NRA: A responsive reading

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 133-135

If the first few pages of Chapter 7 of this book had been excerpted and published as a sneak-peek teaser before the rest of the book came out, then this little section might have been bearable.

Jerry Jenkins is doing several things at once here — reinforcing Buck Williams’ role as a (literally) jet-setting VIP, reintroducing the character of charter pilot Ken Ritz from back in the first book, and presenting another little Sunday-school lesson on the duty of personal evangelism. The first and last of those are a bit tedious, but Jenkins does a capable job of the second one.

Like most of the peripheral characters in these books, Ken Ritz benefits from not being Buck or Rayford. We want to be able to like someone in this story, so we’re inclined to treat characters like Ken with a generous benefit of the doubt. In this passage, taken by itself, Jenkins doesn’t give us any powerful reasons to dislike Ken, so we’re willing to regard him as a breath of slightly fresher air and to find him somewhat interesting even despite being told, clumsily, that “Ritz was interesting.”

Unfortunately, though, we can’t take this passage entirely by itself. Chapter 7 follows the previous six chapters, and those were pretty eventful — at least in terms of body count.

Millions of people were just slaughtered. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City have all just been “destroyed” with nuclear weapons.

The metropolitan areas of those cities are home to more than 107 million people, and given what we know of the indiscriminate mass-destruction of nuclear weaponry here in the real world, the previous chapters seem to indicate that somewhere around 100 million people were just killed in this story.

But we’ve also seen in those chapters that this story doesn’t work like reality. In the unreal universe of these books, the death toll from the beginning of World War III is probably less than that.

At least some of the nuclear weapons deployed by the Antichrist’s military were apparently a special, non-radioactive variety. These weapons also seem magically bound by city limits, such that a nuclear bomb dropped on the City of Chicago can go almost unnoticed in Evanston or Calumet City, and won’t cause even the slightest disruption to daily routine 90 miles away in Milwaukee. And Buck’s walking tour of post-nuclear downtown Chicago seemed to suggest that, in the fantasy world of these books, the majority of a city’s residents might survive a direct nuclear strike. So let’s take Nicolae Carpathia literally when he tells us that all these cities would be “decimated” by his nuclear destruction of them. Let’s assume that, somehow, nuclear war only claimed one tenth of the post-Event population within the city limits of these targeted metropolises.

Here’s some hasty diner-napkin arithmetic: If the miracle bombs are confined to city limits, so that Dallas gets nuked but Fort Worth is untouched, then we’re dealing with a pre-Event city-limits population of 39 million or so.

We calculated earlier that the post-Event world without children or RTCs would have a population of around 4 billion instead of 7 billion, so let’s use that same ratio to say the city limits of the Antichrist’s nuclear targets would be home to a post-Event population of around 22 million.

And then let’s accept the physical impossibility of nuclear attacks on those cities resulting in the death of only 10 percent of their population. And then round down.

That impossibly low estimate still gives us two million dead. That is the death toll of the events described in the first six chapters of Nicolae. That is what happens during the first two days described in this book.

Two million people killed, and then Chapter 7 begins. Two million people were slaughtered yesterday, and then Buck Williams wakes up on day three and catches a plane.

Buck had always had the ability to sleep well, even when he couldn’t. He could have used a dozen or more hours the night before, after the day he had had. However, seven-plus hours had been just enough because when he was out, he was out. He knew Chloe had slept fitfully only because she told him in the morning. Her tossing and turning and winces of pain had not affected his slumber.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Now, as Ken Ritz landed the Learjet in Easton, Pennsylvania, “just to top off the tank before headin’ to Tel Aviv,” Buck was alert. He and the lanky, weathered veteran pilot in his late fifties seemed to have picked up where they left off the last time he had employed this freelance charter service. Ritz was a talker, a raconteur, opinionated, interesting, and interested. He was as eager to know Buck’s latest thoughts on the vanishings and the global war as he was in sharing his own views.

“So, what’s new with the jet-setting young magazine writer since I saw you last, what, almost two years ago?” Ritz had begun.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Buck told him. He recalled that Ritz had been forthright and outspoken when they first met, admitting that he had no more idea than anyone else what might have caused the vanishings but coming down on the side of aliens from outer space. It had hit Buck as a wild idea for a buttoned-down pilot, but Buck hadn’t come to any conclusions at the time either. One theory was as good as the next. Ritz had told him of many strange encounters in the air that made it plausible that an airman might believe in such things.

That gave Buck the confidence to tell his own story without apology. It didn’t seem to faze Ritz, at least negatively. He listened quietly, and when Buck was through, Ritz simply nodded.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“So,” Buck said, “do I seem as weird to you now as you did to me when you were propounding the space alien theory?”

“Not really,” Ritz said. “You’d be amazed at the number of people just like you that I’ve run into since the last time we talked. I don’t know what it all means, but I’m beginning to believe there are more people who agree with you than agree with me.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Buck said, “if I’m right, I’m still in big trouble. We are all gonna go through some real horror. But people who don’t believe are going to be in worse trouble than they could ever imagine.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“I can’t imagine worse trouble than we’re in right now.”

“I know what you mean,” Buck said. “I used to apologize and try to make sure I wasn’t coming on too strong or being obnoxious, but let me just urge you to investigate what I’ve said. And don’t assume you’ve got a lot of time to do it.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“That’s all part of the belief system, isn’t it?” Ritz said. “If what you say is true, the end isn’t that far off. Just a few years.”

“Exactly.”

“Then, if a fella was gonna check it out, he better get to it.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Buck said.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

After refueling in Easton, Ritz spent the hours over the Atlantic asking “what if” questions. Buck had to keep assuring him he was not a student or a scholar, but he amazed even himself at what he remembered from Bruce’s teaching.

“It must have hurt like everything to lose a friend like that,” Ritz said.

“You can’t imagine.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Here ends today’s reading.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Buck used to apologize and make sure he was not coming on too strong?

    When did that happen? Are there some missing pages cut from the final draft somewhere?

  • The_L1985

    I’m trying to figure it out myself.

  • Cathy W

    …that would imply that there was more than one draft, which I recall Jerry Jenkins categorically denies.

  • Diona the Lurker

    I don’t think Buck has even warned anyone before this that the Rapture has occurred and that they should convert. What makes Ken so special?

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

    He’s a man, and Buck can use him to go places all by himself while he uses his telephone. Since Buck no longer needs to fly first-class as George McGillicuddy, this clearly makes Ken Ritz important enough to actually proselytize to.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    At least some of the nuclear weapons deployed by the Antichrist’s military were apparently a special, non-radioactive variety.

    In fairness to the writers, it is theoretically possible to build a non-radioactive nuclear weapon, but to date no one ever has been able to (or if they have it is understandably highly classified.)

    I might be giving the authors too much credit though. Like most things, they do not really do much to explain or follow through on their ideas.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    As much as I am loath to defend these writers, the bombs are never specifically mentioned to be nuclear, IIRC. I believe the only indication in the books are mushroom clouds, which can be produced with large conventional explosives, and would fit more with seeing “several mushroom clouds” over Chicago and the (relatively) smaller level of devastation.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Granted, any explosion of sufficient magnitude will produce a mushroom cloud, regardless of what caused that much kinetic energy to be suddenly released. Nuclear detonations are just the most popular association of them in the public consciousness.

    Still, for an explosion to be big enough to produce a mushroom cloud, the actual damage depicted is way too small.

  • Lori

    Yeah, there really is now way to defend Jenkins’ description of the attacks and the characters’ non-reaction to it. It makes no sense.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    I won’t defend the character’s non-reactions, which are indefensible, but the description of the effects on the city area lot more reasonable if you assume that the bombs were large conventional weapons instead of nuclear strikes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Eh, the FOAB, which is the biggest conventional bomb in existence, is “only” 44 tons of TNT, which sounds like a lot, but in reality would only take out a couple of blocks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Also, I seem to recall from mention of things yet to come in our reading that at some point, some characters are perplexed at the lack of radiation in the bombed areas, which seemed to say that they certainly expected them to be nuclear, which implies in turn that they were bigger than you’d ever expect from conventional explosives.
    I could be misremembering, though.

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

    Yeah. The characters want to move into Chicago but are worried about the radiation, so they get one of their moles in the GC (Probably Hayseed or Chang) to check and it turns out Chicago was totally FAKE nuked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Must be invisible neutrons. ;)

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

    An Internets for you. :D

  • BaseDeltaZero

    It doesn’t even have to be a very large explosion, so long as it bursts close to the ground. A mushroom cloud is caused by superheated air rising, carrying smoke, dust, and debris along with it. As this air rises, however, it cools down, and eventually reaches a point of equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere, and begins to spread out horizontally, creating the ‘cap’. It’s just that normally this phenomenon only lasts for seconds or less (due to a combination of wind and gravity), while a nuclear explosion is so powerful the distinctive cloud can last for minutes or hours.

    The biggest indication of the conventional nature of the explosions, though, is not just that apparently entire bomber fleets were involved, but also that there was no firestorm. A nuclear explosion creates such high levels of infrared radiation (heat) that anything that can burn will, creating a huge blaze that continually draws in air to perpetuate itself, and is therefore almost impossible to extinguish. This is arguably the deadliest aspect of a nuclear attack, between the fire itself and asphyxiation caused by air being drawn off. It might be less noticeable in city like modern Chicago, with mostly brick and steel construction than a largely wooden city, but there’s still plenty to burn.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That seat – that is made of ale.
    A bicycle – that is made of ale.
    The boy – that is made of ale.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yay, one other person might have read Pirate Cinema! :p

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

    Buck had always had the ability to sleep well, even when he couldn’t.

    And Chicago just got (apparently) nuked! Talk about forgetting that little detail.

    *sigh* L&J, why do you so inappropriately focus on the banalities of human interaction when World War Three just frakkin’ happened in your books?!

    Buck used to apologize and make sure he was not coming on too strong?

    The fact that L&J consider this change in Buck to be a positive thing – (O_O) I just don’t even.

    They’re obviously catering to the fantasies of their Christian audience, who seem to believe that they live in a society which excoriates and harries them at every turn.

  • Carstonio

    Meanwhile, Chloe was sleeping like anyone else might after an attack of that magnitude. Restless not just from shock and sadness, but perhaps also from fear of what might happen next.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    And he’s oblivious. I’m a pretty sound sleeper too but I notice when someone is tossing and turning next to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    To say nothing of the fact that, ostensibly, this is the love of his life*, who has been seriously injured and just a short time ago he had reason to believe that he might never see again.**

    In Buck’s place, I wouldn’t have slept a wink. I would have stayed up all night just watching her, wincing in sympathy with her every moan.

    And when I wasn’t concerning myself with her, I’d be thinking:

    Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

    So, yeah. Sleeping soundly? Not so much.

    *Right after Jesus, anyway. And possibly Rayford.
    **In this life, at least.

  • AnonaMiss

    Hey now guys. A sound sleeper is unconscious and can’t be held accountable for their actions or inactions while unconscious.

    I’m an extremely deep sleeper and can confirm that I can sit up, declare myself awake to anyone who asks, and turn off an alarm across the room, all without any memory of it when I actually wake up, later in the morning.. If Buck’s naturally a very-deep sleeper, we shouldn’t hold it against him.

  • Lori

    Do you really sleep that deeply all the time though? Including when you are stressed and when you’re sleeping next to a loved one who is not sleeping well due to being injured or ill?

    The issue is not the Buck is a sound sleeper, it’s that he’s sleeping soundly when most people would not be sleeping at all.

  • AnonaMiss

    Yes. I might have a hard time getting to sleep, but once I’m asleep, I’m gone. Things that I have slept through without noticing include getting up and turning off the alarm across the room; my little sister wetting the bed; me initiating and my boyfriend reciprocating intimacy (this was in the early days of our relationship before he knew I was such a heavy sleeper, we have a protocol now); and an earthquake. Not all at the same time, of course.

    When I was 11 I had a bike accident in the evening, and due to a combination of trauma and wait time, I had fallen asleep by the time they got around to me at the ER. When the doctors tried to wake me I was incoherent/wouldn’t wake, and apparently one of them was convinced I had suffered a major concussion. To which my mom replied that no, I was always that hard to wake up. (She told me this after the fact, of course.)

    So I’m uncomfortable with the framing that sleeping heavily enough that a restless co-sleeper won’t wake you, indicates an untroubled mind or a lack of care for that co-sleeper.

  • Lori

    Wow, that is some impressive sleeping. It’s also really unusual. Not in the sense of being weird or indicative of something being wrong with you, but statistically quite unusual. I think it’s safe to say that Buck is just being a dick.

  • Maggadin

    I agree with you that the sleeping soundly is not in itself a sign of callousness, as I know more than one very decent person who could sleep through just about anything. Unfortunately, I doubt Ellenjay were really thinking in those terms. That might actually bring some *nuance* to Buck’s character; an interesting quirk.

  • http://danel4d.livejournal.com/ Danel

    Especially given that he’s ostensibly the GIRAT: “His friends used to joke that he could sleep through a small war. Once, he almost had.”

  • Jenora Feuer

    Heh. Sounds like me. I have to have a (loud) alarm in the next room over because I can turn off the alarm in my own room without waking up. Not just hit the snooze button, turn it off completely. I’ve slept through earthquakes well into 5 on the Richter scale. I’ve slept through the blower fan on our furnace throwing a bearing and rattling about. I even once, when young, slept through falling out of bed, telling my parents incoherently that I was all right, and climbing back in. Not that I would know about that last except for my parents asking me about it the next morning.

    Like you, I also have trouble getting to sleep. The transition just seems to take a long time in either direction. Which was always annoying during sleepovers because pretty much everybody else in the room would be asleep and snoring before I was…

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

    I’m one of those people who seem to take a while to get to sleep, but I can go from dead asleep, snapping to wide awake, in an instant.

  • Rae

    I’m like that, too – I’ve slept through a hurricane, a tornado, a college dorm fire alarm, several earthquakes, people jumping enthusiastically on the (unstable) bunk bed above me, and someone crawling into my bed and shoving me over into the wall before going to sleep next to me.

  • Lori

    I think the implication is that Chloe slept badly because of the injuries she suffered when the mighty SUV fell out of the tree, not due to any concern about a little thing like (possible) nuclear war.

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

    Oh, but she wasn’t sleeping that soundly. It’s just that “her tossing and turning and winces of pain had not affected [Buck’s] slumber.” You know, if my wife had been terribly injured, I might stay up to check on her, but not ol’ Buck. Sorry, that seven hours is not negotiable.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, after all, you know us wimmenfolks. Always whining about every little thing. A manly man can’t be expected to fuss the way a mere girl does.

  • Carstonio

    Enormously wasted opportunity by Ellanjay. Buck could have said how horrific the slaughter was in and of itself, but minor compared to the far worse horrors to come. That might be a truly human response in that situation with the knowledge that Buck supposedly possesses. Silly me, expecting a human response from Buck.

  • Edo

    That would involve Jenkins acknowledging that horror is bad. Silly you, expecting that from the author.

  • http://danel4d.livejournal.com/ Danel

    Also, it basically comes down to “You think what the Antichrist did was bad? Just wait until God has a go!”

  • Cathy W

    Wow. Inappropriate circumstances notwithstanding….. Buck actually made an attempt to save someone? Is this a first?

  • Baby_Raptor

    They have to cram the “salvation message” in somehow, don’t they? And they don’t have Bruce around anymore to preach it at a bunch of already saved folks.

  • MikeJ

    so let’s use that same ratio to say the city limits of the Antichrist’s
    nuclear targets would be home to a post-Event population of around 22
    million.

    Are you suggesting that there are christians that live in cities? I’ll bet the authors would disagree. Cities are scary places full of dusky hued criminals, at least according to all the suburbanites I know.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yeah, but blasts on the scale they describe do not suddenly stop at the outskirts of the city, they would carry on and do significant damage to the suburbs surrounding them as well. The people out there might not be vaporized like the ones at ground zero, but they are not safe.

    They might actually be in for a much more unpleasant, drawn out death.

    On the other hand, this is a series in which nuclear missiles sent against Israel in the beginning are all magical duds thanks to divine intervention, so there is no reason it could not be like that here.

    Speaking of which, did that ever get addressed? Is there any follow up by the rest of the U.N. going “What the hell Russia? Deploying even one nuclear weapon on an enemy state is bad enough, but you dump your entire arsenal of them on Israel? What the hell were you thinking!?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    “No, seriously, why? How much money were you making selling weapons to the nations that hate Israel? You’ve never seemed to care much about the conflicts there outside of that. Mr. Minty Mountains, why would they do this?”
    “Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    We can like our own posts, apparently Why, oh why, did disqus think this was a smart move?
    “…Angola, Antigua and Berbuda, Argentina, Armenia”
    You said it, Nicky.

  • Andy

    Especially since the “rationale” for the nuclear war was that Rosenzwieg refused to share his Miracle Gro formula with Russia. (I believe I’m remembering correctly.) So instead of engaging in espionage to get it, Russia launches not only a war, but a nuclear war involving all of its missiles. Because vaporizing everyone who knows anything about the formula is a sure-fire way to get it.
    (I hope this doesn’t end up a double post; my original one seems to be nowhere in sight as I type this.)

  • Andrea

    Remember, most of the Raptured are children, an those live everywhere.

  • Jay in Oregon

    There really isn’t any more that needs to be said?

    LB/TB/NRA are set in a world that is completely inconsistent within itself. You don’t have 3 billion people just VANISH and have the world carrying on normally a few months later. You don’t have nuclear bombs rain death and destruction on American cities and have people chatting amicably about stuff the next day.

    There are any number of conversations about evil, faith, and God’s omniscience/omnipresence that could be had in the face of such an atrocity. It’s a pity none of them appear in these books.

  • Lori

    This section really highlights (yet again) the way real world events have completely over-taken LeHaye’s “prophecy” since the book was written. It was always ridiculous and nonsensical, but that’s even more obvious post-9/11. The death toll then was a tiny fraction of even the most optimistic calculation of the impact of L&J’s version of WWIII. How many of us were having these kinds of normal conversations on September 13th? When folks ran into someone they hadn’t seen since before the 11th they talked about the attacks. They did not say, “So, how ya been?”

    The complete lack of any concept of human behavior displayed by Jenkins in these books is just mind-boggling. I should be used to it by now, but I just can’t get there. In the back of my mind I’ve started to wonder if Jenkins is a robot, like Ted on Buffy.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Admittedly, immediately after 9/11, talking about it was the last thing I wanted to do. This was not so much callousness on my part, but because I had the mentality that the best way to deal with it was to “Keep calm and carry on”. The point of terrorism is to spread terror, to incite a panicked and disproportional response, and the best way to respond was to show that such techniques would not work on us.

    Sadly the country in general did not seem to share this outlook.

  • Lori

    I think there’s a middle ground between giving in to panic and pretending that it didn’t happen.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Which, admittedly, would be hard for some people to find in the immediate aftermath of something that huge. I know it was for me. I just…shut down for a couple days after 9/11. It took that long for me to process.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I felt that the best course was “Don’t let it get to you,” do not let it change you for the worse. I had concerns after 9/11, but they were not so much shock over the attack or fear of another one, but concern that how we responded to it would take us into places socially and geo-politically that I would rather the country not go. The United States had its ups and downs, but was on the whole a pretty nice place, and I wanted it to continue to be a nice place, and our reaction to 9/11 could set us back if it was too hot-headed and knee-jerk.

    Was I angry then? Sure, of course I was, but my anger was not directed at the attackers, but those who would turn the country upside down out of a combination of craven fear and solidarity born from mob-mentality. I hated the chest-thumping patriots, I hated the chickenhawks, I hated the gas stockpilers, and most of all I hated those who felt like securing our safety required turning on our own citizens (especially those with obviously or just apparent middle eastern ancestry) and tearing down citizen protections.

    What I wanted people to do is just let it go, trust the government to make a rational response (and call it out if the response is irrational,) dust ourselves off, and carry on. Overreacting was the worst possible thing we could do.

    Unfortunately, that is exactly what we did.

  • Jay in Oregon

    Yeah, but we’re talking about a day later.
    People aren’t freaking out wondering if friends or loved ones are dead in the bombed-out cities?
    People aren’t trying to be supportive or reassuring of friends, co-workers, or acquaintances who have missing loved ones in the bombed-out cities?
    You don’t start chatting about some guy that you saw your buddy with TWO YEARS AGO.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Exactly. Exactly. EXACTLY!!!!!

    Granted, this stuff was, um, worded – I won’t say it was written – before 9/11. Still, just a tiny bit of asking people questions about how they behaved right after a shocking event – Pearl Harbor, for example (to pick something within the chronological frame of reference for LaHaye and his preferred audience) – should have stopped them from churning out this drivel.

  • Lori

    I read a piece earlier today where I woman talked about the birth of her younger brother. He was born two days after Kennedy was assassinated because her mother cried so hard for so long that she went into labor early. (Granted, the woman was having some other difficulties at the time the no doubt effected her reaction, but still).

    L&J both lived through multiple events prior to 9/11 that should have made them aware that people do not act the way their “characters” act. The majority of their readers should also have known this, and yet it seems to have passed them by as well. So disturbing.

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

    LaHaye’s old enough to have lived through, if nothing else, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 1960s equivalent to 9/11 in terms of sheer fear-of-not-knowing-what’s-next.

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

    It’s also a matter of authorial tunnel vision, I think. For purposes of the story, anything that wasn’t directly observed by one of the leads didn’t happen, or at least was not important enough to affect the story. Remember the plane crashes in the first book – the airport was in chaos, but because it didn’t concern the “heroes,” it was ignored in lieu of the next vignette. That chaos existed (and still exists) in an abstract sense, but because we’re not seeing it first-hand, it can’t factor in to the plot.

    One of the overarching problems of these books is that they’re trying to tell a very big story as though it were a very small story, and it’s just not working out.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    My pet asspull–errr, theory– is that Ellenjay are actually Lawgiver priests from the domain of Hazlan in Ravenloft who somehow escaped the demiplane but wound up stuck here a few decades go. These books, and Lahaye’s shitty, inhuman theology, are their attempts to combine the Lawgiver faith with the local Christian religion and popularize it. They’ve been here long enough that they understand this world, but they’re still essentially psychopathic outsiders and it shows through in their writing. And late in the series after Turbojesus appears, He has a hell of a lot more in common with Bane than he does with any deity of forgiveness and compassion.

  • Noirceuil

    So, since they’re technically outsiders, spells from the abjuration school could help us, right? Protection from Evil could at least keep their drivel out. A Banishment spell would send them packing.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Protection from Evil probably wouldn’t affect the books or their contents, but it would make the authors leave your presence if you happened to be at a social function with them and found yourself drawn involuntarily into a conversation with them. And Disintegrate doesn’t leave a body behind :)

    I think I’m gonna introduce this into my next game…

    Nystul’s Literary Critic

    Level: Clr 1, Good 1, Pal 1, Sor/Wiz 1

    Divination [Good]

    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: touch
    Target: Book or text touched
    Duration: Special (see below)
    Saving Throw: none (harmless)
    Spell Resistance: no; see text

    This spell magically parses any selected text, and carefully reviews it section by section checking for inconsistencies, fabrications and falsehoods, general bad writing, dogwhistles and general inhumanity, leaving annotations and corrections in the margins or magically separating passages to make space for the review (if necessary, the actual length of the book will be magically altered accordingly). All commentary is written with a pithy, tongue-in-cheek tone, often making the book much more entertaining than it would be otherwise.

    If the text is magical, cursed or otherwise mind-controlling, the exact copy reviewed no longer has any effect whatsoever on the caster or on anyone else, and after reading it carefully, any reader will be granted a +5 bonus to all will saves made against other copies of that particular text, whether Reviewed or not. The caster herself also gains a +2 bonus to all will saves made against any and all texts that come from the same source–that is, that are penned by the same author. If cast on a literary text that is NOT generally awful, inherently evil, or magical, the book is also amusingly reviewed, but much more favorably, and the caster will be able to remember it with much greater clarity after reading, making this spell a favorite for certain low-level apprentice wizards.

    The material component is a piece of plain paper upon which is written a small benediction to Saint Clark of Slack, a learned servant of the Unnamed God.

  • The_L1985

    …My 16th birthday was the same week as the 9/11 attacks. The very thought of a Sweet 16 party seemed obscene.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Had that been in any book penned by these particular authors, not only would there have been a party, the 9/11 attacks would have been a minor topic of conversation even if they’d happened only a few hours before. And they’d have been discussed in the tone of, “What a shame, oh well, what can you do? At least it doesn’t affect us.” Then the characters would start discussing their vacation plans, their spiffy new laptop or the new car they bought last week. The same would be true of the Christmas 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean, a nuclear war, an asteroid impact, or a world-ending plague. And the authors would have been completely incapable of understanding why everyone else found the passage so incredibly inhuman and obscene. And, sad to say, most likely it wouldn’t have registered on the radar of the people it was specifically written FOR.

  • GeniusLemur

    Well, I’ll give them credit for this: for brief moment, they remembered that a) Bruce is dead and b) Bruce existed in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, I would not say that Buck’s sound sleep is out-of-character or necessarily an indication of his callousness. I mean, obviously he is callus based on his other interactions, but his ability to sleep soundly is not necessarily something that ties into that.

    He is (supposedly) a globe-trotting reporter, always moving from one spot to the next following a story, probably done some war-reporting from just behind the front-line, etc. Someone who has a job and lifestyle like that learns to take their rest when and where they can, despite uncomfortable circumstances, or they burn out and go find another job. The ability to sleep well after the outbreak of World War III should be in-character for someone like that.

    If only he showed a little more concern or awareness when he was awake, he might be sympathetic.

  • Carstonio

    Good point. With Buck, his sound sleeping looks like callousness because of the scene that follows, and because of what we’ve seen of his personality in the series. In the Sherlock Holmes story The Engineer’s Thumb, Dr. Watson is a good example of someone who is hardened by battle experience is still capable of shock at a deliberately inflicted horrific injury. Ellanjay could have done something similar with Buck, showing even his reporting experience didn’t emotionally prepare him for slaughter of this magnitude.

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

    I’m not really troubled by Buck’s being able to sleep after a catastrophe. It’s the fact that he’s sleeping soundly with his horribly injured wife next to him that gets me.

    Look, I was once in a relationship with a woman who suffered from poor health, including multiple hospitalizations and at least one potentially serious chronic condition. At one point, I lost contact with her for several weeks, and it scared me to death. I didn’t sleep well – in fact, I was up most nights waiting to get some sign of life. So to me, Buck’s behavior is positively inhuman.

    Hell, I don’t even know how to properly mock Buck’s behavior here. I can’t call him a robot, because that implies some sort of rationale behind his actions and there clearly isn’t one. Maybe he’s more like a zombie. He may have loved this woman in life, but the virus has long since destroyed the part of his brain capable of those kinds of emotions.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    He could at least show her some sympathy even with his sound sleep. Wake up, go get her some painkillers and a glass of water. Heck, cook her a couple of eggs in a pan and bring it to her to see if she was well enough to eat a little, before he has to go out and do his own thing. He can show a little care for his wife.

    It is not much, but characterization can be made out of a lot of little things. And I hardly think him doing some domestic stuff for the sake of his injured wife would make him seem any less “manly” to all but the most egregious misogynists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    Yeah, I think the grossness comes not from the fact that Buck is a sound sleeper- that’s all well and good- but from the fact that L&J seem to be _impressed_ that he had the fortitude to ignore his wife’s injuries.

    Like, there’s a scene in a Discworld book where a character is aboard a storm tossed ship en route to rescue his girlfriend, and while everyone else stays up nervously he gets his eight hours. He cares very much, but he is capable of sleeping anyway, because sleeping is what will help the most.The fact that this is fundamentally inhuman behavior (however practical) is the _point_- it’s characterization, showing a character whose form of heroism is both intensely practical and a bit distancing, because he doesn’t quite have the normal human weaknesses.

    Here, it’s just part of the author’s general habit of confusing sociopathy with strength.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Heck, that actually reminds me of the Spartan-IIs from the Halo franchise. As CPO Mendez drilled into them, rest is one of the most effective weapons you can have. They show that similar kind of detached professionalism which seems, on the surface, inhumane, and yet is perfectly practical. That is actually one of the things that I love about them. This bit from the Halo 4 opening cinematic sums it up well:

    “Record show Spartans routinely exhibited mildly sociopathic tendencies: difficulty with socialization…”
    “The records show efficient behavior operating in hazardous situations. I supplied the tools to maintain that efficiency.”
    “Do you believe the Master Chief succeeded because he was, at his core, broken?”

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

    No no no, it IS those most egregious misogynists that Buck keeps in mind; he knows they are watching, they are always watching, and but one breach in Buck’s Absolute Perfect Manliness, that Ultimate Delicate Balanced Manliness… no no, better to be pitched alive into the bowels of Hell before compromising that True Manliness…

  • Edo

    Two million people, New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City do not matter. They must not be allowed to matter. How can Jesus be my personal Lord and Savior if He can’t be mine exclusively?

    I don’t have time to unpack L&J’s Gnostic horror of a theology right now, but I’m gonna observe that this is both a flaw and a feature of it: it’s solipsistic and dis-integrating. The world’s alienation from God, and its nuclear destruction, is irrelevant because it’s all about Precious Snowflake You, not about the world – or God either, in the end.

    More later.

  • http://twitter.com/count_01 Jared James

    It’s possible to be atheistic, agnostic; is it possible to be atheological, to have no concept whatsoever that thought is required for a concept of divinity? Because Ellenjay seem to have thought themselves into a corner precisely by refusing to ever think.

  • Edo

    Antitheological Christianity’s been tried before. It’s Restorationism, tl;dr “favoring the language of your favored translation over theological jargon to argue that you’re not doing theology, just talking about what Scripture plainly says.” I’m not sure atheological Christianity’s possible, though – and more importantly, I don’t think L&J are doing that here.

    Theology is a discourse, and although LaHaye’d probably dismiss me for sounding pomo, he participated in that discourse for decades before the World’s Worst Books. More importantly, Left Behind exists. You don’t engage in strategic-level theological warfare (and that’s what the franchise is) without a LOT of conscious and unconscious thought.

    That’s why I’m focusing more on the theology. As a rational argument for PMD, Left Behind doesn’t work; its hugely successful argument for PMD is addressed to the psyche and the soul, and needs to be challenged there.

  • Edo

    (Also, thank you for your kind words; they meant more than you know. Easier to say it here than to stalk you for for email.)

  • http://twitter.com/count_01 Jared James

    I meant every one. As a former Christian myself, I like it when people actually live up to the creed their late leader professed.

  • SkyknightXi

    I’d expect that this whole emphasis on “personal Saviour” actually signifies something of a change in understanding of exactly WHAT the Christ’s Resurrection did. Whereas Unitarianism and other apocatastasist views regard the Christ as coming to redeem humanity as a whole, dispensationalism words it more as coming to redeem every person. Not one wide mantle, but a swarm of single-serving mantles. And whereas a wide mantle is difficult to avoid, it’s pretty easy to miss being under your personalized (as personalized as a form letter can be, anyway) mantle if you don’t act just right…

  • Edo

    That’s a great observation, about the salvation of all vs. each. (I’d extend it further, but I don’t have the time right now; but I want to thank you for it.)

    I think it’s less “dispensationalism” than “modernity.” Premodern theories of atonement were all fairly collective; the Reformed tradition (from which the Baptist and evangelical traditions descend, in their several lineages) is fairly uniquely personalized, and Reformed corporate soteriology never really took off. (And L&J are Americans, fundamentalists, and Baptists; all of that ties into the atomizing individualism of the franchise, too.)

  • SkyknightXi

    I think it might have something to do with the change in emphasis of the particular salvific element from the Resurrection to the Crucifixion. The Resurrection was understood as breaking the…um…deathgrip of Death–freeing its captives. The Crucifixion as the salvific part, though, suggests Take Me Instead (whether that’s supposed to be voiced to God, Belial, or both probably isn’t germane). The latter part doesn’t necessarily look as all-inclusive as the former, especially since it’s understood as preventative, rather than restorative. Then add in Anselm of Canterbury’s highly influential extrapolation that it’s a matter of giving God proper compensation for each misdeed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember why Anselm thought Jesus couldn’t “pay” for someone who didn’t expressly name him as their intermediary.

  • Edo

    I think you’re onto something about the focus on the Crucifixion instead of the Resurrection, but I’m not seeing how inclusivity matters or ties into it. Could you explain that further?

    (And on an unrelated note, although I’m not the person to write it, it’d be interesting to read a trialogue of Anselm, Calvin, and Grotius, looking at how their different fields of law tied into their different theories of atonement.)

  • SkyknightXi

    {grumbles about no longer being able to see who upvoted a comment} Wound up having to place a debit because I accidentally approved myself….{sigh}

  • Adamlangfelder

    Am I the only one who reads this with George Carlin narrating it in my head?

  • Lori

    Not any more.

  • VMink

    Good news, everyone…!

    Sorry… I’m just continually amazed at how that sort of thing can latch on. Our brains are amazing things.

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

    It occurs to me that, even assuming a death toll of “merely” two million people, there would be other consequences to the bombing. In the real world, wars and disasters are often followed by a second crisis as the survivors try to find a new home. For every civilian death, there can be ten refugees that are in need of food, shelter and medicine. Often, no one will take them in. Granted, this is a phenomenon associated with unstable nations, but as we saw after Katrina, even a disaster in a stable, affluent region can still cause considerable local disruption.

    I realize that this is a moot point – if L&J weren’t willing to go into detail on the effects of vaporizing every child on Earth, they obviously were not going to follow through on the comparatively small effects of the refugee crisis. But what bothers me is that, from the writer’s perspective, that’s the fun part. This is where, having put something unfathomably huge into effect, you get to go into detail on how everything changed. It stretches the imagination to the absolute limits, giving you opportunities you just don’t get in smaller, more intimate stories. These little establishing chit-chat parts are the boring bits that you plow through to get to the meat. I’m actually working on a novel with apocalyptic themes, and I’m presently bogged down in that establishing chit-chat. Eventually there will be riots, crackdowns, espionage, and many personal crises – that’s the interesting part. My characters sitting in a diner talking is mere necessity.

    Damn it, Jenkins, why did you become an author if you hated writing so much?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That reminds me of the manga/anime Pumpkin Scissors. The story begins at the end of a war, with a scene in which some civilians just get the news that their nation has surrendered. A large soldier (one of the main characters) is sitting nearby, hears, and says “Why didn’t they surrender earlier?” as the view expands to show him sitting in bombed-out rubble.

    The rest of the story is this soldier and the squad he joins as they are given post-war peacekeeping and recovery efforts. It is not really a war story, but a story about the lasting effects war has on the population, and how the deal with all the damage left over from the conflict.

    I get the suspicion that the author, Ryotaro Iwanaga, grew up immediately post-WW2, which gives a certain amount of understandable perspective on this. “Write what you know,” after all.

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

    I get the suspicion that the author, Ryotaro Iwanaga, grew up immediately post-WW2, which gives a certain amount of understandable perspective on this. “Write what you know,” after all.

    Which is probably why L&J couldn’t manage it – the United States hasn’t experienced a mass migration on that level in eighty years. Still, it happens on a smaller scale all the time. It even happened in my hometown – after another town was wiped out by a tornad0, the surrounding towns saw their populations grow by as much as 20% practically overnight. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it wasn’t business as usual, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    Even if they haven’t seen it directly- if you’re going to write a book set in a world of rubble, take the time to watch Germany Year Zero or The Murderers are Among Us or friggin Godzilla, _something_ that will remind you of how people exist and how their lives are changed after an apocalyptic event

  • fraser

    Living four or five hours from Katrina, my former home town saw a big influx of N’Orleans refugees.

  • depizan

    I’m states away from N’Orleans, but people from the city I live in went to help and to bring refugees back.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unrelated, but this is the best thread to put this on:

    I had a horrible thought.

    The Rapture happens. The people of Earth declare war on whoever killed their children. The angels come forth to do battle–

    And among the angelic soldiers are the children.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I couldn’t resist throwing that into my own writing. When the Raptured return to Earth, they and the Heavenly Host are… well, the Borg come to mind, but picture being closer to porcelain dolls.

    “We.” “Are.” “All.” “God’s.” “Children.”
    “You.” “Will.” “Be.” “His.” “Child.” “Too.”

    Nightmare fuel for the win.

  • Adam Haun

    What really struck me is that most of those cities are in the continental United States. The last time we had any kind of wholesale military slaughter here was during the Civil War 150 years ago. A few thousand people died in the destruction of a couple buildings in one city on 9/11 and it drove our entire country into a frenzy for years. What L&J are describing is a thousand times more dead in eleven cities across the continent. Surely America of all places would be thrown into shock and panic?

    Then again, no one cares about the missing children either.

  • Carstonio

    My sixth-grade teacher was exactly right. She said Americans would freak out if there were a major attack on the continental US, while Europe had gone through wars regularly for centuries. Not until 9/11 did I appreciate her perspective.

  • Makabit

    That’s something I’ve often heard said, but I’m not real convinced. Yes, Europe has a far different experience of war, although in most places, a now somewhat generationally removed one. But it’s not been my experience that Europeans don’t freak out over terrorism, and the 9/11 attack was on a very large scale.

    I’m fairly sure that if France, say, had been hit with a multi-pronged attack that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, the response would have been on a par with the US one.

  • fraser

    It’s not just terrorism. Just the possibility that some nation, somewhere, might be capable of attacking us, Cannot Be Allowed according to statements by several people in government. If Europe had demanded 100 percent security, they entire continent would be dead.

  • ophelia

    125 people died at the Pentagon on 9/11 – not that that affects your larger point, of course, but it wasn’t just one city.

    And yeah, America would absolutely be thrown into shock and panic if even one of New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, or Oakland was attacked, much less all of them.

  • aunursa

    “It must have hurt like everything to lose a friend like that,” Ritz said.
    “You can’t imagine.”

    Less than two years ago billions of people suddenly vanished.
    And Buck thinks that no one else can imagine what it would be like to lose a close friend.

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

    We saw this kind of thing back in the first book, when everyone was consoling Ray and only Ray over the loss of his family. The plot has a remarkable blind spot – if we didn’t see it happen, then it didn’t happen, period. Apparently, the world really does go away when I shut my eyes.

  • Ross Thompson

    And less than two days since millions of people were bombed to death.

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

    , Ritz spent the hours over the Atlantic asking “what if” questions.

    If he’s asking “what if” questions, then he’s being polite and humoring Call-Me-Buck.

    “What if” questions are what you ask if there’s uncertainty. If Buck can effectively show that his explanation predicted the vanishing of the world’s children, the rise of the OWG, and the dropping of bombs all over the world, you’ve moved out of “what if” territory.

    If Ritz really believed what he was hearing, he’d be asking the “what next” questions. What’s the next seal to be broken, the next terrible catastrophe, what planning can be done, how can we stem the loss of life and the pain and suffering.

  • aunursa

    If Ritz really believed what he was hearing, he’d be asking the “what next” questions.

    A conversation something like that takes place in Book #4.

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

    “What if” questions – like, what if the authors had gone to the trouble to spell out some of Ken’s questions, along with Buck’s amazing answers?

  • aunursa

    A peek at next week’s LB: Nicolae’s fiancée greets him at the airport.

  • dj_pomegranate

    “Buck had to keep assuring him he was not a student or a scholar, but he amazed even himself at what he remembered from Bruce’s teaching.”

    Good night. Buck is surprised that he remembers the details of Bruce’s teachings? Even though they are actually living the fulfillment of prophesy?! And even though they’ve spent a good portion of this story “studying,” “poring over,” and printing out thousands of pages of Bruce’s notes?

  • GDwarf

    Buck had always had the ability to sleep well, even when he couldn’t.

    Wait, what? Try as I might, I cannot parse that sentence. Did they mean “…when he shouldn’t“? or “…when others couldn’t”?

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

    What a guy! He could do things even when he couldn’t do them! :-D

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Ah, this had mystified me too, so I went and checked. The complete sentence ends with “. . . even when he couldn’t sleep long,” which makes considerably more sense.

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

    What’s crazy is that it’s Buck’s sleep that Jenkins is worried about, and not injured Chloe’s.
    Way to keep the priorities straight, Jer.

  • Persia

    But Buck’s a man! Who else would we care about?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Wow, great husbanding there, Buck!. Most loving husbands might keep one eye open because the injured wife might need to have a drink, some pain meds, go to the bathroom, a little reassurance. But, Buck has to get his zzzzs, so Chloe can writhe in pain all night and wet the bed (remember she has a bad ankle).

    I’m assuming when they have the kid, he’ll never, ever change a diaper or respond to colic or well, do anything that a normal parent would do.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    He’d hardly be a paragon of christian Headship if he did something as womanly as care for a child!

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

    Fortunately, they have a boy, so Buck can throw a baseball with the kid and tell him that only babies and little girls are allowed to cry. Which is the extent of a father’s responsibilities, after all.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, if she’d been a girl, he’d have been expected to serve as custodian and gatekeeper for her vagina until he handed it over to the man he’d selected to be her husband.

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

    I’m sort of disappointed. I preferred the absurdity of the quoted version.

  • Makabit

    I think the total lack of impact of these tragic events may have to do with the fact that the demographic that reads the books seems to think that RIGHT NOW they are suffering through the most terrible suffering EVAH. Look at the video posted a few threads back. Slaughter, fear, religious persecution, and yet, somehow, they struggle on, living ordinary American lives…because, of course, nothing is happening.

    I suspect that they can’t imagine it would be much different from this if a bunch of cities were nuked and there was a worldwide dictatorship.

    Total inability to distinguish dystopian fiction from what’s happening right now. I’ve seen this on the left too, but not quite this cartoonishly.

  • Jenny Islander

    The whining just makes me rage sometimes.

    Right now, Indonesian churches are being torn down as their congregations weep on the sidewalk.

    Right now, Iraqi Christians whose churches are centuries old are fleeing their homeland in fear for their lives.

    Right now, Chinese Christians who already lost their church buildings are attempting to meet for worship in parks instead. Every week some of them are arrested for simply going to a church service. And every week there is another service.

    Right now, the President of Sudan has declared his intent to make his nation “100 percent Islamic.” Private charities and foreign congregations are scrambling to get Sudani Christians out of the country as fast as possible, since many of them are too poor, young, old, or sick to leave on their own. Many of these Christians were already living in refugee camps when the proclamation was issued. They are escaping with nothing but the clothes they stand up in and their lives.

    Right now, American Christians are forced to live in a nation that operates under a Constitution that guarantees complete freedom to worship as and when and whom they choose, and to a large extent how as well. They are forced to comply with the operation of a democratic process that is intended to give everyone a voice. And they are forced to give some money to people who fix their roads, and some other money to people who don’t have any food.

    One of these things is not like the others.

  • flat

    thank you for reminding me of Christians who have it much more difficult than me, so I know who I have to help and need my prayers.

  • Helena

    Le me and the Nobel committee know if your prayer ever helps anyone.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You again, Helena? Haven’t you learned yet that being an obnoxious antitheist doesn’t actually win you any kudos?

  • Lori

    What, exactly, is your goal here? Why do you keep showing up here to troll? More to the point, what would make you stop showing up here to troll?

  • Makabit

    Clearly, bitching about other people praying is a far more effective strategy.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Le me and the Nobel committee know if your prayer ever helps anyone.

    It could not hurt. To quote Jefferson, “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

  • Rae

    This. At the church I went to when I lived with my family, it was very international, and we had people there who actually had been tortured or attempted to be murdered simply because they were Christians. So when I hear someone say “We’re being persecuted” when they’re simply not being allowed to force their religion on others, I’m furious.

  • Vermic

    “Two million human lives ended on March 20, 2013. The survivors of the possibly-nuclear fire called the war: Wednesday.

    “They lived only to face a new nightmare — the ten-cents-per-gallon tax at the pump…”

    CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK KA-CHUNK
    CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK KA-CHUNK

  • Edo

    The next moment, the room and its sound-protected booths stank of sweat and fear and broken grammar, as every one of the real-time translators babbled retractions and struggled to keep up. After the fourth retraction in as many seconds, Szandor tore off his headpiece and slammed it onto his desk with a scream of frustration. Hungary was going to complain, he always did, but the representative on the floor wasn’t the problem. It was the Supreme Potentate, and he’d just gone off-script.

    “Against the rise of this threat, the Global Community must stand strong and stand together. People of the world, I call on you to stand with me until this war is won. Peoples of the world, I call on you: come with me if you want to live.”

  • rizzo

    Yeah but they were probably teh gayz or something, right guys? I mean, LA, NYC, Mexico City? Those places are filled with Mexicans and gays. Nobody will care if they get nuked, right?

  • Makabit

    Even some gay Mexicans, I hear.

  • c2t2

    As if! That would be too much Evil for one NPC. Next you’ll say there are gay FEMALE Mexicans, and that would just be ridiculous.

  • flat

    Bravo mr Clark showing the excerpts of the book and then reminding us what happened just earlier in order to show how absurd this is.

    Well done I am impressed by how good you managed to show how absurd and surreal these books are.

    Keep up the good work.

  • TheBrett

    Wow. I love the device you used here, Fred – it’s a reminder that this whole section is just downright ghoulish when you consider the context of what has happened.

  • flat

    Yes like I said it shows the craftsman skill of a great writer.

  • kadh2000

    I seem to remember this exact device being used in Dune. Every other paragraph from Paul at one point began with His father was dead or a line very like that.

    if only Buck had thought that, this would have been the most memorable part of the worst novels ever written.

  • shrinksarentcheap

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch him rip you limb from limb.

    Watch as he destroys your golden

    idols that were meant for him.

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch him rip the rivers wide;

    watch as bodies flood the shores and

    everyone but me has died.

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch us run through meadows deep

    with the blood of earth’s elations;

    into dripping arms I leap.

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch our slippery bodies grope

    at each other in the mire

    of lucid lies and buried hope.

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch the population cease.

    Dreamy-eyed, he gazes at me,

    “See, now we can be at peace.”

    He is a god.

    Watch him love me.

    Watch the emptied earth sing out.

    I’m the only anybody;

    watch him live to hear me shout.

    ©Shrinks Aren’t Cheap http://www.shrinksarentcheap.wordpress.com

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Wow. Bookmarked.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Thank you. That was marvellous.

  • Edo

    Your writing awes me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Seriously, that was amazing.

  • heckblazer

    “New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City have all just been ‘destroyed’ with nuclear weapons.”

    Hmm. That means that two of the world’s main financial centers just went up in smoke. That also means that the third and fourth largest ports in the country and the largest on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are gone. That also means that the five of the busiest airports in the world by both passenger and cargo traffic are gone. That also means that the five biggest rail terminals used by the US are gone. Logistically the US, and to a lesser extant the world, is hosed.

  • Makabit

    Well, logistically, the US was already hosed once. One thing that has always bothered me about the Rapture is that we’re going to lose more people than anywhere except maybe Samoa.

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

    You say those things like it matters more than a passing regard.

  • histrogeek

    Probably means some more traffic delays for our heroes. And phone coverage is probably going to be spotty in places. Well, that means the rest of the book practically writes itself.

  • Deni zen

    Get used to this kind of thing, where something major happens and then the characters will spend pages talking about something completely inane and different. Nicolae Carpathia comes back from the dead and declares himself God with lightning and fire from the sky, and our heroes will ignore it to concentrate on their travel arrangements or how they slept last night.

    Here’s an excerpt from The Mark: The Beast Rules the World.

    “Buck awoke at noon, Chicago time, and felt twice his age. As had been true every
    day since the Rapture, he knew exactly where he was. In the past it was not
    uncommon to wake up in a foreign city and have to remind himself where he was,
    who he was, and what he was doing there. No more. Even when exhausted and
    injured and barely able to function, somehow the self-preservation flywheel kept
    spinning in his otherwise unengaged mind.
    He had slept soundly, but at the first flutter of his eyelids and that initial glance at
    his watch, he knew. It all made sense in a ludicrous way. Buck stared at the wall
    next to an elevator in a bombed-out skyscraper in Chicago, heard muffled voices
    from around the corner, smelled coffee and a baby. Kenny had his own aroma, a
    fresh, powdery sweetness that Buck conjured when they were far apart.”

    Look familiar?

    Dude, Satan is now physically on Earth, inhabiting the undead body of the most powerful man in the world. How could you possibly sleep soundly?!

  • Guest

    So many people try to describe what a baby’s skin smells like, but this is the first time I’ve seen that distinctive scent called an “aroma” and… wow, it really sounds wrong.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 213 pages

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

    I don’t like to oversue the word “hate,” but I really hate this new Disqus incarnation.
    HAAAAAAAATTTTTTEE

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

    Sound suspiciously close to Hattie, Nicolae Grand Tetons’ sweetie…

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

    Ha! My comment was downvoted once. Wonder which Disqus rep did that. :D

  • Lori

    There are actually people who prefer the threaded comments. They’re a pretty small minority here but they exist :)

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

    At least now I can tell what they’re referring to when someone posts a reply that just says “That’s the most brilliant thing I’ve ever read”. :-D But it would be nice to be able to switch to non-threaded view.

  • banancat

    In the past, Disqus had the option to have either threaded or non-thread comments. There’s no reason they can’t make both options available.

    It’s also not just the threaded comments that are problematic. Disqus sucks in so many other ways, especially since the update.

    I’ve certainly been commenting less and checking in far, far less. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll compare the numbers of comments on past and current NRA threads to prove conclusively that Disqus has cut comments and traffic in half. This is the first I’ve visited this thread so I’ve spent over an hour with it open and there are no notifications for new comments. On Sundays in the past, comments would frequently update well into Sundays. As it is now, it’s just a giant pain to follow new replies so nobody bothers.

  • Lori

    I was not defending the Disqus change. I’ve certainly commented enough times about how much I hate it.

    My point was that the one down vote on Ruby’s anti-Disqus comment didn’t necessarily come from someone who works for Disqus.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The ability to flip back and forth between a threaded and unthreaded view would probably be very useful even for people who don;t normally like their comments threaded.

    It’s hard to really comprehend why developers like removing functionality so much. I’ve never met a user who said “This is better now that they removed functionality”, but it seems to be universal wisdom among developers that you should remove functionality whenever possible to “streamline user experience”

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s hard to really comprehend why developers like removing functionality so much.

    No it’s not. The less functionality there is, the fewer balls they have to keep in the air. If they don’t actually use their product, or they aren’t among those who needed/liked the functionality they’re removing, what do they care?

  • arcseconds

    Exactly.

    Fewer features means less code, which means less defects just because of that.

    It also means the code is easier to understand and analyse when making changes, allowing them to happen faster and again with less defects.

    It also means you can streamline the design: if your program does just one thing, you can (usually) design it so that it does that thing simply and well. If it does hundreds of things, you end up having oddles of menus and wizards and whatnot, and its hard to keep all of this intuitive, or even consistent.

    When you add in the fact that the average piece of software is decidedly, well, average in terms of quality, and there’s generally way more features than are commonly used, there’s every reason to make things as simple as possible.

    But not simpler.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “Streamlining” is a word I regard with deep suspicion nowadays. The last time someone said they wanted to streamline a development cycle, they added five additional steps between starting a process and completing it, and at least three of them were completely unnecessary — the phrase “file in triplicate” should not exist outside of satire.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I am starting to think that this whole threading/inability to find new comments mess is a feature and not a bug. After all, if we cannot follow the current conversations, we cannot comment on them. This would lead to a much lighter load on the servers of either Patheos or Disqus, as appropriate.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    You’re probably right. But I still HATE the threading. It makes it really hard to follow the flow of the conversation.

  • Edo

    It’d be a bit more plausible if the other blogs on Patheos had also been forcibly shifted to threaded comments sections too…

  • banancat

    But fewer comments means less blog traffic, which kinda defeats the purpose of existing on the internet. Fewer ad views and such.

  • banancat

    I feel powerless to change anything about this and I expect that eventually I’ll just lose interest in all blogs that use Disqus and only really follow ones that have their own commenting systems, which really saddens me.

    But until that point, I’ve decided to “send feedback” every single day. I’m polite about it an explain exactly why this update made everything worse. I’m only one person but maybe if enough people decide to just not let this one drop, they’ll actually listen. They probably won’t, but for now it’s the only thing I can do other than giving up completely.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Well, I have been hesitant to comment because I know myself as a person who doesn’t always welcome change. I didn’t like it when the preview of Fred’s post stopped showing the opening paragraph, but I got used to it. I missed it when the list of posts on the sidebar went from “most recent” to “most popular”, but I got used to it.

    So, I’ve waited a few days and I now I can say – I HATE this new comments incarnation. Leaving aside for the moment the whole threaded vs. non-threaded debate – WHY DOES THE COMMENTS FONT HAVE TO BE SO DAMN SMALL? Why, Disqus, why? At least the pro-threading people can make a few reasonable-sounding arguments in their favor, but who can ever make an argument in favor of eyestrain?

  • Dogfacedboy

    Once again, I’m reminded that Buck is a pile bundle of crap contradictions. A little poem:

    Buck is quite the sleeper
    Can sleep through anything
    World war three, wife’s misery
    Ah, the pleasant dreams they bring

    Buck is big cheese GIRAT
    While seldom ever writing
    And loves the Lord of love and peace
    Especially when He’s smiting

    Buck was in the jet set
    And ran with a fast crowd
    But never managed to get laid
    Until matrimonially vowed

    Buck just loves his Chloe
    The center of his life
    When she’s in danger or in pain
    He oft forgets his wife

    Buck loves Bruce’s printouts
    And reads them every day
    When asked about these trying times
    He knows not what to say

    Buck loves making phone calls
    He does it all the time
    From airport halls and bathroom stalls
    There’s nothing so sublime

    Buck is a Real True Christian
    In the Antichrist’s employ
    Expense accounts and credit cards
    Range Rovers to enjoy

    Buck buys shiny laptops
    At twenty grand a pop
    While all around there’s suffering
    That never makes him stop

    Buck is a renegade
    Who does things his own way
    He unearths shocking atrocities
    And conceals them all away

    Buck is a professional
    Treats all with courtesy
    From car dealers to underlings
    To blessed Verna Zee

    Buck is such a hero
    Of that there is no doubt
    You could be like him you see
    If you just tear your heart right out

  • Dash1

    Please accept this shiny new internet, good sir!

  • Patter

    [Whistles & cheers!] Well done, sir!

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

    “So, what’s new with the jet-setting young magazine writer since I saw you last, what, almost two years ago?” Ritz had begun.

    Oh, puke. Who the hell talks like that?

    That gave Buck the confidence to tell his own story without apology.

    Presumably, it’s All About Buck and his personal relationship with his personal savior. And as usual the reader is left to write the whole conversation himself since the author doesn’t have time (or the talent) to do it.

  • Rae

    I’ve had people talk to me like that, but they were all guys who were attempting to flirt with me.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    The slash really does write itself.

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

    I still can’t get over how it’s more important for Buck to be the “unapologetic Christian regaling someone with his conversion story” than for him to be trying to process the sheer magnitude of World War Three.

    L&J are clearly dogwhistling to their audience, who have all heard urban-legendry galore about Christians being fearful to talk about their religion, so they have to be like Rayford and Buck, mulishly jutting their jaws out and manfully beating down all opposition to regaling all and sundry with the Dogma of Tim LaHayeBruce Barnes.

  • banancat

    I think that many Evangelicals are afraid to talk about their religion, but only because they are afraid their attempt to “save” someone will fail. They’re taught that the Bible is just so self-evident that it really doesn’t take much to convert someone, just show them the Bible and tell them your emotional personal story. But of course that frequently won’t work, largely because most people in the United States are already Christians, just not the Real, True type. So it’s easier to blame the fear on persecution or of someone being hostile about your beliefs than to admit that your religion really may not be so fantastic that everyone will want to join. It’s worse to try and fail than to never try at all, so they find reason to rarely try. They pretend to beat themselves up about not trying hard enough, but that really just makes them sound better within their group because they just care too much.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    When I killed off 99.6% of the world’s population in my story (quoted as dropping from seven billion to two or three million), I at least skipped a few centuries before picking up with business as usual. :p

    I’ve actually been concerned that the attack on the village which happened in the previous chapter wasn’t given enough consequence, even though in this world, resurrection is a thing — I’ve been hoping that my implications that everyone is working themselves into exhaustion trying to bring back as many people as possible (and getting frustrated when specific people can’t be called back) conveys that grief is happening with a mixture of desperation.

    I suck at these things. :P

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

    He could have used a dozen or more hours the night before, after the day he had had.

    After the day HE had had. *banging head on keyboard*

    However, seven-plus hours had been just enough because when he was out, he was out.

    That’s right – he sleeps better than you do.

  • Deni zen

    Anyone else think that this conversation between Buck and Ritz was supposed or at least should have put into the first book?

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

    Jenkins craps these books out as a “process of discovery”. Clearly, he discovered a little too late that they needed to be chatting about this in the first book. So he shoved it into this one, heedless of the complete disconnection between a Rapture ~2 years prior, plus World War 3, combining to make a sum total of zero contribution to Buck’s actual thoughts and deeds.

  • stinger

    “…top off the tank before headin’ to Tel Aviv” in the midst of a GLOBAL WAR? Aren’t there permissions to get, routes to plan, military protection to arrange? International air travel is just that casual and simple in the middle of a GLOBAL WAR?

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

    “Headin’ to Tel Aviv”, I love it. Like they were drivin’ to Doylestown or something. Oh, was there a global war going on? I forgot about that.

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

    There’s gotta be a country western song in there somewhere!

  • Lori

    I was thinking more Hope/Crosby movie, but country song works too.

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

    They could make a whole movie out of just this trip.

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

    Maybe L&J actually remembered for once that there is no such thing as “international” any more now that it’s a one world government?

  • BaseDeltaZero

    One World Government, except for Israel.

  • Deni zen

    You know, despite the title, we learn exactly nil about the “rise of the Antichrist.” He has a few board meetings about gas prices, and he conducts a few bombings. Clearly if this book had been given to another author this is the book that would have been a prequel with flashbacks to Carpathia’s life and rise to power.

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

    Well, we get those flashbacks in the two prequel novels. They are atually much duller books than the series proper.
    Though we do get to see the kind of manipulative jerk Irene Steele was to Chloe.

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

    This has just made me realize that this series, for all the build-up to the evil-villain-Nicolae striding forth to conquer the world for seven years and change, the execution is less than adequate.

    KInd of like the Eugenics Wars novels, actually, come to think of it.

  • P J Evans

    KInd of like the Eugenics Wars novels, actually

    I think I passed on those. Or else I put them in a box and forgot I had them. (If I find the box, they’re gone.)

  • Lori

    They are actually much duller books than the series proper.

    This is like quantum mechanics. I understand the basic notion, but can’t wrap my head around the details.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Well, Niels Bohr said something to the effect of, “If anybody says he can think about quantum physics without getting dizzy, that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them.”

    So I guess Fred needs to say something to the effect that anyone who can read Left Behind without getting bored and tripping over logical consistencies must have the understanding of a sheltered Southern Baptist.

  • histrogeek

    I prefer to think of the Left Behind series as fractally awful. An examination of any detail reveals yet more awfulness.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    An examination of Left Behind in its larger context also reveals yet more awfulness, so it works both ways…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, despite the title, we learn exactly nil about the “rise of the Antichrist.”

    It could be worse, we might learn too much. The entire story could be about Nicky finally getting that medication for his erectile dysfunction.

    *Ba-bum-tish!*

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    If your antichrist remains risen for more than four hours, seek pastoral help.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    “Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington,
    London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal,
    Toronto and Mexico City are no more. Ace reporter Buck Williams was bored out of his mind.”

    If I didn’t know better, I’d actually believe these books were written as some sort of satire.

  • banancat

    If this were any other writer, or any other book series, this could almost work. It could be used to show that there has been so much death and destruction that has become mundane and routine. It could be done to highlight the absurdity, if it included people asking “Is your family still alive?” in the same way that were currently make small talk and ask “How are your kids doing in school?”. If it were done like that, it could be really effective at showing just how much death has occurred over the past few years. The only problem is the Ellenjay clearly didn’t intend this passage to be horrifying, and that itself is somewhat horrifying.

  • Daniel

    Chloe and Buck sit down to breakfast, Buck reading the newspaper.
    As Chloe busies herself preparing his food, she hears him
    “hmm.”
    “What’s the matter dear?”
    “Oh nothing, jut something in the paper.”
    “Really? What?”
    “Oh just, apparently two million people were massacred yesterday in a nuclear firestorm.”
    “Really? Gosh! I’m surprised I didn’t hear anything about it on the news last night.”
    “Well, you see, the EMP would probably have knocked out all their equipment.”
    “Oh yes, how silly of me. Still, two million people. Gosh.”
    “It does seem like rather a lot, doesn’t it? Still, there should be few more used Range Rovers now- we can replace the one you crashed!”
    “Oh you! You’ll never let me hear the end of that!”
    He pecks her chastely on the cheek and heads off to work, whistling.

  • histrogeek

    So charter pilots are like cab drivers?

  • Inquisitive Raven

    Okay, I’ve fallen behind on these posts, and mostly I’ve been lurking because other people have covered things much better than I can. There’s one thing that’s been bugging me about this bit that isn’t related to the two million or more dead in attacks the day before or Buck’s apparent indifference to the suffering of his wife. And that’s Jenkins’ obsession with logistics that he can’t even get right.

    This is the second time that Ken Ritz has landed at Easton, PA (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2005/07/29/lb-if-you-can-make-it-there/). And it struck me as a resident of SE PA as making no sense whatsoever. So, I looked up airports in the vicinity of Easton, PA and discovered more of them than I would have expected. There is exactly one within the borders of Easton; it’s called Braden Airpark, an inauspicious name in itself. Someplace that calls itself an airpark does not strike me as someplace that’s going to get a lot of passenger flights. In fact, the reviews of the place that I could find mentioned flying lessons. More damning is the what you find on Google maps. http://goo.gl/maps/VQRlQ (Look at it in satellite view, then check the scale in the lower left hand corner of the map). It’s tiny, too tiny, I suspect, to handle a jet, even one as small as the smallest Learjet. I wouldn’t expect it to have even remotely enough fuel on hand for a transatlantic flight, and that’s assuming that it has anything suitable for use in a jet in the first place. It’ll have fuel for prop planes, but I don’t know enough about aviation fuel to know if that can be used in jets.

    It would make much more sense, if they were avoiding major airports to land at Lehigh International in Allentown (http://goo.gl/maps/DxOKa), which is big enough to accommodate a jet, and might actually have enough fuel on hand.

    By way of comparison, as a kid I used to meet my aunt at the Provincetown, MA airport (http://goo.gl/maps/QUkTs) every summer. It’s bigger than Braden Airpark, but I have never seen anything but a prop plane land or take off there. At the time, the airline that used it as a base flew DC 3s. From what I could find on the airport’s website, a different airline operates out of there now, and according to that airline’s website (https://www.capeair.com/about_us/our_story.html), they mostly fly Cessnas, which are tiny things with maybe a ten passenger capacity at the top end. There’s mention of a couple of ATR 42s and what I could find on those indicates that they are also prop planes, about the size of a DC3, and that’s the biggest thing flying in or out of there.

    All in all, it looks to me like there’s no way that Ken Ritz landed in Easton, Pa in either this section or on the previous flight. Allentown makes much more sense.

  • Inquisitive Raven

    Gah, that’s Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown. (Crosses fingers that formatting works (add me to the “I hate Disqus” list).


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