NRA: Mojo rising

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; Chapter 6

Our Antichrist is busy getting all Antichrist-y in this chapter, but does he know that’s what he’s doing?

On the one hand, our story so far has often suggested that Nicolae Carpathia must know that he is the Antichrist of Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” mythos. Much of his behavior only makes sense if he knows this — if he has studied the footnotes of the Scofield Bible and the premillennial dispensationalist writings of people like LaHaye and Hal Lindsey. He has been following their End Times check list too precisely to accept that he is not intimately familiar with it.

A “literal” reading of the Bible never says that the Antichrist will have hypnotic super-powers. But then, of course, a literal reading of the Bible never mentions “the Antichrist.”

Just consider the city of New Babylon. Nicolae spent much of his first year and a half in office building this gleaming new world capital in the middle of the desert just so that he could claim to have rebuilt ancient Babylon. That’s something no one would ever imagine or attempt unless he was intent on establishing himself as the very particular sort of Antichrist imagined by a very particular school of “Bible prophecy.”

The building of this city is too weird and too specific for any possibility other than that Nicolae has a dog-eared copy of The Late Great Planet Earth that he’s using as a daily planner. It shows he knows himself to be the Antichrist — and not just some generic Antichrist type, but explicitly the PMD Antichrist. It is only in that particular school of End Times mania that anyone reads biblical allusions to Babylon as prophecies of the rebuilding of Nebuchadnezzar’s literal kingdom on its original site. (This is just one of many ways that any random reggae musician is a more reliable biblical exegete than Tim LaHaye.)

On the other hand, our story has also often suggested that Nicolae Carpathia cannot know that he is the Antichrist. It seems that for every action he takes that only makes sense if he’s studying LaHaye’s check list, he takes another action that only makes sense if he is completely ignorant of these “prophecies” and what they say is coming next.

It won’t help us to sort this out by skipping ahead to later volumes or to the prequels, where the authors imagine they settle this question. The story so far is too firmly committed to both answers for the contradiction to be resolved that way. Based on his actions and his agenda thus far, Nicolae has to know that he is the Antichrist. And based on his actions and his agenda thus far, Nicolae cannot know that he is the Antichrist.*

In this chapter, during his business meeting with his “sovereign” underlings, Nicolae again suggests both contradictory answers. He shrugs off the significance of Tsion Ben-Judah, seeming as though he’s never heard of the army of Jewish converts LaHaye’s prophecy check list foretells. And he lays out a long-term political agenda with plans for infrastructure and energy investment that he would never bother with if he knew he was the Antichrist and had only five and a half years remaining before Armageddon. Yet this chapter also gives us one of the most explicit scenes yet of Nicolae employing his Antichrist superpowers with a deliberateness that would seem impossible unless he knew, with certainty, exactly who he was and what his role was in the unfolding prophetic check list.

Here, again, Nicolae wields the mind-control mojo** he used back in the anticlimax to the first book. This time Jerry Jenkins tries to give us a clearer picture of how these mind-control powers work. In doing so, he shows Nicolae enjoying the use of his powers and employing them in a way that only makes sense if he knows he is the Antichrist.

Rayford Steele, eavesdropping on this meeting, gets a case of the sanctified shivers in the presence of this display of the dark arts:

Rayford felt a tingle up his spine and nearly turned, convinced someone was standing right outside the cockpit door. Finally the feeling became so foreboding and pervasive that he whipped off his headphones and stood, leaning to peek through the fish-eye peephole. No one was there. Was God trying to tell him something? He was reminded of the same sense of fear that had overcome him when Buck had told his terrifying story of sitting through a meeting where Carpathia had single-handedly hypnotized and brainwashed everyone in the room except Buck.

That last sentence is clumsy, but when you’re trying to have one protagonist remember the feelings of the other one it’s hard to write clearly.

Only born-again Christians like Rayford and Buck feel this ominous sense of evil when Nicolae works his magic. And having their spiritual amulet of protection, such Christians are shielded from the effects of the spell. I’m not sure whether or not Nicolae knows this about his mind-control powers, but if he does, then that effectively gives him another super ability — the ability to detect born-again Christians.

Rayford sat back in his seat and put the headphones on. When he depressed the intercom button, it was as if he were hearing a new Carpathia. Nicolae spoke very softly, very earnestly, in a monotone. None of the flourishes and inflections that usually characterized his speech were evident. “I want to tell you all something, and I want you to listen very carefully and understand fully. …”

I’m trying to imagine what an earnest monotone sounds like, but I suppose what Jenkins is going for here is your standard B-movie hypnotist spiel, so I’m guessing Nicolae is speaking here in the same kind of voice in which one would say, “You are getting sleepy … sleeeeepy.”

Still speaking like a sideshow hypnotist, Nicolae describes his plan:

“Within the next few months we shall all announce unanimous decisions allowing us to control business, education, health care, and even the way your individual kingdoms choose their leaders. The fact is, democracy and voting will be suspended. They are inefficient and not in the best interests of the people. Because of what we will provide people, they will quickly understand that this is correct. Each of you can go back to your subjects and honestly tell them that this was your idea, you raised it, you sought support of your colleagues and me for it, and you prevailed. I will publicly reluctantly accede to your wishes, and we will all win.”

After all the murky tax and energy discussion, it’s refreshing to hear the embodiment of evil endorsing something more unambiguously wicked — and I think the abolition of “democracy and voting” certainly counts as truly evil. But I can’t figure out why Nicolae, or the authors, thinks this is a new step at this point in the story.

The 10 men Nicolae is talking to here were appointed by the potentate to rule over their “kingdoms.” They were not elected and they did not face the prospect of needing to be re-elected. They have, for more than a year, been accountable only to the potentate above them and not at all to their “subjects” below them.

So I have no idea what it means now for the Antichrist to “suspend” democracy and voting. He did that 18 months ago. Democracy and voting haven’t been part of this story since all the children disappeared. And he isn’t proposing any change in the way the “individual kingdoms choose their leaders” — he already did that when he chose their leaders for them.

No one says anything at first in response to Nicolae’s suggestion, but it’s not because they’re confused by the suspension of non-existent democracy. It’s only because his mind-control mojo apparently takes a moment to take effect:

Rayford listened to a long silence, wondering if his bugging device was malfunctioning. He released and depressed it several times, finally deciding that no one was saying anything in the conference area. So this was the mind control Buck had witnessed firsthand.

Eventually, the mojo-ified princes all begin suggesting back to Nicolae the same policies he just fed them. They begin “talking over each other” and “parroting back to him” the instructions he had given them.

“The meeting lasted another couple of hours,” Jenkins tells us. I’m grateful he opted to summarize most of that. We don’t hear any more of Nicolae’s specific evil plans until one last final spasm at the end of the chapter, in which the authors pull out the big guns and have the Antichrist endorse the mostest-evilest thing they can imagine: legal abortion.

“We cannot pretend that the world as we know it has not been almost destroyed by this outbreak of global war. It is not over yet. There will be more skirmishes. …”

Raining nuclear bombs on major cities isn’t usually described as a “skirmish.” But enough about nuclear mass-murder, what about the really evil stuff? What about abortion?

“There will be more surreptitious attacks. We will have to reluctantly access our power base of weaponry, which you all know I am loath to do, and many more thousands of lives will be lost in addition to the hundreds of thousands already taken. …”

The authors seem to regard Nicolae’s estimate there of “hundreds of thousands” of dead as roughly accurate. This is after he has destroyed (at least) the cities of London, Washington, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and San Francisco with nuclear weapons — metropolitan areas that are home to more than 40 million people.

Once again, population estimates don’t seem to be the authors’ strong suit, which is why they have their Antichrist fretting about the supposed strain of post-Rapture, post-nuclear overpopulation. A problem he proposes solving with lots and lots of — yep, here it is — abortions:

“Those who would oppose us will take advantage of the impossibility of our peacekeeping forces to be everywhere at once, and this will result in famine, poverty, and disease. In one way, there is a positive side to this. Due to the incredible cost of rebuilding, the fewer people we must feed and whose standard of living we must raise, the more quickly and economically we can do this. As the population level decreases and then stabilizes, it will be important for us to be sure that it does not then explode again too quickly. With proper legislation regarding abortion, assisted suicide, and the reduction of expensive care for the defective and the handicapped, we should be able to get a handle on worldwide population control.”

Here again a reminder: Every child on Earth disappeared in the Rapture. Every parent left behind became immediately childless. Every mother lost her every son and every daughter. Every father lost his every child. Every grandparent lost all of their grandchildren. Every aunt and uncle lost every niece and nephew.

This has had no effect on the plot of this story. This has had no effect on the characters in this story.

The Event didn’t just take away every child, but every pregnancy, with every pregnant woman on the planet instantaneously becoming un-pregnant at the moment of the Rapture. The authors drew particular attention to that aspect of the Event back in Book 1 — describing a video from a hospital maternity ward that captured the moment on tape:

Then came the scream and the dropping of the camera, terrified voices, running nurses, and the doctor. CNN reran the footage in superslow motion, showing the woman going from very pregnant to nearly flat-stomached, as if she had instantaneously delivered.

And yet never, in the hundreds of pages that followed, did the authors or any characters in their story ever wonder — after the disintegration of every child on Earth along with the miraculous termination of every pregnancy — if this meant that humans would never again be able to have children. The jarring “Eighteen months later” time-skip at the end of the second book skipped over the period nine months after the Event in which, if it were possible, the first children would have been born in the post-Rapture baby boom.

The authors never tell us that baby boom happened, but they never tell us it didn’t happen either.*** Like all of their characters, the authors don’t seem to have given a second thought to the missing children or to the implications of a childless world.

It is only now, more than 800 pages later, that we get this back-handed, tangential acknowledgement that apparently, yes, pregnancy and childbirth are indeed possible post-Rapture. And the only reason we learn this is because without such new pregnancies, the Antichrist would have nothing to abort.

Of course that still doesn’t explain why, just 18 months after the world’s population instantaneously dropped from 7 billion to less than 4 billion, anyone would be worried about trying “to get a handle on worldwide population control.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -
* This is one of the reasons I enjoyed Gordon Currie’s portrayal of Nicolae in those awful movie adaptations of the first two books. As the actor playing this character, Currie had to make a choice. It had to be one or the other — either he could play Nicolae as knowing he was the Antichrist or play him as not knowing. Yet neither the screenplay nor the books would allow him as an actor to commit to one or the other and stick with it without contradicting that choice several times along the way. So Currie chose the only option he had left and just camped it up as much as he could get away with. Since that was the only choice left to him, I think it was the right choice. If the character you’re playing isn’t permitted to make sense, then you can at least try to make him entertaining.

Still no word on who will be playing Nicolae in the upcoming Nicolas Cage-led reboot of Left Behind. I’m hoping for Charlie Sheen. I might have said Adam Baldwin, but since the parts of Rayford and Buck have already been cast, I’ve had to give up on my dream of an all-Baldwin ensemble, with Alec as Rayford and Stephen as Buck.

** Since the authors insist that these books are a literal portrayal of the literal events literally prophesied in the Bible, you may be wondering where in the Bible it says that the Antichrist will have superpowers, including his own Satanic version of the Jedi mind-trick. The Bible doesn’t actually say that.

My guess is that the authors gave Nicolae such superpowers based on their “literal” reading of Revelation 13, which describes two “beasts” — the first of which the authors regard as their Antichrist. Of that first beast, the Apocalypse says, “the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. … The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” And then of the second beast, it says, “by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth.”

Once you understand how the authors got from that to Nicolae’s mind-control mojo, you’ll understand what Tim LaHaye really means when he says he always reads the Bible “literally.”

*** Here is, as far as I remember, the only conversation in any of these books in which anyone expresses the slightest concern or curiosity about whether the conception of new children would be possible post-Event. This is Hattie Durham and Rayford Steele talking on the phone, back in the first book:

“Things are getting so strange,” she said. “You know I have a sister who works in a pregnancy clinic.”

“Uh-huh,” Rayford said. “You’ve mentioned it.”

“They do family planning and counseling and referrals for terminating pregnancies.”

“Right.”

“And they’re set up to do abortions right there.”

Hattie seemed to be waiting for some signal of affirmation or acknowledgment that he was listening. Rayford grew impatient and remained silent.

“Anyway,” she said, “I won’t keep you. But my sister told me they have zero business.”

“Well, that would make sense, given the disappearances of unborn babies.”

“My sister didn’t sound too happy about that.”

“Hattie, I imagine everyone’s horrified by that. Parents are grieving all over the world.”

“But the women my sister and her people were counseling wanted abortions.”

Rayford groped for a pertinent response. “Yes, so maybe those women are grateful they didn’t have to go through the abortion itself.”

“Maybe, but my sister and her bosses and the rest of the staff are out of work now until people start getting pregnant again.”

“I get it. It’s a money thing.”

“They have to work. They have expenses and families.”

“And aside from abortion counseling and abortions, they have nothing to do?”

“Nothing. Isn’t that awful? I mean, whatever happened put my sister and a lot of people like her out of business, and nobody really knows yet whether anyone will be able to get pregnant again.”

Rayford had to admit he had never found Hattie guilty of brilliance, but now he wished he could look into her eyes. “Hattie, um, I don’t know how to ask this. But are you saying your sister is hoping women can get pregnant again so they’ll need abortions and she can keep working?”

“Well, sure. What is she going to do otherwise?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    I always assumed he didn’t know, because of that weird scene after his assassination in “Assassins” where Buck hears him mumbling, “But, you promised…” Maybe there’s some complicated scheme at work where Satan promised him world domination under the condition that – that he wouldn’t be assassinated? I don’t really know what Jenkins was thinking here.

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

    Yay! NRA writeup!

    The creepiness-factor actually shows up for the first time, and I’m reluctantly impressed. Unfortunately that kind of evaporates in light of the fact that NIcolae is then written to conform to all the usual shout-outs and dog whistlers to the intended audience of the books – because heaven forfend there should be abortions.

    Even if abortion were to remain totally legal in Nicolae-world, I highly suspect very few women would make use of them. The sheer mass trauma wrought by losing a billion-plus people, the majority of them children, would likely mean women becoming pregnant again would be feted and commented on, reported on, tweeted, facebooked – all the rest.

    Women who formerly might have had abortions might elect not to, on the grounds that replenishing the population is a higher socal objective in the immediate term.

    Worldbuilding, L&J. That word means something!

  • Helena Constantine

    Why, in this sort of book, should we think that legislation permitting abortion has anything to do with the possibility of child bearing? Perhaps child-bearing has magically ceased, and Nicolae only wants to allow abortion as an ideological idea. It would be little different than the recent republican moves to outlaw funding for ACORN.

  • Katie

    I assume that Nicky wants abortions and euthanasia because that is what Those Evil Statanicliberalcommiesocialisnazis always want. Who cares if it makes sense?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Let’s put aside the “one of these things is not like the other” nature of Nicolae’s three pronged plan and ask an even more fundamental question:

    “With proper legislation … we should be able to get a handle on worldwide population control.”

    Are the Four Horsemen just not up to the task?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RHLJILNCJRFGBX3RXSRO3QDSZY Steven

    It’s truly amazing that it never crosses their minds that God perfformed a mass abortion of not only every fetus, but every child as well. The evil abortion clinic is only out of a job because God did their work for them.

  • SergeantHeretic

    I am particularly caught by the end snippit where Ellenjay cavaleirly bring out that all us Evilstanaicliberalcommunazis are just a THISTIN’ to have and do abortions up to and incluuding getting pregnant SPECIFICALLY so we could abort the child.
    Fred is right there is a deep and profound stupidity to radical right wing thought.

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

    Considering that Nicolae appears to be cheating and following the same playbook as the Tribbles, it stands to reason he knows, in generalities, that disease, pestilence and famine are due to follow – all of which will surely result in mass deaths over the next six or so years he has left to run wild on the planet Earth.

    In light of that, L&J having him choose to focus on minutiae regarding certain regulations, taxes and laws is really quite absurd.

    The inexorable tide of history is about to come, and all Nicky is worried about is the ox-bow on a small river off to the side.

    If he’s an Evil Mastermind shouldn’t he be happily accelerating the schedule?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Actually, there is a third possibility. I recall from an excerpt posted somewhere that Nicky is, if not necessarily aware he is the Anti-Christ, at least aware he is Satan’s servant. Something about praying to Satan, and having conversations with him post-indwelling. Nicky does have powers, and he knows he does, and he knows that those powers come from Satan, and he will continue to enjoy such powers as long as he continues to serve dutifully.

    The possibility here is that Nicky does not know the whole picture, but he is following instructions that are given to him on a need-to-know basis. This might explain some of his spastic behavior and erratic plans. He is just following steps without knowing where they lead.

  • GeniusLemur

    Yeah, when every child and fetus on earth has disappeared in the last 18 months, the thing to worry about is the population growing too fast

  • Kubricks_Rube

    yes, pregnancy and childbirth are indeed possible post-Rapture. And the only reason we learn this is because without such new pregnancies, the Antichrist would have nothing to abort.

    It’s like Jesus said. “End one pregnancy, it’s a tragedy. End a million pregnancies, it’s a miracle.” That was Jesus, right?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am actually glad of the description of the mind-mojo here. For the first time, we have an idea what this feeling of evil RTCs get when the mojo is being used is actually like. In this case, Rayford describes it as a sensation of being watched, intensely so by a malevolent presence with intent to harm, to the point that he cannot resist checking out the peephole of the door to ensure that there is really nothing out there coming to get him. Golf-clap applause to Jenkins for actually describing something in a way that communicates emotion.

    This also gives us some addition information about the way that the mojo is used which casts a lot of the previous implausible actions as being much more explainable. His mojo takes the form of implanting an idea in a person, rather than simply compelling them, and they forget the memetic implantation after being given it. Thus, Nicky can set up a Manchurian situation where he can mojo someone to say that they will act a certain way at a certain time, and when the time comes the person will think it was all their own idea. I could see him meeting with various ambassadors and heads of state prior to the events of the book, convincing them to go along with his ideas when the time comes. It makes his rise to power and absurd plans seem much more plausible.

    As for the monotone, I am now imagining Nicky being played by Ben Stein in a film adaptation.

    “Rayford… Rayford…”

  • GeniusLemur

    So why is Nicky using the mind-mojo? Supposedly the entire world adores him (which doesn’t preclude the ocassional armed revolt), and these are his hand-picked lieutenants. If he just said, “This is what I need you to do,” is there any chance they’ll refuse? That’s twice Nicky’s used the mojo, and both times there was neither a need for it or a point to using it.

    And won’t someone (including the lieutenants) notice that every ambassador claims it was their own idea and they convinced their skeptical collegues and the bloatentate to do it?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Incidentally, that little extract at the end implies that family planning and maternity clinics do nothing but perform abortions. Do LaHay and Jenkins even understand the full breadth of services that these clinics provide? I doubt it. Worse, I doubt most of their target readers do either.

    Hell, it seems like the takeaway message from what Nicky was saying here is that “Family planning is the work of the devil… literally!” That dog-whistle was… well, if it is that loud does it still count as a dog-whistle?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Incidentally, that little extract at the end implies that family planning and maternity clinics do nothing but perform abortions. Do LaHay and Jenkins even understand the full breadth of services that these clinics provide? I doubt it. Worse, I doubt most of their target readers do either.

    Hell, it seems like the takeaway message from what Nicky was saying here is that “Family planning is the work of the devil… literally!” That dog-whistle was… well, if it is that loud does it still count as a dog-whistle?

  • TheBrett

    That’s implied in Book Six, when Nicky gets assassinated before being revived as a zombie possessed by Satan. His last words are something like, “But I followed your instructions . . . ”

    But that begs the question of why Satan is pushing him through the checklist. It could just be that Satan is crazy egotistical in the setting, and wants to through the whole round of crap before defeating God just to show that he can.

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

    Well, given that real life conservatives have claimed Planned Parenthood is nothing but an abortion mill, I’m not surprised L&J, years ago when they wrote this book, also had fictional characters say things like that. Anti-abortion advocates have perpetuated these falsehoods for decades now.

  • flat

    I am pro-life and even I can see how stupid nickie’s abortion plan is.

    And now nickie’s mind-mojo is a piss poor immitation of leglimency, the difference of course is that leglimency follows certain rules that can not be altered and makes leglimency a much greater threat to both Harry and voldemort than it does to Rayford and nickie.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    So Nicolae follows the script, which says among other things that he doesn’t know the script?

  • GDwarf

    I could see an increase in abortions following the rapture, though it’s a stretch: Every child has, effectively, died. All pregnancies terminated. It’s a huge catastrophe that has, somehow, left society mostly intact. In that situation, I could see lots of sex happening, and I could see people choosing to not use protection, either because they, at the time, feel it’s their duty to help revive the species or because they assume that we’re in Children of Men territory and there’ll be no new children ever. Then pregnancies happen and five months later they have second-thoughts.

    However, I suspect that the number of abortions would drop enormously instead. It would be nice if the authors had even remotely tried to justify any of this themselves, at least my band-aid up above would let me suspend disbelief in a better series.

    As always, it raises the question of what on Earth the point of abducting every child is if you’re just going to let new ones be born during the tribulation. In fact, given that aborted fetuses are explicitly said to go to Heaven, does that not mean that mandatory universal abortions would be the most godly thing to do? Spare them the tribulation and get them to heaven before they know any hardship. Indeed, since the first book opens with God doing just that…Argh, it takes a special lack of introspection to write something this confused.

  • fredgiblet

    Sounds legit.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    just 18 months after the world’s population instantaneously dropped from 7 billion to less than 4 billion

    Remember, this is a 1990s book, and the Rapture was supposed to take place sometime in the very very near future — maybe even right NOW! …Er, NOW!

    So we would’ve been creeping up on 6 billion at the time. 7 was quite recent.

  • flat

    Yes one of the first rules about writing something is to make the world where the characters life in work, and to make the rules the characters have to follow.

  • Dylan

    I’m reminded of the Battlestar Galactica episode that touched on abortion. Being a “ripped from the headlines” plot thread, it’s a little awkward, but nowhere near as awkward as this.

    A post-Rapture, post-nuclear-war world isn’t much different than the state of the human fleet in BSG, and President Roslin’s “that number doesn’t go up often” speech actually seems to grapple with that fact as well as the issue of abortion.

  • flat

    man Disqus sucks

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Remember, it was “Jesus coming back to get us before we die,” which is different from death because reasons.

  • Grgos

    One possibility for Nicolae’s contradictory behavior would be if he was using a different playbook. So he has a copy of the prophecy checklist too, but it has a different ending. He had been led to believe that all of those other prophecy checklists were lies and he had the real deal. In his version, if he followed the steps exactly, he would ultimately triumph and get to rule the Earth forever after defeating Jesus. In that case, making long term plans would make sense.

    Of course, that would mean that he was just a pawn put there to let God flex his muscles, i.e., it would make God an incredible douche. Of course, that’s exactly what happened with Pharaoh, so it wouldn’t be particularly surprising.

  • Daniel

    Now I’m no nucular scientist, but wouldn’t the radiation from loads and loads of nuclear bombs drastically reduce the fertility of the world’s population? Aside from that, what about all the cancer people will be getting now? And how did the nukes not poison the water? I mean, even long after the explosions wouldn’t people be dropping like flies anyway?Would anyone need help committing suicide here- there’s been eighteen months of global ptsd, I’m sure a few suicide clubs would already have sprung up- spirit of enterprise and all that.
    Finally, is it possible to explode slowly?

  • Lunch Meat

    Eventually, the mojo-ified princes all begin suggesting back to Nicolae the same policies he just fed them. They begin “talking over each other” and “parroting back to him” the instructions he had given them.

    This is another reason that the way these books are narrated is really stupid. This is just an undramatic and stupid way to make this happen. It’s not creepy at all. But because the reader has to know that it’s Nicky making the potentates do this, and the reader can’t know it unless Ray-Ray knows it, and Ray-Ray can’t know it unless he overhears it explicitly stated, it has to be this way.

    “Nothing. Isn’t that awful? I mean, whatever happened put my sister and a lot of people like her out of business, and nobody really knows yet whether anyone will be able to get pregnant again.”

    I don’t think anyone needs to explain why this bears no resemblance to what humans would actually say or think. But I’m shocked totally not surprised at all that they blew off an opportunity to do some excellent world-building about all the teachers and daycare providers and toy manufacturers and cartoon producers and Little League coaches and pediatricians and ice cream truck drivers who are also out of business, in favor of reminding readers how evil “abortionists” are.

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

    Within the next few months we shall all announce unanimodecisions allowing us to control business, education, health care, and even the way your individual kingdoms choose their leaders.

    So… basically every country just became Britain or Germany, then?*

    The fact is, democracy and voting will be suspended.

    I can’t tell if it’s Jenkins tin ear for dialogue (“The fact iswill be…” tenses? What are those?) or if it’s LeHay’s theology (“The fact is, anything an approved authority says is a fact, and unless it comes from an approved authority, it’s not a fact!”) but either way, the fact is, that’s terrible writing.

    I will publicly reluctantly accede to your wishes, and we will all win.

    “publicly reluctantly”?!!?
    See that, that I know is Jenkins’ bad writing. How does I adverb?

    “Those who would oppose us will take advantage of the impossibility of our peacekeeping forces to be everywhere at once, and this will result in famine, poverty, and disease.

    What? Taking advantage of peacekeeping forces not being present results in famine how?

    The absence of peacekeeping forces leads to disease?!?

    Taking advantage of absent peacekeepers causes poverty?!?!

    Compared to this, no-fallout nukes seem reasonable, coherent, and plausible.

    As the population level …stabilizes, it will be important for us to be sure that it does not then explode again too quickly.

    “…explode again….”? When did it explode the first time?
    “…explode… too quickly”? Because things explode slowly?

    Doesn’t “stabilize” mean, you know, not changing dramatically or suddenly?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Or Satan is working for God, helping him to separate the wicked from the righteous so that when the Millennial Kingdom comes about only perfectly righteous people remain to populate the paradise.

    Of course, Satan must have done a piss-poor job since the series continues with the Other Light faction opposing the Real, True, Christians. And it also means that God is a colossal jerk for wrecking Satan up after doing his part of the plan faithfully.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As always, it raises the question of what on Earth the point of abducting every child is if you’re just going to let new ones be born during the tribulation. In fact, given that aborted fetuses are explicitly said to go to Heaven, does that not mean that mandatory universal abortions would be the most godly thing to do? Spare them the tribulation and get them to heaven before they know any hardship.

    Heck, based on the theology about there being an age of accountability before sin takes effect, I would think that aborting a fetus is the most merciful thing you can do for it. Letting it be born only opens up the possibility it might go to Hell, according to that theological model.

    Why oh why does this not cause some people’s heads to explode from the “Does not compute!” factor?

  • Lunch Meat

    In this case, Rayford describes it as a sensation of being watched, intensely so by a malevolent presence with intent to harm, to the point that he cannot resist checking out the peephole of the door to ensure that there is really nothing out there coming to get him. Golf-clap applause to Jenkins for actually describing something in a way that communicates emotion.

    Although it’s ruined by L&J following the totally adequate description with “It reminded Rayford of that other thing that happened, because it turns out it was exactly the same thing as that other thing that happened.

  • Dogfacedboy

    The meeting lasted another couple of hours and consisted mostly of Carpathia’s so-called kings parroting back to him everything…each seemed to raise these as new and fresh ideas…often the ambassadors would repeat each other as if not having heard.

    “I was just thinking, sir,” Fortunato said in his most obsequious voice, “that you might consider suspending popular voting as being inefficient and not in the best interests of the people.”

    “Oh, I do not know, Mr. Fortunato,” Carpathia replied with feigned skepticism, giving Puffington some deserving scritches between the feline’s twitching, tortilla-chip ears. The thrill of seeing his mind-control magic at work always made the veins in his neck swell with pride, just like nuking random cities did, or reciting the yellow pages from memory for a captivated audience. “How do you think people would respond to such a controversial proposal?”

    “Oh, Potentate, sir!” interjected the ambassador of the United Middle Eastern States. “What if we were to suspend popular voting? It’s pretty inefficient and not really in the best interests of the people.”

    Carpathia shifted his gaze from Fortunato to the ambassador, smiling indulgently. In his lap, Puffington lazily protracted his claws through the fine pinstripes of his suit trousers and into the meat of his right leg. “Well, I suppose we could do that, Mr. Aswad, but how do you think that would go over with the populace?”

    The ambassador opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by his colleague from the United Russian States. “Oh, I know! Potentate, sir–you’re gonna love this! What if we were to suspend voting? It’s totally inefficient and, when you think about it, not in the best interests of the people.”

    Carpathia’s smile waned a bit. The thrilling part of the mind manipulation game had already crossed over into the tedious part. He checked his watch. They wouldn’t touch down in New Babylon for two more hours. How many times would he have to hear his own brilliant idea parroted back to him by his appointed puppetocracy? “Now, Boris, are you sure you have thought this through? Exactly how do you expect the people–”

    “Your Excellency!” blurted the ambassador from the United Asian States. “I know just what must be done. We must suspend voting immediately. The efficiency–it’s just not there! And I defy anyone who claims it’s in the best interests of the people.”

    “Oh, for the love of God, Kobayashi,” Carpathia sighed wearily. “While I admire the revolutionary nature of your thinking, I would need to hear more before I could possibly entertain such a…” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Fortunato frantically waving his hand in the air. “What is it, Leon?”

    “Well, I was just thinking sir. What would be the harm in suspending popular voting? I mean–from an efficiency standpoint–”

    “I will take it under advisement, Leon.”

    “And I can’t think of a single scenario in which it’s in the best interests–”

    “I said I would take it under advisement,” Carpathia snapped. “Jesus H. Calgon, take me away.”

    Puffington turned his head and narrowed his golden eyes at Carpathia. Kill them all.

    “What is that?” Carpathia asked quietly, stroking his master’s black fur.

    “I was just saying about voting,” Leon continued. “I’d be hard-pressed to see how it’s in the best interests of the people. And don’t get me started on the efficiency aspects.”

    “Shut up, Leon. I was talking to Puff. What did you say, Puffy?”

    The cat blinked slowly at him. Kill them all.

    Carpathia chewed over the cat’s apt directive, keen on the killing part but dreading the human resources burden it presented, seeing as he was already down three ambassadors and Antichristing the world was a big job that required a multitude of minions. He contemplated the how and the when of his now ill-fated staff whose exuberant, endless reintroducing of the idea he’d planted showed no signs of losing steam.

    “Something just occurred to me,” said the ambassador of the United African States. “Now this may sound totally outrageous, but bear with me. What if we suspend the vote–”

    “Oh, just shoot me,” Carpathia muttered under his breath, finally losing his patience. He squeezed his eyes tight and rubbed his temples. When he finally opened his eyes again, to his surprise and dread, everyone in the assemblage had become unnervingly quiet, looking at him with a sober, spooky intensity.

    Oh crap. Mind mojo must still be on. About to speak the words to remedy the situation, he saw with alarm that Leon Fortunato had already extracted the sidearm from the holster of the nearest GC secret service agent and was taking aim. Carpathia rose to his feet, heart pounding, the names of all the Secretary-Generals of the UN flashing through his head in chronological order. He held Puffington out in front of him as a shield as Leon thumbed the safety off….

  • fraser

    Exactly. It’s the same way that being a peacemaker automatically proves him evil.

  • fraser

    Yeah. Their agenda isn’t to build a realistic depiction of a post-rapture world, it’s to prove We Were Right and You Suck.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    I think someone said in one of the late books, Satan-in-Nicky says that he’s been intentionally following the PMD script because he knows if he does that he can get Jesus to reappear, and when Jesus reappears he can get one clean shot at him with all his guns and nuclear weapons and stuff. Doesn’t seem like a really very sensible plan, by their continuity Jesus was already on earth for like… 33 years or something? Awhile back? And Satan knew this? And he didn’t try to kill Jesus then, he just taunted him a bit. And then when Jesus DID get killed it didn’t really seem to do much good? I mean come on, don’t attack the guy with regeneration powers with conventional weapons!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Regarding that episode, I still thought that the greater challenge would be stopping that number from going up too high. Given that the ships have a fixed-capacity for supporting life, overloading that number would lead to overcrowding, lack of food and water resources, over-strained air and bodily waste recycling systems, etc. Sure, some ships (like the BSG itself) have the equipment to keep a fixed crew comfortably alive for an indefinite period, but other ships in the fleet were only built for fixed-duration journeys and lack that same recycling capacity (I assume more for economic reasons than anything else) which further strains the system to provide for them. Given that the ships were probably already packed beyond nominal capacity as it is in the rush to save as many people as possible, population control is a very real concern.

    I can see some good drama coming from this. For example, what if birth control is mandatory, and births only allowed when people die and the system can accommodate new people? How is it decided which couples can have children in that case and which cannot? Lottery? What if someone cheats at it? What if people start conspiring to murder others to “make room” for the children that they want? What if people start having babies anyway despite the prohibition? How do we deal with that, and what are the ethical ramifications of trying to maintain enforcement? What are the ramifications of abandoning the enforcement if it will lead to more death and suffering in the long run?

    All that is good BSG episode fodder.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “So… basically every country just became Britain or Germany, then?*”

    I dunno if countries that aren’t America even matter to the characters in this novel

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “So… basically every country just became Britain or Germany, then?*”

    I dunno if countries that aren’t America even matter to the characters in this novel

  • aunursa

    I’m not sure whether or not Nicolae knows this about his mind-control powers, but if he does, then that effectively gives him another super ability — the ability to detect born-again Christians.

    During the events in Books #1 and #2, it’s implied that Nicolae was unaware that Buck was immune to the mind-control.

  • aunursa

    It seems that for every action he takes that only makes sense if he’s studying LaHaye’s check list, he takes another action that only makes sense if he is completely ignorant of these “prophecies” and what they say is coming next.

    I’ll repeat the passage from Book #4…

    Come now, Rayford. Do not assume I do not see the irony. I am not blind. I know a faction out there, including many of your so-called tribulation saints, labels me an antichrist, or even the Antichrist. I would delight in proving the opposite.

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

    Okay, credit where it’s due: I actually appreciate the detail Jenkins put in when he described Nicky’s mind-whammy powers. I’ve read a lot of stories that feature (usually) villains with mind control powers, and the most interesting part is the description of those powers. What’s it like to be under someone else’s command? Is the subject still conscious? If so, what does s/he feel? Euphoria? Dysphoria? What does the person experience after being released? It’s not terribly detailed here, but I do legitimately appreciate that Jenkins described the feelings of dread that accompany domination. For once, I can actually praise him for something.

    With that out of the way, this whole section is still awful. The whole “abortion for everyone” thing is yet another example of LaHaye and/or Jenkins attributing his/their personal bugaboos to the villains without considering if they make any sense. It’s also another missed opportunity for world building. After last week’s post, I was wondering what effect massive, global depopulation might have on human society. Government eugenics programs? East Asian-style cults of fertility? Children as markers of status or wealth? Any of those could be used as hooks into some really interesting science fiction. Instead, we get something that makes no sense. Atwood had it figured out – in the wake of a widespread fertility crisis, the pro-choice movement would fade as abortion became viewed as an unspeakable act.

    When you write speculative fiction, you have to account for how everything changes. If you’re not willing to do that, stick with stuff that’s more grounded.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Yeah, but even if unaware he could readily figure it out by just doing some simple A/B testing. This is one of those bits that isn’t technically a plot hole as you can explain it by Nicky just being fairly arrogant, believing so strictly in his mind control powers he never feels he needs to test them to ensure they’re working on all his many minions. Which is a plausible flaw for Nicky to have. Unfortunately it also makes him seem not very formidable as an opponent…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Kind of. A lot of it depends on the radiation yield itself. Funny thing about radiation is that can drop in potency really quickly, depending on material. That is what half-life is, a measure of how long it takes before a radioactive material is only emitting half the radiation it does now. Then in a similar amount of time, it is only projecting half that, then the next measure only half that, and so on.

    This means that on the one hand, the most dangerous levels of the radiation can pass by pretty quickly. On the other hand, the radiation can stick around for a very long time before going away completely. If it was very dangerous to begin with, it could be decades before the levels are safe. If the radioactive yield was rather low or had a short half-life, the radiation could be almost undetectable within a few years.

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

    And Steve Plank wouldn’t have said offhandedly to Nicolae, “Say, Buck’s saying weird things about being at your meeting where Stonagal and Todd-Cothran died”?

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

    Yes, because if there’s one issue on everyone’s mind less than two years after the disappearance of over a billion people, it’s overpopulation.

  • arcseconds

    I think it is fairly creepy.

    It’s an old trope, ‘these are not the droids you’re looking for’ being the stock phrase, but of course it’s a lot older than Star Wars. (The Master’s mesmerism in Doctor Who is the earliest I can come up with, but it must be older than that).

    But I don’t recall ever seeing it quite executed like this, with a whole roomful of people who are suddenly quitely listening to the mesmerist, then fall silent, then start in uproar. That is reasonably dramatic and creepy.

    It’s derivative, but it’s been amped up a bit.

    I’m a bit disappointed that Jenkins hasn’t found a way of stuffing it up comletely, actually, and making supernaturally ethralling a posse of potentates somehow boring and tiresome!

    Though one thing: I took the feeling of dread that Rayford has, that he’s being watched, when I first read it as describing Nicky’s mind-mojo as leading an independent existence from Nicky himself. Like it comes when he calls, but on its way down the corridor and looked in on Rayford. That is damned creepy. And this was confirmed for me when Fred quoted Revelations. I almost started thinking Jenkins could have a bit of talent showing there.

    But then I re-read it, and I now think that’s just my take on the scene, and it is just dread descending when the bad magic is worked.

    So, yeah, there’s a golden opportunity there for a semi-seperate malevolent entity that accompanies Nicky, and Jenkins managed to almost write as though he was going for that, but somehow manages to lapse into B-movie hypnotism.

    He’s back to being a talentless hack again, and all is well with the world :]

  • Tofu_Killer

    Nicholae’s voice dropped to that register that Rayford had learned to recognize as his command voice, the one that compelled his followers to obey;
    – In one week Taco Bell will begin serving Fifth Meal, and they must stay open until 5 AM. This will allow my minions to have soft tacos after their 3rd shift organizing my stamp collection. And the council will pass a law in two weeks mandating that toilet paper must hang so the edge is Over the Roll, not against the wall. Oh, and the only music allowed in elevators after May 16th will be acoustic versions of Manfred Mann. So let it be written, so let it be done

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

    The main danger from nuclear bombs is the yield of the fission products. The major long-lived isotopes are Cesium-137, Iron-60 (and its daughter, Cobalt-60), Strontium-90, Sodium-22 and a couple of others.

    They all have half-lives (except Iron-60) on the order of 2 to 30 years.

    Iron-60 is the real problem – its half-life is 2.6 million years.

    But that long half-life means the decay rate is slow – so Ok, the betas are not too bad, except that the daughter, Cobalt-60, decays into Nickel-60 and emits gamma rays in doing so.

    Some of the other fission products noted above have the same decay pattern, so for the 7-year period of the Tribulation the radioactivity from the nukes will be above background.


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