NRA: We’re back in the car again

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 95-107

Buck Williams’ wife, Chloe, is trapped in the crumpled wreck of his Range Rover somewhere off the side of Lake Shore Drive. Buck is “walking quickly” to her side.

He’s already run more than a mile, and now:

There was no running left in him, despite his fear that she might be bleeding or in shock.

“I’m in the strangest place,” she said, and he sensed her fading.

She babbles on for a bit, “dreamily,” sounding “as if she were about to fall asleep.” She drifts in and out of consciousness and occasionally Buck hears “her groan painfully.” And he walks on. Briskly.

One odd thing about this whole Buck-searching-for-Chloe sequence is what does not happen in any of this. Buck doesn’t pray.

Chloe is in the car and Buck is in the tree … so where is the dinosaur?

The heroes of these books often make a show of pious prayer. Readers were even made to endure a multi-page silent prayer session in Bruce’s office in which their spiritual — and literal — groaning was at once, like a poorly written sex scene, overly explicit and helplessly vague. Buck and Rayford frequently pause to pray for guidance or divine protection or wisdom before meeting with their boss, the Antichrist, or before undertaking some more mundane task.

Yet here Buck hasn’t got a prayer.

That’s odd to me, since these are exactly the sorts of situations in which I’m most inclined to pray. I think that’s true for most people who believe in God even in the vaguest sense. Trekking on foot through a smoldering city, with scenes of devastation all around, many of us would reflexively be offering up some variation of the “God help those poor bastards” prayer. If I were desperate to find my injured wife and had no idea which direction to turn, I’m sure I’d be blurting out some form of your basic “A little help here!” prayer. And once I’d found out where she was and heard her weak, fading voice over the phone, my every sentence to her — “Hold on, I’m coming!” — would be accompanied by a pleading demand of a prayer making the same urgent request/command.

(In such dire situations, I confess, my prayers tend to sound a bit like those of Pedro Cerrano in Major League — “I’m pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don’t help me now, I say ‘F–k you, Jobu.’ I do it myself …” — but these are still prayers. The book of Psalms, by the way, is filled with prayers very much like Cerrano’s.)

After that bit quoted above, with Buck having “no running left in him” even as “he sensed her fading,” I really expected the next lines to be Buck praying the beloved words of Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” –  and then for him to feel suddenly energized, sprinting to Chloe’s side as though on eagle’s wings.

Such a direct, instantaneous answer to prayer might not seem realistic, but it would be more realistic than the idea that Buck Williams, a real, true evangelical Christian, would be in this situation without praying such a prayer.

So from page 96 through page 99 we get a phone conversation between Buck and a dazed, groggy Chloe in which she describes her predicament. And then on pages 102 and 103, Buck arrives and describes the same situation in much the same words.

Repetition, alas, does not provide clarity. Buck’s Adventure With the Range Rover and the Tree, which unfolds over the next several pages, depends on readers being able to picture this scene quite precisely, and Jerry Jenkins doesn’t give us much to go on.

We should give Jenkins points here for degree-of-difficulty. This sort of scene is not easy to pull off. It’s a kind of writing that almost requires one to story-board out the sequence as though you were preparing to film it. Unless the writer has a perfectly clear image of the scene in mind, there’s no way we readers will be able to get a clear picture of it in ours.

The Range Rover was lodged between the trunk and lower branches of a large tree and the concrete abutment. “Turn those lights off, hon!” Buck called out. “Let’s not draw attention to ourselves now.”

That bit about the lights and an upcoming little bit about Buck using a flashlight are the first indications we have that it’s nighttime. Maybe I missed some earlier clue, but it wasn’t until I got to the flashlight that I realized that Buck has been running/walking around in the dark this whole time.

Buck doesn’t want to draw the attention of rescue personnel for the same reason he was so evasive when speaking with them earlier. Readers are apparently supposed to understand what this reason might be, but I don’t. It seems to me that the attention of police, firefighters or EMTs is exactly what Chloe needs just now.

I suppose Buck’s reasoning is that all such emergency responders now work for the one-world government of the Global Community, and thus they are all in a sense in the employ of the Antichrist. But Buck is too. It also may be that he’s worried that while rescuing his ailing wife, those emergency personnel might stumble across the print-outs from Bruce’s hard drive in the back of the SUV. You know how it is after the nuclear destruction of a city — cops are on the prowl for reams of email print-outs that they can skim in search of potentially troubling theology. Rather than risk that, Buck decides it’s better to deny his wife professional medical assistance. Better safe than sorry.

The next paragraph gives us a slightly better picture of the scene, but only slightly:

The wheels of the vehicle pressed almost flat against the wall, and Buck was amazed that the tree could sustain the weight. Buck had to climb into the tree to look down through the driver’s-side window.

Here’s what I’ve got: The Range Rover is tilted onto its right side, with the passenger door facing the ground. The wheels of the SUV are touching a concrete wall of indeterminate height or purpose.

And there’s a tree. It’s large. Based on the apparent abundance of lower branches, I’m guessing it’s some kind of pine tree.

Is the passenger side of the SUV lying on the ground? Or is the vehicle suspended, somehow, in the branches of the tree? Maybe it’s tipped nearly onto its side, leaning partly against the “trunk and lower branches” of the tree? But no, the wheels are “almost flat against the wall,” and that would mean the side of the SUV is also almost flat against the ground, right? So in what way is the tree having to “sustain the weight”?

Chloe’s position is a bit clearer. She “seemed to be dangling from the seat belt” of the driver’s seat. The driver’s side window is facing up, but it’s closed. So we get half a page of Chloe painfully squirming to turn the ignition on so that she can open the window. (Those of us driving no-option, no-extras models with dependable manual windows are excused for feeling a little smug here.)

“Can you unlatch your seat belt without hurting yourself?”

“I’ll try, Buck, but I hurt all over. I’m not sure what’s broken and what isn’t.”

“Try to brace yourself somehow and get loose of that thing. Then you can stand on the passenger’s-side window and lower this one.”

Our image of the SUV comes a bit more into focus — flat on the ground on its right side. And I guess the roof of the car is pressed up against the tree somehow.

Chloe can’t get out of the seatbelt, but she does manage to get her window open.

Buck reached down with both hands to try to support her. “I was so worried about you,” he said.

“I was worried about me too,” Chloe said. “I think I took all the damage to my left side. I think my ankle’s broken, my wrist is sprained, and I feel pain in my left knee and shoulder.”

… “You’re not bleeding anywhere?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I hope you’re not bleeding internally.”

“Buck, I’m sure I’d be long gone by now if I were bleeding internally.”

“So you’re basically all right if I can get you out of there.”

Yeah, she’s fine.

This next bit I can actually picture, except for how the tree fits in:

Buck lay across the side of the nearly upended Range Rover and reached way down in to put one forearm under Chloe’s right arm and grab her waistband at the back with the other. He lifted as she pushed the seat belt button. She was petite, but with no foundation or way to brace himself it was all Buck could do to keep from dropping her. She moved her feet out from under the dashboard and stood gingerly. Her feet were on the passenger’s-side door, and her head now was near the steering wheel.

Apart from wondering how Buck grabs something with his forearm, I followed most of that. The SUV is lying on its right side. Buck is lying atop its left side. Still not sure about the tree, or how “nearly upended” is meant to describe “flat on its side,” but I think I know where Buck and Chloe are at this point.

Chloe begs for help getting out of the SUV she’s been trapped in for the last several hours:

“I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck. Can we get that door open, and can you help me climb?”

Buck responds to this direct request with some ill-advised banter:

“I just have one question for you first. Is this how our married life is going to be? I’m going to buy you expensive cars, and you’re going to ruin them the first day?”

“Normally that would be funny –”

“Sorry.”

And then Buck shows he wasn’t entirely kidding, because instead of opening the door and helping her climb out, he asks Chloe to give him the flashlight from the glove compartment so he can inspect the damage to his precious.

He looked all around the vehicle. The tires were still good. There was some damage to the front grille, but nothing substantial. He turned off the flashlight and slid it into his pocket. With much groaning and whimpering, Chloe came climbing out of the car, with Buck’s help.

As they both sat on the upturned driver’s side, Buck felt the heavy machine moving in its precarious position.

For just a second there I was sure I had a clear picture of the scene. The car is lying flat on its right side, Buck and Chloe are sitting on top of it. But no, that can’t be right, because it’s position must be “precarious,” and a boxy Range Rover lying on its side isn’t going to be “moving in its precarious position.”

Chloe decides its easier to “go two feet up to the top of the abutment” than to climb down from the top/side of the car, so I mentally readjust the height of said abutment, still wondering what it is that it’s abutting, while Buck gives Chloe a boost up onto the top of the wall — wherever that may be and whatever might be up there.

And here I completely lose track of Jenkins’ storyboard:

When she made the last thrust with her good leg, the Range Rover shifted just enough to loosen itself from the wickedly bent tree branches. The tree and the Range Rover shuddered and began to move. “Buck! Get out of there! You’re going to be crushed!”

Buck was spread-eagled on the side of the Range Rover that had been facing up. Now it was shifting toward the abutment, the tires scraping and leaving huge marks on the concrete. The more Buck tried to move, the faster the vehicle shifted, and he realized he had to stay clear of that wall to survive. He grabbed the luggage rack as it moved toward him and pulled himself to the actual top of the Range Rover. Branches snapped free from under the vehicle and smacked him in the head, scraping across the car. The more the car moved, the more it seemed to want to move, and to Buck that was good news — provided he could keep from falling. First the car moved, then the tree moved, then both seemed to readjust themselves at once. …

And, like Buck, I’m struggling to readjust as well to my ever-shifting attempt to picture what’s going on here.

… Buck guessed that the Range Rover, once free of the pressure from the branches, had about three feet to drop to the ground. He only hoped it would land flat. It didn’t.

The car was suspended off the ground? That’s something Jenkins might have mentioned earlier.

The heavy vehicle, left tires pressed against the concrete and several deeply bowed branches pushing it from the right side, began slipping to the right. Buck buried his head in his hands to avoid the springing out of those branches as the Range Rover fell clear of them. They nearly knocked him into the wall again. Once the Range Rover was free of the pressure of the branches, it lurched down onto its right side tires and nearly toppled. Had it rolled that way, it would have crushed him into the tree. But as soon as those tires hit the ground, the whole thing bounced and lurched, and the left tires landed just free of the concrete. The momentum made the left side of the vehicle smash into the concrete, and finally it came to rest. Less than an inch separated the vehicle from the wall now, but there the thing sat on uneven ground.

I’m willing to give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt here and guess that repeated close and slow readings of this scene might yield some coherent sequence of physical events. I’d bet that if we gave him a half hour, some graph paper, a white board and some miniature models, he could walk us through all of that and show us what he was imagining in a way that made sense.

Or maybe not. But even if I don’t understand how we wound up here, I think I understand this part:

Except for the damage to the front grille and the scrapes on both sides, one from concrete and one from tree branches, the car looked little the worse for wear.

And it still runs. Buck climbs in and slides behind the wheel … but, oh no! — now the SUV is trapped in a rut. The adventure continues:

The Rover was in automatic and four-wheel drive. When he tried to go forward it seemed he was in a rut. He quickly switched to stick shift and all-wheel drive, gunned the engine, and popped the clutch. Within seconds he was free of the tree and out onto the sand.

And readers, too, are back on familiar ground as Jenkins settles back into the Cliff-Claven-esque narration we’ve come to expect. (“Ya see, dere, Sammy. When you get stuck like that, whatcha need ta do is switch to stick-shift and all-wheel drive, then pop the clutch. Works like a chahm …”)

The top of the abutment turns out to be an overpass. Like the Range Rover, Lake Shore Drive, the (pine?) tree, and the rest of Chicago, the overpass is “little the worse for wear” after the nuclear bombs, so Buck drives up onto it and helps get Chloe back in  the car.

He fastened her seat belt and was on the phone before he got back into the car.

Of course he was, but here he has a good reason — calling Loretta to “call around and find any doctor in the church” to tend to Chloe once they arrive.

Buck tried to drive carefully so as not to exacerbate Chloe’s pain. However, he knew the shortest way home. When he got to the huge barrier at Michigan Avenue on the LSD, he swung left and …

Yeah, ya see dere, Norm, the most direct route isn’t always the shortest. Now to someone who doesn’t know the area as well as I do, it might seem like you’d want to swing right there, but …

And on like that, for half a page more. It’s almost, but not quite, as thrilling as reading directions from Google Maps.

 

  • Tricksterson

    First?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Readers were even made to endure a multi-page silent prayer session in Bruce’s office in which their spiritual — and literal — groaning was at once, like a poorly written sex scene, overly explicit and helplessly vague.

    IKEA Prayer?

  • Tricksterson

    Is it me or does most of Chloe’s dialogue read like it should end in “you idiot”?

  • hidden_urchin

    Yup. Jenkins totally wrote this scene after watching Jurassic Park.

    He should have included the Velociraptors.  This story would be greatly improved by the addition of Velociraptors.  And a T-rex.  Jesus should come back riding a frickin’ T-rex.  What good is being an omnipotent deity if you can’t ride a dinosaur while you destroy the world?

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    I still can’t get over how much these books drive home the same point to prospective authors: read what you wrote when you “complete” each draft, not to bask in its awesomeness but to imagine if their work will meet the readers’ expectations.

    However, I’m sure Jenkins would tell you to do so is unnecessary – if you pay him for his advice.

  • GeniusLemur

    I don’t see what the you’re griping about here. Buck’s been reciting prayers constantly since he heard Chloe’s crash. Oh wait, that was making phone calls. With Jenkins’ writing, it’s easy to get them confused.

  • Lunch Meat

    “There was no running left in him, despite his fear that she might be bleeding or in shock. “I’m in the strangest place,” she said, and he sensed her fading.”

    What.

    Look, no matter how bad my legs hurt and how much I feel I can’t run anymore, I keep on pushing myself to run over such little things as trying to catch a train. If your wife is in danger, you’d better be either running or collapsed from exhaustion. None of this, “oh, running is too hard, I’ll just walk briskly for a while.”

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint”

    And reading that, I want to cry, because – SPOILER ALERT! – according to (I believe) Kingdom Come, this verse is a literal prophecy of how after the Tribulation, believers will be able to run faster than fully loaded SUVs without feeling any sense of physical fatigue.

  • GeniusLemur

     Fred’s right. This kind of scene is extremely difficult to pull off. You do need to use models, or storyboards, or something like that to give yourself a clear idea and successfully convey it to the reader. Of course, there was never a snowball’s chance in hell that Jenkins would bother with something like that, and he was never going to successfully describe it with his level of writing skill anyway. But then, Jenkins can’t successfully describe pushing a button with his level of writing skill.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Such a direct, instantaneous answer to prayer might not seem realistic, but it would be more realistic than the idea that Buck Williams, a real, true evangelical Christian, would be in this situation without praying such a prayer.

    You know, in Lovecraftian style cosmic horror fiction, I find that the horror is most effective when the supernatural elements of it are kept just beyond the range of perception.  The characters might see something that they can dismiss as an illusion of their fevered mind, or things happen which could have rationally explainable causes, except for these few minor details which just cannot seem to reconcile, etc.  The idea that the supernatural horror is out there, but we just cannot survive knowing that for certain, tends to enhance the psychological effectiveness of the horror in question.  

    Flip that around, and I think that applies to “good” kinds of supernatural activity too.  A miracle is filled with so much more wonder when it is implicit rather than explicit.  Buck might not be filled with renewed energy after reciting the prayer, but he might find himself speeding up and continuing on in spite of the pain in his legs.  If a miracle comes down to “Say the right words with the right emotions and get the right effect,” it gets reduced to something much more comprehensibly mundane, and thus becomes less of a miracle.  It helps with willing suspension of disbelief too.  When other people can see the miracle that could be explained away by reason (again with some irreconcilable details that leave the reader feeling unsatisfied with that explanation) then we can more easily accept that such other observers still do not believe in miracles.  

    Unfortunately, this series went the other direction with that, having explicit miracles and having the other observers still not believe, which undermines that willing suspension of disbelief.  Their rational explanation was so paper thin that the most rational among them should be poking holes in it, and yet…

  • TheDarkArtist

    Jenkins seems to be employing some strange, postmodern version of in medias res, where the scene gradually becomes clearer, like the opening of Infinite Jest, but, since he’s a terrible writer, it just comes off as being weird.

    But, I’ve honestly never read these books without being under the influence of narcotics, so I had kind of an easier time just sitting back and going with it than I would if I had attempted the feat sober.

  • aunursa

    One odd thing about this whole Buck-searching-for-Chloe sequence is what does not happen in any of this. Buck doesn’t pray.

    I presume that the reason that Jerry Jenkins didn’t have Buck pray for Chloe was that Jerry knew that Chloe was going to be okay.  Since she was going to be all right with or without prayers, it  simply didn’t occur to him that Buck might pray for her.

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

    I remember reading this way back when I tried reading the whole series through, and as I recall I could never quite figure out how the damn SUV got upended and then suspended in a tree like that.

    By rights the damn thing should be too banged up to drive safely, yet Buck hops in and drives off like it was butter.

    Clumsy product placement, Jenkins. I don’t think real life Range Rovers can do half that shit.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    …she made the last thrust with her good leg…
    …shuddered and began to move…
    …Buck was spread-eagled…
    … The more the [car] moved, the more it seemed to want to move…
    …both seemed to readjust themselves at once…
    …the whole thing bounced and lurched…

    Is there a subtext here, or is it just my imagination?

  • aunursa

    Rather than risk that, Buck decides it’s better to deny his wife professional medical assistance. Better safe than sorry.

    In Book #4 Chloe suffers a fractured skull, broken bones, a hip abrasion, and possible internal injuries. After she regains consciousness, she is unable to speak.  And she’s pregnant.  Despite her severe injuries, Buck breaks her out of a fully staffed and stocked GC trauma center so that he can personally take care of her back home, nearly 400 miles away.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    ˙uʍop əpısdn ʇuəɯɯoɔ oʇ ɥɔıɥʍ uo ʇsod ʇɔəɟɹəd əɥʇ sı sıɥʇ

  • aunursa

    I remember reading this way back when I tried reading the whole series through, and as I recall I could never quite figure out how the damn SUV got upended and then suspended in a tree like that.

    Me too.  I’ve read this passage several times, and I still can’t get a picture in my head.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     I don’t think real life Range Rovers can do half that shit.

    That’s because most Range Rovers don’t have Magical Jesus Protection or Awesome Owner Mojo going for them.  Clearly (because Jenkins says so), this one has both.

  • Vermic

    For all its flaws, this is the closest we’ve gotten to an action scene in three books.  So I’m thankful for it, like a starving man who’s been given a cold McNugget.

  • GeniusLemur

     Hey, anything to keep her away from the dirty SOB’s not of the RTC tribe.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 241 pages

  • Tricksterson

    Maybe the Range Rover is magic.  It’s the SUV equivalent of a D&D Palidin’s steed.

  • Lunch Meat

    For all its flaws, this is the closest we’ve gotten to an action scene
    in three books.  So I’m thankful for it, like a starving man who’s been
    given a cold McNugget.

    Of course, Jenkins doesn’t seem to realize that the reason this scene was tense and suspenseful in Jurassic Park was because the car had been pushed over the abutment by an actual Tyrannasaurus Rex who had eaten a person and might come back at any moment. Without that element, all this running to get out from under a car is just slapstick.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    This is why I’m willing to cut Jenkins a little slack, just this once. Sequences involving complex physical actions and multiple characters are easily among the hardest to write. Even in the hands of a novelist who knows how to write action, this would be a mess – there’s just too much to track.

    But that’s where my good will ends. This isn’t an adventure novel where this kind of thing is a part of the genre. If Jenkins wasn’t willing to put in the effort – if he wasn’t prepared to take down multiple versions of this scene and analyze them to come up with the best one – he shouldn’t have bothered. It’s not like this is an especially dramatic scene anyway – the car is lying on it’s side on a highway, not perched on the edge of a cliff. Just have Buck pull out Chloe and get on with the story.

  • aunursa

    Well, to be fair, the Tribulation Force do occasionally work with undecided people who are not (yet) RTCs.  It would be more accurate to say: “Anything to keep her away from the dirty Global Community forces.”

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Clearly, she has Main Character Immunity. She’s impervious to everything but the plot; only the writer can kill her.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Jenkins keeps calling Chloe “petite.”  That word does not mean what he thinks it means.

    He has established that she is 5’7″, 125 pounds.  Now, that’s underweight for that height, but Chloe is still tall.  No matter how skinny she gets, she will never be petite.  Petite means smal and short; in fashion, for example, petite generally means 5’3″ and under.

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

    … in the hands of a better author. As usual.

    I mean, srsly, Buck could be frantically dashing hither and yon, finally running out of steam, and then like magic, that line from Isaiah pops into his head and he feels refreshed and renewed (God’s hand at work, right?) and he sprints to find Chloe in the one truck on the side of the road that has its parking lights on, likely having sideswiped a concrete wall or something that would have hurt Chloe enough to be unable to operate the truck, though it could be driven.

    He then either gently extracts her from it and tries to find a doctor or he manages to drive it (since he has no broken bones) safely to a hospital.

  • Tofu_Killer

    Now, when I was reading this I thought the failure to pray was a result of Buck’s relative newness to faith.
    I was younger then.

    Actually this scene marks the point where I really began to understand the unmitigated awfulness of Jenkins.
    See, at the time that I was reading this the first time I was distracted with trying to figure out where Chloe was and just the whole logistical setup of this scene.
    Unlike Fred, I immediately got that she was hung up in a tree, with the car, but that was just luck on my part because I went in clear-eyed and assuming Jenkins was gonna deliver suspense (see what I did there? no? nevermind…).

    Then I started to hit the local knowledge problems.

    Chloe can’t be just off Lake Shore Drive (or LSD as we locals never called it) because the entire length of the Drive is built on infill of the lake front, and is at most ten feet higher than Lake Michigan.

    And LSD ends at Hollywood, which is ~8 miles from the Loop, so a nuke nails the city killing everyone…except Chloe who drives into a pit dug below lake level, a pit that has a conveniently located, mature tree in a place where most of the trees are small and ornamental. 
    Allright, why isn’t the tree damaged in the blast? Seems to me a big enough blast to blow a Land Rover off the highway and over a retaining wall would certainly knock down a mature tree.

    You know where this would work, just maybe? If Jenkins had just moved the location another ten miles north, up Sheridan Ave and into Winnetka. They have real bluffs there, and trees! And then you might convincingly claim Chloe survived the blast in one piece.

    And you know, I could forgive this, but Jenkins prides himself on being a local guy who knows all the roads and landmarks.

    Anyway, THIS is where I lost my ability to suspend disbelief, and I simply lost my enthusiasm for the rest of the series.

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

    Well, to be fair, the Tribulation Force do occasionally work with undecided people who are not (yet) RTCs.

    More like mentally dump crap all over as The Tribbles marinate in their own sense of self-superiority.

  • rizzo

    Not that this is well written or anything, but I’m really not having much trouble picturing the action in my head.  From his initial description you can tell that the car is suspended off the ground, then he describes where the wheels are and I have no problem picturing the position the car is in and how it moves as it slides down.  Yes, he certainly could have written it better, but as an example of bad writing in LB books, it’s nowhere near as strong as most. 

  • aunursa

    this verse is a literal prophecy of how after the Tribulation, believers will be able to run faster than fully loaded SUVs without feeling any sense of physical fatigue.

    To her amazement, she was not out of breath. Her strength and endurance remained, and so, apparently, did that of the old and the young alike…

    When the group caught and passed a speeding Hummer, Hannah knew they were running at miraculous, supernatural, superhuman speeds. And of all things, the kids wanted to be let down so they could run. She passed the Sebastians as they slowed to lower the children, but within minutes they had passed her again, their kids running as fast as the adults.

    Half an hour later the entire mass of a million was past the Hummer and nearing Bozrah.

    from Book #12: Glorious Appearing

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    The prayer you quote reminds me of this bit from Conan the Barbarian: “Crom! I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that today, two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom, so grant me this one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to hell with you!”

  • flat

    I couldn’t suspend my disbelieve the first time I read the back of those books.

  • flat

    facepalm

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    That’s roughly what I was about to say. I’m an atheist, but if a theist chooses to interpret a rush of adrenaline that allowed them to save their loved one as a gift from God, I can sure as hell respect that.

    Atheist bloggers spend a lot of time wondering why religious folk sometimes refer to an occurrence that’s clearly within the realm of mundane possibility as a “miracle.” I don’t so much worry about that; the lens through which someone chooses to view their own life is their business. We all have our lenses, whether we’re religious or not. The only time it bothers me is when they demand that *I* also interpret the event as proof that their God exists.

    (Near-death experiences are a common one. “Explain THAT!” a Christian might demand in reference to NDEs. I’m like, “Uh… oxygen deprivation to the brain?”)

  • flat

    Well I am gonna act like a sexist prick to defend Jenkins here.

    But it was a woman who drove a land rover who managed to crash a car in such a physically impossible way that it got smashed between a tree and a wall.
    and afterwards it still functioned.

    But that was thanks to Buck and his natural gift with cars.

  • aunursa

    See, for example:

    Albie: What can I do for you?
    Rayford: I need a weapon, concealable put powerful.
    Albie: In other words you want it to do what it is intended to do.
    Rayford: You’re reading loud and clear, Albie.
    Albie: Very difficult. The potentate being a pacifist.
    Rayford: Means you’re the only reliable source.
    Albie: Very difficult.
    Rayford: But not impossible for you, right?
    Albie: Very difficult.
    Rayford: Expensive, in other words?
    Albie: Now you’re reading me loud and clear.
    Rayford If money were not an issue, does something come to mind?

    Albie: Mr. Steele, I have access to just the weapon. It is roughly the size of your hand. Heavy, thus accurate. Weight is due to firing mechanism, which is normally used in oversized rifles…
    from Book #6, Assassins

  • Tofu_Killer

    Actually…

  • aunursa

    ps This was meant for aunursa

    For which comment?

  • flat

    And now I have to remind myself of the day of the jackal.
    About the scene where the jackal is meeting a gunsmith and gives instructions about what kind of weapon he needs.

    And the mutual respect and understanding between those two profesionals (although the jackal is better at being a profesional than the gunsmith)
    They still know that both have made emergency plans in case one tries to screw each other over.
    The gunsmith was smart enough not to mess with the jackall and survived, the forger who did try to blackmail him didn’t.
    None of these guys would have done bussines with rayford to begin with.
    Perhaps maybe the forger. (but he is death)

  • flat

    disqus sucks

    The comment was meant for the whole running faster than SUV’s bit

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

    “I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck.”

    Who talks like that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Prost/100002434484052 Tony Prost

     It’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!!

  • Dogfacedboy

    When he got to the huge barrier at Michigan Avenue on the LSD, he swung left and gunned the Range Rover over some rough and relentless terrain toward the back roads he knew to be the quickest route to their destination.   Chloe winced, trying to elevate her broken ankle off the floor board as the vehicle jostled her about. 

    “Which hospital are you taking me to?” she asked, her voice weaker and higher than usual, her eyes searching the darkness intently for some clue as to the route he was taking.

    “Later, Babe,” Buck snapped, punching buttons on his cell phone with his left thumb, one eye vaguely watching the road.  “Gotta make a pit stop at the Rover Dealership first.”

    “The dealership?” Chloe asked, breathless and bewildered. 

    Buck held his right hand up toward her face to reassure her that he had the situation under control.  “Their service department had better have someone standing by to fix that front grille or I’m gonna suddenly develop a bad case of buyer’s remorse!”

  • Vermic

    Of course, Jenkins doesn’t seem to realize that the reason this scene was tense and suspenseful in Jurassic Park was because the car had been pushed over the abutment by an actual Tyrannasaurus Rex who had eaten a person and might come back at any moment. Without that element, all this running to get out from under a car is just slapstick.

    Yeah, once it’s established that Chloe isn’t seriously injured, without any sort of external pressure — be it a burning fuel tank, an impending second bombing, or a T-Rex — there’s just not much tension in the scene, certainly not enough to justify 12 pages (!) worth of text.  Plotwise, in a strictly mechanical moving-the-characters-around sense, it’s important that Buck reunite with Chloe and she gets out of the car.  But the scene could be pulling double duty —  it could be helping to establish character, or introducing some new plot element, while performing its basic job of moving characters – and it isn’t doing that.

    An actual author would have given this scene a point.  It wouldn’t have just been about Chloe exiting the Range Rover and the physical actions required to accomplish that.  There would have been other stuff happening.  Buck discovering strength through prayer would have been a perfect way to go, one which also ties into the purported theme and purpose of the series.   There are many other ways to instill these scene with significance, but the prayer angle fits so well that I can’t think of anything that’d work better.

    The only way a reader could feel tension in these pages is if they assume extra details that aren’t actually part of the scene.  Which is actually pretty easy to do.  For instance, what if Chloe were slowly bleeding to death?  What if the Range Rover were about to plunge off a cliff or something?  What if a gang of looters were approaching?  The mind wants to be told a good story, so it’s easy for us to imagine these extra complications because our sense of drama tells us they should be happening, even though the text says they’re not.

    Well, it’s still better than a 12-page phone conversation.  Even cheap thrills are better than no thrills, as I said before.  But this is pretty darn cheap.

  • Damanoid

    As his wife begs him to help her get out of the wrecked vehicle, Buck takes a flashlight and checks the damage to the tires and grille.

    This is one of the worst characters ever imagined.  He even manages to work in a ‘women can’t drive, har-har’ joke in the process.  How is it possible to write this sort of behavior without any hint of awareness?  Purely by instinct, this author has managed to distill the essence of antihumanity. 

    These books really don’t contain any unintentional humor, do they?  It is all unintentional horror.  The idea that a significant number of contemporary Americans consider these books morally or theologically instructive, rather than the complete antithesis of love and compassion, is genuinely chilling.   If a person can imagine that this series is compatible with the teachings of Jesus in any way, I suspect that they would probably also be comfortable burning heretics and witches.

    I am sorry if anyone has relatives who are really into these books, but practically every page of these things is over-the-top cartoon Evil.  If Christianity has anything good to teach, these books are the opposite of it.  In every sense, ‘Left Behind’ is Anti-Good.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    ****
    “I’m in the strangest place…” Chloe said, her voice trailing off weakly. A few moments later, Buck had hung up the phone, and the Author’s attention was elsewhere. She sighed, half-relief and half-annoyance.  She had already programmed Hattie’s number into the speed dial, just to have someone interesting to talk to.

    “Hey girl. So I’m stuck sideways, a good three feet off the ground in my fully-loaded Range Rover and LaJenkins won’t even let me unbuckle my seat belt!”

    “Sheesh hon, what happened? Car folded in half? Both arms broken?” 

    “Don’t be silly. I’m not allowed to help myself; I have to wait for my big, strong, Christian husband to show up and save me.” Chloe snorted, “I mean, yeah, my left arm is banged up, but apparently, I’m also too stupid to work a seat belt properly with my right hand. Oh, and somehow the car is wedged between an abutment and a tree, three feet off the ground.”

    “Could be worse, hon. I sneaked a peek at the outline. I’m due for the ‘abortion is a sin’ speech in a few chapters. Delivered from the crowd who thinks ‘would you abort the Anti-Christ’ is some kind of clever theology puzzle instead of idiotic prattle.”

    “Ouch. I think if I move around enough, the car will shift on the branches some. Maybe it’ll crush Buck when he shows up.”

    “You know better than that. It’ll almost crush Buck, in a way that could be exciting but will wind up just being boring. Hey, see if you can get him to sprawl out awkwardly at least.”

    “Oops! Gotta go, call waiting says the Buckster is once again phoning it in! Bye!”

  • Rhubarbarian82

     This sort of scene is not easy to pull off. It’s a kind of writing that almost requires one to story-board out the sequence as though you were preparing to film it.

    Speaking as a storyboard artist, I can  tell you from first hand experience that most writers flunk this kind of geography. A writer who can write good, clear action while keeping track of multiple characters and locations has a rare gift.

    Naturally, that gift is not on display in these books.

  • Tofu_Killer

    As written by Jasper Fforde perhaps? Can we insert a missing Thursday?


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