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.”


“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?”

"people in need of therapy of some kind."

LBCF, No. 169: ‘Meta-Buck gets saved’
"I keep reading the post title as "smart people say the darndest things""

Smart people saying smart things (1.19)
"Mayor of L.A. says 500K there. Probably as many in NYC."

Smart people saying smart things (1.19)

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  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Baby_Raptor

    I can honestly say that if I found myself in the LB situation, pregnant, I’d be running for an abortion clinic. Think about it:

    If you’re an RTC, you know the hell the world is going to be put through over the next ~7 years. Plagues, fire, death, destruction, war, having to constantly hide out and be off the radar for years (in the later part of the series)….And with the 3/4s of believers death rate this series has, what are the odds you’d actually survive to raise the kid?

    If you’re just a typical Joe, you’re seeing a world that JUST saw every single child/pregnancy disappear. What’s to stop that from happening again? And who would want to go through it again? Further, there are wars, and nukes, and civil/political unrest…Not a stable environment. Definitely not the best environment to raise a child in. Plus, since you’re not an RTC, you don’t have the mystical power of TurboJesus assuring you it’s all going to be okay. So you’re likely an emotional mess. Typical Joe might not even be stable enough themselves to raise kids.

  • hidden_urchin

    I would guess the rate of miscarriages would also increase due to the environmental stress caused by the not-literal Horsemen.

  • D Johnston

    It’s interesting that almost everyone in this thread is of a similar mindset about this section. Makes you wonder if the books could have been saved with test marketing and extensive editing – and if they still would have been a massive success.

  • banancat

    Also, it’s impossible to be horrified by the possibility of abortion when just 18 months ago, God himself terminated every pregnancy on Earth. I mean, sure, they all went straight to Heaven, but so would any embryo aborted in the more traditional way.

  • 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?

  • fraser

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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Abel Undercity

    Nᴏ, ᴍʏ ᴀssᴏᴄɪᴀᴛᴇs ᴀɴᴅ I sɪᴍᴘʟʏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴄᴇʀᴛᴀɪɴ sᴛᴀɴᴅᴀʀᴅs ᴡʜᴇɴ ɪᴛ ᴄᴏᴍᴇs ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪᴛᴇʀᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ ɪɴ ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ᴡᴇ ᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀ.

  • 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.

  • Shay Guy

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

  • 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.

  • FearlessSon

    Well of course we are eager to get back to impregnating-and-aborting. How else would we get delicious stem-cell fetal jam for our toast?

    I heard that somewhere on the internet, so it must be true!

  • D Johnston

    Brings up a good point – where does birth control fit into Nicky’s grand population control scheme? In the real world, population control is handled more through contraception and sterilization than through abortion or euthanasia. Granted, contraception wasn’t as hated and feared by the right in the 90’s as it is now, but you’d expect that LaHaye would have some memory of being mortified by the pill.

  • Vermic

    Doesn’t Nicky realize that every aborted fetus just adds one more innocent soul to God’s ranks?

  • j_bird

    The straw-liberals in the quoted passages are mindboggling.

    The fact is, democracy and voting will be suspended. … Because of what we will provide people, they will quickly understand that this is correct.

    Oh snap, L&J have us liberals figured out. The reason we want to help poor people is so they will become dependent on our handouts and then we can take away their voting rights. Trenchant, original political commentary there, guys.

  • j_bird

    Oh, man, and that last quote is so ham-handed too. It somehow takes L&J twenty lines of painful dialogue to establish that Hattie’s sister loves money and abortions and money and abortions.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Dave Pooser

    For some reason I’m having flashbacks to the end of Watchmen about now.

  • piny

    Wait, but…that…I mean…you’re going to resurrect someone just because it will give you a way better opportunity to kill him again than if you’d just let him stay dead? Is that the argument? Is this what happens to your brain when you try to insist that the Bible is meant to be taken literally? You start thinking like a concussed Timelord?

  • mcc

    Maybe Satan is just really bored.

  • Lorehead

    Well, you can interpret the Gospels so that Satan did get Jesus killed; C.S. Lewis drew on that reading. Nikos Kazantzakis had a different and interesting take on this in The Last Temptation of Christ.

  • aunursa

    Something about praying to Satan, and having conversations with him post-indwelling.

    Before the indwelling, Nicky prays to Satan and follows Satan’s directions. After the indwelling, Nicky is out of the picture. He’s kinda like John Cusack at the end of “Being John Malkovich,” in which he is merely a viewer and has no control of the body of his host. Following the indwelling, it’s Satan who is speaking and acting, using Nicky’s body.

  • Charity Brighton

    Yeah. There is a brief scene in which Satan separates himself from Carpathia’s body. Carpathia collapses, his body wracked with infirmity (for the years between Indwelling to Armageddon, Carpathia had apparently deprived of food, water, and sleep — things that he needs but Satan feels no need to provide).

    This scene also reveals that, after the possession, Carpathia is not able to survive without Satan. Jesus casts him into Hell after the last battle but Carpathia probably would have collapsed and died anyway after Satan was banished, even if no one laid a finger on him.

  • 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?

  • fredgiblet

    Sounds legit.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • Ross

    Do LaHay and Jenkins even understand the full breadth of services that these clinics provide?

    It’s the standard republican party line to deny that those clinics provide any other services. Heck, my mother in law considers herself a liberal, but was going on not long ago about how “maybe techincally they offer those other things but there’s no way anyone would ever go to them for anything other than an abortion, they’d go to a real doctor instead”

    The privilege, it burned.

  • Matri

    If it was anymore dog-whistle-y, dogs would be howling in pain everytime they get near this book.

  • Randy Owens

    What makes you think they don’t? I do.

  • banancat

    They frame abortion clinics as relying on pregnancy just for business, because people need money and such, but every single other industry that caters to pregnancy or children is going through the exact same things as the abortion clinics. The obstetricians and pediatricians must be similarly gnashing their teeth that they can’t earn income to feed their families anymore. Likewise with daycare workers, elementary school teachers, therapists and aides for children with special needs, etc. This would even extend to production of things that children are the main consumers of. I work in the pharma industry, specifically in vaccine manufacturing. I’d be out of a job too because about half of our vaccines are primarily given to children. Adults can certainly get the shots, but they wouldn’t need them because most of them were already vaccinated when they were children. Same deal with producers of children’s TV, baby food, toys, nursing bras and pumps, bottles, formula, and maternity clothes.

    So many people’s jobs would be affected by the complete loss of pregnancy and children. Apparently most of them have found other jobs. All except the evil abortionists like Hattie’s sister. Why can’t she just do whatever the elementary school teachers did to support herself?

  • Lauren

    I have relatives who actually believe that the other services provided (namely, birth control) are intentionally sabotaged so that women will come back for abortions, increasing the clinic’s revenue. Because why just sell birth control pills when you can sell FAKE birth control pills, and make money off the resulting abortion?


  • 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.

  • D Johnston

    That’s not even the half of it. Jenkins throws in the whole pro-life pick-n-mix – euthanasia, even “death panels” over a decade before that became a term. Those two don’t make much more sense than promoting abortion, but they just had to throw them in.

    Oh, and don’t forget way back in Book 1, where (I believe) Hattie was lamenting that the lack of pregnancies would put those abortion mills out of business. In some ways, this is actually a lot more subtle.

  • FearlessSon

    You know, I wonder if most clinics that provide abortion (I refuse to say “abortion clinics” because that tends to imply that is their primary or only function) also offer public facility tours? The next time some group of protesters gathers outside, offering them open spots on a scheduled tour. Heck, get a good script going, maybe a little wall with posters explaining not only the process, but why people might make that choice.

    Make living in ignorance the path that requires more effort than informing themselves would. Open up the cracks in the wall of ignorance, and let the waters of knowledge pour in and do their work.

  • Ross

    That sounds like an idea that has a lot that’s good about it, but would likely have insurmountable problems with security and maintaining patient privacy.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You’d think, but the protesters, high off their own self-righteous indignation, would probably just take the chance to wreck shit.

  • 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.

  • banancat

    I’m pro-choice and I’ve probably saved more lives than you have. It’s disingenuous to describe yourself with that term unless you are actually doing more than pro-choice people to save actual lives.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • D Johnston

    That’s the thing. In the wake of such a demographic crisis, there would be a massive shift in how we viewed childbirth. I could see pregnancy being viewed as both a blessing (possibly bordering on veneration, as has happened in some places) and an important civic duty. The abortion debate would vanish overnight. That’s not to say that every woman (or every couple) would view a pregnancy as a blessing, but I suspect that social pressures alone would be sufficient to drop the abortion rate into the cellar.

    Dammit, there are so many opportunities in these awful books to do some really in-depth world building, but Ellenjay never follow through.

  • Will Hennessy

    Hell, this raises even FURTHER questions: If Nicky knows he’s Satan’s lackey, and he is advocating population control via abortion, doesn’t that mean that HE’S sparing these children the horrors that are to come from the throne of heaven? Hence, Nicky Buttes is merciful compared to god’s indiscriminate ‘justice?’ Or is he condemning them further by sending unborn fetuses directly to a god who would rain this kind of destruction down on newborns? Good lord, my head is spinning…

  • Ross

    I think I have this one.

    Since there’s only 7 years left, no child born during the tribulation will have reached the age of accountability. That means that they’ll either die during the tribulation (75% chance) and go straight to heaven, or they’ll survive to the end (Can’t recall. Do children who survive to the second coming get auto-saved, or do they still need to Choose Jesus in the millennial kingdom to avoid Buck giving them a really shitty eulogy?). So there’s an at least 75% chance of all of those fetuses going to heaven even if allowed to come to term, probably more.

    But… If a woman has an abortion, well, clearly she’s a shameless whore doomed to burn in hell, whereas if she performs her female duty and becomes a mother, she may well end up saying the prayer and getting saved.

    So sending those fetuses straight to heaven is a comparatively small cost in the face of tricking Poor Innocent Women into damning themselves as Shameless Whores.

  • FearlessSon

    I suppose that does work in the logic of the post-tribulation world.

    I just wonder how that applies to people in this world who believe in a sinless innocence before coming of age while simultaneously condemning abortion “because of the children”.

  • Rae

    That brings up the question: As soon as one month post-rapture, the abortion clinics should be having at least a little business, even *if* all they did was abortions. Further on, more and more people might decide not to bring children into the world because of the deteriorating conditions.

  • Splitting Image

    I recently read The Children of Men, which had been sitting on my shelf for a long time with a few other books I’ve been meaning to read. I must have bought it from a thrift shop years ago thinking it was a mystery and put it aside when I realized it wasn’t.

    I’m actually glad I left it until I discovered Fred’s blog, because having followed the series this far, I couldn’t help but compare the book to Left Behind. P.D. James comes out so far ahead of LaHaye and Jenkins that it isn’t even funny.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Leila Smith

    There is a series of excellent short fllms called “Future States” which touches upon what life could be like in America if we don’t deal with current issues like polution, rich/poor divide, technology, etc. One of the episodes was called ‘Laura Keller : NB’ It starred Amber Benson and it dealt with a society that had a fertility lottery due to overpopulation. Apparently young women would be given a chip at eleven years old which would inhibit ovulation and could only be legally removed if they won the lottery based on birthdate. The men of course wern’t given such restrictions and they could even pair up with a ‘winner’ if their own partner didn’t win-go figure. I think you could also only have one baby unless you naturally had multiples and in a divorce setting the other partner could claim fifty percent of the woman’s fertility since it was hard to remarry and or divorce in such a society. It’s an excellent episode that you can watch at or on youtube and I think it won a web poll contest for best episode recently. Neat speculative fodder indeed :)

  • FearlessSon

    Heck, I would support mandatory ovulation-suppression implant chips of that kind right now. Maybe allow authorities to temporarily deactivate the chip for a couple who wants to conceive, provided that they submit to background checks, financial and emotional stability analysis, and get the appropriate parenting certification.

    No more accidents, no letting a pregnancy upset building assets, etc. Of course, lacking such technology now, the closest we can get is comprehensive and reliable sex education and easy access to reliable birth control.

  • Leila Smith

    Not griping at you or anything but one problem I have with that is that the burden of such technology solely falls on the woman. Like today, many men wouldn’t act as responsibily as they should since they would know that most women would have the chip and that could still lead to ‘illegal’ kids being born, though in smaller numbers I’m sure. I think such technology should be as equally dispersed as possible or put the focus on the males for a change since men are the ones who produce hundreds of millions of sperm a pop afterall. One guy from the state I live in actually fathered a total of 30, yes 30, children under ten and was asking the state to help him pay support since he only worked one job and most of the children only got a few dollars worth of support each month. Not to mention all the losers on various talk shows. Yet women are still the ones who get slut shamed while innocent kids have to have their foodstamps and other aid programs cut because it’s easier to do that than hold sorry men resposible for a change. Interesting idea though, especially about the parenting certification part but I would add marriage and relationship certification too to cut down on abuse and divorce:)

  • Becka Sutton

    The problem with using such a technology on men rather than women is highlighted by the example you give. You can’t limit population by limiting male fertility unless you can also limit the number of sexual partners a fertile man has. You can limit it by limiting female fertility. Which isn’t to say limiting female fertility is a good idea, it’s an awful idea for various reasons.

  • Leila Smith

    Oh, I get your point, Becka :) I only mentioned putting guys on the hot seat because I’m pretty sick of our politicians harping about ‘welfare queens’ to justify cutting aid for poor women and children while saying nada about the men who helped get them in that situation nor doing any strengthening our child support laws and domestic/sexual violence laws. Either way, such tech would be bad no matter who it gets used on simply because someone innocent would always be victimized by it somehow. Real life examples include the sterilization laws of the past which sterilized disabled and minority rape victims while doing nothing to the fiends who attacked them.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    So you’re saying there shouldn’t even be an effort made to create long-term fertility blockers for men or women who want to avail themselves of the opportunity?

  • j_bird

    Perhaps Becka meant that *forcibly* limiting female fertility is an awful idea? I don’t know.

  • Ann Unemori

    Your mention of women being “slut-shamed” on the talk shows immediately brings to mind these sorry young women on the Maury show. Not to throw any more mud, but these unhappy creatures have been seen on their third, fifth, tenth go-round trying to find the miserable excuse who is the “real” father of their unfortunate progeny. I know it’s not the norm (I HOPE it’s not the norm), but I just want to shake some sense into those unhappy girls; don’t put yourselves into situations where you have to keep proving whether this or that scumbag fathered your kid. It doesn’t speak well for either side when spawning a child sinks to this level.

  • FearlessSon

    In my defense, I had myself sterilized before my twenty-second birthday.

    I decided that I had to do my part to prevent any uncontrolled generation of progeny, I have to be just as responsible as anyone else of any sex.

    So as you can imagine, putting any similar technology on men is not something I have any issues with.

  • Andrea

    I’m not sure what’s more surprising, someone actively advocating eugenics here or the fact that no one has down voted it yet. Let me take care of that.

  • j_bird

    And how exactly would you define “financial and emotional stability”? If people who failed the financial test were more likely to be black, what would you say to them? “Too bad your ancestors were enslaved and you were born into racism and inequalities that still exist today?” And what if the emotional stability requirement caused people to stop getting help for depression in the fear that they would be knocked off the birth list?

    As Andrea says, there are a number of, er, problems with eugenicist ideas. Women actually do a great job of limiting the number of children they have when birth control is easily available (see, for example, this study:; see also: Europe — no coercion necessary. I’d say we have a lot of room for improvement in the area of making birth control available and non-shameful.

  • j_bird

    Did I really just take ten minutes to explain why eugenics is bad? Oh internet.

  • FearlessSon

    Less eugenic and more economic.

    I believe that such technologies could be used to help mitigate these inequalities. Having a child is a little like having an ongoing medical condition, not only is it a burden to deal with but you are stuck paying bills for the rest of your life. We can make sure that having a child does not happen, by accident or misplaced intention, until the couple is in a position to handle it.

    Plus, it allows us a great amount of control over how fast the market expands. We can adjust the rate quite easily to prevent families from flooding the market with new people faster than we can structure to ensure available jobs. In this way, combined with other approaches, we can adjust the economy to remove some of those structural issues that allow things like poverty to develop. When the total amount of people is at close to parity with the total number of jobs, we will see a wide rise in wages as companies actually have to compete for employees.

    People have value. Unfortunately, when there are too many they become under valued, under payed, and treated like crap. I want to make sure that our structure’s ability to value and care for people is not over taken by our ability to produce new people. Everyone deserves a chance, let us make sure that enough chances exist for everyone.

  • Ross

    It is not clear to me that using technology to forcibly control the fertility of other people would be a more feasible solution to making “sure that having a child does not happen, by accident or misplaced intention, until the couple is in a position to handle it” than “And if you tell the state you’re pregnant, they will step in and give you financial assistance, tax benefits, medical benefits and whatever else they can come up with to help ensure that the you are in a position to handle it.” But it’s quite clear to me that it is a less moral one.

  • j_bird

    Well, yes, I understand the attraction of the hypothetical benefits of state-controlled fertility. And yes, I understand that having a kid is a huge, lifelong burden. It’s why I am considering not reproducing.

    But you haven’t addressed my concerns about classism and racism, nor stated why *putting a chip inside every woman’s body* would be a better idea than simply giving out free birth control (and replacing all the abstinence education that’s still out there with real, shame-free sex ed). Besides, are we assuming that this is some futuristic miracle device that has no potential for damage to the body or adverse reaction and cannot be surreptitiously removed by the implantee?

    I agree that the idea is good fodder for a BSG episode. But if you seriously think it would be a good idea for the real world, I would suggest that you think through the ethical problems and maybe read about the history of letting only the right people reproduce. (Trying not to Godwin the thread here, but it’s hard.)

  • Mark Z.

    I like your vague reference to “authorities”. What “authorities”? Oh, you know, some authority. It’s not like anyone would abuse that power. They’d only control who gets to reproduce.

    Don’t pretend that has anything in common with the goal of making birth control available. They’re not related at all. You don’t want to give people the tools to control their own fertility; you want to control it for them.

  • trogon

    As someone who just went more or less through this process to be able to adopt a child, a process far more invasive than getting a basic secret security clearance and infinitely more humiliating, I think this is a horrible idea. Nobody not “approved” by whoever’s in power at the time can have kids? Maybe they’re the wrong race or combination of races, or the wrong religion. Maybe a lesbian couple wants one of them to bear a child in a conservative state, or maybe one or both of the couple just hold politically unpopular positions. Sorry, no kids for you!

    If it was just a “no more accidents” issue of perfectly reliable birth control removable at zero cost by any physician, it’s one thing. But getting “the authorities” in on it? No way in hell.

  • Loquat

    I’ll come right out and say the Battlestar Galactica Very Special Abortion Episode was terribly written. While they acknowledged the grim reality that the human population was small and kept getting smaller, they totally ignored the other grim reality of resources and living space, which other episodes had already established to be extremely limited. The episode also suffered from the series’ beginning-to-end failure to figure out what all the civilians were doing – there were a great many people in the civilian fleet who’d just been passengers with no experience crewing a spaceship, and while there were occasional mentions that the government was trying to keep something resembling the old economy going, we never really found out what those people were doing with their time, or how they were being fed. So without knowing what the civilians were doing all day, or how they were supported, viewers had no context in which to imagine or evaluate the choices facing pregnant women in the fleet, and the characters arguing about abortion had nothing to say but the standard “it’s murder!”/”it’s her body!” lines from the modern-day American abortion debate.

    And then there was the Black Market episode where we got a monologue from a one-off character about how lots of civilian moms were turning to prostitution to support their kids*, so… yeah. Worldbuilding! It is important!

    (*You just know Nicolae would be horrified by such a thing, and would immediately tax the rich to pay for a welfare program to get those moms off the streets and into some kind of education or jobs program. Meanwhile, Buck and/or Rayford would silently disapprove and tell themselves that those women could only be truly helped by proper Christian charity, voluntarily given.)

  • Ross

    Hey,. the new disqus format means that if I link to a specific comment, but that comment is hidden behind one of those “Click here to read more of this thread” javascript dealies, I won’t actually be taken to the anchor I wanted. So now it is basically impossible to respond to comments. And since it’s “load more” and not pages any more, it’s wildly impractical to ever read past the first few comments.

    But anyway, I think they did actually have one element of a new angle from the standard modern-day-american debate; as I recall, the girl seeking an abortion was from a tribe that had a pre-existing ban, so there was an extra element of “If she was still living on her home planet, this would be a solved problem, but since we’re all forced to live together in this fleet, do we respect the laws and customs of the tribes, or is everyone subject to “federal” law now, and given the realpolitik of the situation, doesn’t that just mean “we all have to do what Caprican law says”” In that sense, I think this was the first instance of them addressing the fact that what had been twelve not-quite-but-substantially independent civilizations were being turned into a single civilization, and it wasn’t quite wrong to feel that the Capricans were starting to become a de facto hegemony.

    So that’s not nothing. Still a pretty terrible and hamfisted episode though.

  • banancat

    That really is an interesting aspect about the federal versus “state” laws. And it could have been a really great plot in itself. But honestly do not remember that part of it at all. I’m sure it did happen and I believe you, but it was clearly overshadowed completely by the rest of the horrible episode so that I never even noticed that subtle part.

  • Rakka

    What the everliving fuck? No no no no. If it’s a fucking flying refugee camp you can’t be having civilians and children who have to be supported by their mothers’ work. Everyone’s needs must be met or there’ll be blood on the walls – and in a closed system that needs constant and coordinated control and maintainance to support the population, the only way I can see the system being stable is by having everyone be crew. Everyone works for the community, everyone is supported by the community, or there’ll be blood on the walls and the hydroponics will go to shit.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    That’s (spoiler) jung xvaq bs raqrq hc unccravat, jvgu vgf bja vagrerfgvat frg bs synjf. Gleby cbvagf bhg gung ol abg nyybjvat wbo zbovyvgl, OFT fuvc fbpvrgl jvyy ortva serrmvat bhg nybat snzvyvny yvarf, fb gung n sngure’f be zbgure’f wbo jvyy qvpgngr jung gurve puvyq qbrf, naq fb ba qbja gur yvar. to decipher.

  • Loquat

    As I said, the writers of BSG never actually figured out how the civilian side worked. They’d just occasionally make up details to suit the plot of an episode, then forget them.

  • Mary

    I can’t bring myself to watch that episode because the idea of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term makes me feel sick. I have an extreme fear of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood (for myself, not for people in general). Even if the human race was in danger of dying out it wouldn’t change my mind about this. It is ALWAYS wrong to force someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their will and it definitely makes me feel iffy about admiring President Roslin too much.

  • flat

    man Disqus sucks

  • P J Evans

    The upgrade really did a number on things.

  • Steve Morrison

    Nicolae invented Disqus; to me that proves he is the Antichrist. Mass murder by nuclear war is a trivial sin in comparison.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • B

    I have vague recollection that generally half-life and the strength of the radiation have a tend to be related. IIRC the idea was that something with a very long half life by definition is decaying slowly, so the radiation goes on for a very long time but there isn’t much radiation at any given time. Something that’s giving off intense radiation is decaying quickly so the radiation doesn’t tend to last as long.

    However, I am not a nuclear physicist, nor do I play one on TV.

  • AnonaMiss

    Ah, but you’re forgetting: if the bomb dropped on Chicago is any indication, these were magical radiation-free nukes.

    It’d be just like Hippie Dictator Nicolae Carpathescu to use the bomb equivalent of veggie burgers.

  • Ann Unemori

    Vegetarian nuclear bombs… I’m trying to wrap my mind around that.

  • AnonymousSam

    Soy bombs. They’re just like the real thing, provided you’ve never tasted an actual nuclear weapon. ^_~

  • banancat

    Finally, is it possible to explode slowly?

    In a world where it’s possible to speak in an eager monotone, surely anything is possible.

  • Beleester

    While we did give Jenkins an earful for not realizing that nuclear bombs destroy an entire city outright, I’m pretty sure the rest of the planet would still be safe. We only got a few cities flattened, we aren’t in nuclear winter, global apocalypse territory yet.

  • FearlessSon

    In fairness, depending on the yield of the bomb and where it detonated, it might not destroy a whole city, just a substantial part of it.

    The people caught in the initial blast zone will die almost instantly. The people in a zone just outside that will be… less lucky.

  • reynard61

    Remember; these were not nuclear bombs that Nicky Anthill used, they were “nuclear” bombs that didn’t emit any kind of radiation because SHUT UP! So the “authors” of this wretched crap get to enjoy the benefits of “prophetic” destruction without having to show their homework on the technical side of how that destruction is accomplished. “Gentlemen’s C” anyone?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I still can’t figure out any reason for Chicago to be fake nuked except as a clumsy narrative device to allow Jenkins to keep the focus characters based out of Chicago, while giving them the ultimate in urban cozy catastrophe fantasy.

  • Ima Pseudonym
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 :]

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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

  • D Johnston

    The bigger the star, the lighter the editors have to step. My guess is that whatever poor sod was assigned to work on NRA was going really easy, and the result is that this whole thing is basically a first draft. Really, books like this go a long way towards explaining why so many editors have drinking problems.

  • Randy Owens

    Or why so many drinkers have editing problems.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Also, Jenkins admits that he basically craps these things out in about a month or two. No editor could salvage a wreck like that when he’s already got an open-ended contract to crap out 12 of them.

  • Randy Owens

    “The fact iswill be…” tenses? What are those?

    Minor quibble, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this mixing of tenses. Loosely speaking, a fact in the present can easily describe something in the future, e.g. “the fact is, if I let go of this book I’m holding, it will drop to the floor.” Even if the dropping isn’t an absolute certainty (given the condition), it’s still pretty safe to call it a fact in the here & now.

  • banancat

    I agree with your point, but the second part of your example is actually not straight future tense, and is instead a subjunctive phrase. A better example of a use that would make sense is, “The fact is, I will die some day”, which is perfectly accurate statement with mixed present and future tenses.

  • 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.

  • Ann Unemori

    You sure it was that thing, and not that other thing? You know, that thing just after the first thing?

  • 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….

  • Charles Scott

    Thank you… that is all.

  • Carstonio

    Heh! Reminds me of the country music episode of Pinky and the Brain.

  • Ann Unemori

    Nicolai Catskill Mountains accepts that his cat has a brilliant idea. What more needs to be said?

  • Constella Espj

    Puffington made me spit my iced tea out onto my shirt. Nicely done.

  • Vaughn Lowe

    “Oh crap. Mind mojo must still be on.”

    Made me think of that Family guy episode where Stewie controls Chris’ brain. “No I don’t have a quarter, where would I keep it? In my diaper? Oh crap is this thing still on?”

  • reynard61

    Be careful what you wish for, Nicky…

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • FearlessSon

    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.

    As I recall, Attwood had a situation where the ruling authority had anyone who was ever involved in abortion executed and hung from trees in public squares. Not so much a generally agreed unspeakable act as those who were pro-choice cannot risk speaking about it out of fear for their lives in the face of a Taliban-like Christian Dominist regime.

  • D Johnston

    Well, that was the punishment for a variety of offenses, including being a member of the wrong faith. But it was utterly unfathomable to Offred that anyone would break that particular law, and I seem to recall her noting how rare it was to see anyone executed for abortion anymore. In a world where it took so much effort to reproduce, abortion was incomprehensible to most people.

  • D Johnston

    Here it is, Chapter 6, pp. 33 in the Anchor paperback:

    These men, we’ve been told, are like war criminals. It’s no excuse that what they did was legal at the time: their crimes are retroactive. They have committed atrocities and must be made into examples, like the rest. Though this is hardly needed. No woman in her right mind, these days, would seek to prevent a birth, should she be so lucky as to conceive.

  • FearlessSon

    Okay, fair enough. I just assumed that the reason executed abortion providers were so rare on the trees by that time was because they had been the first up against the wall when the revolution came, and the others were just stragglers that had been dragged out of hiding to be killed with the others.

  • 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”?

  • 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

  • Ross

    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

    That fiend!

  • P J Evans

    It makes it so much easier for Puffington to shred.

  • Sue White

    We know who’s REALLY in charge!

  • 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.

  • Grogs

    All things being equal, the radioactivity is inversely proportional to the half-life. Fission products start off typically as incredibly short-lived isotopes, and then decay sequentially into longer and longer-lived isotopes. Right after a blast, if you were in the fallout field too close in, the exposure would kill you in a few hours or less. After a few weeks, you could probably walk around in it for a time without hurting you too much, but if you were living there you’d run into big problems. The general rule of thumb is that for every factor of 7 increase in time, the dose rate drops by a factor of 10. Spent fuel from a nuclear reactor is so radioactive after it comes out of the cor it would literally melt itself from the decay heat if left uncooled. That’s the reason they leave it in a pool for several years before they move it somewhere else.

    Sr-90 and Cs-137 were concerns globally during nuclear testing, because if they built up in, say, your drinking water, they would stick around for a few decades and slowly irradiate people. That’s bad, but it’s an entirely different concern than the short term effects of being in the fallout field.

  • Carstonio

    The suspension of democracy is probably more of LaHaye’s Bircherism, where leaders who talk about world peace and saving the planet have domination as their true agenda. Like the environmentalists who are wrongly compared to watermelons, green on the outside and pink on the inside.

    While Nicolae’s eugenics agenda is obviously a straw man, I’m not sure which way it’s intended to work. Based on the horrid conversation that Fred quoted from the first book, Nicolae might be exploiting the claimed threat of overpopulation to push eugenics for his own power. Or we might be expected to believe that only an agent of Satan would support eugenics for any reason.

    How worse does the straw-manning get in this series? Will Nicolae impose homosexuality indoctrination?

  • WalterC

    He doesn’t do that, but he does employ (one) flamboyantly gay man to work for his administration, which is to people like this effectively the same thing as requiring everyone to be homosexual.

  • MaryKaye

    It strikes me that this passage and ones like it could be much improved just by moving them much earlier in the story, before we know that Nicolae is the Antichrist. Suspending voting is a wicked and creepy thing to do *before* you take over the world; it’s kind of an anticlimax eighteen months later. And having eerie feelings of evil around someone is interesting before they start WWIII, but kind of redundant afterwards.

    The whole aspect of *surprise* is missing from this ordering of events. I mean, the reader is going to guess who Nicky is, but they could still vicariously experience the thrill of the discovery with the characters. But the way the story is ordered, the discovery phase is minimized (it’s pretty much over in book I) in favor of the dull “we know exactly what’s going on, we just have to keep going” phase (books 2-11).

    We know the main characters will do nothing of any use. There are still glimmers of interest in the story, as in this scene, just because the raw material is strong. But for a story which is not about the main characters *doing* anything, it seems to me suspense is most of the energy you’ve got, and you should milk it for all it’s worth.

    At least this week’s installment is less boring than the previous ones. I’m fond of mind control themes. And arcseconds’ idea that Nicky’s mojo is peeking in at Rayford is delightfully creepy.

  • arcseconds

    Oh, yes. Jenkins disappoints us by writing a halfway competent mental domination scene with some drama.

    But he makes up for it by having the scene entirely superfluous to the plot, to such an extent that it’s difficult to understand why it’s even happening.

    I’ve been maintaining for a while now that there’s an ironic, post-modern narrative lurking under the hood here, waiting for a writer who understands what they are doing to tease it out of the confused and turgid prose. So when the spy thriller action sequences are interrupted to bring you yet another installment of phone-tag, it’s done in a way which makes it obvious you’re being deliberately denied action in favour of humdrum stuff, and when Our Heroes act in pompous, self-righteous but kind of stupid and ineffectual ways, you can see the author winking at you.

    But I’m starting to wonder whether it wouldn’t also work as a completely straight piece of horror writing, where Nicolae is the post-modern performance artist, a kind of awful combination of Turkmenbashi and Tristran Tzara, writing his absurdist performance in blood and tax reform.

    So, you know, rather than using his mental powers to just rise to the top in a spectacular fashion, he instead uses a mundane alliance with Big Finance. The mental powers are instead employed to make the phone list of the UN sound enthralling and exciting. A more dramatic display of his powers is reserved for when they’re completely needless, in order to implement a plan that makes no sense. He officially suspends democracy after he’s abolished meaningful state governments, and implements a 10-year plan when he knows the world has only 7-years left.

    One day he bombs several large cities, next day he rationalizes the tax structure. He leaves Israel intact so that technically ‘multinational’ is still a meaningful description of a corporation, and he fails to nationalize oil just so he can continue baroque dealings with big business.

    We just need a few scenes where it’s revealed that Nicolae often decides what to do by tearing up political manifestos from all over the place and assembling the bits in random order, have him shoot Rayford dead because he made a thickheaded comment about Duchamp (whom Nicolae was ranting about being ‘bourgeoisie’ only moments before), and that the only reason he kees Buck on his staff is because Buck happened to hire his favourite film critic years before (who, curiously enough, is an intransigent critic of Nicolae himself).

    His next step on the oil line should be to requisition the oil to continue his war against himself, and then to sell it back to the oil companies at a loss, payed for, of course, by a tax at the pump :]

    it’s da da domination!

  • christopher_y

    a kind of awful combination of Turkmenbashi and Tristran Tzara

    That is wonderful.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Your Nicolae is like a cross between Groucho Marx and the Joker. Affably evil, charming, at times funny and so inhumanly erratic that wearing the wrong color tie to work could spell the difference between a promotion to his second-in-command and a death by slow public torture. His attention is insanely dangerous whether he likes you or not, and even his approval can get you killed–few of his lieutenants live more than a few weeks before they say or do something that sets him off; and sometimes they don’t have to do anything at all. He starts wars and creates disasters as sick practical jokes. He welcome any and every grotesque event as an amusing novelty, and he makes elaborate plans but often deliberately wrecks them them simply because he gets bored with them. When he doesn’t, they’re nonsensical and strange, such as attempts to empty the Atlantic Ocean, or carve his face into the Moon, and all of them result in famine, destruction and death.

    And he regards it–all of it–as art, and it’s more important to him than even being tortured by Turbojesus in Hell for eternity. Maybe he even regards THAT as art–the ultimate dramatic ending.

    Creation’s first fully-functional homicidal artist. He makes art until the universe dies.

  • arcseconds

    OK. disqus is being very weird. You were were dylan just before, now you’re MaryKaye. On my disqus page it looks like I replied to Lunch_Meat.

    disqus! I already have difficulties telling who’s who online, I don’t need your help to subvert my concept of continued personal identity!

  • Madhabmatics

    Have you ever seen the hit movie “The Thing”? This is basically that movie but warmer.

  • arcseconds

    I hope they’re not going to turn inside out and eat me!

  • Jeremy

    That last passage with Hattie just highlights how much of a gap there is between the “pro-lifers” and reality. They think abortions aren’t the lesser of two evils and a difficult decision – they think women who have abortions actually enjoy them! They have painful medical procedures for fun! Because they’re baby-hating godless liberals!

  • Ethics Gradient

    With Nicolae now revealed as using his mind control mojo for things that most people achieve by being normal, or just doing what their job allows them to, I’m now going to see him always as Kenny Craig, the hypnotist who uses his powers for petty evil, from the Little Britain sketch show. A sample:

  • Invisible Neutrino

    arcseconds said…

    and when Our Heroes act in pompous, self-righteous but kind of stupid
    and ineffectual ways, you can see the author winking at you.

    This is L&J.

    They’re grinning fatuously like the smug douchebags they probably are when the cash register goes ka-ching!

  • arcseconds

    Yeah, I guess you could say — my fantasy LB++ author is on our side, not on the side of smug douchebags and their bankers.

  • Vermic

    So Nicky has to mind-whammy his own lieutenants? On a planet that still houses a few billion people, he can’t find ten who’ll just do their job without needing orders spoon-fed directly into their brains?

  • Lauren

    I’m not saying Lahaye and Jenkins did this on purpose (you know what they say about broken clocks), but extensive and long-term infrastructural plans do not necessarily mean that Nicolae is ignorant of his role as the Antichrist. After all, the Nazis relied on fake long-term plans for their victims to keep them ignorant of their real fate until the latest possible moment (even putting numbers on clothes hooks in their death camp changing rooms so that people could find their clothes after their “showers”). Why wouldn’t the Antichrist take a page out of Hitler’s book?

  • Quijotesca

    OK, so the antichrist is for abortion, ergo abortion must be bad.
    The antichrist is for “reduction of expensive care for the defective and the handicapped” ergo cutting such services must also be bad.


  • Charity Brighton

    That actually doesn’t sound so bad. Cutting services to people with disabilities is usually harmful, right?

  • Quijotesca

    But BIG GOVERNMENT!!111!!!

  • Randy Owens

    No, you’ve got it all wrong. Antichrist is for abortion, so it must be bad. Antichrist is against expensive care, so it must be bad. See how simple it is?

  • PepperjackCandy

    Let’s have a show of hands. Who has “L.A. Woman” stuck in his/her/zir head now?

    I have to raise mine only halfway. For some reason, it keeps turning into “Love Her Madly.”

  • Tybult

    he depressed the intercom button

    It’s okay, button, Rayford depresses me, too.

  • Rae

    And not just dropped however much from the rapture, but *then* had a full 1/4 of the population killed in the giant global earthquake. So probably more like down to 3 billion now?

  • Rae

    You know what I’d love to see? An apocalypse book where the Rapture happens, and someone realizes that the RTC’s may have been right about it, but still hates them enough that he or she decides f*ck it, they’re going to intentionally be the antichrist!

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I’ve toyed with this idea for a story, the whole thing being very misotheist. Had a Rapture and general apocalypse where the angels and demons marched out almost immediately thereafter and were using Earth as their battleground right away, and the protagonist ends up working with a large group of human survivors in the (remnants of the) United States. At one point he speaks in front of a large number of people:

    “There are no estimates for how many people are left. If the situation worldwide is anything like what I’ve seen in the past year of travels, then I’d guess less than a billion. Far, far less. And so, all of you before me are survivors of the biggest war in history.

    “Those who side with the angels, both kinds, claim that those taken were lifted up to Heaven or conscripted into Hell to escape this broken remnant of a world, to join the winning side. They were the saved. The elect.

    “I’ve talked to angels. And I’ve talked to demons. The Rapture was the opening salvo.

    “I name myself Antichrist. I defy the powers of Heaven and of Hell, I spit on the names of God and Satan both. I refuse to follow their plan.

    “And I beg of you, please – join me. Defy the invaders. Flee them if you must, fight them if you can. Become antichrist. Even if they drive the last of us to extinction, die with the simple dignity of knowing that even in the face of Armageddon, you stood before them instead of cowering at their sides.”

  • Andrew Ryan’s Caddy

    Lately I’ve been getting ready to go overseas, and I keep thinking, one-world religion and currency be damned, I’ll be impressed with any global dictator whose iron fist can establish a worldwide standard for plug shape and voltage.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Rayford had to admit he had never found Hattie guilty of brilliance,

    Oh, how charmimg.

    And by that I mean Rayford is a fucking douchebag.

  • rikalous

    Eyup. He’s too important to have to give “some signal of affirmation or acknowledgment that he was listening.” I…I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of someone being such a colossal asshat that they refuse to say “uh-huh.” Beyond the weapons-grade smugness of it, it’s stupid and counterproductive. The pause Hattie would take to realize that Ray-ray considers any sort of halfway-distinct vocalization not worth his trouble is going to be longer than the time it would take him to perform said vocalization.

    Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

  • Jolly Green Justin

    I can’t see Adam Baldwin as Nicolae, he’s usually cast as a thug. Also, he’s not one of the brothers. How about Billy, he’s often the smarmy guy?

  • Steve

    It’s clear to me that Nicky’s a much less effective world Emperor than I would be. Even Stalin knew that you keep letting the proles vote–you just control the vote counters. And there’s no need to mind mojo your hand picked subordinates–assuming you haven’t done that already in the interview–because their job is to do what you say, and they know the price of not doing so, as well as the benefits of obedience.

    Perhaps Nicky just took the first ten people he saw and appointed them.

    Having arranged the appearance of democracy to cover my rule by decree (and rule by decree isn’t actually desired, by the way. It’s far too inefficient compared to ‘rule by legislators who do what you ask’ + ‘ability top assert immunity from law’. Why would I want to spend my time deciding speed limits? Or pipeline developments? Or tax law, for that matter? I just require X amount of tribute and let the minions decide where it comes from.) I might, however, find it deeply amusing to pull out that dog-eared copy of ‘Late Great Planet Earth’ and start thumbing through it to find something nonsensical to do in order to provoke the smug RTCs and conspiracy freaks.

    Rebuilding Babylon–a new city in an area of the world that just lost a hefty percentage of its population (Iraq, for instance, is about 40% under age 14) is just the sort of pointless slap in the face to get the malcontents worked up.
    But I’d certainly not let that interfere with business. And I’d certainly not take a stupid title like ‘potentate’. That would be joke fodder for decades. (Assuming there were decades. And jokes cannot be outlawed. They must be subverted and made to serve. Above all, people must be able to pretend life is normal.) President or General Secretary or Inspector General or Executor (My duty is only to execute the will of the people!) or something innocuous sounding.
    Ideally, nobody will know my name without Google. Thus can one rule forever. Who rebels against someone they never heard of? Who rises up to overthrow the Inspector General? What does he do, anyway?
    Tremble and thank your stars you get Nicolae instead of me, people.