TF: Stuck in traffic

Tribulation Force, pp. 440-443

When we last saw our heroes they were in a dire predicament. Traffic leading up to their exit of the tollway was at a standstill and it seemed they would have to exit onto Route 53 and then backtrack for miles.

Oh, and also Washington, D.C., has been destroyed.

Still stuck in traffic, they desperately try to find a local news station:

“Put in on ‘scan,'” Chloe suggested. Finally the radio found an EBS station and Amanda locked it in.

I hope that by quoting only a couple of sentences from that section I haven’t made it seem less dramatic, because this is one of the most dramatic searching-for-the-news-on-a-car-radio scenes in any book in recent memory.

A Cable News Network/Global Community Network radio correspondent was broadcasting live from just outside Washington, D.C. “The fate of Global Community Potentate Nicolae Carpathia remains in question at this hour as Washington lies in ruins,” he said. “The massive assault was launched by east coast militia, with the aid of the United States of Britain and the former sovereign state of Egypt, now part of the Middle Eastern Commonwealth.”

Those expository little tidbits about the shape of the new confederations under Nicolae Carpathia’s one-world government are useful information. Sticking them into the middle of a news report on the outbreak of World War III, however, may not have been the most artful way of conveying that information to readers.

The remarkable thing here, though, is what doesn’t happen in this scene. Buck Williams is the publisher, top editor and star reporter for Global Community Weekly, yet he gives no thought to getting in touch with his office. I don’t know what the Weekly had planned for it’s next cover story, but I’m thinking the destruction of Washington, D.C., might require a change of plans. Yet like everyone else in the car, Buck just sits passively, listening to the CNN radio (?) report. He doesn’t frantically pull out his cellphone to call his close friends Steve Plank or Chaim Rosenzweig to get the inside scoop on the biggest breaking news story since the Event itself.

Yes, I realize that Buck doesn’t have a cellphone. We’ve discussed that before, but since then 18 months have elapsed in our story and Buck has been promoted to his new position as one of the world’s media elite. In 1996, when Tribulation Force was first published, cellphones were not yet as ubiquitous as they are today, but surely the publishers, top editors and star reporters for Time and Newsweek had them.

Again, though, the really strange thing here is not that Buck Williams does not have a cellphone. The really strange thing here is that Buck Williams isn’t wishing that he had a cellphone as he sits, stuck in traffic and unable to do his job as the biggest story in the world unfolds.

The CNN radio report continues:

“Global Community peacekeeping forces immediately retaliated by destroying a former Nike center in suburban Chicago. Reports from there indicate that thousands of civilian casualties have been reported in surrounding suburbs, and a colossal traffic tie-up is hampering rescue efforts.”

“Oh, dear God!” Amanda prayed.

It’s not altogether clear there whether Amanda’s prayerful cry is due to the news of the thousands of casualties or to the news about the scope of the traffic jam.

The hilarious awfulness of the mention of that traffic jam — by this reporter in this context — takes a moment to sink in. This reporter, remember, is broadcasting live from the outskirts of what used to be Washington, D.C. That city now “lies in ruins,” and this reporter is braving the chaos, flames and destruction to bring us the first heart-stopping account of that astonishing, horrifying news. And somehow he manages to work in a reference to the very traffic jam our heroes are sitting in.

One might imagine that the destruction of the former American capital might also lead to a “colossal traffic tie-up” all along the East Coast, and that this might also “hamper rescue efforts” in that city of 600,000 people. The reporter, on the scene there in Washington after somehow navigating that traffic himself, makes no mention of that. Yet from the front lines of World War III, he reports on traffic conditions a thousand miles away.

We’ve often discussed the staggering self-absorption of the main characters in these books. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for Buck and Rayford when they act as though the world revolves around them. But they can’t help it, because thanks to the authors, their world does revolve around them. Nothing matters to the authors except that which directly affects our heroes. No one matters except those who directly affect our heroes. If Buck and Rayford don’t care about someone then they authors don’t care about them either, and vice versa. And we readers are expected to share this disregard.

The reporter babbles on a bit about some other news from the second seal of the apocalypse:

“Other attacks we know about at this moment,” the reporter went on, “include a foray of Egyptian ground forces toward Iraq, obviously intending a siege upon New Babylon. That effort was quickly eliminated by Global Community air forces, which are now advancing on England.”

The Egyptians’ planned siege might have worked, too, if only the Antichrist’s fighter jets hadn’t destroyed their battering ram.

These strange and random-seeming little details of the war are included because, according to Tim LaHaye, they fulfill “Bible prophecies.” In this case, I think it has something to do with Ezekiel 30:10: “I will also make a multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” LaHaye’s strictly literal interpretive scheme, of course, means that this doesn’t refer to Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 605-562 BCE, but rather to the future Antichrist who will create a global capital on the site of the ruins of that empire. And, obviously, the proper chronological reading of scripture is to locate the events described in Ezekiel 30:10 as occurring immediately after the events described in Revelation 6:4. Obviously.

Once it seems clear that the intrepid radio reporter isn’t going to provide any further information about the traffic in suburban Chicago, our heroes lose interest in his account of the outbreak of global conflict and return their focus to more urgent matters:

“We’ve got to get to Bruce,” Chloe said, as Rayford inched along. “Everybody’s going to be taking 53 north, Dad. Let’s go south and double back.”

But then the reporter — the same reporter there on the outskirts of the rubble of Washington, D.C. — starts talking about the other urgent question on everyone’s mind all over the world: What about Nicolae Carpathia’s beautiful airplane?

“Global Community intelligence today uncovered a plot to destroy Potentate Carpathia’s plane, which may or may not have contained Carpathia when it was flown to O’Hare International this morning. That plane is now airborne, destination unknown, though Global Community forces are marshaling in New York City.”

At this point I’m almost surprised that the reporter didn’t say, “when it was flown to O’Hare International this morning by ace pilot Rayford Steele.”

Amanda grabbed Rayford’s arm. “We could have been killed!”

When Rayford spoke, Buck thought he might break down. “Let’s just hope I didn’t fulfill Earl’s dream by getting him killed,” he said.

“You want me to drive, Rayford?” Buck asked.

“No, I’ll be all right.”

Apparently Rayford is only just now realizing that when Nicolae asked him to fly the plane to Chicago as a decoy to mislead rumored insurgents, what he actually meant was that he wanted Rayford to fly the plane to Chicago as a decoy to mislead rumored insurgents.

Buck never got around to telling Rayford that those insurgents were more than a rumor. He had been told about the planned attack on Nicolae, and he knew just when it was going to occur, but somehow he forgot to mention any of that to his father-in-law, Nicolae’s personal pilot. Buck’s offer to drive seems like an awkward attempt to change the subject before anyone says something like, “If only we had had some way of knowing that insurgents were planning to attack Nicolae’s plane today …”

And then, abruptly, Jerry Jenkins decides to sprinkle in a misplaced, misbegotten and mishandled attempt at humor:

The radio announcer continued: “We’re on standby for a lie feed, excuse me, a live feed from Global Community Potentate Nicolae Carpathia …”

“He had that right the first time,” Chloe said.

The wit involved in constructing that joke and the evident pride in its execution makes me realize who it is that Jerry Jenkins frequently reminds me of: David Brent.

While waiting for the live feed from the leader of the world, the CNN radio reporter — still the same reporter — continues to neglect the carnage all around him in the smoldering ruins of Washington and, instead, adds more detail to his report on the Chicago suburbs:

“GC peacekeeping forces spokesmen say the destruction of the old Nike base was effected without the use of nuclear weapons. … There is, we repeat, no danger of radiation fallout in the Chicago area, though peacekeeping forces are not allowing automobile traffic near the site.”

I’m fascinated by the image of this reporter, standing on the outskirts of the shattered capital city but neglecting to report on that while compulsively discussing the traffic in Chicago. I’m imagining that this reflects some new technology in the “not-so-distant future” world of Tribulation Force.

Think about it, if we speculate about possible developments based on our current technology and cultural trends, we can imagine a world of the not-so-distant future in which “the news” would become a personalized, idiosyncratic stream of information tailored to each individual. In such a world, the “news” that you would read, hear or watch would be different from the “news” I would consume. It would be shaped to meet our personal needs and preferences, based on location (not just our addresses, but using GPS tracking in our phones, tablets, etc.), and based on a host of data mined from our browser histories, digital TV and radio habits, our social media “likes” and our responses to a steadily evolving series of interface surveys.

So if, in such a NSDF world, you were stuck in traffic due to the outbreak of World War III, your personalized news reports on the start of the war would be interspersed with practical information on your personal traffic dilemma.

If that were what Jenkins were portraying here, then the characters’ behavior and reactions would also make more sense. Because a story involving that sort of technological development wouldn’t be a story about technology, but a story about people — the kind of people such technology might foster and the kind of people who might incline toward such technology. It would likely be a satire chiding an increasingly self-absorbed culture of people stunted by a myopic epistemic closure. And while that isn’t the authors’ intent, it often seems like we’re reading that kind of satire.

But despite its being set in the not-so-distant future, Tribulation Force doesn’t include any such speculative creativity regarding possible technological or cultural changes. That results in a “future” that seems weirdly behind the times. It’s only been 15 years since the book was first published, but the future it describes already seems quaintly 20th-century.

Part of the blame for that rests with Jerry Jenkins, who doesn’t seem to have expended any real effort or imagination in creating the world of his novel. But I think the blame also has to be shared with his co-author and with their intended readership. Tim LaHaye would not have allowed any such inventiveness by Jenkins. And their intended readers would not have understood it.

Consider one of the classic clichés of “futuristic” possibilities: the flying car. If Jenkins had tried to give Buck Williams a flying car, LaHaye would have vetoed the idea. His “Bible prophecies” don’t say anything about flying cars, so flying cars cannot be permitted in this story. LaHaye allows some strange and largely unexplained future developments in these books — such as Rosenzweig’s miracle formula, or the even more miraculous peaceful quadrupling in size of the nation of Israel — but only when those developments are items from his prophecy check list.

That distinction is also what the intended readers of these books are expecting. Any additional creative touches from Jenkins would likely be interpreted by those readers as official parts of LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy.” If Buck Williams were allowed to zip around in a flying car, those readers would begin to view flying cars as a necessary sign of the Last Days. “But pastor,” they’d be saying, “we know the Rapture can’t come yet because we haven’t got flying cars.”

And that’s a shame. Because if you’re the greatest investigative reporter of all time and you’re hopelessly stuck in traffic while the biggest breaking news story in the world is unfolding a thousand miles away, then a flying car would probably come in handy.

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  • Amaryllis

    Finally in the terminal, Rayford found crowds standing in line behind banks of phones, their cell phone networks apparently overloaded.

    From Left Behind: The Remake

    But…when’s the last time you saw “banks” of public phones anywhere? My local airport has some scattered phones with TDDs for the hearing-impaired, but I wouldn’t call it “banks.” It’s more probably that Rayford would find those crowds mobbing the one lone phone in each concourse.

  • Tonio

    George W. Bush famously told troops headed for Afghanistan that he wished he could go with them.

    Nice attempt at putting a romantic sheen over the horror and brutality of war. During those years, I wondered if Bush saw Afghanistan and Iraq as a modern-day Christian crusade. Not an unreasonable suspicion for someone who claimed that his god spoke through him.

  • hapax

    Strength and good thoughts to your father and all your family, Jessica_R.

  • esmerelda ogg

    Oh, Jessica! Here, have an armload of good thoughts.

  • Lori

    Jessica: I’m sending good thoughts for you and your family. I know how difficult it is to deal with a parent’s illness and I’m hoping for a good outcome for all of you.  

  • Persia

     You’ll certainly have mine. Sympathy ‘like’ clicked.

  • Hopes and good thoughts being sent your way.  Wish I could do more.

    Since people discussed the total perspective vortex, here’s some excerpts from the radio show with the names changed:

    Many stories are told of Buck William’s journey to New Babylon. Ten percent of them are ninety-five percent true, fourteen percent of them are sixty-five percent true, thirty-five percent of them are only five percent true, and all the rest of them are… told by Buck Williams.

    Carpathia: The Vortex is in the heaviest steel bunker ahead of you. 
    MAN: [Blood-curdling scream] 
    Buck: The universe does that to a guy? 
    Carpathia: The whole infinite Universe. The Infinite suns. The Infinite distances between them, and yourself. An invisible dot on an invisible dot. Infinitely small
    Buck: Hey I’m Buck Williams man! You know? 
    Carpathia: That is precisely the point. 
    Carpathia: There. The Vortex. The Total Perspective Vortex. Enter, Williams! Enter the Vortex! 
    Buck: Okay, okay. 
    [The Vortex starts up]
    [The Vortex door opens]
    Buck: Hi.
    Carpathia: Williams! You’re…!
    Buck: Fine, fine. Could I have a drink please?
    Carpathia: You’ve been in the Vortex?!
    Buck: You saw me kid.
    Carpathia: And you saw the whole infinity of creation?!
    Buck: The lot baby – it’s a real neat place you know, heh-heh.
    Carpathia: And you saw yourself in relation to it all?!
    Buck: Yah, yeah, yeah.
    Carpathia: And what did you experience?!
    Buck: It just told me what I knew all the time: I’m a really great guy! Didn’t I tell ya baby, I am Buck Williams!!

    Having been through the Total Perspective Vortex, Buck Williams now knows himself to be the most important being in the entire universe – something he had hitherto only suspected. It is said that his birth was marked by earthquakes, tidal waves, tornados, fire storms, the explosion of three neighbouring stars, and, shortly afterwards, by the issuing of over six and three-quarter million writs for damages from all the major landowners in his galactic sector. However, the only person by whom this is said is Williams himself. And there are several possible theories to explain this.

    Chloe: Dad?
    Rayford: Yeah?
    Chloe: He’s totally mad, isn’t he?

    Some things that stand out if we wanted to Buckify the dialog are his reactions to being in the vortex, Zaphod thought the universe was neat, Buck doesn’t seem to have any such appreciation for it. Zaphod wanted a drink, Buck would not. Buck would have opened up with, “I am the most awesome person EVER!” rather than waiting to be asked. Also, before going in, Zaphod was nervous, Buck probably wouldn’t be as he would know, all the while, that he’s the most important person evah!

  • Anonymous

    Sending good thoughts to you and your family. I hope it will not be as awful as expected.

  • Anonymous

    Very best wishes, Jessica. We went through this a few years ago. It’s rough. One (i.e., any individual or the family as a whole) does make one’s way through it, for what that’s worth. Good thoughts and supportive wishes to you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I’m so sorry.  I hope the news turns out to be better than expected.

    *offers hug*

  • Jenny Islander

    Wonder not.  He actually used the word “crusade” in a speech about his planned response to the 9/11 bombing.  What an idiot!

  • Anonymous

    Jessica, I’ll be praying for your father and the rest of your family.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the good thoughts everybody. 

    As for the actual topic, again, if our heroes acted like heroes nobody would be getting hung up on the cellphones or lack thereof thing. We’d either be rooting for them as they got out of the car and started helping people as they made their way to Bruce. Or more likely, being actual heroes, they would be on the run, perhaps crouched around an old transistor radio getting the news. As when you’re a hero you don’t accept a cushy position of privilege and hush money and do absolutely nothing except maybe remember to treat your female boss like garbage. 

  • Tess Cameron

    We actually *do* increasingly live in that narcissistically myopic world of homogenized tailored news, which suggests that we actually *are* increasingly the sort of people who care only for news which serves our specific purposes or confirms our biases. Which is probably good news for people like Ellenjay. See the video below.

  • Anonymous

    Thoughts and prayers for you, Jessica.

  • mmy

    Given the fact that pay phones almost don’t exist anymore, did Jenkins bother to rewrite any of the passages to reflect that? That would be a no, right?

    Remember some number of years ago when the power went off from southern Ontario down to deep in the US? 

    For some reason MY cell phone was still getting service even though many others were not. A friend had been planning a going away “thing” at a nearby establishment where they sold booze, beer and a few things to eat. I called and they were still open so I walked over. They had a big outdoor garden. It was light outside until near 10 at that time of year. The establishment had no lights but they did have a backup generator that kept the beer cold and on tap.

    Everyone sat around the big picnic tables outside and the people who had working phones (like me) just put them on the table and let anyone who needed to contact family/friends borrow them. Servers brought out pitchers of water and sandwiches for people who didn’t want a beer. People who used phones for long-distance calls would drop a dollar on the table to pay for the food/beer or buy a round.

    One of the things that is missing for ellenjay is the way in which people work together when things are bad. 

  • mmy

    Jessica_R: Sympathies and good thoughts.

  • That is unfortunate to learn, Jessica.  I hope that the degree of awful errs on the side of mild.  My sympathies go with you and your family.  

  • Albanaeon

    Now there’s an idea for a PMD book. 

    God, trapped into a “biblical” scenario is forced to eliminate all the things that don’t appear in the checklist.  The horror and suffering that occurs as a modern society is blinked back into an iron age level of technology to suit the apparently developmental stunted whims of a petty tyrant god.

    Of course, without the phone fetish to fall back on, L&J would have to try writing a story, and who knows what would happen then.

  • All sympathies to you and your father.  Good luck.

  • The Lodger

    Archbishop Al is in the flying car business? (grin)

  • The Lodger

    Also, I’ll be praying for your father.

  • Anonymous

    I’m only two years younger than Jenkins (born 1949 according to Wikipedia), but, not being American, I still think “warehouse full of running shoes”. Of course a Judaean rabbi from the 1st century would think “Greek goddess – pure idolatry, but they’re only gentiles and there are some quite pretty statues”.

  • Or more likely, being actual heroes, they would be on the run, perhaps crouched around an old transistor radio getting the news.

    I’ve been thinking of this somewhat.  In my story A World Without God at this point the protagonists would be hiding out in the woods.  They would have spent most of the 18 months trying to oppose the regime in secret, but would have gone too far to keep their opposition a secret before the war started.  Which made me wonder how they’d even know.

    The narrator is a psychic of a sort, so I was thinking perhaps a great disturbance in the force.  A Star Wars novel, I, Jedi if I recall correctly, had a scene where someone learned that a planet was destroyed by being bombarded with the final moments of everyone on the planet all at once.  It occurred to me that I might do something like that for my character (though obviously on a more city sized scale.)

    For our heroes from Left Behind, something more like this might make sense:

    They’d been debating since the planes flew overhead.  The only way the phone would still work is if the government had left the account open in hopes of tracing it, that meant losing their hiding place.  They weren’t sure whether it was worth the risk, but in the end they simply had to know what was happening.

    So Chloe was climbing a tree.  They’d picked this spot because it was so far from everything, a perfect place to hide until the heat died down.  A downside was that it was so far from everything.  There was no reception on the ground, but at the top of some of the taller trees they thought there might be unobstructed connection with the nearest tower.

    Several times she reached a branch, checked the phone, and found there was no signal.  She was running out of tree, and running out of patience, when she finally got what she was looking for.  The connection was tenuous, and slow, but she started loading a  news page.

    “Oh my god!” Rayford herd Chloe say high above him.  Then he heard, “Shit!” followed by the sound of breaking branches, a sound moving closer to earth.  Chloe was falling, Rayford rushed to help her, tripped on a root, and fell on his face.  He looked up in time to see Buck and Amanda awkwardly catching Chloe.

    They laid her down on the ground, Amanda asked, “Are you ok?”

    “It’s started,” Chloe said.

    “Are you-”

    “It’s started!” Chloe said while showing Amanda the phone.  Amanda froze in shock.  Soon they’d all seen it, a half loaded page, at it’s center a picture and a caption.  The picture was a mushroom cloud, the caption was Washington D.C.

    Chloe had surivived the fall with remarkably few injures, she was bruised all over and her attempts to slow her fall had dislocated a shoulder, but she was prepared for the hike out.  The gather the few supplies they had gathered, and headed for the car they had hidden, from there they would go to the nearest city.  There would be wounded in need of helping.

  • esmerelda ogg

    “Jenkins (born 1949 according to Wikipedia)”
    Waitaminute – you mean Jenkins is younger than I am?!? Running shoes was my automatic reaction, too. Now, I remember hearing about Nike bases while growing up, and if Jenkins had written “Nike base” my association would have been “missile”, but a “Nike center” is a big box store that sells shoes. Okay, or maybe a warehouse. But full of shoes. Period.

    If it’s not advanced old age, what IS wrong with the man?

  • Rikalous

    Hopeful thoughts sent Jessica-wards. May all the awfulness be minimized.

  • Anonymous

    Best wishes and thoughts to Jessica_R and her father. I hope the outcome is better than it might be.

  • Nomuse

    So, what, the next attack will be launched by France allied with Finland,  Germany working with Greece, then Holland combined with New Hampshire, the Hebrides, and…I got nothing.

  • You know, Jenkins could have easily help to contextualize this by simply calling it a “Nike missile base.”  

    Most of the ambiguity is gone right there.  

  • Anonymous

    One of the things that is missing for ellenjay is the way in which people work together when things are bad.

    That’s an important point. It’s been observed many times that the Tribbles are doing nothing to help anyone. But really, as mmy points out, these books miss entirely the kind of coming-together that seems to happen in a crisis. And that is key.

  • nanananana

    It all makes sense! The anti-christ’s obsession with alphabetical order was actually hinting at how he’s gonna start a war!

  • Alicia

    That would require revising and editing, which is a sin right up there with adultery, paganism, and saying “Happy Holidays”.

  • Did anyone explain what the militia (and the ex-president, who wasn’t drawn as a psychopath) thought was the point of their bombing Washington?   Was it just a rather overdone assassination attempt, or was there some real rationale for offing a million souls?
    Or is it intended to be Nicky who does the bombing, under cover of a militia fabrication?  I’m really not following.

  • Anonymous

    “It’s not altogether clear there whether Amanda’s prayerful cry is due to the news of the thousands of casualties or to the news about the scope of the traffic jam.”

    ## Neither. She’s probably devastated at losing her last chance of getting a pair of Nikes

  • P J Evans

    I’m surprised they didn’t go for flying cars: they could be covered by the story of Ezekiel seeing the fiery wheel in the air.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be sending good thoughts your way, Jessica_R.  I hope everything turns out better than expected.

  • Anonymous

    Hungary?  Then Iceland and Iran.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the ex-president told Bucky he was planning something, so it can’t be just a fabrication.  Unless he was mind controlled into telling Bucky that.

    Over all, though, I’d say these books specialize in anti-sense.  You may hurt yourself if you try to follow any of the “logic” in them.

  • P J Evans

     Oh, dear Ghu. {{{Jessica_R}}}

    (Been there, done that; I’d say it was awful except that dead is better than vegetable, IMO. And I learned that ‘dead weight’ is a descriptive phrase, even when the weight is still breathing, more or less.)

  • P J Evans

    If it’s not advanced old age, what IS wrong with the man?

    I’m going for a serious case of ‘tin ear’.

  • mmy: I love that story about what happened in Ontario. It is good to know people don’t leave each other in the lurch in moments of crisis. :)

    Unlike, say, that self-important ass Rayford Steele.

  • wendy

    Did they just nuke the Egyptian army as it crossed the Sinai?  Even then, how can they be sure they got all of them?  Why isn’t “Nuclear Exchange Crushes Uprising” the headline of the day?
    For that matter — how did the Egyptian army hope to get to Iraq? Were they going to march through Israel and Jordan and God wouldn’t worry because he knows they’re not really threatening Israel. Or perhaps it was Navy, half through the mediterranean with a Syria landing, and other half through the Suez canal and up through the sea of… 

    Y’know what? I’ll bet L&J’s map doesn’t look anything like my map. In their world there’s an Egypt/Iraq border, just go with it. 

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t sure at first whether they meant the shoe or the missile either.  My first mental image was of thuggish One World stormtroopers gunning down innocent civilians at the Niketown flagship store in Chicago.  Brutal retalitory attacks on the population  seem like a anti-christ-y thing to do, even if it doesn’t quite flow logically as revenge for levelling DC.  

    But a Nike missile installation?  Why attack a weapon base that had been decomissioned at least a quarter century earlier?  Since most of the 20 sites would have already been gone it’s not great way to show off your firepower (“Wow!  You leveled…a place that was already leveled.”)  If you had to pick a military site in Chicago at least pick something that was in use at the time of global disarmament.  I don’t know, something like the Navy boot camp in North Chicago, or maybe one of the National Guard armories.

  • E-foster

    also, they dont even specify that it was a Nike base controlled by the militia, they just say “GC forces immediately retaliated against a Nike base in Manhattan”

    so apparently, the OWG response to Washington being nuked was to immediately bomb a shoe factory in Manhattan, killing thousands. at least the Empertor’s sick airplane is ok, though. i think we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

  • E-foster

    oh i posted that as a reply to someone on page 1, seems kind of redundant on page 5 though :/

  • Izzy

    Hugs to Jessica–hoping for the best for you and yours.

  • But a Nike missile installation?  Why attack a weapon base that had been decomissioned at least a quarter century earlier?  Since most of the 20 sites would have already been gone it’s not great way to show off your firepower (“Wow!  You leveled…a place that was already leveled.”)  If you had to pick a military site in Chicago at least pick something that was in use at the time of global disarmament.  I don’t know, something like the Navy boot camp in North Chicago, or maybe one of the National Guard armories.

    I think that the reason the militia was using it was because it was decommissioned.  An old decommissioned base that they could use as a hidden armory.  Of course, the only Nike base that they could be referring to has been turned into a golf course and National Guard station, so there is not exactly a lot left intact to hide their smuggled arms in.  

    Hey, that gave me a thought.  Some of that facility is a National Guard base, but with the elimination of 90% of the world’s military, such a base would be likely to be retired, no?  If they had not bothered with a tear-down operation (and with the timetable Nicky set out I can see that step having to be dropped for expediency) then there is a perfectly serviceable abandoned base for the militia to occupy.  

  • The AGM-129B is a non-nuclear variant of the AGM-129A that was under development in the early 1990s.  It utilizes stealth technology and can be launched from a B-52 up to 2,000 nautical miles from target.  One of these would have done the job without having to send in any ground forces.  Whether Fitzhugh was stupid enough to surrender an AGM-129B (or a B-52 for that matter) to Carpathia is another matter, but in this series the characters’ stupidity does seem to rise to the occasion.

  • Yes, because the Israelis have historically had *no problem at all* with Egyptian tanks crossing their borders. ;-)

  • At least Pournelle could write a fairly decent story in which to embed his political rant.

    Fundamentalists in general have problems with futuristic fiction.  I’ve actually had some tell me that science fiction is demonic because it implies that the End Times will not come (the notion that whatever is depicted in any given story might happen *between* now and the End Times never occurs to them).