NRA: Cater to their feelings

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 120-122

First, a quick reminder that Buck Williams is a jerk:

It was nearly time for Buck to head for Palwaukee Airport. Verna Zee was back at the Global Community Weekly office with the new (to her) used car Buck had promised to buy her from the fleet of leftovers from New Hope.

Verna, you’ll remember, had graciously loaned Buck her car so that he could go to look for Chloe after the bombs fell.

He abused it, blowing a tire, and then abandoned it. He’d promised Verna to replace it with “a better car,” and, apparently, has fulfilled that promise as minimally as possible.

A few chapters back Buck bought a car for himself. He used his Global Weekly credit card to buy a $100,000 Range Rover even though it was for personal use, not for work. (Buck stopped doing work in the last book, although he still collects his salary.) But he won’t use the company credit card to replace the car he took from his employee. She’ll have to make do with one of the Rapture-surplus cars Loretta had collected at New Hope.

I’m sure Loretta and Donny Moore gave Buck a competitive price for the car — just like with the laptops. I’m picturing them in the church office, counting the money, as Donny asks, “Do you think Buck will ever realize we just sold him Irene Steele’s car?”

Loretta, we’re told, “was at the church office fielding the constant phone calls about Sunday’s memorial service.”

And here’s how I imagine those calls going:

“No, it’s just for Bruce. Only Bruce. … Yes, I realize that our church lost dozens of members in the bombing, and millions more are dead all over the country, but … no, no, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, but it’s not up to me. … Buck Williams planned it. … Exactly, yes. …”

Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

“I want to ride along,” Chloe said.

“Are you sure you’re up to it, hon?” Buck said.

Chloe’s voice was quavery. “Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

The last time Chloe left the house she was badly injured in a car wreck due to a nuclear bomb. She also knows, for a fact, that the second, third and fourth seals of divine wrath are being poured out on the world, meaning that “a fourth of the world” will be dead in the weeks to come. So rather than seeming maudlin, her comment seems appropriate.

But the authors have to treat this like a “quavery” bit of overly emotional thinking on her part because that will allow Buck to callously dismiss her feelings, after which the authors, through Amanda, can deliver yet another Lesson in Christian Marriage.

That’s the point here, with this lesson meant to be some Mars-Venus business about men being too practical and unfeeling while women are overly emotional. The authors here are thus reminding good, godly husbands that they need to cater to the sensitivities of the weaker sex and pretend to be paying attention when their wives prattle on about their feelings. This is similar to the earlier Lesson in Christian Marriage in which godly husbands were urged to pretend to appreciate any “frilly,” feminine knick-knacks their wives have used to decorate the home.

That’s my summary, but look at what the authors have written here and judge for yourself if it’s accurate:

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

“Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist. You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?”

Buck was properly chastised.

The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.” I can’t figure out whether the authors are simply unaware of the way their lesson on listening reveals that they don’t listen, or if this is actually meant to sound patronizing. I may think of “patronizing” as a bad thing, but I’m not sure the authors agree that it is. (If husbands are patrons, after all, why shouldn’t they be patronizing?)

After the lesson, Buck, Chloe and Amanda pile into the Range Rover — Buck driving, of course, because it’s his car and because penis — and head toward Palwaukee Airport.*

Buck was amazed that the built-in TV had survived Chloe’s crash. He was not in a position to see it, but he listened as Amanda and Chloe watched. Nicolae Carpathia, in his usual overly humble manner, was holding forth.

Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

He is a fake, of course. He’s the Antichrist — a false messiah. But the thing about any decent false messiah is that he has to seem like the real deal. That’s the salient fact about actual phonies — they seem genuine.

I think part of the problem here is that the authors simply do not trust their readers to dislike Nicolae without making him utterly unlikeable. This despite the title of the book: Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist. His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid. Consider poor Chaim Rosenzweig. He’s supposed to be a genius, but he comes across as clueless and dimwitted, utterly fooled by Nicolae’s obvious fraudulence and “overly humble” phoniness.

In this scene it’s not just the foolish Rosenzweig who is fooled by Nicolae’s obvious pretense — it’s the entire world.

Jerry Jenkins’ provided himself with another way of handling this. Back in the first book of the series he went to great lengths to establish that the Antichrist has supernatural powers of mind control. I keep waiting for him to make use of that in scenes like this — to suggest that Nicolae is working his mojo on the whole world through this broadcast while only the redeemed, those who enjoy the magic of divine protection, can hear what’s really going on.

But Jenkins doesn’t do that here. Instead, he falls back into the trap he set for himself by insisting that Nicolae is the greatest orator and most convincing speaker of all time.

Again, don’t ever do this to yourself as a writer. Don’t ever give a key character any superlative skill that will at some point have to be demonstrated on the page. Robin Hood stories are fine — you can describe an arrow hitting its target without having to wield the bow yourself. But don’t try to tell readers about the world’s greatest poet, or the world’s funniest comedian, or the most compelling orator of all time, because eventually you’ll have to back that up by supplying the poetry, jokes or oratory that live up to such descriptions. And unless you are, yourself, the greatest poet, funniest comedian, or most compelling speechwriter in all the world, then you’re trapped.

Jenkins is trapped. He is not the greatest speechwriter in the world. He is, rather, a terrible writer of terrible speeches.

And instead of great, or good, or even adequate oratory from Nicolae, what Jenkins gives us instead is this:

“Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, there will be many dark days ahead. It will take tremendous resources to begin the rebuilding process, but because of the generosity of the seven loyal global regions and with the support of those citizens in the other three areas who were loyal to the Global Community and not to the insurrectionists, we are amassing the largest relief fund in the history of mankind. This will be administered to needy nations from New Babylon and the Global Community headquarters under my personal supervision.”

So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

“With the chaos that has resulted from this most sinister and unwise rebellion, local efforts to rebuild and care for the displaced will likely be thwarted by opportunists and looters. The relief effort carried out under the auspices of the Global Community will be handled in a swift and generous way that will allow as many loyal members of the Global Community as possible to return to their prosperous standard of living.

“Continue to resist naysayers and insurrectionists. Continue to support the Global Community. And remember that though I did not seek this position, I accept it with gravity and with resolve to pour out my life in service to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

It’s difficult to imagine that banal, contentless speech uniting the entire world behind its beloved leader. I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ‘em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory. Focus, instead, on the idea that this speech is also the authors’ best attempt to convey an oily politician pandering to the masses and giving them exactly “what they wanna hear.”

Who, ever, in all the long history of human experience, has ever wanted to hear that? How are the masses being pandered to by that indecipherable puddle of rhetoric?

This echoes the problem we saw earlier with the Lesson in Christian Marriage. Husbands are instructed to seem like they’re listening to their wives when they say all that stuff they’re probably saying, whatever it is. And politicians are criticized for pandering to the masses for saying all that stuff the masses want to hear, like …  you know, whatever that stuff is that the people want.

The authors have no idea what it is “they wanna hear,” because they view ‘em — the masses, the maddening crowd, the hoi polloi — the same way they view their wives: as alien, inscrutable and unknowable. As a different, and subordinate, species.

And thus it doesn’t occur to the authors that it’s actually very easy to portray a politician saying what everyone wants to hear. Just have him say what you want to hear. To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

Sometimes the authors’ lack of empathy is due to a lack of imagination. But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. — they avoid empathy because they regard it as impossible. Empathy works by remembering the ways that you’re just like everyone else, and the authors refuse to accept that they are.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This is not a long trip. I looked it up. Palwaukee Airport is only about 7 miles from Mount Prospect.

Yes, they’ll be driving through a post-nuclear wasteland, but we’ve already seen that the roads are fine. The only after-effect of the nuclear attacks on Chicago’s highways seems to be that there’s less traffic than usual. And anyway that’s downtown, in Chicago itself. The city was attacked with nuclear weapons, not the suburbs. If things that happened in cities were in any way connected to life in the suburbs, then, why, suburban churches would have to change almost everything they’re doing. And that’s just silly.

Palwaukee Airport is a good 18 miles from downtown, so no problem there.

Oh, and Buck Williams is certainly the only person who decided to fly out of the smaller suburban airport after O’Hare was destroyed in the bombing. So no need to worry about crowds or a riotous mob-scene when they get there.

In real life, it’s not called “Palwaukee Airport” any more, by the way. It’s now “Chicago Executive Airport” — they changed the name about 10 years after Nicolae was written.

There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

I’m not criticizing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins for failing to foresee this name-change. It’s just a novel, after all, it’s not like the authors claim to be prophets or something. Oh, wait …

The fact that, 15 years after this book first came out, Palwaukee is now called “Chicago Executive” does not undermine the credibility of their prophecy. What does undermine their credibility as prophets is the fact that, 15 years later, the airport — and the rest of the world — is still here.

  • LL

    Jeez … Yeah, women and their womany feelings, like compassion for the death and suffering of others. What a bunch of whiners. 

    No wonder God put men in charge. Only manly men who don’t give a shit what happens to other people should be running things. 

  • http://twitter.com/senorpez Senor Pez

    I continue to be stunned by the lack of empathy and human qualities found in the characters in these books… and how easy it is for Fred to showcase those lacks. One would think that a competent evangelical piece (which is what these are supposed to be, right?) would express a better message than, “Neener neener neener we told you.”

    Thanks for another great installment, Fred. Loving it as always, though I’ll be dead before you finish the series.

  • LL

    “and because penis” 

    My favorite thing I’ve read today.

  • GeniusLemur

    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”
    That’s the absolute worst way to say it. Apart from being bizarre and unnatural, apart from the “unwise” part giving a sinster tint to your speech, it sounds really, really stupid

  • Jim Roberts

    Yes, whyever would one consider grief to be practical?

  • aunursa

    Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

    This is clearly preparation for Book #4, when as a result of the Earthquake, Chloe suffers broken bones, a fractured skull, and assorted internal injuries.  And then during her recoverly, she insists that she be allowed to travel from Chicago to Israel.

  • hidden_urchin

    It’s not Nick with the mind mojo; it’s L&J. They actually managed to convince millions of people that this was worth reading.

  • flat

    sigh, I have to remember every good villain speech in existence so we can just remember how good they are when the writer isn’t a complete hack.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

    The problem with that is that if the Antichrist said things that would deceive LaJenkins, he would be indistinguishable from any of the Christianist GOP hucksters that LaJenkins and their readers have been voting for unthinkingly for the last thirty years. When Bush was President, I got a lot of mileage from pointing out that the city-sized embassy he was building in Iraqi desert looked a lot more like a New Babylon than anything else that had been proposed in my lifetime.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    I’d like to quote from the lesson descriptions of CWG Publishing, which we were all recently mocking:

    What makes a character living and vibrant? Such characters endure the crucible of the story and emerge at the end a different person. Learn to let yours grow and change naturally.

    I wonder if Jenkins ever realized that this should apply to villains as well? Granted, Nicolae is basically a comic book villain, but there have been well-written comic book villains. “Evil” and “shallow” are not synonymous.

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

    Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    Possibly because he then might seem too much like certain evangelical preachers for L&J’s comfort?

  • aunursa

    That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport drive the car home from the airport.

  • GeniusLemur

    Nick “telling them what they want to hear” is him saying they’re going to rebuild, which is going to be a long, difficult, expensive process.
    a. Doesn’t sound much like pandering to me
    b. What else is he gonna say? “Oh, well, just leave everything in ruins, it’s not like those places were important?”

  • flat

    but now we are talking about speeches that changes everything, this week queen Beatrix announced that she will abdicate.

    So we had seven million people listening to her on the tv and the radio and the rest of the evening we had nothing else on but documentaries about her life and discussions what will happen next for the royal family.

    That was an big announcment in the Netherlands and compared to nicolae’s sad little speech it actually felt real.
    However we all expected it to happen sooner or later so it wasn’t such a big suprise.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “You cater to her feelings now.”

    Has any woman ever spoken this sentence, ever, outside the context of a paid couples therapy session?

  • JustoneK

    Yanno what else has occurred to me re: phonies?  That this series would’ve had more potential as a thriller wherein no one knows AT ALL for sure if Nicolae is in fact the AntiChrist at all.  And he’s extremely polarizing, but the rest of the checklist starts going ahead, and conspiracy theories among the people actually within the story would abound.

    Vaguing up lots of those details might’ve helped rly.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    A better writer might actually be able to make those personality defects work, and even make them part of the conflict. Two things you’d have to change. First, the good guys would actually have to do something – stopping the bad guy, exposing the bad guy’s schemes, saving people’s lives, whatever. Second, your leads would have to be a lot more distinct.

    One of the men is arrogant and rude in pursuit of good, the other one’s more of a white knight. Their methods come into conflict, they fight, but over time develop a bit of transferrence where the former softens a bit while the latter gains an edge. It’s not exactly original, but it’s better than trying to sympathize with two characters who are completely self-centered.

  • Kit

    Now, Fred, you know it’s not just a lack of empathy. If Jenkins were to write a political speech for Nicolae that appealed to himself, he’d give away the game. Y’know, the one where his favored religious leaders, pundits, and politicians say whatever appeals to the basest natures of their demographic, barely disguised in (anti)Christian values.

  • Kit

    Damn, Alan Alexander got to it already while I was herding nieces back out of my office.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    That may have occurred to Jenkins, at least initially. The first book had multiple antichrist candidates, but the whole thing was really poorly done and it was plainly obvious who the real bad guy was. I suspect it made more sense when this was a trilogy. Shortening the story wouldn’t have made it good, but a tighter narrative would at least make it a lot less boring.

  • walden

    Wait just a minute.  How did they get the Range Rover out of the tree?

  • http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/ Marie Brennan

    But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. —

    I just have to say this is a beautiful bit of writing.

  • JustoneK

    DIVINE MAGIC.

  • Carstonio

    The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings
    and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about …
    oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk
    about all that woman-ish stuff.”

    This type of sexism seems more repugnant to me than the old Hollywood potboilers that showed women as hysterical in the face of danger. Unlikely that the scriptwriters and directors were attempting to illustrate an ideal for gender or marital relations.

    What are your opinions on John Gray and Deborah Tannen? When I first read their books, they didn’t strike me as gender essentialist, but that was some years ago and I may have missed it the first time.

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his
    preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to
    allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    Would it be clichéd to have Nicolae reveal a little of his true nature amid his eloquence, something that his audience wouldn’t notice but the readers would?

  • JustoneK

    So like all decent concepts in this series, run into the ground, paved over, and ignored.

  • Kit

     It fell out of the tree, nearly crushing Buck. I just still can’t figure out *how*. It sounded like it was going to land on its top, but instead it landed on its tires and was completely fine.

  • Lori

    Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.  

    Are they afraid, or just unable? None of their characters are charismatic or charming or eloquent and most of them aren’t even likable and they don’t seem to be aware of that. Jenkins apparently thought the speech was good and just what people would want to hear. He very well may think that Nicky seems very appealing.

  • JustoneK

    To trope things up, huge Values Dissonance leading to a shitload of Informed Attributes.

  • GeniusLemur

    I wouldn’t say it would be cliched. It might be, depending on how it was handled; I’ve seen some things along those lines that are painfully obvious, corny, or shoehorned in.
    Still even attempting that would be more subtlety than Jenkins could ever handle.

  • Lori

     IIRC it basically fell out.

  • Vermic

    I live just down the street from Palwaukee Airport!  It’s always a little unsettling when the LB books go into local detail.  Makes it feel like Jerry Jenkins is stalking me.  If Buck and Chloe go to Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse I’ll be a basket case.

    Personally I still call it Palwaukee, despite the name change, because “Chicago Executive” is super generic and meaningless.  I expect most locals do the same, but it’s a small airport and doesn’t come up in conversation much, so I can’t say.

    Mount Prospect to Palwaukee is a super easy drive.  You can even avoid major roads to get there.  Hard to say how crowded it would be in the aftermath of WWIII — on the one hand, with O’Hare gone it’d be the closest air service in the northwest suburbs (with the larger Midway Airport shouldering the bulk of the Chicagoland traffic).  On the other hand, Palwaukee is so small that I imagine its ability to manage additional traffic is pretty limited.

    There’s certainly no way Midway and Palwaukee could accommodate the enormous volume of air travel formerly handled by O’Hare, so if you lived in Chicagoland and O’Hare were wiped out, you could pretty much kiss your air travel plans goodbye for a while.  Unless, of course, you were a highly-ranked OWG media guy with super duper clearance; then all bets are off.

    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”
    That’s the absolute worst way to say it.

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.  Go ahead, try it.

  • Magic_Cracker

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    The authors’ propensity to chicken out like that is one of the major recurring wounds these novels inflict upon themselves (readers are just collateral damage) — Rayford is a sinner redeemed, but this pre-Magic Words sin of unconsummated almost-lust is utterly banal, so his redemption lacks any impact (what what impact it could, theoretically, have us undone by his sin of pride which isn’t just ongoing, but celebrated by the authors). Ditto for Buck who, pre-Magic Words, was a worldly 30-year-old virgin. The good guys, even if they were once “bad,” can’t be too bad and bad guys who are supposed to appear good can’t look too good, lest the resulting complexity and ambiguity cause the readers’ faith to momentarily flicker the exact moment they are fatally struck by a meteorite*.

    We’re talking not just about the end of the world, but the end of the literally God-damned universe here, and not just the any end of the God-damned universe, but one of the trippiest, weirdest, Alpha-Omega-est, First-Shall-Be-Lastest, most nonsensical end of the universe scenarios imagined. Restraint is not what’s needed.

    Except for the telephone scenes (and Jeezilla in Glorious Appearing).

    *Actually, I know that’s not why they wuss out. They’re concerned about their readers’ eternal sales, not souls.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    If L&J couldn’t manage genuine charisma, they should have gone the other way. A few years back, I read a science fiction novel where one of the villains had a Nicky-esque hypnotic power. He was a magnificent idiot who could barely string a sentence together without tripping over his tongue, but everyone who listened to him speak saw him as a lot more intelligent and charming than he really was. There was one kid who was immune to the effect, and his reactions made the situation seem a lot more surreal than it already was.

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned all this before. What I forgot until now was that the kid actually lived with this villain. There’s one scene where the author hints that the villain might have discovered the kid’s immunity. It’s fairly tense because the two of them are alone, and if the villain has figured this out, the kid is as good as dead.

    The contrast couldn’t be more clear. One novel sets the scene with surrealism and dread, the other doesn’t bother establishing anything. And one sold perhaps a few thousand copies, while the other sold millions.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.”

    In fairness, this advice is not without some merit, but I would neuter the language a bit.  One should cater to one’s partner and listen to them, regardless of whether the partner is husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or any other gender-identity/relationship combination you can think of.  Men are most definitely not exempt from this, even if engendered values limit the forms of its expression.  Heck, Buck and Rayford are perfect examples of this, their constant need to assert dominance and put others in their place speaks of a deep insecurity with their own positions.  Being able to admit that (at least to a trusted confidant) would probably do a lot at making less asshole-ish.  

    People have feelings, they are not always irrational (as Fred pointed out the sentiment here is appropriate to the situation) and it is important that one listen to them.  I cannot stress enough that the important verb here is listen.  A partner who thinks that you are not sensitive to their feelings is a recipe for an unhappy breakup.  All relationships involve a little give and take, and often that means that a partner ought to be able to give the other their ear on occasion in return for the same favor when they need the other to listen instead.  

    But then, I tend to approach such things from an assumption of equality.  I am not sure L&J do.  

  • GeniusLemur

    And landed on its wheels, and, apart from cosmetic scratches on the grill, turned out to be undamaged.

  • aunursa

    Jenkins apparently thought the speech was good and just what people would want to hear. He very well may think that Nicky seems very appealing.

    LB fans seem to think of Nicolae as Jenkins wants them to think. From the plethora of Amazon.com 5-star reviews of Nicolae

    The evil ones like Nicolai and Leon Fortunato are vile enough to make you cringe at times.

    The plot is good, the good characters are likeable, the evil characters hate-able (Nicolae is so much more creepy in this book than in any of the movies!)

    The character of Nicolae Carpathia is becoming more and more familiar as the Antichrist.

    I was scared out of my mind by this book. There is so much going on and Nicolae could not get more evil!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    I am not sure L&J even know how to write a charismatic character.  This might be a more a limitation of their own abilities than an underestimation of their audience.  

    Or it could be both.  After all, if their audience thinks crap like this is amazing, then they  might actually be as dense as L&J seem to think.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Vaguing up lots of those details might’ve helped rly.

    A what a great twist it would have been if the seeming-heroes did depose Nicolae for fear of him being the Antichrist and installed a seeming-RTC in his place, and while everyone’s high-fiving, have Ray & Buck wondering how they even could have pulled it off … if it’s all God’s plan, they’re shouldn’t have, unless pulling it off is God’s plan, and OMG! Fitzhugh is the Antichrist* leading to a schism between the RTCs who now rule the world and the Real RTCs who go underground.

    *Or God just doesn’t exist.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “And, lo! The tree bough boweth to his feet like a wife submitting to her lord’s will and delivered unto him the Rover of Ranges. Because Buck was just that awesome.” Book of Buck, 3:12

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ‘em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

    Well, yeah.  One kind of wants to hear that the powers-that-be are on top of the situation when massive disaster strikes.  What would Buck rather he say?

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

    So on the one hand, you’ve got a huge missed opportunity for world building that actually ties into the book’s alleged title!

    Devastation of the richest cities in the richest nations, and a massive, globally-funded relief effort makes for a nice set-up to establish your Ten Ambassadors of Evil. 

    “In order to co-ordinate relief efforts, to ensure that food and supplies are not caught in nets of red tape, or simply stolen by local strongmen, I am granting special authority and power to the Global Community Overseers of the ten disaster relief districts. I know there will be some who see in this a sinister motive, as they see evil in free lunches to school children and malice in improving dental care for rural citizens, but understand, the needs of the suffering are too great not to see that the support of the able are received in full.”

    See? Now you’ve got your ten regions of your OWG supplanting existing governments, with Nicolae at the top of it all,  you get to sneak in a little Communist Manefesto language, and the bad guy is saying “What, you think charity is evil?” which is a common political ploy.  Your heroes get to spout that Nicolae started a war, killed millions, and is now using it to grab even more power. 

    On the other hand, LeJenkins would probably just snort “Hey, Nicolae was made head of the U.N. in book 1, and he named his ambassadors then. It’s already a done deal, why go on about it?”

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

    “…never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

    I don’t know if that might or might not make sense.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

    One can still show that one researched the situation without name-dropping landmarks.  They could simply describe the situation and journey in detail without having to name names.  This would side-step the possibility of locations changing names, and it would paint a clear picture of the scenario in the heads of people who have never been there, while at the same time the people who have been there would know it and realize the authors actually know what they are talking about.  

    Of course, this would require giving actual descriptions, which is anathema to writers who prefer to fill space with good, godly phone conversations instead.  

  • flat
  • aunursa

    Chloe: Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.

    Amanda: You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?

    Hello?  They’re all RTCs.  According to L&J they’re all guaranteed to see each other again and spend an infinite amount of time together.

  • Vermic

    This brings up a point I’m still unsure of: exactly why Nicolae triggered WWIII in the first place.  Normally your standard evil ruler would pull a stunt like this to increase or solidify their power, but Nicky’s already Supreme Potentate of Everything at this point, so what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under fake pretenses?

  • thebewilderness

      “You cater to her feelings now.”

    Has any woman ever spoken this sentence, ever, outside the context of a paid couples therapy session?No, but since this is a book written by a man who does not listen to women it will contain what he thinks women say when the men are not listening. So it does not matter.

  • aunursa

    what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under false pretenses?

    Why?  Just for the hell of it.  He’s that evil.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”

    That’s the absolute worst way to say it.

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.  Go ahead, try it.

    Aw crap, now I am reading everything Nicky says in the disturbingly sexy baritone of James Earl Jones.  

  • That Other Jean

    “Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. . . .”

    Yet more evidence that “cater to” in no way means “respect.”


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