TF: Post-Rapture economics

Tribulation Force, pp. 406-407

More than 18 months after the Rapture, it finally occurs to the authors that the final countdown of history might also have financial and economic implications:

Rayford was going to be out of town until the day before he and Chloe and the new buyers were to close on the house. He smiled at the idea of buyers securing a 30-year mortgage. Someone was going to lose on that deal.

Well, sort of.

If this is simply a typical 30-year mortgage, then signing the deal doesn’t really make anything better or worse for either party. Both the bankers and the buyers will be dead in five and a half years, when the house and the land it sits on will be consumed by divine fire along with the rest of the housing market and the rest of the universe. So, yes, the new owners are committing to make loan payments for the next 30 years and they won’t wind up having to fulfill that obligation, but that advantage is offset by their inability to continue owning that house due to A) its being destroyed by the aforementioned universe-devouring divine fire, and B) their being themselves soon-to-be-former residents of that soon-to-be-former universe.

And of course that’s the best-case scenario for these new homeowners. The odds are against their surviving until the actual end of the universe five and a half years hence. It’s much likelier that they will die much sooner from a massive earthquake, Wormwood, demon locusts, burning hail, war, famine or pestilence. Ditto for the bankers.

Given that, it’s hard to imagine either side winning on that deal.

The fast-approaching End of the World could be exploited for financial gain, but only if one side had foreknowledge of it while the other did not. Rayford knows what the future will be and could put that knowledge to use by purchasing a new house with one of those back-loaded balloon-payment mortgages that it would be foolish to agree to unless you were sure the world was going to end. (This was, more or less, the strategy employed by the George W. Bush administration, which left behind all sorts of balloon payments set to come due after January 2009.)

If the bank knew beforehand that a 30-year mortgage would be 24½ years too long, I suppose they might consider requiring a shorter-term loan with a much larger down payment. But then if the banks knew what Rayford knows, I doubt they’d bother to continue making routine housing loans. They would, instead, start moving their assets into black-market, underground goods — bottled water, canned food, ammunition, medical supplies and other survival necessities — in order to prepare for the rapidly approaching apocalyptic portion of the apocalypse.

Rayford of course knows what Rayford knows, but he’s not doing any of that himself. He’s cashing out his house to move to New Babylon, but he doesn’t seem to be giving any thought about what to do with the money.

Let’s pause for a moment, as readers of these books are often forced to do, to think about something the authors don’t seem to have thought about at all: How much could Rayford expect to get for the sale of his house?

I’m sure it’s a nice house, even if Irene’s cluttered “knick-knacks” detract from its ideal staging for prospective buyers. The problem is there wouldn’t likely be any prospective buyers. The Rapture would have devastated the housing market, sending prices spiraling downward and glutting the market with an unsold inventory of enough vacant homes to last until the end of time. This wouldn’t be a “dip” or a “downturn,” but a full-on depression in the housing sector.*

And the Steeles’ home would be in one of the hardest-hit areas in the country. The Wheaton/Carol Stream area of the Chicago suburbs is the evangelical capital of the Midwest. Evangelical hotspots like the Steeles’ neighborhood — or like Grand Rapids, Colorado Springs or Orange County, Calif. — would make Las Vegas in 2008 look like a Golden Age of real estate.

Rayford could only sell his house if he priced it to compete with all the newly vacant properties left behind by Wheaton professors and Christianity Today editors. Plus he has to sell fast due to his new job with Nicolae, so he’s not in any position to negotiate or to wait for a better deal. It seems unlikely, then, that he’d recoup even half of what he and Irene originally paid for the house. Let’s settle on a figure of $100,000, even though that seems impossibly optimistic. What does Rayford plan to do with the $100,000 about to be transferred into his checking account?

This infusion of cash from the sale of his house ought to be forcing Rayford to finally think about the reality he is facing in a way that he has so far avoided doing. No point trying to invest it in stocks — whatever value they might still appear to have is doomed to disappear very shortly. Government bonds, presumably, ceased to be an investment option when there ceased to be governments.** And Rayford knows that cash and even gold will soon cease to have any meaningful value.

The only investments that would make any sense would be land — remote, off the grid, well-hidden — and the soon-to-be urgently needed survival provisions mentioned above.

Yet even now Rayford shows no sign of thinking about such things.

With Rayford gone, Chloe would be left with much of the work, selling stuff off, putting furniture into storage, and arranging with a moving company to ship her things to a local apartment and his all the way to Iraq.

I appreciate that Great-grandmother Steele’s armoire has been in the family for generations, but you’d think that just the task of toting something that heavy off to a storage rental would jar him out of this weird stupor and remind him that his will be the last generation of the family and there’s no point in putting the furniture into storage when the world is ending.

I find myself responding to Rayford’s short-sightedness differently than I do to the overall problem here of woefully inadequate world-building. The latter I blame on the authors. They keep tossing out these huge, world-altering events without ever bothering to show the world being altered — or even to acknowledge that the world has been altered. Every child on earth disappears and life continues unchanged. The United States government is dissolved and life continues unchanged. Every religious believer is legally required to convert to a brand new, ill-defined and infelicitously named new religion and life continues unchanged.

That’s infuriating, but my frustration is directed toward the authors and I find that frustration with the authors — thinking of them as careless, thoughtless hacks — doesn’t impede my ability to continue slogging through this awful book as much as frustration with the characters does. Rayford’s obliviousness makes me frustrated with Rayford. I realize, of course, that Rayford’s faults are also the authors’ fault — that he behaves like an idiot because that’s how he’s written, but it’s difficult to exempt him from all blame. And that makes this book an even worse experience for me. Reading a story written by idiots is bad enough, but reading a story written by idiots that’s also about idiots is even worse.

For the past couple of months, Amanda had been driving Rayford to O’Hare for these long trips, but she had recently taken a new position and couldn’t get away. So today, Chloe would take Rayford by Amanda’s new office, where she was chief buyer for a retail clothier.

This is disappointing on several levels.

First of all, it’s just a bad acquisition for the team. The Tribulation Force still has a lot of roster slots it desperately needs to fill and Amanda doesn’t seem to fit any of them. No matter how you look at this gang — a party of adventurers, a rag-tag merry band of outlaws — they have several positions that remain unfilled. They need muscle, a ship’s doctor, a scrounger, a Mr. Fixit and a scientist, at least. I’m happy that Rayford has met someone special, but a keen eye for next season’s trends in fashion*** wasn’t really on the short list of skills the Trib Force needed to add in their struggle to pretend to oppose the Antichrist.

Writing in a new wife for Rayford was a chance to improve and strengthen the team, but Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins were incapable of imagining a female character doing that. Given their attitude about gender, I knew it would be too much to hope for Amanda to turn out to be a cop, a grifter, a scientist or a doctor, but I at least thought they might allow her to be a nurse. That might have been an acceptably “feminine” profession in the authors’ eyes while also providing her with a skill set that would prove useful during the Great Tribulation. (Not that I’m saying people who work in retail can’t become valuable team members. Rose Tyler worked in retail and she proved pretty capable in a pinch.)

Apart from the particulars of her job, though, the stranger thing here is that Amanda just took this job recently. Ever since the Event, she’s become an active member of New Hope Village Church. She’s heard the “dire warnings” of Bruce’s sermons every Sunday, and she’s been studying hard in the regular outer-circle prophecy study groups, so she too knows all about the approaching hoofbeats of war, famine and death, to be followed by “17 more judgments … in rapid succession.”

If you know that’s what’s about to happen — if you’re 100-percent certain that this is what the very near future holds in store for you — then it’s time to quit your job and get busy. Preparation for the coming calamities should become your only full-time job. What good is a job, anyway? Maxing out your credit cards should provide more than enough cash to last from now until the arrival of Horseman No. 3, at which point money becomes essentially useless. And after that no amount of money will do Amanda any good anyway unless she plans on accepting the Mark of the Beast.

Yet no one in the story bats an eye over the news that Amanda has chosen this point in time to go out and get a new job as “chief buyer for a retail clothier.”

I can’t help but wonder about that job interview: “So, Mrs. White, where do you see yourself five years from now?”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* The more I try to think about the economy of the post-Rapture world, the more complicated it becomes and the more impossible the events of these books seem to be. In addition to the devastation of the housing market due to the post-Rapture vacancies, there would be the massive unemployment due to the elimination of whole industries — children 12-and-under are not an insignificant factor in the global economy. In the ensuing global depression, deprivation and chaos, one can imagine the rise of a totalitarian leader, but such a leader’s path to power wouldn’t be anything like the path that Nicolae Carpathia follows in these novels.

Even a passing consideration of economics also serves to illustrate how unpopular — and thus how implausible — much of his agenda would prove to be. He great schemes of eliminating all national sovereignty, eliminating all but one currency, all but one language and all but one religion might all entail a handful of economic winners, but they would also all create billions of clear economic losers, none of whom could be expected to passively go along with the destruction of their livelihoods. To the extent that the authors consider this at all, they seem to think that such concerns can be hand-waved away with Nicolae’s mind-control powers and Stonagal’s wealth, but neither of those magical solutions seems powerful enough for the enormity of the task.

Consider just one portion of Nicolae’s agenda — the OWG. Then think of how many years it takes to negotiate a “free-trade” agreement between, say, the United States and Paraguay. Think of how many thousands of pages such an agreement fills, how many lawyers were involved, how many exceptions, exemptions, loopholes and sweeteners are required to be argued over and bargained for. Give someone all of Stonagal’s massive financial resources and toss in supernatural powers of persuasion and preternatural charisma and I might believe that such a person could, in a mere 18 months, succeed in arranging a free-trade agreement between Nigeria and South Korea. But even that is a stretch. A one-world government? Not a chance.

** Nicolae Carpathia presumably shares Rayford’s advantage of knowing what the prophecies say about the near future and the lack of anything beyond it. One wonders if he’s not exploiting that knowledge by issuing GC-bills, bonds promising investors an exorbitant payout in just six short years.

*** The Great Tribulation heats up this summer with kevlar as the new black. Vibrant scarlet is the season’s hottest color — not just for sword-wielding horsemen, but for everyone from soccer moms to the mother of whores and of earth’s abominations, Mystery Babylon herself. The summer’s stylish new accessory — a true MUST-have for everyone — will be worn on the right hand or the forehead …

  • Lori

    Now I’m having way too much fun wondering what the penalty would be for breaking such a law?

    Loss of word processor privileges.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Wow. chris the cynic, you have *ideas*. *applause* I only wish I could be a tenth as imaginative.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    ..and no cheating with IBM Selectrics. :P

  • WingedBeast

    I propose having L&J strapped down and forced to watch movies based on the Right Behind stories so they can see what happens when a story is put into the hands of someone with… hmmm… what’s that word?  Oh yes, a soul.

  • Anonymous

    “Out of curiosity, where did Aquinas get his information about angels?”

    I haven’t got a clue.

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

    Book two was to be about a group of demons, (one of whom was helpful in
    the first book) who became effectively human and thus undamned by
    possessing embryos before they gained souls thus becoming the souls of
    the human bodies that resulted.  The one from the previous book was both
    less evil than the rest and the only one to suffer complications (he
    lost his memory) in the book he would regain his memory and then stop
    the others from doing evil.

    I had a similar idea for a series. Short version: angels and demons are born onto earth as humans without memory of their true nature, and as they discover their pasts lots of drama ensues, with angels falling and demons rising all over the place. Also, there would be divine/infernally-powered martial arts.

  • WingedBeast

    This is a good idea for a website.  One devoted to fictions where the demons and/or Satan are the good guys and the angels and/or God are the bad guys.

  • Amaryllis

    “Out of curiosity, where did Aquinas get his information about angels?”

    I haven’t got a clue.

    St. Thomas was a Scholastic (I went to one of the many high schools named after him, back when Catholic schools were named after saints instead of bishop-bureaucrats).

    Which means, if you look at it one way, he used his God-given capacity of human reason to draw inferences from the Bible, the Tradition, and secular sources, and then to extend and reconcile those ideas to create a logically coherent theory.

    If you look at it another way, well, it would be exaggerated to say that “he made it all up,” but “theological speculation” is a fair cop.

  • chris the cynic

    Mine wasn’t so much that that happened regularly, in fact I was thinking of it as a novel idea that no one had ever thought of before.  I think that I had a lot of obvious seeming things that I thought of as novel ideas*.  And suddenly it hits me: novel ideas to be used in ideas for novels.  Perhaps “novel” wasn’t the right word.  Previously unthought ideas.

    I do think I realized at some point that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense that no one in the history the universe had this plan before and tried to justify it by saying that most demons wouldn’t want to be tied to a human body in the first place and were perfectly happy to be in hell torturing people.  Those that weren’t weren’t trusted enough to get earth duty, so first the protagonist demon had to work his way up in the hierarchy somewhat which was difficult and slow because protagademon couldn’t be evil to save his soul.  (He’d be something like Fuchsia from Sinfest after she fell in love with Crimminy.)

    So part of it was that most demons weren’t coming at it from a “there must be some way out of here,” angle and most of those who were didn’t manage to implement any plans.  First he had to get trusted enough to be given a shot at possession, then he had to convince someone more trusted to go along with this plan because he still wouldn’t be trusted enough to choose an assignment, certainly not enough to choose one that would allow him to slip away unnoticed, and even then it was hard to implement (try to take possession too early and it’s not a human yet, so you bounce, take it too late and there’s already a soul so it’s like any other possession and not at all exorcism proof, you need to get it just right) and didn’t exactly work perfectly (main character’s amnesia being the result of a head on collision with a human soul.)

    So it really wasn’t angels/demons/both are born as humans as part of the setting but more of, for the first time ever four demons used a complicated possession plot to free themselves from Hell.

    -* The one that comes to mind is the tree of knowledge.  It’s the fruit of the tree of knowledge, not the fruit of knowledge.  The fruit isn’t all of knowledge, just a part of it.  So I decided that to get the full blown “I am enlightened,” effect (which I suddenly find myself imagining said in the manner of, “I know Kung Fu” from The Matrix) you need to eat the whole tree.  And what is a seed if not a whole tree?

    So far this is just a minor quirk of the setting, but I remember then thinking that the response to learning that the characters from the first book figured this out and ate the seeds was something along the lines of, “How did they think of that?  No one’s ever thought of that.  Did someone tell them?  In all of human history no one ever came up with that before.  How could they possibly think of that?”

    And, obviously, they took some seeds with them so they could grow a new tree of knowledge in their eventual back yard.  Because that’s what you do.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    @WingedBeast:

    I propose having L&J strapped down and forced to watch movies based on the Right Behind stories so they can see what happens when a story is put into the hands of someone with… hmmm… what’s that word?  Oh yes, a soul.

    I don’t think that’ll work. Weren’t L&J trying to remake the movies recently because they didn’t like the way the first set turned out? It would be like tossing Zaphod in the Total Perspective Vortex – where normal people would be crushed by seeing something competent salvaged from their hackery, they’d just sit there smugly feeling superior to anything that wasn’t theirs.

  • chris the cynic

    This is probably true.

    If you read Children of the Goats and then reflect on the fact that from an L&J perspective the only thing morally wrong in that story is that the children are trying to save their loved ones* instead of accepting God’s judgement … and now I’m crying just because I thought about Children of the Goats.  Anyway, think about it like that and it becomes hard for me to imagine anything really getting to them.

    I’m not saying that they can’t change, but I do think that change, if it comes, will not come from the outside.  They have seen how horrible their morality is, but they looked at the horror and called it good.  You don’t need to go to Right Behind to see this, it’s in the plain text of Left Behind.

    Hell, sometimes things get so bad even Rayford briefly recognizes the wrongness of it all.  He just never, ever does anything about it.

    -

    *A concept so foreign to them they apparently didn’t even consider it.

  • Lori

     I don’t think that’ll work. Weren’t L&J trying to remake the movies recently because they didn’t like the way the first set turned out? It would be like tossing Zaphod in the Total Perspective Vortex – where normal people would be crushed by seeing something competent salvaged from their hackery, they’d just sit there smugly feeling superior to anything that wasn’t theirs. 

    WingedBeast’s proposal was for movies made from the Right Behind stories, written by slacktivites, not remakes of the movies based on L&K’s work. 

    Which would of course be like putting that in the Total Perspective Vortex, but for a rather different reason :)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I call dibs on playing Supreme Commander Leon. :P

  • Madhabmatics

    yo if you remove the “leon” part from that I will start up a server on steam!

    edit: I only have Supreme Commander 2 downloaded though!

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

    This is a good idea for a website.  One devoted to fictions where the
    demons and/or Satan are the good guys and the angels and/or God are the
    bad guys.

    It is, but mine wouldn’t fit. While the line between demon and angel is flexible and repatedly crossed over, it boils down to angel=compassion, demon=lack of compassion. In this setting, being a Knight Templar is one of the easiest ways to Fall.

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

    So it really wasn’t angels/demons/both are born as humans as part of the
    setting but more of, for the first time ever four demons used a
    complicated possession plot to free themselves from Hell.

    That’s also how it kind of starts in my story, and the angels are incarnated as a counter-measure. It gets much more complicated than that, of course.

    How many unwritten novels does this community have between them, I wonder?

  • chris the cynic

    How many unwritten novels does this community have between them, I wonder?

    Lots, I would venture.

    Lots on my end alone.

    Lets see, that was five I’ve mentioned so far, then there’s the thing where someone dates and angel and ends up pursuing a run and hide strategy since God, who violates the evil overlord list because said violation is the centerpiece of his entire society, does not approve.  Main characters end up enlisting the help of Greek gods in the process.  I figure I got about 90 thousand words into that, give or take.  Unfortunately they weren’t very well written words.

    There was an entire series of books in a single contemporary fantasy setting where I’d just come up with a premise, figure out where it fit in the timeline and say, “Someday I’ll make a novel of this.”

    There was the idea about various people with special powers (manipulate time in a bubble around yourself to move really fast or slow, walk through walls, teleport, the like) each such type power has its own conspiracy trying to capture/kill/control/do bad things to the people with that power.  They all do such a good job of keeping it hidden that everyone assumes the special power they have/deal with is the only such power.  The plot is what happens when suddenly the various groups become aware of each other.

    A take off on Percy Jackson (the movie, I haven’t read the book) where main character’s lineage was downgraded from “Child of Poseidon” to “Child of the Goddess of Dew” and most of his/her problem solving takes the form of trying to figure out a way to make the ability to cause water to form on surfaces somehow useful.  (As Athena-child points out, creation ex-nihilo is nothing to scoff at.)  Also, instead of hiding him by grabbing a stepfather whose stench would keep him hidden, they hid her by making her a boy.  Main character was very pissed off, supernatural beings didn’t understand.  (What’s wrong with being male?  At least you stayed human, I once had to spend three years as a cow.)

    Something about werewolves that was lacking in plot because I tried to do the whole write a novel in a month thing with no preparation (though not during the proper month) I think it was supposed to end with the evil politically connected werewolf hunters being taken down by arranging that they would be stopped by the FBI while in possession of detailed records of their shady dealings that they had confiscated by pretending to work for the FBI.

    Another thing that I tried to do for a novel in a month thing, this time at the proper time but it turned out that November was busy for me last year.  The basic premise was that when Lucifer fell to earth reality itself shattered, hell was built between the cracks.  For people with a natural affinity it was possible to choose to travel to the space between the cracks rather than across them (to the casual observer they’d appear to disappear.)  And something about a demon doomsday cult.

    I’ve wondered if some of my more stand alone Right Behind stories might be novel material, Not Even the Angels in Heave, A World Without God, Where Antichrists Come From.

    A story set in the future in a virtual reality game world.  The game has dungeons and whatnot but mostly it’s a wide open sandbox for people to do what they wilt in it.  (The lead character is a shopkeeper in the game world who, by selling his virtual currency for real money to people who don’t want to do the work to get it on their own, is able to afford the bare minimum necessary to stay alive and connected in the real world, his poor real world living conditions  don’t bother him because he’s got a good quality of life in the virtual reality.)  The plot of the novel would be how a group of characters came together when a massive power outage threw the game world into chaos (people who lost power were disconnected resulting in a sort of mini rapture, the more pvp users saw this as a golden opportunity to have the sort of fun that tended to end badly for everyone else.)  At the end the characters would have formed a team that would do city saving heroics again in the future on an ongoing basis.  (Or smaller level heroics, probably more on an A-Team level.)

    An alien invasion gets screwed up when one of the first scouts of the body taking over aliens merges with the host instead of taking over.  The aliens were aware that this would happen once or twice sooner or later, but the fact that it happened so early on is problematic for them.  The story would be told in first person plural except briefly when the aliens attempt to use torture to separate the alien and human.

    An alien invasion that gets screwed up because, in order to properly blend, the initial invaders didn’t know they were aliens with their alien memories only emerging at the proper time, at which point they cared about as much about their alien hopes and dreams as you or I might about plans for the future we made when we were four.

    An alien invasion story of the “We merge with your minds” variety in which turns out that almost everyone who escaped the doomed town was actually an alien.  Not an alien particularly bent on invasion, but this would be one of those paranoid “Who’s one of them?” stories and it would turn out to be everyone but that guy, “that guy” being the one who kept on saying, “I don’t care who’s one of them, what we’re doing to find out is morally wrong and I refuse to be a part of it.”  Then they’d all go their separate ways in peace.

    Something about two teenagers who met in Pompeii becoming inexplicably immortal and taking nearly 2000 years to run into each other again.  I may or may not have put more thought into it than that.

    A time traveler gets stuck in the past and sullenly explains to the local rulers that there’s nothing he can say about his technology that will help because it requires an infrastructure they simply don’t have.  He say’s the Archimedean screw is more useful than anything he could offer. They don’t know about the Archimedean screw.  He cheers up and explains that in that case he can be very useful indeed.  Years later the kingdom is thriving and working it’s way in the direction of whatever passes for utopia in the absence of penicillin.  The literacy rate is high, the people are well treated, and the envoy just returned from the east with copies of scrolls talking about all of that cool stuff the eastern empire kept alive after the fall of the west.  (Look up Heron of Alexandria, the man was amazing.)

    Everything is looking wonderful until more time travelers show up who have identified this as a point where interference with history could destroy the future.  Apparently the kingdom is to be destroyed and everyone in it either slaughtered or sold off into slavery.  If Anachronism City State isn’t destroyed then the changes made to them will rewrite history.  Original time traveler doesn’t give a damn.  The people in front of him are the ones he cares about, the future can go to Hell if it’s advocating for mass murder.  One of the new time travelers is captured, the philosophy of time travel is discussed, and finally at the command of the original time traveler new-time traveler is given a bucket, put on fire suppression duty and told, “If you really think these people deserve to die, let them.”  That doesn’t happen, putting out fires leads to fighting to save the city, the future be damned.

    For a completely different take on time travel, time is a spacial dimension.  Time travelers have learned to navigate it as easily as the others.  A thriving city exist in a single moment, with those still in the normal timestream existing like statues around which those who are outside of normal time live and work.  A giant minefield is set up to prevent people from changing the past before a certain point.  Settlements are made close to this minefield because changes in time can be pretty catastrophic for those outside of it.  (Think about what happens when the building your standing on ceases to have ever been constructed.)  A totalitarian regime is being fought, in large part through the use of a five pound remote control bomb, well, that and the ability to traverse the minefield to put it as far back as needed.  (One push of the button releases the bomb into the timestream set to detonate in three seconds.  Another push removes it from the timestream before it detonates.  One click knocks the comet off it’s appointed path and into the enemy instillation, a second click puts things right back how they were.)

    A couple of things about prophesy, possibly combined into one thing such that one of them became a story within a story.

    Probably various other things as well, I should dig out my old notebooks some time.

  • chris the cynic

    How many unwritten novels does this community have between them, I wonder?

    Lots, I would venture.

    Lots on my end alone.

    Lets see, that was five I’ve mentioned so far, then there’s the thing where someone dates and angel and ends up pursuing a run and hide strategy since God, who violates the evil overlord list because said violation is the centerpiece of his entire society, does not approve.  Main characters end up enlisting the help of Greek gods in the process.  I figure I got about 90 thousand words into that, give or take.  Unfortunately they weren’t very well written words.

    There was an entire series of books in a single contemporary fantasy setting where I’d just come up with a premise, figure out where it fit in the timeline and say, “Someday I’ll make a novel of this.”

    There was the idea about various people with special powers (manipulate time in a bubble around yourself to move really fast or slow, walk through walls, teleport, the like) each such type power has its own conspiracy trying to capture/kill/control/do bad things to the people with that power.  They all do such a good job of keeping it hidden that everyone assumes the special power they have/deal with is the only such power.  The plot is what happens when suddenly the various groups become aware of each other.

    A take off on Percy Jackson (the movie, I haven’t read the book) where main character’s lineage was downgraded from “Child of Poseidon” to “Child of the Goddess of Dew” and most of his/her problem solving takes the form of trying to figure out a way to make the ability to cause water to form on surfaces somehow useful.  (As Athena-child points out, creation ex-nihilo is nothing to scoff at.)  Also, instead of hiding him by grabbing a stepfather whose stench would keep him hidden, they hid her by making her a boy.  Main character was very pissed off, supernatural beings didn’t understand.  (What’s wrong with being male?  At least you stayed human, I once had to spend three years as a cow.)

    Something about werewolves that was lacking in plot because I tried to do the whole write a novel in a month thing with no preparation (though not during the proper month) I think it was supposed to end with the evil politically connected werewolf hunters being taken down by arranging that they would be stopped by the FBI while in possession of detailed records of their shady dealings that they had confiscated by pretending to work for the FBI.

    Another thing that I tried to do for a novel in a month thing, this time at the proper time but it turned out that November was busy for me last year.  The basic premise was that when Lucifer fell to earth reality itself shattered, hell was built between the cracks.  For people with a natural affinity it was possible to choose to travel to the space between the cracks rather than across them (to the casual observer they’d appear to disappear.)  And something about a demon doomsday cult.

    I’ve wondered if some of my more stand alone Right Behind stories might be novel material, Not Even the Angels in Heave, A World Without God, Where Antichrists Come From.

    A story set in the future in a virtual reality game world.  The game has dungeons and whatnot but mostly it’s a wide open sandbox for people to do what they wilt in it.  (The lead character is a shopkeeper in the game world who, by selling his virtual currency for real money to people who don’t want to do the work to get it on their own, is able to afford the bare minimum necessary to stay alive and connected in the real world, his poor real world living conditions  don’t bother him because he’s got a good quality of life in the virtual reality.)  The plot of the novel would be how a group of characters came together when a massive power outage threw the game world into chaos (people who lost power were disconnected resulting in a sort of mini rapture, the more pvp users saw this as a golden opportunity to have the sort of fun that tended to end badly for everyone else.)  At the end the characters would have formed a team that would do city saving heroics again in the future on an ongoing basis.  (Or smaller level heroics, probably more on an A-Team level.)

    An alien invasion gets screwed up when one of the first scouts of the body taking over aliens merges with the host instead of taking over.  The aliens were aware that this would happen once or twice sooner or later, but the fact that it happened so early on is problematic for them.  The story would be told in first person plural except briefly when the aliens attempt to use torture to separate the alien and human.

    An alien invasion that gets screwed up because, in order to properly blend, the initial invaders didn’t know they were aliens with their alien memories only emerging at the proper time, at which point they cared about as much about their alien hopes and dreams as you or I might about plans for the future we made when we were four.

    An alien invasion story of the “We merge with your minds” variety in which turns out that almost everyone who escaped the doomed town was actually an alien.  Not an alien particularly bent on invasion, but this would be one of those paranoid “Who’s one of them?” stories and it would turn out to be everyone but that guy, “that guy” being the one who kept on saying, “I don’t care who’s one of them, what we’re doing to find out is morally wrong and I refuse to be a part of it.”  Then they’d all go their separate ways in peace.

    Something about two teenagers who met in Pompeii becoming inexplicably immortal and taking nearly 2000 years to run into each other again.  I may or may not have put more thought into it than that.

    A time traveler gets stuck in the past and sullenly explains to the local rulers that there’s nothing he can say about his technology that will help because it requires an infrastructure they simply don’t have.  He say’s the Archimedean screw is more useful than anything he could offer. They don’t know about the Archimedean screw.  He cheers up and explains that in that case he can be very useful indeed.  Years later the kingdom is thriving and working it’s way in the direction of whatever passes for utopia in the absence of penicillin.  The literacy rate is high, the people are well treated, and the envoy just returned from the east with copies of scrolls talking about all of that cool stuff the eastern empire kept alive after the fall of the west.  (Look up Heron of Alexandria, the man was amazing.)

    Everything is looking wonderful until more time travelers show up who have identified this as a point where interference with history could destroy the future.  Apparently the kingdom is to be destroyed and everyone in it either slaughtered or sold off into slavery.  If Anachronism City State isn’t destroyed then the changes made to them will rewrite history.  Original time traveler doesn’t give a damn.  The people in front of him are the ones he cares about, the future can go to Hell if it’s advocating for mass murder.  One of the new time travelers is captured, the philosophy of time travel is discussed, and finally at the command of the original time traveler new-time traveler is given a bucket, put on fire suppression duty and told, “If you really think these people deserve to die, let them.”  That doesn’t happen, putting out fires leads to fighting to save the city, the future be damned.

    For a completely different take on time travel, time is a spacial dimension.  Time travelers have learned to navigate it as easily as the others.  A thriving city exist in a single moment, with those still in the normal timestream existing like statues around which those who are outside of normal time live and work.  A giant minefield is set up to prevent people from changing the past before a certain point.  Settlements are made close to this minefield because changes in time can be pretty catastrophic for those outside of it.  (Think about what happens when the building your standing on ceases to have ever been constructed.)  A totalitarian regime is being fought, in large part through the use of a five pound remote control bomb, well, that and the ability to traverse the minefield to put it as far back as needed.  (One push of the button releases the bomb into the timestream set to detonate in three seconds.  Another push removes it from the timestream before it detonates.  One click knocks the comet off it’s appointed path and into the enemy instillation, a second click puts things right back how they were.)

    A couple of things about prophesy, possibly combined into one thing such that one of them became a story within a story.

    Probably various other things as well, I should dig out my old notebooks some time.

  • Rikalous

    I had a similar idea for a series. Short version: angels and demons are
    born onto earth as humans without memory of their true nature, and as
    they discover their pasts lots of drama ensues, with angels falling and
    demons rising all over the place. Also, there would be
    divine/infernally-powered martial arts.

    Demon: the Fallen meets Exalted, the book series? Oh, I would be all over that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *jaw drops at sheer idea-ness* I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy! :P

  • chris the cynic

    Well if you’d like to feel more worthy, come over here and explain the finer points the whole Schrodinger’s cat thing* and I’ll be sure to make you feel much more capable than me.

    I’ll ask questions like, “Why isn’t the cat an observer?  Why is interacting with the cat’s gravitational field not an observation?  What if it were an aardvark?” and things like that.  I’ll generally act like a five year old:

    Why?
    [Answer]
    Why?
    [Answer]
    Well what about [absurdly complex and unrealistic scenario]?

    -

    * I am remembering correctly in thinking that you would be a person to understand such things, right?

  • Lori

     What if it were an aardvark?  

    I’m torn between 2 answers to this question.

    *That would be awesome, that’s what. I want to start a band just so I can name it Schrodinger’s Aardvark. 

    *That’s just silly. Who would put an aardvark in a box?

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

    Demon: the Fallen meets Exalted, the book series? Oh, I would be all over that.

    The idea being that the Incarnate “cannot be killed by any mortal weapon.” I was inspired by the line in Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy “Well then we’ll just have to find some immortal weapon.” And since the Incarnate themselves are immortal, the only way they can be killed is by each other with unarmed attacks, which inevitably get enhanced with angelic/demonic power.

  • Anonymous

    “Consider just one portion of Nicolae’s agenda — the OWG. Then think of how many years it takes to negotiate a “free-trade” agreement between, say, the United States and Paraguay. Think of how many thousands of pages such an agreement fills, how many lawyers were involved, how many exceptions, exemptions, loopholes and sweeteners are required to be argued over and bargained for. Give someone all of Stonagal’s massive financial resources and toss in supernatural powers of persuasion and preternatural charisma and I might believe that such a person could, in a mere 18 months, succeed in arranging a free-trade agreement between Nigeria and South Korea. But even that is a stretch. A one-world government? Not a chance.”Well, he does have the advantage that the sign-ees are mind controlled, and thus not haggling.  Also, if you don’t really *care* about either side’s advantage, and/or your conditions are just ‘anything goes’… it becomes a bit easier.  He’s less ‘negotiating’ and more ‘dominatinating’
    “If Nicky does know what is coming, then just what is he planning to do, anyway?
    Win a battle against GOD?”Yeah, pretty much.  After, of course, following God’s plan to the letter.This is why Nicolae is not such a great villain.
    “And it makes you wonder if God had said that the Anti Christ would hug puppies for seven years before Jesus’ return, would he have done it?).”Yes.  And it would be *terrible*.
    “As far as I can recall, the only unconventional thing he does is have his army ride horseback.  Which might be standard military vehicles for previous centuries, but are anachronistic for 21st century warfare.”Fssh.  Clearly his problem is a lack of sufficient ‘iron chariots’.
    “(PanCon would know this how again?  Do they make a habit of crashing 747s into water?)”PanCon may not, but Boeing certainly does.  Crash tests are regularly done with airplanes, in order to see how they perform in a crash.
    “Omnivore and vegetarian are not mutually exclusive.  Omnivore/herbivore defines a species; vegetarian is at the individual (or subgroup) level.  You’re not an herbivore even if you are a vegetarian.  Likewise, it’s awkward to use “omnivore” to describe people who eat meat because it technically doesn’t differentiate them from anyone else, but I can’t really think of a better term except maybe “meat-eater”.  So you’re both an omnivore and a vegetarian.”Yeah.  The distinction is that ‘vegetarian’ is a term of preference, while ‘omnivore’ is a biological term.
    “This is my understanding. However, “rebelled in some way” is a huge freaking handwave for beings that were supposedly purpose-built and without free will. Some important stuff got left out is what I’m saying.”On what basis do angels not have free will?  God gave humanity free will, but that’s not neccessarily exclusive.
    “Wait, so the LB Devil is both an atheist and an evolutionist?”Eh.  Being an atheist (or at least a ‘naytheist’) makes a certain amount of sense.  He knows God exists, obviously, but doesn’t worship him.
    Nice ideas, Chris.  Since we’re apparently telling our story ideas, should I list some of mine?  They range from weird to absurd to R-rated…

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

    Another unwritten novels I have:

    A setting that was pretty much like most urban fantasy settings, where you have all kinds of supernatural creatures and human magic-users in the background, until the masquerade is broken. Only instead of having this happen in the modern era, in happens in the early nineteenth century, when a dictator rises and tries to use his sorcery and monstrous allies to conquer Europe. Napoleon? No, he’s the leader of the alliance against Dracula and his undead armies. French state alchemists keep him active well into the 1850s with the elixir of life. France and England have formed a n uncomfortable alliance, partially because the new British PM is actually the second return of King Arthur. (The first was Elizabeth I.)

    Dracula’s navy of death-hulks is commanded by the undead Admiral Nelson. He has a magic artifact for an eye, and despite never being seen to eat or drink, always carries with him the scent of rum.

    The Catholic Church reveals a secret monster-hunting order of priests (the Order of St. George, naturally) who can bless weapons to harm monsters, but only for a minute or so. The natural result is gunslinging priests. Dual-wielding seven-chambered revolvers. (“One chamber for each cardinal virtue, one bullet to punish each deadly sin.”)

    Over in the US, slaveholders discover that zombies make the best slaves ever, and things go to hell right quick.

    Dracula hasn’t tried to invade Russia, because he has a tenuous non-aggression pact with Baba Yaga. The Koschei is working for Dracula and has infiltrated the Russian government.

  • chris the cynic

    Since we’re apparently telling our story ideas, should I list some of mine?  They range from weird to absurd to R-rated…

    My thinking was that everyone who wanted to would share theirs, but I hadn’t really thought about what ratings would and would not be appropriate.

    -

    Speaking of which, I left out the one where the upcoming alien invasion of earth causes the various alien groups already on earth to band together under the wise council of whoever from each group happened to be in the area at the time (and one human grabbed to represent humanity) they steal an alien warship and fight the evil invaders.

    Invaders operated on a three step process:
    1 Send a scout ship, if the planet looks like a good target call for the war ship.
    2 Send warship to subdue a city as a means of gauging the defenses.  If things look good call in the armada, if not leave (though some or the friendly aliens think this possibility is more rumor than anything else) unless things met a certain level of badness in which case destroy the planet (or at least it’s ability to sustain life) from a safe distance.
    3 Send Armada, take over planet.

    The protagalien’s plan is to wait until after the warship calls in the armada, and then steal the warship.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m trying to see if my Judd/Vicki AU has enough meat in it to be worthwhile. :)

  • Lori

     On what basis do angels not have free will?  God gave humanity free will, but that’s not neccessarily exclusive.  

    Opinions apparently differ on this, but I as I said I was taught that free will was one of things that distinguishes humans from angels. I’m not the person to ask for the chapter and verse on that, but I don’t recall thinking that it was a total ass pull (I did think that about quite a few other things that I was taught). 

  • chris the cynic

    I’ve definitely heard that angels don’t have free will (multiple times) and given that I’ve never been a part of a religion that implies that it’s at least common enough to be picked up by osmosis on the part of the uninitiated.  And yet simultaneously uncommon enough for it to be completely foreign to other people.

  • Anonymous

    No pressure and all, but why isn’t this a book yet?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    My understanding of Aquinas on the subject (and there was a lot going on in that bit of Aquinas, so I’m not entirely clear on it), angels have free will in a sort of academic sense (and are therefore totes responsible for their actions), but, not having their experience of the universe all constrained by our fleshy imperfections, and having a limited sort of omniscience (not that an angel is omniscient the way God is, but rather, each individual angel already knows everything it is ever going to know, because Aquinas was heavily influenced by the neoplatonists and therefore assumed the only reason you’d ever learn something new is because your flawed meaty brain wasn’t fully cooked yet), there is nothing an angel could ever experience that would lead it to change its mind, so every choice an angel is ever going to make is a continuous choice that it has been committed to from the moment of its creation and is continuing to choose at every point in time, and will never choose otherwise.

    Because in Aquinas’s universe, angels are Strong Leaders, not Spineless Flip-Floppers.

  • Lunch Meat

    I have a few Right Behind ideas that I’ve never put down on paper or on the computer–One where the Rapture not only takes away all the children, but also (seemingly) removes anyone’s ability to become pregnant. Actually, it turns out that the OWG has been “disappearing” women as soon as they become pregnant in order to brainwash the children better, and spreading the lie that scientists are working on how to restore fertility.

    Another half-idea in which the Antichrist creates or modifies a demon to look like a human child, both to get people to hope and trust him and as proof that God stole the children so that they will rebel against him.

    And a third, the only one I started, which is a Left Behind and zombies crossover. In this one, Nicolae is good but Satan is still bad and is manipulating Nicolae’s compassion for humanity and desire to create a utopia. But when the zombie apocalypse happens, surprising both God and Satan, Satan wants Nicolae to lead an army of the undead to take over heaven (since neither Satan nor God can control the undead), but Nicolae chooses to save humanity instead, using his miraculous powers and command of the forces of Hell.

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

    No pressure and all, but why isn’t this a book yet?

    Thanks! I’m glad to know there’s interest in my ideas. As for why I haven’t writing: it’s a long story, but I basically haven’t been writing since college for the same reason I haven’t been dating: I haven’t been in a position where I felt able to do here.

    The long version, with footnotes(1):

    Basically, after college (during which I was fairly prolific in writing if not dating) I got a Real Job which spent two and a half years utterly destroying my health, my energy, and ability to handle or even face problems, and was starting to harm my empathy.(2) During this time I did not have the energy to write at all.

    After my at-work panic attacks started becoming a daily occurrence instead of only 2-3 times a week, I quit and learned eight months later that I had gone into end-stage renal disease. I spent the next two and a half years on peritoneal dialysis, performing home exchanges on myself four times a day. This was much easier and less stressful than any job I had ever had, since I knew exactly was was expected of me and the consequences of screwing up were only death rather than being told off by someone.(3) My depression nonetheless worsened and I had little to no energy, as is common for dialysis patients, so no writing.

    I was automatically qualified for Medicare and Social Security Disability because of that commiesocialist Richard Nixon.(4) According to today’s Republican Party, I am a parasite who should die a slow and painful death from renal failure and decrease the surplus population.

    In December 2009 my awesome cousin Katie donated one of her kidneys to me because she is awesome.(5) I spent the next six months recovering from the surgery and the wacky changes my new drug regimen was wreaking on my body, which included gaining 45 pounds. I had a liberal arts education that gave me no marketable skills, and a conviction to never answer phones for a living again, so I studied and became certified as a pharmacy technician, and sought to gain work at a hospital pharmacy.(6)

    I spent the latter half of last year applying for every hospital pharmacy technician position that opened with a thirty-mile radius. I never got a single response, and the strain of this worsened my chronic anxiety to the point that attempting to start a job search, much less an application, caused panic attacks. As did leaving the house, or needing to make a phone call, or pretty much do anything involving an unfamiliar situation or needing to meet expectations. So I went into psychiatric therapy.

    That’s where I’ve been since January, and it has helped me to recognize that at this point I wouldn’t be capable of holding down a job even if I somehow got one… which is good because the Social Security Administration decided last month that since I had one working kidney I wasn’t disabled anymore. The “some emotional issues and insomnia” I have don’t prevent me from understanding directions, so they think I should be fine to work.

    I thus spent August in an intensive outpatient adult partial hospitalization program, which my doctor thought would be better for me than an inpatient program, since I have never been a suicide risk and can’t deal with being around other people for more than a few hours a day. (7) It took me weeks with lost of assistance from my mother, but I’ve applied for a reconsideration of disability on the basis of my psychiatric problems and have spent the last two weeks having lots of anxiety of when how that will proceed.

    So writing, serious writing has been too hard for me for seven years now.(8) I don’t know if it will get better should I be found disabled on psychological grounds.

    (1) My awesome film professor convinced me that footnotes are better than lengthy parenthetical asides (which I used with far too much enthusiasm).
    (2) Why yes, it WAS a call center job. How did you guess?
    (3) This should tell you something about how bad my social anxiety had gotten.
    (4) As a Quaker and a distant relative of his, I must thank him for this
    while also pointing out that he was the Worst Quaker Ever.
    (5) She is also clearly more bonkers than me, because she a) was playing lacrosse
    again within two months, and b) actually accepted
    the DVD of her surgery that the hospital offered her as a parting gift. Though she apparently was only able to watch it once while doped to the gills shortly after the surgery, and on a later attempt ended it as soon as scalpel touched flesh.
    (6) Retail pharmacies are Right Out, as a suppressed immune system does not go well with constant, direct exposure to sick people. Hospital pharmacy staff never interact with patients.
    (7) This has not contributed to my mental well-being about ever getting married, because as much as I want it I don’t even know if I could handle such a partnership.
    (8) Yes, I know I just wrote this huge post. Anxiety is not rational.

  • chris the cynic

    I’m often impressed with what other people are able to deal with.  In your position I’m pretty sure I’d curl up into a ball and cease to function.

    Even applying for work is more than I’ve ever managed, and yet you’ve had so much more working against you than I do.

    Anyway, I find you impressive and hope things work out for you.

  • WingedBeast

    Of course, Aquinas’s view would have to mean that Lucifer was created in a state of rebellion and was never a model angel.  That rather runs against the mythos, doesn’t it?

  • WingedBeast

    Of course, Aquinas’s view would have to mean that Lucifer was created in a state of rebellion and was never a model angel.  That rather runs against the mythos, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Oppen/594893122 Eric Oppen

    I can think of a whole lot of people from literature and fiction that could handle Nicky without breaking a sweat.  “Nicky, I’d like you to meet my friends Tyrion Lannister and Miles Vorkosigan.  Would you like to surrender now, or after a memorable mind-f*cking that’ll leave you wondering endlessly how we did it?”

    And afterwards, we’d do the same to L+J’s Deity, just because such a being shouldn’t be running around loose.

  • Rikalous

    Oh lordy, Tyrion Lannister and Miles Vorkosigan working the same case? That is not a sustainable situation. Not only are they going to end up in “most insane scheme” contest, Tryion’s probably going to snap when he finds out Miles has a loving family, a noble wife, a long series of romantic successes, a sane and competent king, and the most prestigious and powerful office said king can grant.

  • Anonymous

    and… a nose.

  • Anonymous

    and… a nose.

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

    Thank you. There have been a lot of instances where I have curled up in a ball and ceased to function, which is what led me to seek psychiatric therapy early this year.

    And getting different perspectives in a process group was very helpful. I was initially confused when many people commended my courage in dealing with kidney failure, dialysis, and surgery, because for me those things were so much easier than working or looking for work.

    It helped me to understand that I’m not weak, or lazy, or a coward, just because something that most people do as a routine part of daily life is overwhelming to me.

  • Bank of America

    Simple answer: God set up the deal. Thanks God, for helping me offload this worthless junk house onto some poor sucker! Amen, a Saved.

  • DataSnake

    Even if you discount the industries with under-12 CUSTOMERS, anything made in the third world would become much harder to find since no children means no child labor.


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