NRA: One tough coroner

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 111-113

Chapter 6 begins with a quiet scene. Buck Williams relaxes after breakfast as he plans Sunday’s service at New Hope Village Church:

Buck sat bleary-eyed at the breakfast table, his ear stinging and his rib cage tender. Only he and Loretta were up. She was heading to the church office after having been assured she would not have to handle the arrangements for Bruce’s body or for the memorial service, which would be part of Sunday morning’s agenda. Verna Zee was asleep in a small bedroom in the finished basement. “It feels so good to have people in this place again,” Loretta said. “Y’all can stay as long as you need to or want to.”

Taken on its own, that’s a capable little portrait of ordinary life at Loretta’s house in the Chicago suburbs.

But coming after the previous five chapters, this scene is stark raving bonkers.

The previous chapters don’t allow any possibility for ordinary life in the Chicago suburbs. The previous chapters seemed to blow ordinary life to smithereens. Yet Jerry Jenkins carries on as though nothing has changed, catching readers up on all sorts of mundane details about the accommodations at Loretta’s house, the plans for Bruce’s funeral, and Buck’s joy over his new “deluxe universal cell phone.”

This is one of many places in this book where I had to stop reading and flip back to double-check what I’d read earlier to make sure I hadn’t imagined it all.

Isn’t World War III going on? The red horse of the apocalypse? And didn’t the Antichrist just destroy Chicago with nuclear weapons?

Flip flip flip. Hmmm. Yeah, it says that’s what happened. But like so many things in these books, it both happened and also didn’t happen. It’s as though everything we just read in the previous chapters was all a dream.

“We’re grateful,” Buck said. “Amanda may sleep till noon, but then she’ll get right on those arrangements with the coroner’s office. Chloe didn’t sleep much with that ankle cast. She’s dead to the world now, though, so I expect her to sleep a long time.”

Buck had used the dining-room table to put back in order all the pages from Bruce’s transcripts that had been strewn throughout the back of the Range Rover. He had a huge job ahead of him, checking the text and determining what would be best for reproduction and distribution. …

Jenkins’ tone is so blandly matter-of-fact that we can almost be lulled into following along. He seems to have so utterly forgotten World War III that its tempting to forget it ourselves.

But then we keep tripping over all the impossibilities Jenkins lays out in front of us. Such as Amanda making “arrangements with the coroner’s office.”

The coroner’s office is in downtown Chicago.

Downtown Chicago was just struck with multiple nuclear missiles.

PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to the nuclear assault on the city Tuesday, Wednesday’s regularly scheduled trash collection will be postponed until Thursday. All city and county offices will be open Wednesday. All city high schools will have a two-hour delay. Elementary schools will remain closed due to disintegration of all pupils 19 months ago.

It seems unlikely that the coroner’s office would be open today. Amanda might as well be trying to call the coroner’s office on Alderaan.

But OK, let’s try to get past that. We’ve been told that these nuclear missiles are some kind of special, non-radioactive weapon. Let’s interpret that to mean that these bombs are really small, such that maybe multiple such non-atomic atomic explosions in downtown Chicago left the coroner’s office intact.

So let’s just make a huge leap. Let’s just assume that the coroner was not killed in the attack, that the coroner’s downtown office was not damaged, that Bruce’s body was transported there without delay or incident despite the bombing, that the phone lines and power for the office continue to function as they did before the attack, that the coroner himself and all of his staff managed to make their way through all the debris and devastation to get to the building and that now, today — one day after the Antichrist’s military nuked the city of Chicago — the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner is open for business during regular office hours.

That’s a huge leap, but we still have problems. Bruce Barnes was killed in the first brief wave of conventional bombing, in which dozens of other people also died. That single mass-casualty incident at the hospital in Arlington Heights would be enough to completely overwhelm the coroner’s staff for weeks to come. But again, that single incident was followed just hours later by the nuclear destruction of O’Hare International Airport, and then still later by the non-radioactive nuclear attack on downtown Chicago mentioned above.

So even if we make the huge leap to say that the coroner is alive, that the coroner’s office was not destroyed, and that the office is now open for business with working electricity and phones, it still seems unlikely that anyone there would be willing or able to answer those phones. They may be a little too busy dealing with the million or more casualties in the area that have occurred since Bruce died.

That context also makes everything we’re told there about “Sunday morning’s agenda” at the church seem utterly wrong.

The events that have just occurred are not the sort of thing that one should plan to address in the upcoming Sunday service. It is, rather, the sort of thing that means you need to get your butt to the church, immediately, to start coordinating all the search-and-rescue, grief-counseling, blood donation, bandage-rolling, information sharing, vigil praying, candle-lighting, food and water distributing, etc., that anyone connected with that church will and must be doing for several days without taking any breaks for Sunday services or sleep.

It simply doesn’t occur to Buck, or to the authors, that anyone from the congregation other than Bruce might have been killed in World War III. They keep reciting that bit from Revelation 6 about the horsemen of the Apocalypse now riding forth — “And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword …” — but it seems that power was not given unto them over the fourth part of New Hope Village Church.

This is partly yet another example of the authors’ general principle that non-named characters do not matter, but I think it also has to do with some weird notion that I can’t quite grasp having to do with the city and its suburbs. The effect of the nuclear strikes on Chicago seems to have confined itself to the city limits. NHVC is in the suburbs, and therefore is unscathed — not because it’s further removed from the blast radius of the attacks, but because the suburbs, by definition, cannot be harmed by an attack on downtown.

Since New Hope is a suburban congregation, Buck is not worried that anyone from the church might have been harmed in the bombing. And I suppose the suburban people of New Hope have only suburban friends and suburban relatives. So Bruce’s is the only funeral they need to worry about. And they can let those downtown, urban churches deal with the recent unpleasantness in the city itself.

Yes, yes, you’re surely thinking, enough already about the millions of people killed or injured in the bombing. What about the really important stuff? What about the phones? What happened to all those cell phones Chloe bought just before the attacks? Were they damaged in the crash?

OK, maybe you weren’t thinking that. But Jerry Jenkins seems to think we all were, so he takes pains to reassure us:

[Buck] laid out the five deluxe universal cell phones Chloe had bought. Fortunately, they had been packed in spongy foam and had survived her accident.

Phew. Countless people are dead, but the phones are OK. Better than OK — they’re deluxe.

He had told her not to scrimp, and she certainly hadn’t. He didn’t even want to guess the total price, but these phones had everything, including the ability to take calls anywhere in the world, due to a built-in satellite chip.

After Loretta left for the church, Buck rummaged for batteries, then quickly taught himself the basics from the instruction manual and tried his first phone call.

The call is to his old friend Ken Ritz, the charter pilot we met back in the first book. He hires Ritz to fly him to Israel, because now that Bruce Barnes is dead, he needs to go pick up Tsion Ben-Bruce’s replacement.

If I were Buck, I wouldn’t buy a round-trip ticket. He should have moved to Israel 18 months ago.

Tim LaHaye’s premillennial dispensationalist “Bible prophecy” timeline is cobbled together mostly from the books of Daniel and Revelation. The two books are the same genre — they’re both apocalypses — but the PMD effort to mush them together into a single narrative doesn’t really work.

Granted, one imperial tyrant who sets himself up as God is pretty much the same as any other imperial tyrant who sets himself up as God, and Daniel and Revelation are both about life under such tyrants. But Daniel is about Israel struggling under the reign of one regional empire while Revelation is about the church struggling under the reign of a global (to them) empire. Treating these two different stories about two different communities under two different empires as all one big “prophecy” produces some strange results.

Thus we get LaHaye’s timeline, in which the Antichrist establishes a one-world government, ruling over all the world with an iron fist … except for Israel. Israel can’t be part of the Antichrist’s OWG because LaHaye’s prophecy also says that Israel has to make a peace treaty with the Antichrist. The signing of this treaty, LaHaye says, marks the beginning of the seven-year “Great Tribulation.”

LaHaye says that the Antichrist will break this treaty and betray Israel exactly half-way through those seven years, but he says until that betrayal, the treaty guarantees peace and prosperity for Israel. In other words, during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, places like Chicago will experience the tyranny of the Antichrist along with war, pestilence, famine, locusts, etc. But for those three and a half years, Israel is sitting pretty.

War may be riding forth on his red horse, but according to LaHaye’s timeline, he can’t ride forth on Israel yet — the only sovereign nation remaining in the world has got another couple of years still left on its treaty.

Buck shouldn’t be planning a quick trip to Israel, he should move there, for at least the next two years.

 

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NRA: 'The Fugitive' meets 'Mad Max'
NRA: How not to evangelize, Step 1
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 87: 'Episode IV'
The Left Behind franchise is coming for your children
  • Will Hennessy

    WooHoo! Left Behind Fridays! Finally!

  • Stephen Thomas

    Hi Willam. Fancy meeting you here. You’ll find that sailboat someday.

  • aunursa

    I want to put in a plug for Mouse’s
    Musings
    .

     

    For the past 2 1/2 years, Mouse, a commenter here, has been
    discussing (mostly snarking) Left Behind: The Kids Series on
    her blog.  The events of the Kids series
    parallel those of the Left Behind series, and there are cameo appearances by
    such figures as Brave Sir Rayford, the GIRAT, and Tsion (whom she refers to as
    “Token Jew”.)  Based on her
    pace of 2-3 chapters per post, Mouse is already near the end of what is the
    equivalent of Book #5 in Left Behind.   I
    hope that you will take a look at her work and join the discussion on the next
    thread.

  • aunursa

    these phones had everything, including the ability to take calls anywhere in the world, due to a built-in satellite chip.

    “Well, gee, that sure would have come in handy on my last business trip.”
    – Chuck Noland, Fed-Ex Systems Analyst

    “You’re telling me.”
    –Wilson, volleyball

    “Chuck, you need to think fourth-dimensionally.  If you’d been rescued on Day Two, Helen Hunt wouldn’t have gotten together with the dentist guy from Law & Order, and their little girl would have been erased from existence.  Along with your Academy Award® nomination.”
    – Robert Zemeckis, Director

  • DorothyD
  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I always liked the theory that what was in that pegasus box was 200 feet of nylon rope, a loaded flare gun, three boxes of waterproof matches and a satellite phone with solar charger. Also a solar-powered CD player and copy of “Listen to the Relaxing Sounds of the Ocean Surf” so that if nothing else, he could kick back and enjoy the irony.

  • heckblazer

    Have you seen this FedEx ad?

  • Launcifer

    You know what? I read that last couple of paragraphs and it suddenly occurred to me that old Nicolae is pretty much the only character in the books who does precisely what he says he’s going to do. And in double-quick time, too. Hell, he honours his treaties even – perhaps especially – when they don’t serve to benefit him directly or further his goals, all because it’s written down in some weird divine mandate. This guy isn’t the antichrist: he’s electable. I’d do unspeakable things to have a candidate like him appear on my ballot paper.

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

    I think Jenkins’ inability to realize the probable results of the disaster he is describing reflects at least one of his sources. Doesn’t the book of Revelation say that 1/3 of the stars will fall to Earth. Can you imagine the effect of one, let alone one third of, all the stars in our galaxy rushing toward Earth? And yet people seem to keep perking along, some of them, anyway. An author who was able to think through a long chain of probabilities would have rejected Revelations as soothsaying to begin with , and realized it was another sort of book.

  • TheBrett

    It’s just bizarre how LaHaye and friend interpret things. Why they didn’t try some weird quasi- literal depiction of this is anyone’s guess, considering that they have comet made of rotted wood somehow hit the Earth later.

  • Makabit

    They make comets out of rotted wood?

    No, don’t even tell me.

  • TheBrett

     Too bad! See, it’s because the giant asteroid/comet is supposed to be called “Wormwood”, so of course it would have to somehow have the consistency and make-up of rotted wood. It all makes perfect sense!

  • Ken

    It takes a special kind of mind to parse a passage that says “a star fell, and it was called Wormwood” – and decide that “star” is non-literal and “Wormwood” is literal.

    (Marge Simpson:  “Now when you say special…”)

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

    End Times analysis literature from the WorldWide Church of God at least has the benefit of showing some considered analysis of the figurative aspects, and the writer of their little booklet on the subject suggested that Wormwood could mean chemical or nuclear warfare, with the subsequent poisoning of the air and the water.

  • Makabit

    OK, now that makes sense, if you’re going to put Revelations in a modern setting. Something comes shining from the sky, and you can’t drink the water afterward…OK, that works. But a rotted-wood comet…it’s like a contest where you come up with the most bizarrely literal photoshop of a verse from Revelations that you can. Cracked.com would do something with it.

    This is not even to complain that ‘wormwood’ is pure English, and I would guess that the word in Greek has no such connotations.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

     This is not even to complain that ‘wormwood’ is pure English, and I would guess that the word in Greek has no such connotations.

    Remember that the Greek text is merely an inaccurate translation of the One True Version of the Bible, which was given by God to the KJV committee in 1611.

  • Makabit

    Wait, that’s not a joke? I can’t tell with these books any more. The comet is made of rotted wood because it’s called “Wormwood” in Revelations?

    Absinthe. Wormwood, in English, is absinthe, artemesia, it’s not wood that’s being eaten by worms. It’s bitter. That’s why the freaking star is called…I’m seeing John beating his head against a railing on the Patmos ferry dock here, muttering to himself. Possibly while Jesus tries to comfort him with a nice glass of absinthe.

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

    So the comet should really have been a giant shaker full of Sazeracs, then?

  • Launcifer

    Would that make the apocalypse a really complicated drinking game, rather than – y’know – the end of the world?

  • Makabit

    Heck, I think I need a couple right now. 

  • P J Evans

     Artemisia is a nice landscaping plant, too. (Most of the ‘sagebrushes’ are artemisia – it’s fragrant.)

  • Tricksterson

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenkins and LaHaye reject Copernican astronomy and think the stars are just bright lights fixed in a crystal sphere.

  • Worthless Beast

    Ffft.  Everyone knows that they’re fireflies.  They’re fireflies that got stuck up in the big, bluish-black thing.

  • Will Hennessy

    “Phew. Countless people are dead, but the phones are OK. Better than OK — they’re deluxe.”

    Classic…

  • Jeffrey_Kramer

    Bombs are flying, people are dying
    Children are crying politicians are lying too
    Cancer is killing, Texaco’s spilling
    The whole world’s gone to hell but how are you?

    I’m super, thanks for asking….

  • Ken

    Speaking of flipping back a few pages:

    his ear stinging and his rib cage tender

    Did I miss something, or is this some tree-related injury?

    As for Chicago separate from the suburbs – I’m a Chicagoland (western suburbs) resident, and we would definitely notice if Chicago stopped operating.  We get our electricity and water from there…

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

    I think Buck’s injuries (such as they are) are from stumbling around during the actual disaster, not a consequence of Chloe’s car crash.

    And while I understand that pretty much everyone has been injured in some way, and everyone’s injuries deserve attention, shouldn’t Buck be thinking about and taking care of poor Chloe’s injuries, which are about 27 times worse than is, rather than sitting on his ass and thinking whiny thoughts about his aching ribs?

    What a man.

  • quietglow

    You could spend a book on how some random guy tries to deliver the body.  He picks one up at random from the rows outside the hospital (“this one looks like a Bruce!”) and wraps it up, he drives it nowhere because the entire street is full of emergency vehicles, he drags it across lawns and blocks to a car, he heaves it in, he drives half a block to a crater. This is the one thing he can do, that he’s set on doing. Somehow it makes everything narrow to a size he can cope with. Somehow it is him and his futile, ghoulish, rewardless task. The destruction, and the dead, and someone who so desperately wants this guy home they ask the impossible. Who is it? He cannot imagine. He has not enough mind to spare on imagination, even remembering yesterday before the sky fell in on his home. He cannot give in. He feels he might as well lie down by him and die if he gives in; he has nothing left. 

    He cannot stop his work. Somewhere around suburbia he gets a truck, but then he stops before a fallen telephone pole. By that point the body is unrecognisable and its wrappings have shredded to the point where he just can’t move it alone anymore. He looks down the street. He sees a cross rising high above the road. He looks down at the former shell of a human barely visible through the shrouds, all the person it was passed on. He goes down the street, pushes open the door, starts the only thing he can think to say. “Thanks,” says a guy who can barely look up from his pamphlet, “you’re a miracle worker. You know what the trip did to my truck? If you just bring Pastor Barnes’ body that last bit-” 

    The door is already swinging shut. He goes back and stands over the body. He feels sympathy, he knows every bit of the difficulty the poor corpse has seen. He cannot picture giving up the body to that place after that journey, but he has so little strength left. He pushes it gently under a rosebush and drags mulch around it. The house in front of him is empty. He finds a sheet.

    If anyone does realize he’s delivered some wrapped-up garbage, no one ever brings it up. 

    “You know,” Bruce is saying to Jesus, “it wasn’t such a bad little church. Wish they’d hurry it up here, I can’t wait to see everyone again.”

  • Jay

    these phones had everything, including the ability to take calls anywhere in the world, due to a built-in satellite chip.

    Because the best precaution to take, when dealing with a homicidal global dictator, is to keep a trackable phone handy at all times.

  • quietglow

     Four of them. He might need a backup.

    I mean, you might.

  • Makabit

    Because the best precaution to take, when dealing with a homicidal global dictator, is to keep a trackable phone handy at all times.

    All I can think of is the scene from “Spies Like Us” in the CIA bunker: 

    “They say their contacts tried to kill them, and they don’t know what they should do.”

    “They told you this over a public phone?”

    “No, sir. The AT&T operator told our operator.”

    “They’re INSANE.”

    Imagining Nicolae’s face as he’s told the Tribulation Force is now travelling around with matching trackable cell phones.

    Actually, that brings up another exchange from an 80s movie, “Ruthless People”: “This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth.” “Maybe we should shoot him.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Why not? Buck isn’t Carpathia’s enemy — he’s Carpathia’s servant. This is like Lucius Malfoy taking the Dark Mark from Voldemort, or Governor Tarkin keeping Darth Vader on speed dial, or…

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

    But Buck is a spy. L&J say so!

    (Never mind that anyone watching what Buck does, instead of what he says, would conclude that his lips are firmly planted on Nicolae’s ass.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Fair enough, but Carpathia doesn’t seem to see him that way. We never see Global Community agents chasing him down. As far as Carpathia knows, at this point Buck remains a loyal employee — the man he placed in control of the global media conglomerate he created in the previous book. 

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

    Any sensible world leader of the Antichrist-mold would probably start twigging that something’s up when he realizes his propaganda chief is doing deucedly strange things, like not rallying the troops to push out the world leader’s version of events, and doing suspicious things on the government expense account that look an awful lot like theft of assets in preparation for vamoosing from one’s job.

    I mean, there’s Plot Armor, and then there’s Plot Depleted Uranium Armor backed by force fields.

    The first comes with the territory of major characters, but the second is just the author bending shit all over the place in the book to keep one character around when by rights he should be off doing something else.

  • Ken

    I don’t see any evidence that Buck’s media conglomerate isn’t pushing Nicolae’s message.  I suspect that Buck is publishing exactly what he’s supposed to, but is Fighting Back!(TM) by muttering snide comments under his breath, the same way Rayford shuttles the Antichrist from atrocity to atrocity while silently being really disapproving.

    (Fighting Back!(TM) is a trademark of Tribulation Force Inc.)

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

    Yeah. Buck thinks he’s being sooooooo rebellious by subtly pushing Teh Christian Message(TM) and living it up on the Antichrist’s dime.

    Double-agentry involves more than being a doormat for Nicolae and then complaining about it later because it’s sooooooooo haaaaaaard to take in that multi-figure paycheck and live it up in an expensive condo.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    This is like Lucius Malfoy taking the Dark Mark from Voldemort

    Lucius Malfoy had more moral sense in his pinky than Buck has ever showed. Lucius Malfoy was evil, but Buck is just… nothing.

    But wouldn’t that have been interesting? Buck has to join the Antichrist because he’s thought Nicolae was on the right side all along, so Nicolae expects it. And though Buck’s eyes have now been opened, he still sort of thinks Nicolae was sort of right about all that peace stuff… and anyway, if he doesn’t join the Antichrist, Buck’s family and friends (if he had any) will suffer. Buck would have to care about other people at all for this to work, but it would be a great way to get him close to the action while creating sympathy for him.

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

    Buck had used the dining-room table to put back in order all the pages
    from Bruce’s transcripts that had been strewn throughout the back of the
    Range Rover.

    Just… gluh… WHAT

    He’s going to put five thousand frakkin’ pages back in order when the PRINT command from DOS doesn’t tell the printer to paginate?

    Christ, Buck, forget the Author Tome to beat all Tomes! Get the super-duper-deluxe phones working, grab your bug-out bag, and get away from there!

    I just cannot brain this level of dreck. I mean, explosives generally don’t obey city markers, so why on Earth Jenkins thinks he can write pre-Disaster events occurring post-Disaster I don’t even frakkin’ know.

  • Damanoid

    Clearly the default assumption here is that the holy force field protecting Israel from nuclear attack is also extended to suburban white neighborhoods everywhere.

    Also: THE PHONES!  Praise God, THE PHONES HAVE ARRIVED!  This really never gets old for them, does it?  Jenkins and LaHaye are possibly the worst post-Apocalypse planners who have ever weighed in on the subject.  Their entire survival scheme hinges on a fully intact and operating telecommunications industry. 

    The Mad Max movies, “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Day After;” “Blair Witch Project”… all these sorts of films must be incomprehensible to these two.  “But… why don’t they just call someone?  Where are THE PHONES?”

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

    The best part of sheer unthinking irony on the part of L&J is when they trash the GC for putting up… wait for it…

    Cell Phone Towers

    after the bigass world earthquake.

    That’s right, folks. Rayford and Buck sneer at the GC for the very thing Buck so fervently wants.

    They’re just ungrateful shites because Nicolae thought of phones FIRST.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 235 pages

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The previous chapters don’t allow any possibility for ordinary life in the Chicago suburbs. The previous chapters seemed to blow ordinary life to smithereens. Yet Jerry Jenkins carries on as though nothing has changed, catching readers up on all sorts of mundane details about the accommodations at Loretta’s house, the plans for Bruce’s funeral, and Buck’s joy over his new “deluxe universal cell phone.”

    This had me think, that whatever else you think about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, it knows how to give a “war has just broken out in our back porch” kind of presentation and make it work.  

    Watch the first two minutes of this for an example.

  • banancat

    Clearly, L&J believe cell phones work by magic.  I have a good cell phone company and I generally get good service.  But about a year and a half ago, there was that minor earthquake centered near DC.  There were no fatalities and little property damage, and still I couldn’t get a cell phone call through because there was just too much traffic.  I don’t care how many magic satellite chips these super deluxe cell phones have; there’s no way it would work reliably when every person would be trying to call others after an event with such a high death toll.  Maybe the deluxe phones actually give them some kind of special priority where their little data packets go through before everyone else’s because that’s what money and power and whiteness and maleness get them in every other case, so why should it be different for phones?

  • arcseconds

     Clearly, L&J have put exactly zero thought into this.  And I’m sure I look ridiculous spending any time whatsoever fixing up their backstory when they don’t even care.

    However, it’s not too hard to explain this: it’s a special satellite network that only a few have access to. 

    Of course, that would mean the probability of espionage would be even greater…

  • Nomuse

    Special satellite network?

    Obviously the Archangel  Network!

  • P J Evans

     Why you want a land line: Because in emergencies everyone tries to make calls on their cell phones. (Land lines run on batteries.)

  • banancat

     Actually I moved shortly after that and decided to not get landline service in spite of that event.  It’s rare enough that I still didn’t think it was worth it.

  • Wednesday

    Sadly, that’s only true for some providers these days.  Our phone is provided through the cable lines (along with internet), and requires the modem to be on to work. If the power goes out, we lose our phones — including 911 access.

    The company didn’t actually tell us any of this until we’d already signed the contract. And we live in Small Rural Town, so I’m not sure there’s even a competitor who offers phone service through the actual phonelines.

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

    I think there is a law that requires all cell providers to allow 911 calls even from inactive cell phones.

  • Wednesday

    That’s a good law to have, but it doesn’t help people like me whose _landline_ ceases to function when the power goes out.

  • AnonymousSam

    And just think, this is back in 1997. Tech’s come a long way in the last ~15 years. I have a hard time imagining a 1997 cell phone, even if we assume the story is set TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture at the time of writing, being nearly as reliable as they paint it out to be.

  • TheBrett

    Remember when we thought Buck buying a car instead of taking one off the road was bizarre? It only gets worse.

  • Dogfacedboy

    “Bruce Barnes was killed in the first brief wave of conventional bombing, in which dozens of other people also died.”

    Oh, I see.  The coroner’s office is processing them in the order in which they died.  So Bruce is good to go, and New Hope Village Church can stick to their Sunday agenda.

  • Ken

     New Hope Village Church can stick to their Sunday agenda.

    Which will include a potluck lunch with a presentation by the Women’s Mission Aid Society on outreach efforts in Africa.

    Because if little things like nuclear attacks don’t disrupt Buck’s daily routine of phone calls and car-buying, they sure wouldn’t disrupt the WMAS meeting, which is always on the third Sunday of even-numbered months.

  • GeniusLemur

     And, of course, NHVC won’t do a damn thing until Sunday morning. Hell, they probably turned off the phones again. All these people calling up, asking all these dumb questions about helping and volunteering, right when Buck just wants to hang out and chill.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    laid out the five deluxe universal cell phones Chloe had bought….. but these phones had everything, including the ability to take calls anywhere in the world, due to a built-in satellite chip.

    Okay I need some helping scoring this.  First I want to give the authors some points for finally showing some improved technology in a story set “in the near future” They finally have something that is mor technologicaly advanced then what was common when the stories were written*.
    But I really think I must take some points off for the wonky terminology and tech here.  Is the phone a cellular phone and a satellite phone at the same time or doesn’t Jenkins know the difference?  The phrase satellite chip smacks of someone who doesn’t understand tech, oh a comuter chip inserted into something makes it work better. Never mind that you would need an antenna a receiver and transmitter, a simple “chip” is all you need

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    I forgot to add in my last post, remember how in the first book everyone including Buck had to rush to find a pay phone in the airport after the Rapture?  You would think that the Globe Trotting GIRAT would already have the top of the line in communications in order to  keep in touch during his countless adventures.  

  • GeniusLemur

     L&J didn’t have cell phones when they wrote it, so Buck doesn’t.

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

    It’s the same for automotive tech. Jenkins spills all sorts of features across the page with no rhyme or reason when he has Buck discuss the Range Rover: a nuclear war is going on and he’s raving about the fact that the Range Rover can play miniCDs.

  • Ken

     a nuclear war is going on and he’s raving about the fact that the Range Rover can play miniCDs

    We must entertain the idea that Buck and Rayford have been driven insane by the Tribulation events, and they are concocting fantasies in which they are heroes, with only the loosest possible connection to what is really going on around them.

    Alternatively, we must entertain the idea that LaHaye and Jenkins have been driven insane by their Tribulation theology, and they are concocting fantasies in which etc etc.

  • GeniusLemur

     He’s probably just copying the feature list from an ad.

  • Technerd

    There is the Thuraya phone, which is a cell phone and a satellite phone.  But it doesn’t work world wide; only Europe, north Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  There is also the TerreStar Genus, which is cell and satellite, though normal people can’t buy it and it only works in the USA, barely.

  • Tricksterson

    I think it a given that any with question that includes the phrase “or doesn’t Jenkins know…” )or a varient thereof) this is the go to option.

  • hidden_urchin

    Amanda: “Hi, um, I need to make arrangements to have Bruce Barnes released to the Mount Prospect Funeral Home.  He was killed in the attack on the hospital.”

    Coroner’s Assistant: “I’m so sorry but we won’t be able to do tha–”

    Amanda: “What do you mean?  I- I don’t understand. Why can’t I get my friend?”

    Coroner’s Assistant: “All we’re doing here now is keeping a record of the deceased…at least, when we can ID them.  There are just- just so many of them…we have to bury or burn them where they died.  I’m so sorry.  We just can’t risk a disease outbreak now.  Not after everything else.  I’m so sorry.  I have to go.”

  • Twig

     If you have a penchant for horrifying apocalyptic fiction (and who doesn’t?) there’s a pretty wrenching scene like this in the Dead and the Gone, the second book in this trilogy about humanity dealing with a global disaster.  Basically, there’s a massive loss of life in a major city, and people are allowed to line up outside a football stadium with bodies being shuffled in and out and the remote possibility of being able to ID the person they’re looking for if they happen to walk down the right row at the right moment.

    It’s supposed to be a book for young adults.  I think the Dead and the Gone specifically is actually a more difficult read to get through than The Road.

    I read this stuff on planes.  My dread level can’t get any higher than it is already.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Exactly. Mass graves: not just for foreigners any more.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    With the unlimited credit card, couldn’t Buck charter a large plane to take all the NHVC members to safety in Israel? Or are they all off-screen helping their neighbors in ways Buck can’t perceive.

    Which brings up an interesting question – what is the duty of all these new converts to their neighbors during the Tribulation? What does LaHaye see as his duty to his neighbors during the Tribulation?

  • Sofia

    Judging from earlier installments, LaHaye sees his duty to his neighbors during the Tribulation to be exactly the same thing he sees as his duty to his neighbors now: “share the gospel” with them in the most obnoxious, condescending, and put-upon way possible.

    After all, he has to be able to say that he *tried*, but he can’t take the risk that someone might convert after speaking to him.  That would deprive him of the pleasure of seeing them condemned to hell for believing differently than he does.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    After all, he has to be able to say that he *tried*, but he can’t take
    the risk that someone might convert after speaking to him.  That would
    deprive him of the pleasure of seeing them condemned to hell for
    believing differently than he does. – Sofia

    Thinking back, there may be something more going on. I grew up in a fundy church where it was made clear that one of our duties in order to earn our ticket into heaven (yeah, dubious theology…) was to do our very bestest to Share the Gospel with others. On the other hand, we were also told that there were a strictly limited number of spots in heaven…kind of like trying to get hired for an upper management job, where most people just aren’t going to make the cut no matter how good they are. (Or, in today’s economy, kind of like trying to get hired for any kind of job, but I’ll try to stay on the subject.)

    Now, in fairness, nobody at church ever connected those two doctrines for us. But to a teenager with a tendency to overthink things, it was pretty obvious that converting the people you know runs the risk that they might proceed to be better than you and wind up with the spot in heaven you hoped to work your way into. Since we very emphatically did not believe in purgatory, that meant that you could find yourself in hell after all. Even if you were the very strictest and pushiest and holiest little RTC you could be.

    If getting into heaven requires you to try to convert people, but successfully converting them might result in you getting squeezed out of heaven, that’s a pretty strong reason for doing an inept job of evangelizing. (And yeah, major logic fail just in the idea that God the All-knowing wouldn’t see right through you, but whaddaya gonna do?)

  • arcseconds

    I was impatiently skimming until I came to the phones, actually. 

    By now I know what counts as highlights in these books.  :]

     Jenkins puts way more thought into phones than he does into carnage and mayhem and the downstream results. 

    It’s almost endearing.

  • Dogfacedboy

    “Jenkins puts way more thought into phones than he does into carnage and mayhem and the downstream results.”

    Since we know where his heart is, perhaps we’d have more sympathetic characters if he’d given us Nokia and Kyocera instead of Buck and Rayford.

  • Damanoid

    The relentless sociopathy on display in these books never fails to appall.  The main characters are treated as the only people with any value.  Even in a world torn by war, everything is defined by its relationship to the Important People.

    Neighborhoods burn– but not the Important People’s neighborhood; that would be inconvenient for them.  Logic and reason bend into pretzels to accommodate them.  Other peoples’ cars are useless during the crisis– but the Important People can just go buy a Better Car!  And lo, the Better Car dealership just happens to be open for them!

    Even the phones may fail– but now the Important People have Better Phones, so they don’t need to worry about that either!  You say the coroner’s office has been obliterated in the holocaust?  Oh I think not; the Important People still have business there!

    Important Pilot Rayford:  “Hey Peon Co-Pilot, would you like to know an Important Secret that only we Important People know?  Here’s a hint: it involves this city, lots of bombs, your fate, and my hands.”

    Peon Co-Pilot:  “I’m really not in the mood for games right now.”

    Important Pilot Rayford:  (SHRUGS)

  • Jessica_R

    Yeah I’m trying to focus on my own writing so I’ve hung up the flash fiction for now. And honestly I’m just stupefied beyond belief now at what I’m reading, “Oh la de da, nuclear holocaust just happened, I hope the coffee service has those bear claws I like la de da…” 

  • Kadh2000

    I read this series when it first came out and I remember enjoying them.  I’m rereading it as we go through the books here and I can’t imagine why.  I can’t think why I didn’t freak out at scenes like this just being wrong.  My mother in-law and I read them together and she still remembers them fondly – we can’t talk about them anymore.  [Both of us are Lutheran].

    I think I read them purely as entertainment.  I know I didn’t believe a single bit of the biblical prophecy stuff.  I am flabbergasted.

  • Nirrti

    You know, all I can say is…  if that new “Left Behind” movie gets made, the producers would miss making a killing off of Apple if they don’t include Buck with at least a few iPhones.

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

    Oh, no! My chances of being an extra in the new version have just been severely diminished, as the filming is delayed for a couple of years due to the fighting over product placement between the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy.

  • Tybult

     I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it came to mind again as I read this week’s installment.

    Fred is dealing with multiple, interlocking layers of bullshit here:
    The coroner’s office must have been destroyed in the multiple nuclear explosions, but the explosions weren’t radioactive and didn’t reach the suburbs, so how can they have been nuclear? But the coroner’s office clearly does exist, because Buck just said so, etc. etc.

     It’s a Gordian knot – you can’t pull at one strand of illogic without tightening up all the others.

    But coming after the previous five chapters, this scene is stark raving bonkers.

    I always want these scenes to be more than they are. I want to see Loretta knitting as she watches Are You Being Served on PBS, and meanwhile outside the Acolytes of the Pestilence do battle with Tsion’s New Maccabees. Or what have you.

    But this is RTC World, and there is only more boring waiting for you around the corner.

  • Jenny Islander

    As I read this stuff, I recall John Ringo’s Legacy of the Alldenata series, which has a whiff of the elect smirking over the idiocy of the herd about it, but also things like this: The ravenous beast-people are coming for you and your children.  They are coming to take you from your home, cut you up, and eat you.  They outnumber every army on Earth–combined.  There is nowhere to run.  There is nowhere to hide.  There is no way for you to fight because they will just swarm over you like locusts.

    So the government issues you a special home security system.  When you hear that the beast-people have reached your street, you arm the system.  Then you sit down with your children and cuddle them while you read from their favorite storybook.

    When the beast-people smash their way into your house, you are vaporized by the explosives included in the security system.  Your children never have to see the beast-people or the signs they carry upon them of the things they have done, and the monsters never touch them.  Your family also accounts for 15 of the beast-people who die instantly and another dozen or so who are wounded and finished off by their fellow swarm members.

    Can you imagine LaHaye and Jenkins having the guts to write something like that?

  • reynard61

    “This is partly yet another example of the authors’ general principle that non-named characters do not matter, but I think it also has to do with some weird notion that I can’t quite grasp having to do with the city and its suburbs. The effect of the nuclear strikes on Chicago seems to have confined itself to the city limits. NHVC is in the suburbs, and therefore is unscathed — not because it’s further removed from the blast radius of the attacks, but because the suburbs, by definition, cannot be harmed by an attack on downtown.”

    It’s called the NIMBY (“Not in *MY* back yard!”) syndrome. You know the story: City, Town or other governmental entity plans to build a prison, halfway house or some other “undesirable” structure in or close to a rich or otherwise influential neighborhood and the rich and influential residents, fearing that their property values might be adversely affected, raise a stink (usually everything from petitions to threatening recall elections against the Mayor and City Council) and, after a lot of fainting chair histrionics and clutching of pearls (and Bibles, if for some reason religion is involved), the Mayor and City Council announce that the offending project will be moved to a less offensive spot — usually some out-of-the-way, God-forsaken, piece-of-crap bit of land that’s nearly impossible to get to even *with* a working GPS; or they’ll eminent domain the land out from under a number of poor or working-class families, and to hell with the land values of whomever’s left.

    Unfortunately, LaH&J seem to have forgotten that war (and especially *Nuclear* war!) *DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE’S BACK YARD!!!*…or front yard, or house, or picket fence, or well-manicured lawn…

    *Real* Nuclear war destroys (or at least renders uninhabitable) *EVERY F***ING SQUARE INCH OF LAND (AND EVERYTHING ON THAT LAND) IN AND AROUND WHERE THE BOMBS/WARHEADS HIT FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS!!!*

    But, of course, LaH&J live in some sort of Fail Safe-ian, Birchite fantasy world where B-17s drop maybe-nukes that inflict horrific non-damage that won’t fry the electronics of the newest super-special *deluxe* satellite-capable cellphone. Or they’re horrible, horrible hacks. Or both.

    I’m gonna go with “both”.

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

    Also, even in Fail-Safe, the US President and the Soviet Premier only arrived at their horrible mutual compromise after realizing that any other way out meant mutual worldwide nuclear war.

    I cannot imagine L&J writing such a deep-thinking, soul-searching President.

  • ako

    It seems like a lot of the obsessive technical stuff comes from reading a common disaster fiction trope and fundamentally misunderstanding it.

    In survival situations, material goods can suddenly become intensely important.  A knife, a piece of rope, a cigarette lighter, a cell phone (provided the infrastructure to keep it running is still there), a decent pair of socks, all things that can assume a new level of importance, as they’re how you can survive.  So there can be really good stories where the protagonist is fixated on their equipment because they know they need it.

    L&J may have noticed that trope, but like the creators of many Mary Sues, they have decided that their protagonists 1) need the coolest stuff because it’s cool, 2) should get to be smug about how they’re more well-prepared than everyone else, and therefore smarter and better, and 3) aren’t going to show any of the genuine weakness, fallibility, and vulnerability that makes all of those random bystanders so much more sympathetic than Our Heroes.  Plus, they can’t write an effective and convincing disaster to save their life.  Combine that with the technologically-illiterate techno-porn thing and you get the inexplicable Cult of the Phone vibe.

  • GeniusLemur

     But Buck’s not a Mary Sue! He bumped his head once in book one! And he had that trouble with the patch in book two! Those are flaws at least as good as “stubborn” (even though Mary Sue is always right) and “cares about her friends too much.”

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

    Once in awhile Buck is clumsy.

    Also, Rayford has a big flaw: sometimes he loves Jesus so much that he is snappish with his acquaintances.

    ;)

  • GeniusLemur

     No, Rayford’s flaw is that he once kind-sorta lusted after Hattie. He’s done with that now, but it was sex.

  • Bificommander

    Oh no, Buck couldn’t move to Israel. Buck and LaHaye may love Jews, but they can’t deny the reality that Israel is filled with frothing-at-the-mouth Christ hating jews who slaughter entire families if they so much as catch a hint that the person is a Christian, as seen several chapters ago.

  • Makabit

    Oh no, Buck couldn’t move to Israel. Buck and LaHaye may love Jews, but they can’t deny the reality that Israel is filled with frothing-at-the-mouth Christ hating jews who slaughter entire families if they so much as catch a hint that the person is a Christian, as seen several chapters ago.

    But surely that wouldn’t affect Our Heroes, any more than the crime wave and the whatever-kind-of-bombing-it-was of Chicago have. I mean, it would be terrible, they would be in constant fear for their lives, but at the same time, I’m sure New Hope would be entirely able to reconstruct their whole way of life in Jerusalem without anyone actually being even slightly inconvenienced.

  • Tricksterson

    Except Jews are a lot worse than nuclear war.

  • KevinC

    OK, here’s one thing I don’t get.  Isn’t it so that a great, big chunk of the appeal of Apocalypse is that once it starts, all that boring, ordinary, workaday stuff just goes away?  I mean, once the zombies are prowling the streets you can totally forget about that presentation the boss wants for Friday, and get on with collecting some shotguns and welding a big spiked bumper onto your truck and loading supplies and jerry-cans of gas into the back.  Sure, getting a can o’ beans at the grocery store is now gonna be an epic quest, and you’ll get the bejabbers scared out of you every time you hear any random sound, ’cause it could be the first of the zombie horde coming to eat you…but it sure won’t be boring!  Right?

    But not for Ellenjay’s Apocalypse, oh, no!  No matter how many nukular wars and seven-headed, ten-horned flying purple people eaters there might be, you still gotta tie your tie each morning and get to the office on time so you can pay your credit card bills, right up until The Actual Moment that Jesus Himself shows up at Armageddon.*  And what’s the most exciting and thrilling thing you can expect to experience during The End of the World?  “ZOMG, look at this new PHONE!  It’s got a 5″ screen, Siri interface, and unlimited voice and texting for just $100.00 a month!  Wooohooo!”

    I mean, doesn’t that kinda defeat the whole purpose of any Apocalyptic story? 

    Ellenjay do Walking Dead:

    “OH, GHOODDD, BUCK, HEEELP ME!” Nick cried as the walkers’ jagged yellow teeth tore into his stomach, pulling out his intestines in ropy strands.

    “Oh, hey, Nick, how’s it going?” Buck replied.  “Have you seen my new Deluxe iPrivilege Platinum phablet?” he said, pulling the new mobile from its Venetian silk holster, its platinum-plated case winking in the sun.  “Six inch screen, global coverage, unlimited calls and text, and the best battery life on the planet!”

    “Yeah, that’s totally sweet,” Nick replied.  “I wish I had one.  I can only afford the iSuburbanite Gold.  If only I was as awesome as you.  So, how’s Chloe?”

    “She’s fine.  Complains more than a woman should, but you know how it is.  It’s tough getting Timmy to soccer practice, what with the whole city gutted and overrun with walkers, even with the new Range Rover I got her.”

    “I know, right?  Emily and Becky got chomped last week, and now that Becky’s a walker, she’s having a real hard time in gymnastics.  I’m wondering if maybe I should have Emily take her out of it, because it’s hard on her self-esteem, especially after her left foot fell off.”

    “Bummer, man.  Anyway, I gotta go.  I’ve got a 5,000 manuscript about zombie physiology and prepper info to get printed out and put in binders.  I hope they’ve got big enough binders at Office Max.”

    “Sounds exciting!  Good luck, man.  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”

    Buck smiled at his reflection in his phone’s screen as he walked away.   

    *And maybe afterward?  IIRC isn’t there mention, somewhere before or after the bit about the piles of steaming vegetables, about the even more super-awesome PHONES!!! they’ll have in God’s Glorious Kingdom?  If there’s PHONES, there’s PHONE bills, I presume. 

  • KevinC

     Oops, that’s supposed to be “5,000 page manuscript.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Aren’t there supposed to be 5000 5000-page manuscripts?

  • ohiolibrarian

     Now would it be heaven if your cell phone had a bill?

  • KevinC

     What, you think Heaven is gonna be some kinda socialist hippie paradise where everybody gets free stuff?!  No doubt it’ll all come out of the pockets of the hard working Job Creators(tm), right?  And I bet you guys think there won’t be any guns there either!  Man, Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney are totally right about you 47%’ers!  ‘Scuse me, I got some pearls to clutch! 

    /snark

  • EllieMurasaki

    What, you think Heaven is gonna be some kinda socialist hippie paradise where everybody gets free stuff?!

    Wait, hold up.

    Can somebody explain the concept of ‘heaven’ as understood by various Christian denominations to me? Because the too-long-let-me-sum-up version as I understand it is that the book lover’s heaven is a colossal library.
    Not a colossal bookstore.

  • KevinC

     It could be either one, as long as every book is the Bible.

  • Jenny Islander

    One Orthodox opinion: Heaven and Hell are both the light of the presence of God.  Your spiritual condition determines the way in which you experience this light.

    Lutheran/Episcopal/not sure who else: A party is a good beginning metaphor, except think about all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff and nobody ever gets bored and nothing ever cloys.  And whatever you like to do best here on Earth, there’s something unimaginably better in Heaven.  Or to put it another way, the most sublime pleasures on Earth are a teaser trailer for full life in Heaven.

    C.S. Lewis (paraphrase): Joy is  a peculiar emotion; it hurts when it’s here, it’s over almost instantaneously, and we long for it when it’s gone.  Heaven is a state of unending joy experienced by people who have been healed of their fallen nature so that joy is never painful.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Joy is a peculiar emotion; it hurts when it’s here

    O_o. Not that I needed this to show me that C.S. Lewis and I are very, very different people, but wow. I have never been hurt one bit by joy. I have sometimes longed for it when it’s gone when I’m specifically upset by its lack, but I don’t spend my normal days longing for joy. I know it will come again, and right now I’ve got other stuff to do. Like type comments about how deeply weird C.S. Lewis was, and how annoyed I am that he apparently thought everyone else was just like him.

  • christopher_y

    Not a colossal bookstore.

    A comfortable chair in a warm, well tended garden, with a Kindle paperwhite loaded with everything that has ever/will ever be written.

  • Ken

    While Hell’s library will be Borges’ “Library of Babel”, a completely unindexed collection of every possible sequence of characters.  It’s loaded with everything that has ever/will ever be written, but you can’t find it.

  • Lori

     

    While Hell’s library will be Borges’ “Library of Babel”, a completely
    unindexed collection of every possible sequence of characters.  It’s
    loaded with everything that has ever/will ever be written, but you can’t
    find it.  

    If there’s a hell and I’m going there then I hope this is an accurate description. Browsing is damn near a sport for me, so I can think of far worse fates.

  • P J Evans

     As long as we get to index it along the way…

  • Chris

    While Hell’s library will be Borges’ “Library of Babel”, a completely unindexed collection of every possible sequence of characters.  It’s loaded with everything that has ever/will ever be written, but you can’t find it.

    Or worse, perfectly alphabetized.  That way, the only way to find something is to compose it.

  • KevinC

    Addendum to Ellenjay’s Walking Dead:

    Hearing Nick’s screams, Buck shook his head, smiling.  Kinda served Nick right, really.  Buck wondered if, assuming there was enough of Nick left to join Team Z, the guy would man up as a walker enough to stop worrying about hippie crap like ‘self-esteem.’

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

    I haven’t read any other apocalyptic stories or seen many disaster movies, so I was wondering – does the action normally stop for a memorial service?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Not tremendously often, but they aren’t rare either. They tend to either be big emotional scenes to remind us that these people are still human and to bring the audience back to  “one death is a tragedy” from “a million deaths is a statistic” mode, or else they tend to be jarring stops that screw up the momentum of the piece.

    The fourth or so episode of ‘The Tribe’ had the main characters stop and have a big ostentatious secret funeral for the character who had until then been built up as the Big Bad. 

  • Lori

    I haven’t read any other apocalyptic stories or seen many disaster movies, so I was wondering – does the action normally stop for a
    memorial service?  

    Yes, but…

    You know where this is going. In the hands of better writers the memorial service for the fallen shows the survivors hanging onto their humanity  in spite of their situation, pausing to feel (or at least try to feel) one piece of the horrible loss they’ve experienced. Either that or, as others have suggested, it shows that folks have basically lost their shit and are doing normal things because they can’t process the total lack of normality in their lives.

    This is the first time I’ve ever seen a mid-apocalypse funeral described as just another item on the Sunday service agenda. (And who has an agenda for Sunday service any way?)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wouldn’t say ‘agenda’, but ‘order of service’ or some such? Like, for Catholics, opening hymn and procession, Old Testament reading, New Testament reading, Gospel reading, etc etc etc.

  • Lori

    Order of service I get. Agenda, not so much. And it’s not like “funeral” is a common entry on the order of service. L&J are just weird.

  • P J Evans

     I’ve never seen a funeral, or even a memorial, held as part of a Sunday service. Baptisms,yes. Even a wedding, once (and the minister said he wouldn’t do it again, because it was so hard to fit in).

  • Kiba

    After Loretta left for the church, Buck rummaged for batteries, then quickly taught himself the basics from the instruction manual and tried his first phone call.

    Wait. He rummaged around for batteries? So these things run on Duracell? 
    Granted, I hate cell phones with a fiery passion that’s almost holy but the few that I’ve actually owned/used all came with their own batteries intact and all I had to do was plug em in and charge em up. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     My dad’s very first cell phone took 8 AAA batteries, though there was also a rechargeable battery pack available.

    Also, to see the remaining battery power, you had to press *4 (4 = GHI = Gas)

  • Kiba

    Huh. When was that? My first cell phone was early to mid 90s (Kyocera I think. Got it at RadioShack.) and it had the solid, rechargeable cell phone battery. And looking at some vintage cell phone sites even the late 80s cell phones seem to have come with solid cell phone battery (at least the Motorolla ones shown did). 

  • Münchner Kindl

     Actually it would make sense to have special phones that were able to use not only inbuilt akkus (rechargeable batteries) but also normal batteries: if you are in a disaster/ remote area, and you need to telephone right now, but the battery has run empty, you don’t need to look for a gasoline-powered generator that still churns out power for re-charging (and wait 5 hrs till its done), you just swap batteries.

    Today, of course, there are already cell-phones for hikers and others who are off-road with inbuilt solar chargers, as well as seperate solar chargers or emergency converters (cheap models with a crank you turn for 15 minutes to get off one emergency call even if the battery is dead).

    But I guess solar is too hippy and saving-the-earth for our heroes.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     The far right certainly has an aversion to solar – real world true story: around here, in New Jersey, the electric company has been putting up thousands of mini solar panels on any available pole for the past several years. I don’t suppose any single one of them produces much (especially in our cloudy climate), but it adds up. What took me by surprise was hearing someone complain bitterly about how wrong the solar panels were. (No, she couldn’t explain why they were wrong. Apparently she had simply been told by a right-wing neighbor that the solar panels were, somehow or other, bad.)

  • Grogs

    I really like the idea someone mentioned upthread that Buck and Ray are just massively delusional and they’re imagining the whole thing. Ray got fired from his airline job for having an affair with Hattie, and his wife left him and took the kids. Buck got demoted and sent to Chicago because he was an incompetent reporter. These events caused a mental snap, and now they see the whole world out to get them. Then they fall in with a crazy right-wind evangelical cult, led by Bruce,  which reinforces their delusion. Ray’s wife and family leaving was the “rapture”. Nicolae is President Obama, or some other President who’s “persecuting Christians”, etc.

    Then every event in the book is a massive re-imagining of minor events seen through the lens of a massive delusion and persecution complex. Ray gets a job flying for a third-rate cargo hauler, so he imagines that he’s really piloting a super-duper secret version of Air Force One. Meanwhile, Buck is running around doing pop culture pieces, imagining that he’s really the GIRAT, covering the most important stories ever told and putting his boss in her place. The “nuclear war” was really just a small explosion triggered by a gas leak, etc. This would explain why all of the standard services like taxis, airlines, police, coroners, car dealers, etc continue to function just fine despite all of the cataclysmic events going on around them.

  • Worthless Beast

    I support your alternate interpretation of the text! 

    One could turn into a great “fan” – novel exploring the depths and sadness of insanity.  It might even make the protagonists sympathetic, being that they are overwhelmed men whose minds are spiraling into the abyss.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants
  • Launcifer

    I’ve been wondering: does the coroner have a name?

    It’s not Quincy, is it?

  • Jenny Islander

    Re Buck and Rayford being reality challenged: I may have posted this already before–Cammie and Ray (they hate their nicknames) are two preacher boys flying home cross country from their unaccredited Bible college.  The whole series is them LARPing through Chicago-O’Hare during a long layover, hence the easy access to fresh cookies and other conveniences and the unaffected masses of bystanders.  They constantly text and call each other on their cell phones to keep the plot going, hence the obsession with phones.  And being a couple of ignorant, arrogant preacher boys, they really, really can’t tell a decent story to save their lives.  And they can’t be bothered to check a single fact even though they can get the Internet on their phones.  Because that would be worldly.

  • Worthless Beast

    Maybe the war and the mundane events are taking place in two different dimensions?  Maybe one Chicago got bombed into obvlion, but it played like a dream or an image on a screen to people in the mundane-verse?  The bombs were holographic.  That is why everything still works.   Trying desperately here…

    I found myself complaining not long ago to a friend about a movie I’d seen… I don’t know if they ever actually explain why the electricity is still on during the Virus outbreak in “Zombieland” but it bothers me.  Bill Murray probably has a generator on his home, but the rest of the infastructure – lighted grocery stores and such weeks after most of the human race is a shambling muncher-horde — it really bothers me.  Power plants can keep on generating without people to a degree, but if “Life After People” tells me anything, it will not be for weeks.   I made sure to lampshade that very thing in a short story of mine: People were gone but everything was still running was *a part of the weirdness factor* and noted by the protagonist. 

    This stuff I’d long forgotten about in LB is like… one of those horrible continuity errors that should make common sense rise up and bite the authors in the throat.  It’s worse than leaving the lights on during the apocalypse.  I mean… nukes!

    Who edited this stuff?  I may be an unpublished peon, but the editor of this series and I need to have words.  

  • reynard61

    “Who edited this stuff? I may be an unpublished peon, but the editor of this series and I need to have words.”

    Um…yeah, good luck with that. Fred has put forward the notion (and I’m inclined to agree) that the whole series was written on a principle of “What You See Is What You Get” — straight from Jenkin’s typewriter with only the spelling errors corrected.

    So…um…yeah, good luck with that.

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

    Judging from the hypothesized origin of Jenkins’s writing I suspect his editor was a toilet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Power plants can keep on generating without people to a degree, but if “Life After People” tells me anything, it will not be for weeks.

    Yeah, this is the kind of thing I have to think about all the time while trying to get the slightest detail down of a near-future post-apocalypse setting for a roleplaying game (like Deus Ex games near-future). Just keeping the power on for lights is the most important issue for any human settlement – even above food, thanks to the nature of the monsters behind the apocalypse – which means as writer I have to plan and write around this and players would have to plan and play around making sure their power source is secure and fueled.

    I almost wish I was as careless about all this as L&J are, just so I could get it written out and done without constantly second-guessing the details – and, heck, people seem to eat this poorly-written crap right up. But then again, it would be better to put the care and thought into it that it deserves, even if it never gets finished, just so as the final product actually merits something other than scorn and dismissal. After all, I don’t have a captive market desperate for approved material at my disposal, like L&J do.

  • P J Evans

     I think Ellanjay have never bothered to look into power plants. They probably think they’re like giant versions of home generators (which isn’t that far off),but they’re clueless about the complexity and what it takes to keep them running. (In my area, gas transmission lines. Big ones. And water for the steam, even though a lot of that will be recycled.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     The thing to keep in mind when extrapolating from Life After People is that they assume that everyone vanishes instantly. Several of their predictions don’t apply if there are even a smallish number of people left.

    Like that power plant thing. If I’m not confusing it with one of the several knock-offs, the thing they had shut down the power grid was that no one was there to cut over the circuits to handle the shift in load in the morning when all the air conditioners switched on automatically

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Well, suffice to say there likely won’t be enough people around to handle that kind of thing after too long, so even with some survivors the near-immediate failure of the power grid still comes into play. Even if there were enough to keep it going in the short term, eventually something is going to break or run out and there probably won’t be any way to get necessary replacements.

    One of the big things that stuck in my mind from researching for this setting, though? GPS. When you start with lots of points in a skill, you get free gear that an expert or professional would likely have for it. So what about an expert navigator? I liked the image of someone trying to cross the urban waste with cheap road maps and a compass, but there was no way someone would do that if GPS was still around. Turns out GPS needs manual updating and checking at ground stations to make sure the satellites are still properly on course, and without it they’ll drift off without making course corrections. Assuming this system hasn’t been fully automated by the time the apocalypse happens, or just assuming a few ground stations’ generators eventually fail, then GPS grows very inaccurate within just a couple weeks. Huzzah, my preferred image is made viable once more!

    I’m just imagining L&J using the GPS in their writing, though, if it ever occurred to them to use it. Knowing them, it would have perfect fidelity no matter what happens to the world, people, or infrastructure right up through the final battle.

  • Mouse

    I recently rewatched the British film “Threads” and right now, I really want to tie Ellanjay up and force them to watch it and shout, “See that’s what happens in a nuclear war, you idiots!”

    Oh and aunursa, thanks for the plug.

  • Makabit

    Oddly, the book I keep wanting to recommend to Ellanjay is Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”. Maybe not even the whole thing, just the scene at the beginning where the protagonist’s preacher father is taking the kids out in the hideously dangerous post-apocalyptic world outside their gated community to be baptized.

    Even if the kid pretty much rejects Christianity before the book gets started, the book gives a stark understanding in the early chapters of what it would mean to lead a Christian community in an America that’s fallen to ruin.

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

    The frustrating thing is how close to workable the text is in spots. These scenes nearly work; to make them work requires only the slightest of changes…

    ***

    Buck sat bleary-eyed at the breakfast table. An empty coffee cup sat by his elbow, and the orange juice he was drinking was not an effective substitute. Buck had tried using the coffee maker before realizing the power was still out. Then he had tried making hot water for tea before realizing the gas was out as well. The only bright spot Buck could see to all of this was figuring it out before he tried to take a hot shower. 

    Amanda was supposed to co-ordinate with Loretta for Bruce’s memorial service. The original plans, involving coroners and a viewing of the body and a traditional ceremony were blown to smithereens by yesterday’s bombing just as effectively as the rest of Chicago was. But Bruce’s death could still mean something, could still be a call to the members of the church to pass along Bruce’s wisdom, his warnings, and his lessons. 

    Buck fought back tears. Bruce tried to be a good pastor, a good shepherd to his flock, but his own failings, the very fact that he had been left behind, burdened him with a terrible doubt that cast a shadow over everything else. Bruce believed he had solved the riddle of the End of Days, thought he had discovered the identity of the Antichrist and the timeline for the Seven Seals. The evidence, the scripture, and the logic were all laid out in his writings. But so was his doubt. 

    Bruce feared to preach these truths, feared that just as he was wrong about his salvation before, he was wrong about God’s plan now. To speak of false prophets and falling stars could just as easily drive people away from the Word. Preaching of the coming of the four horsemen was a sermon of despair and doom at a time when Bruce felt his church needed hope. That was the real story of Bruce’s notes: a search for hope as a flight from doubt, with neither discovery nor escape. 

    Buck squared his shoulders. Bruce had been searching, looking for something that would confirm his beliefs, would show that his timeline of Armageddon was true, and in a cruel twist, the proof had happened mere hours after his own passing. Buck felt shame at the silence Bruce had kept, the knowledge Bruce withheld from the congregation, and  his own complicity in it. The secrecy would end, and Bruce’s final message to his people would be delivered at his own memorial, a fitting capstone to his work. 

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

    I have been trying to find out if the ancient Greek astronomers realized that the stars were large objects. Surely they noticed that the farther away something is, the smaller it looks. Many of them knew the Earth is round. Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth, pretty accurately, too, so it seems to make sense that they could have realized that the stars are not little shiny dots. The Mesopotamians were good astronomers, too. The Chaldeans knew of the heliocentric model of the planetary system (or as they thought, the whole universe.) 

    I wonder if the Romans had chosen the Mithras cult instead of Christianity as their state religion if we would not have to struggle to convince people that their ancient text does not outweigh modern science.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    @ Coleslaw, re the Mithras cult – well, I can’t work up much enthusiasm for an alternate present shaped by almost two thousand years of official ideology that completely excluded women. After all, even the ancient Athenians allowed for a few festivals with a significant female role.

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

    Oh, yeah, I forgot about that little detail.

  • P J Evans

     They didn’t have really good measuring tools. To measure the distances of stars, even a six-month baseline is barely adequate (and you have to know how long it is, which they underestimated).
    Give them points for trying, though.

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

    Well, obviously I did not expect them to know how big the stars were. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that someone solved the conundrum of how to calculate distance, size and brightness in stars and figure out that the Milky Way is just one galaxy and not the whole Universe. (The Day We Found the Universe – I always wondered who the Hubble character was that the Hubble telescope was named after. Obviously it was an excellent choice of names.) I just wondered if they figured out that the stars could at least be Earth sized, if nothing else.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I doubt it. Anaxagoras figured the sun was about the size of a chunk of Greece.

  • arcseconds

     Perhaps it was only proven in the 20th century, but Kant thought what were then known as ‘nebulae’ might be galaxies (and he was right).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     They could not have realized the stars were large objects, they could at best have guessed that the stars were large objects. There was nothing known to the ancient greeks where the distinction between “distant point of light” and “distant large light-emitting object” would have been measurable or observable, so there would be no way to test that hypothesis (Hm. I imagine the earliest that you could actually make observations that indicated that stars had mass would either be with the discovery of mass spectroscopy in the 1880s or with the theory of gravitational lensing in the 1920s).

    In fact, even in modern astronomy, there’s an awful lot of the field where all the math is based around treating stars as dimensionless points (Because compared to the size of space, they are dimensionless points)

  • arcseconds

     All that’s necessary to test whether stars have mass is to see whether they obey universal gravitation.

    Wright proposed that the Milky Way might be a mass of stars held together by gravity in 1750, a notion which was further developed by Immanuel Kant in 1755, who apparently was the first to propose it was a spinning disk.

    So stars have been being treated as having mass from at least 1750.  I guess at that point the treatment didn’t count as proof, and I’m not sure when the observations started working out, but much earlier than the 1920s, I would think.

  • christopher_y

    I have been trying to find out if the ancient Greek astronomers realized that the stars were large objects.

    Anaxagoras was groping towards the idea. It didn’t make him popular.

  • Splitting Image

    They certainly understood the idea, but they didn’t really have a good idea of the scale involved. Their numbers simply didn’t go up that high. They understood that the sun is bigger than the moon because the moon is obviously in front of it during an eclipse, but they had no way to tell how much further away the sun was (and hence how much bigger it is). That’s why Anaxagoras’ guess about the size of the sun was so far off.

    As for the stars, Aristotle recorded that Anaxagoras and Democritus believed that the Milky Way was made up of faint starlight (which is exactly correct), which implies that they both understood that stars looked smaller and fainter the further away they were, which also means that they understood that they would be bigger if you saw them up close.
    Aristotle himself didn’t believe it, and I don’t think he quite understood what they were getting at. Again, neither Anaxagoras nor Democritus could have really appreciated the scale involved, but it seems like they certainly understood the concept.You can find the Aristotle reference here: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/meteorology.1.i.html

  • spinetingler

    “*Real* Nuclear war destroys (or at least renders uninhabitable) *EVERY
    F***ING SQUARE INCH OF LAND (AND EVERYTHING ON THAT LAND) IN AND FOR
    HUNDREDS OF MILES AROUND WHERE THE BOMBS/WARHEADS HIT FOR THOUSANDS OF
    YEARS!!!*”

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki are inhabitable.

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

    It’s not just the nukes, it’s the megaton equivalent and in a widespread nuclear war, it’s also the secondary cascade effect it has on the destruction of infrastructure and the almost inevitable resurgence of diseases long thought to be gone.

  • spinetingler

     Sure, but that’s not the same as

     “”*Real* Nuclear war destroys (or at least renders uninhabitable) *EVERY
    F***ING SQUARE INCH OF LAND (AND EVERYTHING ON THAT LAND) IN AND FOR
    HUNDREDS OF MILES AROUND WHERE THE BOMBS/WARHEADS HIT FOR THOUSANDS OF
    YEARS!!!*””

    which was what I was replying to.

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

    The statement may be an overexaggeration, but the fundamental point is clear:

    Nuclear bombs are no respecter of persons, and they are no respecter of “good communities” versus “inner cities” as far as blast radii are concerned.

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

    Nuclear bombs are no respecter of persons, and they are no respecter of “good communities” versus “inner cities” as far as blast radii are concerned.

    Even if the suburbs weren’t directly blown up, people wouldn’t just be casually sitting around the breakfast table reading the next day.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    I wonder if the reason there is no radiation from these bombs is because there is no mention of fallout/radiation in the Bible.  I think the authors should have just claimed the Wormwood was fallout/hard rain.  I mean it fits

    “The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.”

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    I think the authors should have just claimed the Wormwood was fallout/hard rain.

    But, but, but – that’s not literal! Rotten wood, now, THAT’S literal. Uh-huh.

  • Launcifer

    In which case I humbly suggest that Wormwood was, in fact, the Biblical codename for a cabal of time-travelling ninja assassins armed with bricks-in-socks.

    ‘Cause it makes about as much sense to me as anything else ;).  

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Ninja assassins with bricks in socks? Now, see, that’s how you read the Bible literally. Because it explains the bad water: the ninjas washed their dirty socks in it.

  • Launcifer

    Now we’re getting somewhere! This literal interpretation lark isn’t so hard once you get started.

  • Rae

    It’s even more amusing if you Google it: The medical examiner’s office is literally kitty-corner from the  large complex of hospitals nearest to downtown Chicago, so it’d definitely have been levelled if the hospitals were. (On the other hand, if it wasn’t levelled, it’d be easy for the ME to just block off a street or two and set up a staging area right between the two)

    But, there is one thing that most people don’t think of: Medical examiner’s offices store bodies, sometimes even hundreds at a time in a giant jurisdiction like Chicago, NY, LA, or Dallas, in refrigerated storage in order to slow decomposition. Because you can imagine how lovely that would be if the power was lost, every single morgue has a good, reliable source of backup power.

  • P J Evans

     Then you have the problem of getting all those bodies identified. Not claimed, I don’t think; that’s pretty much impossible. I see binders of wallet-size pictures, rotated through the emergency shelters, where you go to see if you recognize any of them. Identified people would just simply be names on a very large list.

  • Rae

    Yeah – I’d suspect that after the nukes, they’d just accept anyone’s ID in their pockets as suitable identification, and if someone wanted to claim a body they’d just be like “OK, just make sure you bury it deep enough.” 

    Which actually leads to the point that, in such chaos, they could’ve run around stealing ID’s from anyone who looked similar and was generally the right age.

  • aunursa

    Which actually leads to the point that, in such chaos, they could’ve run around stealing ID’s from anyone who looked similar and was generally the right age.

    They do.  In the later books the Tribulation Force use a father-and-son operation who are described as masters of creating fake IDs and disguises…

    “Hey, Buck,” Z said flatly, putting his stuff away and slowly rising. “What can I do ya for?”
    “Need a new identity.”

    “Choose yer pick, he said, fanning the folders onto the couch.
    Buck sat and looked at each folder under the lamp. Z’s filing system must have seemed makeshift, but he sure knew where everything was. Each folder had vital statistics on white males approximately Buck’s size and age. “Inventory’s getting bigger,” Buck said.
    Z nodded, his eyes on the TV again. “These smokin’ horses are leavin’ bodies everywhere. You seen ’em suckers?”
    “Not yet. Sound scary.”
    “Yep. ‘Salmost too easy, though. All I got to do is get the wallets before the GC gets the body. Gives people a lot more to choose from.”

    from Book #6, Assassins

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Each ID folder represents a soul who died unsaved and is damned for all eternity. – aunnursa

    And if any of us ever doubted that nonchalant Buck is a heartless, soulless bastard…wait. If you’re soulless, can you be damned for eternity? Maybe that’s how the escape clause for Ellenjay’s RTCs really works.

  • arghous

    I’m sorry, but all this talk about what stars are is just completely wrong.  Like Ellinjay, let us take a look at what the Bible says about stars in the book of Revelation and apply it literally.

    From the git-go in the vision (v. 1:16), John sees the freaky glowing creature (who we later find out is Jesus) holding seven stars in his hand.

    What, you ask?  How can a being hold seven million-mile wide balls of fusing Hydrogen?  What a miracle that they don’t all gravitationally combine to form a black hole!  Nor interact in any way with whatever his at least three million mile wide hand is made of!

    Silly goose, you’re not reading it literally properly, for in verse 1:20, we find that the seven stars are angels of the seven churches.  Literally.  Indeed your “astronomy” is useless.  After all, if you persevere (2:28), you’ll be given the morning star (angel?), and that can hardly be something like the sun, now can it?  Why would Jesus give you something whose chromosphere would reduce you to ashes before it gets close enough for you to even accept it?

    But you go on, crying about the stars of heaven falling to earth.  What, we worry?  6:13 describes them falling as untimely figs being cast from a mighty-wind-shaken fig tree.  Hardly a thing to worry about.  A simple pith helmet will do nicely.  Yes, yes, when the star/angel called Wormwood (which church is he the angel of, I wonder?) (8:10-11) falls, nasty things happen, but that’s not because of the splat of the fig.  (Well, since he already fell in 6:13, he must have gotten back up and refallen, which means it’s possible I suppose that his refall could have been distinctly unfiglike.)  The thid part of (the already-fallen) stars/maybe-angels which so worry people are smitten in 8:12, so how can they do any damage?  Please, people — is it really so hard to trust the literal word?

    We could go on.  Yes, 9:1, 10:1, 12:1, and 12:4 all talk of stars (angel, woman’s crown, dragon)
    apparenlty reraised and refallen, blah, blah, blah.  But again, their falls can’t really hurt anyone, so sheesh, quit pissing your pants, already.  It’s all right there, in all its literal glory!

    Oooh, what’s this?  Jesus is the morning star (22:16) that he’s going to give to those who persevere?
    And he’s that freaky glowing creature???  Argh — we’re all going to die! LITERALLY!

  • Beleester

    Buck is deciding which parts of Bruce’s notes should be copied and distributed to the rest of the congregation.  This is a good idea, so why the hell didn’t he do that before printing off all 5,000 pages of it?

  • P J Evans

     For one thing ,it would make sense. It would also deprive Ellanjay of several pages of kvetching about Bruce’s magnum opus and how they’re going to get it printed and distributed.

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

    Don’t Rayford and Buck end up dumping it all on Loretta anyway?

  • P J Evans

     So I hear. It’s like – was there a point to all that carrying-on in the story, buried somewhere in there?

  • http://twitter.com/ksej Nicholas Kiddle

    “Buck is deciding which parts of Bruce’s notes should be copied and distributed to the rest of the congregation.  This is a good idea, so why the hell didn’t he do that before printing off all 5,000 pages of it?”

    Because he finds it easier to read and edit on the printed page than on a screen? Some people do – I’m one of them. Any time I have a document to edit, I fire up the printer and grab a pen.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Buck’s joy over his new “deluxe universal cell phone.”

    There’s an app for cell phones that makes the phone into a vibrator. It’s not very good, according to reviews, but I think we should all pitch in and get it for Jerry Jenkins. (Not really. But it’s tempting.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

     “I don’t want either heaven or hell for steady. Wish a man could have ’em mixed in equal proportions.”

    “Isn’t that the way it is in this world?” said Valancy thoughtfully–but rather as if her thought was concerned with something else than theology.

    “No, no,” boomed Abel, striking a tremendous blow on a stubborn nail. “There’s too much hell here–entirely too much hell.”

    ~ L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

    I’ve never heard heaven described in any way that doesn’t sound deeply boring. Perfection is static, unchanging. There’s no destruction, but there’s no creation either. No thanks.

  • Ken

    I have pondered what eternity would be like if we still have the capability to be bored.  It sounds more like a horror story to me.

    For example, the Library of Babel. Eternity means you have time enough to read every book in it – which by definition is every possible book – and still have all eternity ahead of you, now with nothing new to read.

    You could play every possible hand of bridge – every deal, every bidding sequence, every play of the cards – with every possible combination of the other people in heaven, and still have all eternity ahead of you.

    You could solve chess, playing through every possible sequence of chess games and determining whether the starting position is a win for white or black, or a draw.  And still have all eternity ahead of you.

    It makes http://xkcd.com/505/ look like a reasonable idea.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I suspect that the lack of anything new to read isn’t quite as horrible to contemplate when it has been a thousand years since the last time I reread my favorite novel. More generally, I doubt our desire for novelty is infinite.

    Even more generally, not everything worth living for is novel, even in the context of a few decades of life.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I dunno… ever since I was a little kid, boredom has been one of the things I dread above almost anything else. When I was in the emergency room when my back went out, if I’d been given anything whatsoever to do besides lie there contemplating the pain, the experience would not have been the horror it was. I don’t need very much stimulation, but I need something. Even when I sleep, I dream all the time, and I dream to psychologically-painful excess when I haven’t written fiction in a while. I have to create, or go mad.

    But Christian heaven as I have ever seen it described is, by definition, perfection. And, by definition, perfection cannot be improved upon; and with God in charge, it certainly can’t be changed. The dead cannot create. Frankly it sounds like hell to me. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yup, what you’ve just described — eternal stasis without the possibility of creation or change of any sort — sounds pretty awful to me, too.

  • aunursa

    Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven is heavily promoted on the Left Behind site.

    Here is Chapter 41: “Will Heaven Ever Be Boring?  An excerpt…

    On the New Earth, God will give us renewed minds and marvelously constructed bodies. We’ll be whole people, full of energy and vision. James Campbell says, “The work on the other side, whatever be its character, will be adapted to each one’s special aptitude and powers. It will be the work he can do best; the work that will give the fullest play to all that is within him.

    Because there will be continuity from the old Earth to the new, it’s possible we’ll continue some of the work we started on the old Earth. I believe we’ll pursue some of the same things we were doing, or dreamed of doing, before our death. Of course, people whose jobs depend on some aspect of our fallen world that will no longer exist on the New Earth — such as dentists (decay), police officers (crime), funeral directors (death), insurance salespeople (disability), and many others — will change their work in Heaven, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be unemployed. What’s now an interest or hobby may become their main vocation. Others, however, may continue with work similar to what they do now, whether as gardeners, engineers, builders, artists, animal trainers, musicians, scientists, craftspeople, or hundreds of  other vocations. A significant difference will be that they’ll work without the hindrances of toil, pain, corruption, and sin.

  • Ken

     what they do now, whether as gardeners, engineers, builders, artists, animal trainers, musicians, scientists, craftspeople

    Some of those seem a little iffy.  Scientists, for example – is there a point to science when everything has to be footnoted “Barring a miracle”?  Or for that matter, when all you have to do is ask God for the answer.

    I’m also wondering about the engineers, builders, craftspeople, and maybe gardeners.  Do we have to make things in Heaven?  If we have to, then some people will have to work, won’t they? And won’t we eventually have enough of everything – without decay, houses, clothing, furniture, and cut flowers last forever.

    Do we have to eat and grow food? If so, we’re back to who does that.  And the idea that everyone will still be eating (with all that implies) but there is no decay, has its own special horrors.

    I guess the artists and musicians will still have something to do, assuming they don’t all fall into depression on hearing the angel choirs and seeing the glories of the City.  And will they be able to sing anything, or is there an approved repertoire?

    The whole thing reminds me of the afterlife of Parke Godwin’s Waiting for the Galactic Bus, or Robert Bausch’s Almighty Me. In both, there are infinite joys and glories available in Heaven, but most people can’t break the habits they learned on Earth.  So there are regions filled with little suburban houses filled with knick-knacks, and everyone goes to work every day, then comes home to sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours before going to bed.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (shrug) I dunno.

    I certainly won’t argue that eternal existence can’t be boring… of course it can. I mean, our lives are ephemeral by comparison and we still get bored. Neither am I inclined to defend particular religious traditions’ accounts of Heaven, especially if it leads to nonsense like believing that our excreta never decay.

    That said, I’m not convinced that eternal existence needs to be boring. And I suspect that thinking about how eternal existence can remain interesting is more useful than thinking about ways it might be boring.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Reminds me of the Church of the SubGenius’s vision  of post-Rupture (yeah) Earth:  Sort-of-benevolent aliens will have granted humanity near-infinite abundance and godlike technology, but since most Normals are idiots, they’ll end up using it to TORTURE themselves. 

    (Meanwhile, the paid-up Chosen of “Bob” will have boarded the Escape Saucers for a tour of the universe.)

  • GeniusLemur

     Well, The Sims is a simulated, greatly simplified ordinary life where you can load from the saved game if something goes wrong. But that hasn’t stopped millions of people from playing and enjoying it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    True, but could you play it continuously for all time?

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

    I give you Isaac Asimov’s The Last Answer.


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