this blog: soaps provide jobs. Lots and lots of good, steady jobs in an industry best described as “Nice work, if you can get it.” Stables of writers, directors and actors, supported by huge numbers of below-the-line folks, working day after day, week after week, all hours of the day and night, doing in hours what most shows have days or weeks to complete. My father was for more that 35 years a stage electrician/carpenter in TV and legit theater in L.A. When it came to TV, a soap was the ideal job. Same work location, solid hours, shows that seldom go on hiatus (and when they did, there was a mad rush to put several weeks of shows in the can). The most financially lucrative years of his life (six figures one year) were working soaps (he did DOOL, Passions, and Sunset Beach at different times over the years). Now, soaps are all but gone, and a lot of work with them.

    I’d actually forgotten that the Buck-meister was supposed to be a 30-year-old virgin. Probably because it’s another of those “No, there is no way” character and plot points in LB. It’s yet another case of the difference between what we are told and what we are shown. L&J tell us that Buck is this shy, chaste man, saving himself for his soulmate. What they show us is a chauvinistic womanizer, who successfully flirts with anything in a skirt insensible shoes. They tell us he’s looking for Miss Right, but show us that he’s looking for Miss Right Now. We’re not even seeing a man who is overcompensating because he’s socially awkward, or maintaining an image, or hiding in the closet. No, he’s a dashing romance novel hero, who wants us to believe he’s an RTC-friendly sexual neophyte.

    As far as that “distracting feelings” exchange from Kingdom Come, in a sane world, you would have to conclude that passage with Buck and Chloe smiling sadly at each other. Meanwhile, that is a spectacular level of consistency for a pair of main characters: even after centuries, Chloe is still a doormat, and Busk is still a passive-aggressive narcissistic.

  • Anonymous

    I once heard someone describe seeing two hardcore outlaw bikers in a bar, both men, who were straight but kissed each other on the mouths simply to be rebellious.

    Hunter S. Thompson describes the Hell’s Angels doing this all the time just to freak out the straights. Especially if someone brought out a camera, you’d see big, hairy, very, very hetero men making out like drunk teens. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson
  • Anonymous

    Lol, we need some kind of warning then linking to TVTropes.  Thankfully this time I was able to close the tab without clicking any links, but in the past I have gotten sucked into it for hours.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Lol, we need some kind of warning then linking to TVTropes. Thankfully this time I was able to close the tab without clicking any links, but in the past I have gotten sucked into it for hours.

    Aw’yep

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    It’s all part of my assimilation plot to troperize anything and everything I come into contact with.  You will be assimilated., your cultural and fashionable distinctiveness will be added to our own.  Resistance is futile.

    (^_^)

  • Rob Brown

    I enjoy TV Tropes, but I’m not too happy about how rigid it’s getting.  “This is supposed to go in YMMV, not on the main page!”  “No natter!”  “Don’t say ‘I’ or ‘This troper’!”  Etc.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Absolutely.  Natter is one of my favorite parts about TVTropes >.>;

    *sigh*

    But I still enjoy it overall; and it’s beautifully effective to use a trope as shorthand in a lot of different situations.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    Hunter S. Thompson describes the Hell’s Angels doing this all the time just to freak out the straights. 

    Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons used to kiss at the end of “Thunder Road”. 

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow, put me on the side of if that was their first kiss I’d much rather them have in fact spent the past 18 months not touching either. There is absolutely no love or tenderness in Buck’s actions towards Chloe in that scene at all. He’s resentful her icky femminine wiles have hogged his attention away from what he really cares about, his work and more so the laurels he gets from it, he’s annoyed at her expressing her emotions by crying, he doesn’t even really want to kiss her, but hey anything to shut her up and then he can rinse his mouth out with Listernine and abuse himself before bed to thoughts of Ray washing his plane in jean shorts.

    Bleh. Again I counter it with a genuinely lovely moment between two characters, “I can promise you two things, one, I’ll always look this good, two, I’ll never give up on you…ever.”

  • Anonymous

    There is absolutely no love or tenderness in Buck’s actions towards Chloe in that scene at all.

    To be fair, I did redact most of the dialogue, which goes something like…

    Chloe [sobbing]: I’m going to miss you more than you’ll miss me.
    Buck: Don’t say that.
    Chloe: But it’s true.
    Buck: Is not.
    Chloe: Is –.

    At any rate, I’m sure the scene in its entirety will be analyzed in greater detail in a few weeks.

  • noyatin

    Just a quick shout-out to soap operas.

    For four years in the mid-90s I worked a full-time job and attended law school in the evenings.  Needless to say, my brain was on overload, and when I got home, too tired to sleep and too tired to think, I would watch General Hospital.  I had never watched a soap before, and stopped watching shortly after passing the bar, but I am very grateful for the experience.  For the most part, GH provided something to stare at that required nothing on my part.  However, between ’94 and ’95, amid the evil twins, bouts of amnesia, and serial adultery, the writers and actors of GH produced a most marvelous and subtle storyline and used the long story arcs of soaps to create a drama that could not have been produced in any other medium.

    Robin, the teen-age good-girl sweetheart (played by the wonderful Kimberly McCullough, who had literally grown up on the show)  fell in love with Stone (played by another fine actor, Michael Sutton), despite her family’s objections.  They declared their love in public by playing the death scene from Romeo and Juliet at a ball benefiting AIDS research.   Robin/Juliet’s lines included, of course, the following:

    What’s here? a cup, closed in my true love’s hand?Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end:O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly dropTo help me after? I will kiss thy lips;Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,To make die with a restorative.

    During the next two years, Stone learns that, during his life on the street, he had contracted HIV, which developed into full-blown AIDS, eventually killing him.  Before learning this, however, he slept with Robin, and she became infected (by a figurative “poison kiss”) as well.  The story of the two years between the scene from Romeo and Juliet and Stone’s death was a long, gentle meditation on love and death in the plague years.   

    I cannot imagine that story being told as thoughtfully or as well in any other medium.  I consider myself privileged to have been watching while it unfolded. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Coming in late so forgiveness please if this has been mentioned already:

    “The strain of living in Chicago while flying out of New York showed on Rayford’s face”

    It’s the end of the world and as ever-greater waves of death and destruction are unleashed the thing making Rayford look a little stressed is his commute.

  • P J Evans

    I’d like to introduce Rayford to the pilot I know whose commute is from Washington State to North Carolina. Chicago to NY is nothing.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I find Buck’s awkwardness to be… unbelievable, in this regard. 

    We are told that he is a dashing, handsome, masculine, go-getting globetrotting reporter.  Yet we are also told that he is a virgin well into his adulthood.  I can accept the being a virgin at that age part (I knew a woman who did not lose her virginity until thirty-eight after which she aggressively made up for lost time) but what does strike me as odd is that he seems to have no experience in dealing with women to this point. 

    Sure, maybe Misses Right never came along, so he never lost his virginity.  Understandable, though unlikely.  But if he has the attractive qualities that the authors’ say he does, one would think that, at some point in his life, a woman has approached him with amorous intentions.  He had no particular moral objections to sexuality prior to marriage, and while he might not have ever felt like it was the right time for him to “go all the way”, he would have had to go at least part of the way before he can really test for that feeling. 

    Most likely, it simply never occured to L&J that a woman could be the instigator of a relationship. 

    Though, another thought did occur to me.  Maybe Buck’s hesitation comes from some kind of trauma?  Maybe something happened to him in his early life that left him emotionally scarred and afraid of intimacy?  Was he molested as a child?  It would certainly explain a lot of his behavior.  Suddenly he seems less like a jerkass and more like a tragic “broken bird“-style victim. 

  • Anonymous

    [W]hat does strike me as odd is that he seems to have no experience in dealing with women to this point. Sure, maybe Misses Right never came along, so he never lost his virginity.  Understandable, though unlikely.

    From Prequel #2:
    (Bear in mind that Jerry Jenkins wrote this ten years after he penned Tribulation Force.)
     

    He still enjoyed dating, but he ran from any girlfriend or even acquaintance who hinted at caring for him in a real way. Girl pals accused him of fear of commitment. Maybe they were right, but he didn’t think so. He had a one track mind [his goal: get an internship at Global Weekly]; that was all.

    The Regime, p 109

     
    Later our hero goes out on several dates with a fellow Princeton student, but she balks when he suggests that they make their relationship exclusive.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @Splanzani back on page 1  —  thanks for the D-Day update!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    On the subject of soap operas, I suppose it should be pointed out that Fred has the phrasing wrong in the title of this post.  It’s actually “Like sands through the hourglass.”

  • Anonymous

    One of my problems with TV Tropes is that it seems to want to be both a legitimate encyclopedia-type thing (with all the attention to accuracy, consistency, and rules that entails) and also a casual site where people can just pool together their pop culture musings and observations, and you really can’t do both of those things at once, at least not very well.  I guess it’s just a natural result of lots and lots of people working on the site and everyone wanting slightly different things out of it.  But then Wikipedia, for all its failings, at least seems to have a fairly clear idea of what it’s trying to be, while TV Tropes seems all over the place in its aspirations, at least from what I’ve seen.  It has however been quite some time since I’ve looked over TV Tropes extensively (nowadays I try to avoid it due to its legendary addictive qualities), so things may be very different than what I remember.  Back when I really read it, it seemed to lean more towards casualness at the expense of encyclopedic…ness (inaccuracies in the descriptions of series, things counted as examples of tropes for the most tenuous of reasons, wildly varying writing style and tone).  It felt like a forum that someone just decided to convert into an encyclopedia format.  But from what Rob Brown says it sounds like the pendulum is swinging the other way.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I actually like that TvTropes has gotten a little bit more organized.  As JJohnson mentioned, the site has in the last year or so undergone some changed so that things are split into different categories.  The “Main” page of any trope or work is a little more formal and objective, the “YMMV” page is still formal but more subjective, and the “Headscratchers” and “Discussion” pages are much more informal and supportive of natter.  The idea is just to keep the natter from cluttering up the main space, not to eliminate it altogether. 

    Actually, one of the reasons why I stopped editing Wikipedia a few years ago was just because of how strict it was getting.  Sure, it is trying to be a serious encyclopedia, and I supported that, but the requirements for notability and reliability in references got pretty subjective, despite their rubrics.  I remember once adding Jen Taylor’s actor photo to her page, only to have it removed because they were uncertain who owned the copyright.  I eventually resolved it by taking an actual photo of her.  The picture on her page now was taken in my dining room, as a matter of fact. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Actually, one of the reasons why I stopped editing Wikipedia a few years
    ago was just because of how strict it was getting.  Sure, it is trying
    to be a serious encyclopedia, and I supported that, but the requirements
    for notability and reliability in references got pretty subjective,
    despite their rubrics.  I remember once adding Jen Taylor’s actor photo
    to her page, only to have it removed because they were uncertain who owned the copyright.

    I think a lot may have to do with the status of the article.  A general article that hasn’t been rated, or has been rated low in “polish” and/or importance is going to be more open to edits than an article that’s in or near Featured status, all the more so if its in one or more groups.

    But I’ve NEVER seen anything removed where the editor defended it on the Talk page.

    As for copyright, Wikipedia HAS to err on the side of caution, I think.  Unless they can determine copyright, it’s better for them not to use a picture.

    (One of the several reasons I don’t read Making Light is the disdain for Wikipedia.  Blergh.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    See, I don’t like the recent heavier emphasis on organization (for TVTropes) that much.  Part of the fun for me is just scrolling through the random bits and pieces.  The whole “Forum-on-a-Wiki” feel is part of what I’ve found attractive about it.

    I guess really I just like that TVTropes can be a repository for pop-culture at large, whereas if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of a given series, there’s usually a wiki specifically for it.   (To use an example, Star Wars has Wookiepedia, Trek has Memory Alpha)

    I guess sometimes it just feels like some of the more involved editors have started taking the whole thing a bit too seriously.  But c’est la vie.  If I spelled that right. >.>

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yeah, but even so a lot of that natter led to edit wars and hurt feelings.  They figured if people were going to bring Serious Business into TvTropes anyway, they might as well try to guide it in a good direction.  Think of it being like FDR, having to apply some regulation in order to preserve a free system. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    True, I guess I didn’t think about the edit wars.*  Still hate the serious business parts though.  Then again I hate that element of fandom at-large.  *sigh* and the fact that people can’t seem to just live and let live with stuff that has little/no consequence.

    (x_x)

    *I don’t edit a whole lot to be honest.  Mostly Star Trek Online or Champions Online, since both games don’t have many people willing to edit for them.  Never really have to deal with other editors.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    *I don’t edit a whole lot to be honest. Mostly Star Trek Online or Champions Online, since both games don’t have many people willing to edit for them. Never really have to deal with other editors.

    I edit a little, add examples and tropes here and there as I see them apply.  I have done a lot of contributing to the character pages for Warhammer 40,000, especially the Xeno Races page.  I also created and populated the page for The Last Chancers, as well as creating the Broken Faceplate trope. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Yay 40k! >_>b <3 that universe.  I'd even play tabletop and collect minis still if some of the fanbase hadn't soured me on it.  (Same for Warmachine by Privateer Press.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I used to play Eldar back in second and early third edition, but these days I play Tau because their “Serve the Greater Good or die” and “Peace and unity at any cost” mentality appeals to me, as you might have guessed.  :)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    <3 the Tau.  Them and the Eldar are both tied for 3rd place in my "Pantheon of armies I'd collect". (Which given that I'd collect pretty much anything given infinite time and money… that's a pretty high ranking!)  Guard comes in 4th.

    I actually had a whole plotline written out for a Gue'la auxiliary unit to be played as my army – the idea was it was an experiment in equipping humans to the same degree as Fire Warriors; both to see if the gue'la could handle the equipment, and if they could be trusted to serve the Greater Good when given greater power and responsibility.  (My thoughts were that these were the great great grandchildren of the surviving  humans who surrendered during the Damocles Gulf Crusade.)

    Also had a pretty involved line for the Eldar I never did collect either; though I really liked that.

    My main two loves though are Marines and the Inquisition – particularly the Ordo Hereticus.  I think on some level both appeal to me because they're so very opposite who I am in RL.  Okay that, and I'm a sucker for the whole "Dark Fantasy Kingdom in Space" thing that the Imperium has going on.

    Sadly my Marines got me into trouble.  I refuse to abide by the whole "There are no female marines" fluff, because the handwave used for it is ludicrous.  The fluff in question* is also a decade + old.  And there is of course the old Warhammer 40k thing of "Everything you read is canon, but not all of it is actually true" – so even if that fluff still applies, nothing is to say it's actually accurate at all.

    Point being that that caused a massive forum-splosion on several websites I visited, and got my DA page defaced.    That and the constant sexism in the fandom in other areas really grated on me.  (Similar thing happened in Warmachine, although in that case it was that one character I included in my Khador army was apparently offensive to the sensibilities of certain players.  *sigh*  You include one catgirl and… oh well.)

    I also had a Warhammer Fantasy chaos army <.<b

    Aaand…. I'm rambling <_< oh well.  Neat seeing someone else here into WH though!

    *Unless it's been reiterated since I quit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    My preferred solution is just to game with friends. It does mean that I’m fighting the same five armies all the time, but better than spending hours with some jackass.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Indeed.  Would be my solution as well, but sadly nobody I know in a reasonable RL distance is into 40k (X_X)  Still, that’s my hope for ‘someday’.  First and foremost though I gotta get myself beyond this stupid social phobia and find some work (x,x) so much easier said than done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    You and me both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been helping, but I still have a long way to go.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    You and me both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been helping, but I still have a long way to go.

    How does that work?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves learning to distinguish your emotional responses and your active responses, and thinking about what you’re feeling and why rather than just reacting. I’ve only been in treatment with it for about two months, but so far it has helped reduce the frequency of my panic attacks.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Fred points out that

    For instance, skipping ahead allows Jenkins to gloss over the implausibilities and impossibilities of Nicolae Carpathia’s rise to global power. Neither Jenkins nor Tim LaHaye is able to describe or
    imagine how such a thing might really happen, or to deal with the many, many reasons why it never really could. But the time-skip lets them leap over such holes in their plot — their supposedly divinely ordained and prophesied plot — picking up again later after the implausible and the
    impossible has, somehow, become a fait accompli. The time-skip thus functions like Phase 2 in the Underpants Gnomes’ business model.*

    And I’m thinking, what’s the best example of a story doing precisely this — skipping over a large amount of time to show a Big Bad’s successful rise to power as a fait accompli — without sounding all Underpants Gnomish? Why, Samurai Jack, of course!

    I suppose it helps that the writers don’t try to make Aku function through existing channels of semi-democratic bureaucracy. He’s a demon. He oppresses people with great big fiery eyebrows and the power to g’ZOT anyone who stands in his way. It’s not particularly unbelievable that he could take over the world — overnight, if need be. It’s not his takeover that needs fait accompli’ing so much as the outgrowth of the myriad nested bureaucracies that build up around Aku’s world domination as a sort of human (and other) coping mechanism. And that’s not unbelievable either; it’s just too complex to be shown on a 22-minute stage where it’s not the focus of the storytelling.

  • Amaryllis

    Why, hello there NaNoWriMo!

    …which, after the recent BookWorld reboot, turns out to be an estuary located between Comedy and Human Drama..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Anyway, Chloe adds that she hates “the idea of leaving Bruce alone at New Hope.”

    Wait a sec – where has Chloe been all this time, that she doesn’t know that Bruce has been expanding his project?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    All this time I thought there was going to be a Meet the Bride moment.  Instead it’s just mentioned out of the blue that, oh, by the way, Rayford is seeing someone, and it’s a race to the altar that will end in a tie.

  • Onymous

    Yeah I was sort of hopedreading another terrible meet cute over a cookie.

  • 40kFanboy

    S’far as I know, the “no female marines” bit in the fluff is because there are several among the seventeen separate highly invasive and transformative surgeries (adding a second heart, a third lung, armor-plated skin, poison-spitting glands, something to allow them to survive in hard vacuum) and ridiculous gene therapies that are highly specific, refined, and most of all, not properly understood.

    The Imperium is working off of technology and techniques that are tens of thousands of years old, that none of them know the first thing about, and they treat them like religious rituals.* The end result is that they don’t know how to adapt the Spess Mehreen** transformation process to women without ending up with a screaming, half-dissolved pile of flesh and organs as opposed to a badass super-soldier.

    Handwave? Sure, but it fits the setting. Besides, of all you’re going to accuse the Imperium of Man of, gender bias? How about the institutionalized mass infanticide?

    * In several of the Ciaphas Cain novels, mention is made of tech-priests trying to fix a hologram projector by “uttering the ceremonial swears and giving it the ceremonial thump on the side with a wrench.” When Cain fixed a projector by giving it his own thump, he was excitedly asked if he had ever studied to be a tech-priest.

    ** If you don’t know, just…don’t ask. WH40k fans have weird in-jokes.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I’m aware of all that – but that doesn’t change the fact that there are about a bajillion different ways around that issue while staying consistent with fluff.

    I mean lets remember – this is a setting where entire planets are lost in rounding errors, and there are over a million worlds inhabited by the Imperium alone.  You’ve also got the two missing primarchs – wherein one can come up with a huge number of scenarios involving them and their legions to get to that point.

    And Chaos, the Warp, and Emperor knows what else.

    My point really is simply this:  The scope of the Imperium, and the WH40k galaxy at large,  is so utterly mind-bogglingly vast, so utterly frought with freak occurances that ‘shouldn’t’ happen, and so heavily layered in propaganda and intentionally muddy history that the idea that it never happened/happens is honestly kind of absurd.

    I mean, to counter the techpriest argument* – look at all the different vehicles that come out every time an Imperial codex is updated.  Sometimes they justify it by explaining that X has always been around and *waves hand* these aren’t the droids you’re looking for… but other times they rather explicitly note that someone has been tinkering with new designs and new ideas.

    Forgeworld stuff is particularly prone to that, and especially the Marine stuff.

    The whole point being… the fluff is terrifically inconsistent on just about everything; especially when editions turn.

    So all that taken into consideration, female marines aren’t really that far of a leap.

    Sexism-wise… I was mostly referring to the fans.  Though I will note that I find the Imperium’s sexism ludicrous – not that it exists; but it’s supposed uniformity.  But then that’s another inconsistency in the fluff.**

    Admittedly the inconsistency makes some sense:  thematically you want to keep that oppressive dystopian feel with the Imperium; and it’s hard to do that if every world is enormously different.  Still, the homogeneity of Imperial culture is really, really, really weird when you get right down to it.  (Bit of a tangent there.)

    Anyway though my point with all of that is:  WH40k is set on such a massive scale and is intentionally set up to allow a certain level of ‘anything goes’, that really you can do just about anything you want to.  Obviously not everyone will accept it, and that’s fine;  but it does get on my nerves how vicious some people get over someone just basically playing the fluff for all it’s worth.

    It’s as annoying as some folks and Star Trek.  (I play Star Trek Online.  Hooboy… not even going there.)

    Too much serious business over a game of toy soldiers.

    *And I want to say that I actually love the Adeptus Mechanicus fluff – mixing religion and technology is quite interesting imo.  I think I recall a story out of “Let the Galaxy Burn” that made wiping a viewscreen with the Imperium’s equivalent to Windex into a holy ritual.

    **Ever notice how Marine chapters and Guard regiments come from all kinds of worlds with all kinds of military training and traditions, usually snitched from cultures across the world?  But then when they turn their eyes toward civilian life you pretty much get the same basic thing no matter where you go; with just a few consistent variations.   (Hiveworlds, Agworlds, Forgeworlds and the occasional Marine recruiting world (which is usually considered a feral world otherwise.)

    There are exceptions to this, usually in the short stories, but even then the scope is extremely limited compared to what it logically ought to be.

  • 40kFanboy

    Also, as I understand it, the Space Marine transformation process ends up with a screaming pile of flesh most of the time anyway, as a result of the aforementioned utter lack of knowledge of the first principles behind their technology. They don’t dare change even one variable if they want even a 1% success rate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    They don’t dare change even one variable if they want even a 1% success rate.

    The success rate is actually much higher than that. Those who reject the process or fail in the testing are usually turned into servitors so that they can still serve the Chapter.

    The “99% end up as screaming masses of flesh” bit describes the results of Fabius Bile’s attempts to create “improved” Chaos Space Marines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    I don’t have a problem with the Space Marines as all-male due to their essentially being militant orders of monks. (Though obviously some chapters emphasize this more than others: compare the Dark Angels to the Space Wolves.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I don’t have so much a problem with it as I find it boring.  Put bluntly, monogender anything is… just kinda dull to me.  But since I like everything else about the Marines… it was kind of like…

     “Hrmm… I can either A) Ignore that I like all this other cool stuff.  Or B) Ignore the one aspect that irks me. … this is not a complicated decision, especially given the poor rationalization given for said aspect.”

    <– one of those people who's personal discontinuity button sees a lot of use.  I’m kind of weird like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Old Ray didn’t waste much time lining up Irene’s replacement, did he?  I picture Amanda looking just like Irene.  Whatever that was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Old Ray didn’t waste much time lining up Irene’s replacement, did he?  I picture Amanda looking just like Irene.  Whatever that was.

  • Guest

    So, males with Total Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome count as women, or not? How about XXY chromosomal females? Or any of the other fun, although rare, examples of how it’s more complicated than XY=male, man and XX= female, woman?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    So, males with Total Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome count as
    women, or not? How about XXY chromosomal females? Or any of the other
    fun, although rare, examples of how it’s more complicated than XY=male,
    man and XX= female, woman?

    The Apothecaries would probably find the “genetically impure,” remove them from the program, and have them turned into Servitors (mind-wiped cyborgs whose brains are used as computer processors). This assumes that they hadn’t been killed as children for being “tainted.”

    The Imperium of Man is a REALLY crappy place to live.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I’m pretty sure it would depend on the world to be honest.  While genetic impurity is ‘kind of a big deal’ – remember that mutants* on many worlds still live as second class citizens and slave labor forces, even though they’re technically supposed to be killed on sight.

    So I’d think given that that someone who’s entirely human but with a genetic disorder is probably safe from the Inquisition.  The main obstacle would be the local culture, as some can be very ah… spartan.  But others aren’t; so they’d do fine.

    I also don’t think they servitorize people who’ve passed the trials to become a marine but have not actually had the geneseed implanted and failed to have it develop properly.  Err, basically if you get through the trials, but then get weeded out for other reasons, you’d probably wind up in a support position.  Obviously this depends on the chapter too… some are rather more severe than others.

    Did you ever read ‘Let the Galaxy Burn’ by chance?  It’s a huge collection of short stories; and one of them focuses on a failed marine who basically acts as a training room technician.

    *Need to clarify my term here so it doesn’t sound insulting.  A Mutant in 40k is (usually) someone who’s been significantly altered by Chaos – it doesn’t have to be willing or even by direct exposure… Chaos is random like that.  But it can involve things like extra limbs, eyes where there really shouldn’t be eyes (mouths too), animalistic features… it can really be anything you can think of.  Offshoots of straight up humans tend to be treated better, albeit usually still second class.  Ratlings, Ogryns both come to mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Haven’t read that collection – I tend to avoid any 40k novels that aren’t by Dan Abnett or Graham McNeil.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    It’s mostly quite good imo.  Abnett and McNeil are both present; though there’s a pretty sizable list of contributors all told… and there’s only one CS Goto story in the whole thing as I recall.  (Being 750 pages long, it’s a really, really thick book.)

    It’s also cheap >.> Which is why I bought it to begin with; since it’s a great way to kill time when you have a few minutes to kill.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    … and there’s only one CS Goto story in the whole thing as I recall.

    I have read exactly one CS Goto work, Eldar Prophecy, and that’s all I ever intend to read. (They novel is a perfect example of a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story.

    So good to know that he isn’t heavily featured.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I read that too.  It was the only Goto I read alongside Dawn of War: Tempest.  Generally speaking, I do not care for Goto.  He has his own take on the canon, which would not be so bad except it does not necessarily mesh well with other author’s takes on the canon, which can get a bit wierd. 

    If you are looking for a good Eldar-centric novel, I recommend Path of the Warrior by Gav Thorpe.  Thorpe has his own style and not everyone enjoys it, but I think he has improved as a writer as time goes on, and he has a long history not only as a Black Library author but also as a Games Workshop designer and writer, so he had a hand in shaping the current form of the fluff and at least knows his stuff. 

    Goto on the other hand, sometimes confuses lascannons for multilasers, so his grip of the canon is a little more loose. 

    Also, if you want a bit of a different perspective on the 40K setting, I highly recommend Sandy Mitchell. One of the things I really like about his writing is that he is not afraid to just have fun with the setting, reminding me why I got into the hobby in the first place. He tends to be fond of adding a lot of pitch-black battlefield humor to his work, just to provide contrast with all the rest of the GrimDark of the setting.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Ciaphis Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM is awesome. >.> That is all.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    Seconding that. The Dark Heresy books are also pretty good.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Seconding that. The Dark Heresy books are also pretty good.

    I am eagerly awaiting his next release of that.  Also, the Dark Heresy sourcebooks are pretty nice sources of fluff, even if you are uninterested in playing the game itself (though it is a very nice system.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I have always subscribed to the genetic theory of mono-gendered space marines, that the geneseed implantation acts by copying and modifying a Y-chromosome into a completely new one.  I mean yes, technically someone with an XXY arrangement could, under that theory, possibly become a space marine, but I doubt that the issue ever comes up much. 

    From a storytelling standpoint though, the one reason why there are no female space marines is simply this:  because that would make them seem much “nicer”.  The setting itself is not a nice place, it is brutal and terrible, and the mono-gendered space marines reflect that in part by being mono-gendered. 

    *Need to clarify my term here so it doesn’t sound insulting. A Mutant in 40k is (usually) someone who’s been significantly altered by Chaos – it doesn’t have to be willing or even by direct exposure… Chaos is random like that. But it can involve things like extra limbs, eyes where there really shouldn’t be eyes (mouths too), animalistic features… it can really be anything you can think of. Offshoots of straight up humans tend to be treated better, albeit usually still second class. Ratlings, Ogryns both come to mind.

    Strictly speaking, mutation in 40K is not always caused by exposure to the Warp.  It can also be the result of more “mundane” causes, such as radiation-damaged DNA, or generations of exposure to industrial waste toxins.  This becomes an issue because someone who has pledged themselves to Chaos is often given “gifts” in the form of horrific but beneficial mutations, and it all gets conflated together in the dogma of the Imperial Creed.  Thus, mundane mutants are generally tolerated to live, but always distrusted, often hated, and nearly always condemned to second-class citizen status.  Throw in mixed circumstances, such as an intersteller ship which spends long periods in the Warp with a poorly shield reactor, and the distinction becomes even more muddied. 

    Again, the unpleasantness of the setting. 

    I actually had a whole plotline written out for a Gue’la auxiliary unit to be played as my army – the idea was it was an experiment in equipping humans to the same degree as Fire Warriors; both to see if the gue’la could handle the equipment, and if they could be trusted to serve the Greater Good when given greater power and responsibility. (My thoughts were that these were the great great grandchildren of the surviving humans who surrendered during the Damocles Gulf Crusade.)

    Actually, with some conversions that is one of the few tournament-legal ways to have Gue’vessa on the tabletop.  Either that, or use Imperial Guard rules.  Either way, you have a lot of converting to do, but they are fun conversions.  One common way of doing it is to take legs, arms, and heads from Imperial Guard infantry sprues, and attach them to torsos from Tau fire warrior sprues, swapping in a few weapons and pieces of gear as necessary. 

    There are rules out there for including Gue’vessa in a wider Tau army, but those have only been published in White Dwarf and Imperial Armour books, so they are not necessarily usable in more strict tournament play.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Hehe, I love conversions – all the armies I’ve started/planned require a boatload of em.  My mixed-gender marines for instance were based culturally on feudal Japan* – so I started with the old pewter Grey Knights/Grey Knight Terminators, modified the sword wielding ones to be closer to katana/no-dachi and planned to green-stuff the armor to have tassets and possibly add back banners as well, at least to unit leaders.

    It was going to be a tremendous amount of work, but I think it would have been fun.  Only downside is, while I do OK sculpting GS (I’m no wizard at it), I am *godawful* at painting minis.  I suppose this is part of why my art is all digital though.  My WHFB Chaos are my best, and other than the Chosen unit’s swords… they’re not very good.  (I am however proud of my greenstuffing their great weapons together)

    *Another thing that oddly caused all kinds of backlash.  This is especially weird given feudal Germany or Mongolia are both canon for full legions, and really all the Marines either have either a cultural or mythological ‘niche’.  That’s bog-standard theming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    *Another thing that oddly caused all kinds of backlash.  This is
    especially weird given feudal Germany or Mongolia are both canon for
    full legions, and really all the Marines either have either a cultural
    or mythological ‘niche’.  That’s bog-standard theming.

    Canonically, we have Ultramarines (Imperial Rome), Space Wolves (Vikings), White Scars (Mongolia), Black Templars (Teutonic Knights), and Dark Angels (Plains Native Americans, for a time at least). That’s not even going into the Imperial Guard, which never met a national stereotype they didn’t like.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Okay, finally getting a chance to address the first point on this post (I skipped it before since it’s more complicated and requires more work and, well, I needed to go to the store while I had a car available >.>b) –

    Anyway…

    The perception that female marines makes the setting ‘nicer’ is common; but it’s also a product of 21st century thinking.  We’re conditioned to see women as caregivers, as being in need of protection and even today when we’ve made some great strides* as incompetent at anything too physically involved.

    Even with the advent of [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ActionGirl]Action Girl[/url] type characters, they’re usually in secondary roles, and even if capable on their own are usually second string to the hero.

    Point being that the way we’re conditioned to think of gender isn’t accurate.  Women don’t have to be nice, or attractive or… well anything.

    It’s not that I think 40k is or should be a particularly enlightened setting (it isn’t); but as I noted before, given the vast expanse of the setting, the pervasive sexism is just… weird.  Especially how it exists right up until it doesn’t.  For example, nothing stops a female character from being a High Lord of Terra, or an Inquisitor of any rank; but then you get to the Guard for example, and only a tiny percentage of units are mixed gender, and an even smaller number are female.  Low numbers of female commissars makes some sense** – but it’s baffling that average grunt guard aren’t more mixed.

    Especially given that, in blunt terms, you rather need both genders to make additional guards, so recruiting a huge chunk of the male population of a planet is counterintuitive on a purely ruthless numbers basis.  (Which I think the Imperium runs on usually.)

    With marines, they’ve always struck me as rather meritocratic – at least compared to the rest.  You pass the trials, you successfully bond with the geneseed, you keep your faith, you’re a marine.  To an extent, the primitive societies a lot of marine chapters recruit from probably are themselves highly stratified by gender – but not every chapter recruits from feral worlds like that, and surely not all feral worlds are even like that.

    As to the geneseed itself – we just don’t know how that works really.  To me, I honestly envision it much like a sort of bioware*** – certainly it sounds like it in a lot of respects.  Dead minimum though there are still two other avenues:

    The first marines were genetically engineered straight from the Emperor, unless it’s changed****, they didn’t do the whole geneseed thing – it was rather more direct than that.

    The second is of course the missing primarchs – nobody said they had to be male.  Meaning there could be a couple of very depleted legions out there.

    (Sorry this is so long >.>;  This is a topic I’ve debated a LOT; I don’t expect you to agree, I just wanted to explain my interpretation in-depth as well as pointing out where I feel GW itself is being rather ridiculous.)

    *Though this is hardly what I’d term a ‘post feminist’ world; some people love to think that and… oi.  I know you know better than that, I just get ranty.

    **Given that they’re selected from Schola Progenium children, and that’s also where Sisters of Battle are recruited, and that faith and incredible devotion to duty is crucial for both professions – it makes some sense that you don’t see a lot of female commissars.  Those who’d demonstrate the right stuff to be a commissar likely also demonstrate the right stuff to be a Sister of Battle, and generally speaking you probably need more SOBs to keep the various Orders at strength at that.  I could even, to a point, accept that rationale for a lower ratio of female storm troopers – albeit the faith and duty aspects are (a little) relaxed compared to the other two.

    ***In the Shadowrun sense, not the game company.  The idea being the biological equivalent of cybernetics basically.

    ****I haven’t read the Horus Heresy books; so I do admit this one could have changed since I stopped keeping up on things.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Part of the issue about fielding a Space Marine army on the tabletop that includes female models is that, frankly, they would not look any different than the male marines.  I mean, after all that biological augmentation, all of them end up becoming hugely muscled, eight foot tall killing machines.  Add on the huge pauldrons and solid breastplates, and there is nothing you can really do to make them look female without making something overt to the point of seeming fetishistic. 

    The only reason that the Sisters of Battle themselves are more obviously female is because their armor is deliberately designed to resemble a corset and bustier (albiet ones made of adamantium and ceramite.)  Actually, were I ever to collect a SoB army, I would probably use some green stuff to make their breastplates smooth, maybe tapering to an edge in front.  One of the things that always bugs me about some fictional female breast plates is when they conform to have a gap for cleavage.  A breastplate should be shaped to deflect blows away from the torso, not inward toward it.

    Incidentally, Citadel actually has made a female commissar model before.  But with the guard, part of the justification for having such a small number of mixed gender regiments is for simplicity’s sake.  There are plenty of all female regiments too, though not as many as the males.  A lot of it depends on the recruiting practices of the worlds that a Guard regiment is recruited from.  For example, the Vostroyan Firstborn have a practice of the first-born son of every family joining the Imperial Guard, and for that reason all their soldiers are male. 

    Regarding the geneseed, it is harvested from dead marines, and implanted into new recruits.  From there, the geneseed causes physical metamorphasis in the marine, growing through his body and forming into new organs which are what give him his abilities.  As I understand it, every fully matured marine grows two more geneseeds.  Assuming that those geneseeds can be recovered, two marines can be produced from every one that dies.  However, it does have its limitations.  Marines which die in ways that make their geneseeds unrecoverable, or die far away from anyone who could recover them.  If a chapter builds up a surplus of geneseed after bringing themselves back up to full strength, that geneseed will be donated to the creation of a new chapter.  Unfortunately, this also means that any mutation of the geneseed will be passed down to the next generation of Space Marines.  Some of these geneseeds are regarded as being too corrupted to pass on, and those chapters so judged are on their way to slow extinction. 

    I have not read the Horus Heresy books, but some of the older fluff suggests that it is possible to make a Space Marine without using geneseed, but it is a difficult and unreliable process.  It involves heavy use of augmentics, both biological and mechanical, and is impractical to do on any sort of large scale in the times the Imperium finds itself in now.  The only time I have heard of that actually happening though is when Primarchs insisted on bringing the warriors who fought under them on their homeworlds into their legions with them.  I believe that Angron did this, though he also mandated that all his marines undergo craniel implantation to remove their sense of fear or concern and increase their aggression to make them better warriors. 

    No surprise then that they turned to Khorne. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Part of the issue about fielding a Space Marine army on the tabletop that includes female models is that, frankly, they would not look any different than the male marines.  I mean, after all that biological augmentation, all of them end up becoming hugely muscled, eight foot tall killing machines.  Add on the huge pauldrons and solid breastplates, and there is nothing you can really do to make them look female without making something overt to the point of seeming fetishistic. 

    The only reason that the Sisters of Battle themselves are more obviously female is because their armor is deliberately designed to resemble a corset and bustier (albiet ones made of adamantium and ceramite.)  Actually, were I ever to collect a SoB army, I would probably use some green stuff to make their breastplates smooth, maybe tapering to an edge in front.  One of the things that always bugs me about some fictional female breast plates is when they conform to have a gap for cleavage.  A breastplate should be shaped to deflect blows away from the torso, not inward toward it.

    Incidentally, Citadel actually has made a female commissar model before.  But with the guard, part of the justification for having such a small number of mixed gender regiments is for simplicity’s sake.  There are plenty of all female regiments too, though not as many as the males.  A lot of it depends on the recruiting practices of the worlds that a Guard regiment is recruited from.  For example, the Vostroyan Firstborn have a practice of the first-born son of every family joining the Imperial Guard, and for that reason all their soldiers are male. 

    Regarding the geneseed, it is harvested from dead marines, and implanted into new recruits.  From there, the geneseed causes physical metamorphasis in the marine, growing through his body and forming into new organs which are what give him his abilities.  As I understand it, every fully matured marine grows two more geneseeds.  Assuming that those geneseeds can be recovered, two marines can be produced from every one that dies.  However, it does have its limitations.  Marines which die in ways that make their geneseeds unrecoverable, or die far away from anyone who could recover them.  If a chapter builds up a surplus of geneseed after bringing themselves back up to full strength, that geneseed will be donated to the creation of a new chapter.  Unfortunately, this also means that any mutation of the geneseed will be passed down to the next generation of Space Marines.  Some of these geneseeds are regarded as being too corrupted to pass on, and those chapters so judged are on their way to slow extinction. 

    I have not read the Horus Heresy books, but some of the older fluff suggests that it is possible to make a Space Marine without using geneseed, but it is a difficult and unreliable process.  It involves heavy use of augmentics, both biological and mechanical, and is impractical to do on any sort of large scale in the times the Imperium finds itself in now.  The only time I have heard of that actually happening though is when Primarchs insisted on bringing the warriors who fought under them on their homeworlds into their legions with them.  I believe that Angron did this, though he also mandated that all his marines undergo craniel implantation to remove their sense of fear or concern and increase their aggression to make them better warriors. 

    No surprise then that they turned to Khorne. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    My solution to the armor female marine visual thing was actually really, really simple:

    A few head swaps here and there.  That’s really it – because you’re right, you can’t tell under all that armor!  So I just did what the male marines do… took a few helmets off.  I really like unhelmeted Marines anyway.  I know it’s utterly ridiculous in a realism sense, but they just look better when I can see their faces.

    Sadly this is also a lot more work than it initially sounds when it comes to Grey Knights Terminator models.  Well the old metals anyway, I’ve heard there are new plastics, which may be delicious.  But yeah, head swaps is the only thing I did.  And I’m totally with you on the ‘breast’ plate type armor.  I never did get to the point of modeling my SOBs but that was one of my plans as well, at least for some of the models. 

    Variety is another of my big concerns.  My Chaos WHFB army for instance:  every model has been converted at least a little.  My Chaos Warriors?  None of them have horned helmets (I actually used the horns later to add mutations to some of the Marauders).  Some have additional goodies from Tzeentch* as well, including an admittedly crude attempt at a lobster claw arm >.>

    I never knew they made that model… neat Looks to be from many editions ago though.

    As to the geneseed thing – yeah I kinda knew all that.  Sorry I gave the impression I didn’t.  What I meant was more – we’re dealing with it being filtered through the Imperium, which as noted isn’t… exactly reliable information wise.  And so there’s a great deal about geneseed we may not know or understand like we think we do.**  So my interpretation tends to be a little less “Stick some stuff in em, they grow new parts” and more “you have to implant the new parts individually, at least to a point.”***

    *Hope for the hope god <_< change for… the sake of change!  Here, have a tentacle.

    **This is one of the things I love GW for.  Doubt and ambiguity in canon are things I can use to slowly twist things toward my dark master's will.  … I mean toward my desired aims in fluff. <.|<-)

    ***Think of it like this:  Inside a set of prognoid glands you have, essentially, the building blocks for every augmentation a marine has.  You then culture what basically amounts to a tiny handful of cells worth of that augmentation, and implant it in the proper location, where it proceeds to do it's thing.  This is entirely  my interpretation of course, I know it's not canon accurate <__> /em is a weird person.

  • http://profiles.google.com/spiritplumber mk b

    The plagues, disasters and signs of the apocalypse in the preceding years had taken their toll on the plan. However, the missiles were designed to launch and deliver their payload as a retaliatory strike, after the infrastructure and a good chunk of the population of their country of origin had already been obliterated. About seventy percent of the carefully programmed ICBMs launched and reached their target.

    There was no one super-explosion, of course; the launches and trajectories had been timed to land in sequence, each warhead coming down just when the atomic fire on the ground had relented barely enough for the reentry stage to survive the fraction of a second it needed to detonate. After the first fireball and mushroom cloud came another, and another, and yet another — by the fourth or fifth, the pressure waves had created an effective high vacuum around Ground Zero, pushing all the atmosphere and most of the gasses that were the volatile part of the plains of New Babylon away. No further fireballs rose after that. Instead, the missiles kept plunging down inside a dark grey opaque shell of ever-expanding radioactive dust cloud, large enough to create its own weather cell. Inside it, the fireballs from the nuclear weapons had stopped rising in the rarefied gas that had replaced the atmosphere — a literal lake of fire sat in the crater generated by the first impacts.

    The battle between Heaven and Hell was over and the One Above All had won: Jahweh had the satisfaction to see his eternal enemy annihilated two blasts, about half a second, before his own demise into high energy particles.

    During that time, His infinite but seldom used mind came to the unescapable, absolute truth that in retrospect, pissing off a human race that had gone from iron chariots to interstellar probes and nuclear weapons in three short millennia, and then announcing exactly where and when he would appear unto their world to begin judgement hadn’t been the best plan. At least the judgement had been short.

    “What’ll happen now?”

    “Now that we got time back, you mean? We rebuild. There’s no telling what Nicolae’s plan B will do to the ecosystem, many more may die. Counting that, he will have killed millions of people.”

    “Well, he was the Antichrist…”

    “To save billions.”

    “I don’t think anyone’ll ever use the word save in that context. So what happens after?”

    “After time’s moving again? We were sick, but now we’re well again, and there’s work to do.”

    “You ARE a geek, you know that? I mean, what happens after we die.”

    “We’ve spent most of our lives and pretty much all of our history not knowing. Now we don’t know again. I think we’ll manage.”


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X