NRA: Bored with Plank

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pg. 153

Bad news, I’m afraid, for Steve Plank.

You remember Steve? He used to be Buck Williams’ best friend. For years, in fact, Steve was Buck’s only friend. Buck lived alone in New York City, thousands of miles from his family. He had no friends from school, and most of his other colleagues at work viewed him with jealousy and resentment, so Steve was all he had.

If Buck needed a ride to or from the airport, he called Steve. If Buck needed to talk to someone about story ideas, he talked to Steve. Steve was also the boss who helped guide Buck’s career and his rise as a professional magazine writer. So Buck owes him.

And yet here we are in Book 3 of our series and it seems that Buck, and the authors, have grown weary of Steve Plank. Poor Steve’s days are numbered.

The authors telegraph Steve’s fate here in the middle of Nicolae, where Jerry Jenkins has decided to devote a couple of chapters to catching up with peripheral characters. Buck sees Chaim Rosenzweig and that leads to several pages of reminding readers who Chaim is, what’s happened to him so far, and how fond Buck Williams is of his old friend. Rayford Steele gets a phone call from Hattie Durham and off we go on a multi-page review of Hattie’s history in the story and a reminder of Rayford’s guilty sense of obligation to his former co-worker.

Those review sections emphasize that the authors are still invested in Chaim and Hattie (and also in Tsion Ben-Judah, a.k.a. Bruce Barnes 2.0).

But when we get to Steve Plank, he only gets two dismissive paragraphs. Uh-oh.

Those two paragraphs, of course, involve Buck making a phone call:

Buck settled into his room on the third floor of the King David Hotel. On a hunch he called the offices of the Global Community East Coast Daily Times in Boston and asked for his old friend, Steve Plank. Plank had been his boss at Global Weekly what seemed eons ago. He had abruptly left there to become Carpathia’s press secretary when Nicolae became secretary-general of the United Nations. It wasn’t long before Steve was tabbed for the lucrative position he now held.

It was no surprise to Buck to find that Plank was not in the office. He was in New Babylon at the behest of Nicolae Carpathia and no doubt feeling very special about it.

Buck showered and took a nap.

I’m not sure what to make of Buck calling Steve “on a hunch,” and then not being surprised that Steve wasn’t in. I suppose that means Buck is no longer surprised when his hunches turn out to be wrong.

In any case, Buck’s dismissive sneering makes it clear that Steve Plank’s fate is sealed. He has cast his lot with Nicolae and will therefore die and be damned to Hell for eternity. And the authors are no doubt feeling very special about it.

What has Steve done, exactly, to earn this sarcastic derision from his old friend Buck?

Well, first he took a job as an assistant to the Antichrist, signing on as Nicolae Carpathia’s press-secretary. For Buck and for the authors, this is unforgivable — even though, at the time that Steve took that job, Buck himself was busy giving Nicolae a standing ovation, then arranging for a private audience so that he could beg Nicolae for protection.

Buck stuck a deal with Nicolae in which he agreed to bury a story in exchange for his personal safety. As a consequence of that deal, three people were murdered — one pushed off a ferry and two shot. And despite knowing all this, Buck kept his end of the deal and never reported on any of it. But apparently none of that is as bad as taking a job as a press secretary.

We’ve just learned, though, that Steve is no longer serving as press secretary. He left that job for a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a daily newspaper. For doing that, he clearly deserves damnation.

Buck Williams took a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a weekly newsmagazine. And that, of course, is completely different.

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  • FearlessSon

    I think top-selling authors probably have more power too so editors are less inclined to say “cut this. It kills the pacing.” or something along those lines. (Pretty sure there’s a trope for that.)

    Lo and behold!

  • What I don’t get is why anyone needs to pad books

    Well, the industry generally won’t print books that are below a certain length, probably because a lot of people use the size of a book to judge its value.

    I run into a similar problem. All of my novels are very short – usually just over the line of what’s technically considered a novel. Every time I finish one, I go back over it to see if there’s anything I could have developed more, any arcs I could have pursued. Usually, I can’t find anything. If they’re trim, it’s generally because I leave out the huge bricks of description that are the reason I rarely read modern novels.

  • Oh geez, the fake publisher. That one’s really the tops. I once ran across someone who not only set up a website for her fake publisher, but listed her own works under several pen names to make it look like the “publisher” had multiple clients.

    To the best of my knowledge, though, Jenkins has never advised anyone to use sleazy tricks like page inflation or bogus publishers. For some reason, all of his advice assumes that the author has a publisher who will swallow any crap he gives them. Go figure.

  • themunck

    Case in point, book 8 and 10 are both around 800 pages, IIRC. I tend to advise people to just read the Wikipedia summery instead.

  • themunck

    How long is that, exactly? Short enough to publish 2-3 together with a similar theme and call them long novellas instead?

  • Daniel

    Buck also slept soundly next to his severely injured wife without being disturbed by her whimpers of pain, so I suppose this reinforces the notion that he’s a devoted follower of the Lord who lets no personal tragedy interfere with his calling. Cynics might say it shows he’s callous and cruel, and critics may point out that this really doesn’t advance the story or offer a window into his character at all, but RTCs know it’s one of the most difficult things in the world to have a really good nap when your only friend in the entire world is working for the Antichrist.

  • Daniel

    Buck is shallow, callous, career driven, indifferent to or even dismissive of other people, self-regarding, self-pitying, lonely, boring, pompous and petulant. He actually has got quite a lot of human traits there. Unfortunately, the humour, warmth, kindness and compassion that are also human traits seem to be missing. Still, there’s what 13? more books to go?

  • Daniel

    Bruce Barnes really was rubbish wasn’t he? I’ve been rereading the posts for Tribulation Force again, and honestly- what did that man do? Dig a big hole, hide in it. Exclude everyone you know except four recent converts who you like for… whatever reason.

  • Daniel

    Exactly. No one can be expected to know how Romanian politics works. It’s Romania, for God’s sake. That’s all the way over… there somewhere. The Timkins line of thought is probably that Romania is not like a real country, and basically you can become president by owning a lovely tractor or something. I don’t imagine they could find it on a map, let alone bother to find out what its political system is like. I think they thought, rightly, that most of their readers wouldn’t care too much either.

  • arcseconds

    Probably that it was garbage, and little more.

    The same question came up quite recently. I had a bit of a look for it (I thought it was on some recent left behind post) but I can’t find it.

    I agreed with the earlier comments: we’re much better off with Fred critiquing these books, because he’s able to give us an insight into the subculture at play here, having been a part of it.

    He’s also able to speak up for a Christianity that wants no part of this immoral, egoistical, so-bad-its-good-no-actually-its-just-bad tripe.

  • Daniel

    The “everyone important knows each other personally” mindset is presumably a continuation of conspiracy theories endorsed by such organizations as the militia movement, the John Birch Society and various wacko (note the “k”) religious groups. But in the context of these books, the secret organization dedicated to ruling the world after a bloody and triumphant mass slaughter of all who don’t obey is the Tribbles. So is this another example of the “it’s not what you do it’s who does it” ethos that spans these books?

    I can’t help but notice that Fundamentalists are keen on the argument that God is necessary for morality, yet it is the unsaved characters in these books that show what I would think of as the strongest moral sense. It is the non-Tribbles who are helping at the hospitals, who are notifying the Tribbles if there is potential trouble with Carpathia, who are supporting Nicholae because of his promise to bring peace. It is the unsaved that, instead of taking the cars and houses that are now readilly available, have reestablished legal systems to sell them- compare that to Buck’s trashing of Verna’s car, or scamming the expense account to buy a Range Rover. Every so often “crime waves” are referred to, but nothing is ever shown. So given that the point of all of this is to ram home how we must accept Christianity, why is is that the characters who are almost definitely going to die and burn in the lake of fire etc are more compassionate, caring and human than the “heroes”? Does it just come down to good works being meaningless?

  • Daniel

    I got called into Nicholae’s office myself the other day. Lovely man, though it may be that my having a nose like a young Barbara Streisand made him sympathetic. I’m not bragging, but I am the world’s youngest ever internet comment poster to make a reference to The Way We Were at this time on a Saturday morning, without having actually seen the film.

  • Same thing happened to Turtledove’s TL-191 series, although it was mitigated to some extent by purposely keeping the focus rotating among different characters.

  • Arresi

    I’m honestly not sure what the point of Voldemort taking over Hogwarts was. Or at least, that wasn’t already accomplished by killing A.D. and taking over the Ministry. (I was hoping for a siege, with Harry et al using everything they know about the castle and the various secret passages to get supplies, hunt Horcruxes, etc. while keeping the equally well-informed Death Eaters out.)

    On topic, I think it’s more that they (Tyndale and L&J) think they’ll make more money if they publish more books. The “judging the quality of a book by its length” would only make sense if there was evidence that they cared about quality. I’ve yet to see any.

  • Sue White

    Oh, they set a feel for the setting all right. Even during the End Of The World, life for privileged people consists of boring, everyday things like making phone calls, taking showers and napping.

  • Douglas Adams:

    Those who are regular followers of the doings of Arthur Dent may have received an impression of his character and habits which, while it includes the truth and, of course, nothing but the truth, falls somewhat short, in its composition, of the whole truth in all its glorious aspects.

    And the reasons for this are obvious: editing, selection, the need to balance that which is interesting with that which is relevant and cut out all the tedious happenstance.

    Like this for instance: “Arthur Dent went to bed. He went up the stairs, all fifteen of them, opened the door, went into his room, took off his shoes and socks and then all the rest of his clothes one by one and left them in a neatly crumpled heap on the floor. He put on his pajamas, the blue ones with the stripes. He washed his face and hands, cleaned his teeth, went to the bathroom, realized that he had once again got this all in the wrong order, had to wash his hands again and went to bed. He read for fifteen minutes, spending the first ten minutes of that trying to work out where in the book he had got to the previous night, then he turned out the light and within a minute or so more was asleep.

    “It was dark. He lay on his left side for a good hour.

    “After that he moved restlessly in his sleep for a moment and then turned over to sleep on his right side. Another hour after this his eyes flickered briefly and he slightly scratched his nose, though there was still a good twenty minutes to go before he turned back on to his left side. And so he whiled the night away, sleeping.

    “At four he got up and went to the bathroom again. He opened the door to the bathroom…” and so on.

    It’s guff. It doesn’t advance the action. It makes for nice fat books such as the American market thrives on, but it doesn’t actually get you anywhere. You don’t, in short, want to know.

    -Beginning of Chapter 25, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, in the American hardcover edition of The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide printed in 1997

  • fraser

    During the 1990s, according to Spider-Man writers of the era, they’d routinely be told “Sales on the first issue of this four-parter are going through the roof! Make it an eight-parter!”

  • fraser

    I don’t judge a book by size, but I have noticed that even a slim book isn’t going to be that much cheaper–in fact it’s usually expensive enough I’m less likely to buy it. Which is why even reprints of older books get bundled into combined volumes.
    I imagine there’s an economy of scale thing going on too.

  • Spoiler alert! Please do not keep reading this comment if you don’t want to know the amazing story of Steve Plank!!!

    (You have been warned.)

    Steve doesn’t fall out of a building–the building falls on him during the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake (during which event he is also saying The Magic Words). He’s seriously messed up, left without most of his face. He also had temporary amnesia (of course he did) and nobody could figure out who he was, because I guess the super-tech future doesn’t have DNA testing. So when he gets his memory back, he comes up with a fake identity, and (very quickly) climbs the ranks of the GC in order to take down Nicky. It is worth noting that he does a helluva lot more than Ray and Bucky combined.

    The stupid part of Rayford’s reaction to all this, that I mentioned above, is not that he is shocked that Steve survived, but that he is horrified and freaked out by Steve’s scars and missing limbs and mostly-gone face. Which seems an odd reaction in a world which has suffered The Event, a worldwide earthquake, fire and hail from the sky, and locusts that torture you. You’d think people with tons of scars and missing limbs would be the rule, not the exception.

  • Jared James

    I’ve downloaded, but still not attempted, Fifty Shades. I can boast that I made it almost four pages into Twilight before giving up in despair. I didn’t even contemplate suicide (or genocide.) (for long)

  • Jamoche

    Back in the days when there was a decent signal-to-noise ratio on Usenet, before the Wheel of Time fans got their own newsgroup, a new book in the series would produce a flood of posts about how there were a few questions answered but not many, but that’s OK, they’ll probably be answered in the next book, oh, and aren’t the new questions that got raised this time interesting?

    And since this was the mid-90s and even then there didn’t seem to be an end in sight, I made the wise decision to wait until the series was done before considering starting it.

    (Come to think of it, that’s also why I bailed on “Lost” after only a few episodes. Another wise decision.)

  • Jenny Islander

    Read Cleolinda’s summaries. Cleolinda makes everything good.

  • Lectorel

    A bit late, but still: More adventures of Anti-christ Hattie.


    “How do I look, darling?” Hattie asked, drawling the last word in an imitation of an antebellum lady and swirling her ankle length brown skirt.

    Nicolai smiled at her, worry lines creasing his forehead. “Like someone far too good for Rayford Steele.”

    “Not that he’ll think that,” Hattie snorted inelegantly. Rayford’s ego would need its own chair at the restaurant. “And I’m off. If I’m not back in four hours, assume the higher one’s forces have actually managed to capture me.”

    “Of course. Please be careful, Hattie,” Nicolai said, twisting the silver band of his engagement ring. “The higher one is cruel, and his followers callous.”

    She sighed, and stepped back from the door. “Something’s worrying you. What is it?”

    “Just dreams. Of heaven, and higher forces. Sometimes I hear my fathers screaming,” Nicolai admitted. “I’m afraid for you, my love.”

    “My lord-father will protect me.” Hattie rose on her tiptoes and kissed Nicolai’s forehead. “All will be well, and the world reborn in fire. Be not afraid.”

    “I’ll try,” Nicolai promised. He tipped his head to her. “Be off then, my love, and wrap that pompous fool around your little finger.”


    That was not the last thing she had to do, of course. There were people who needed to be manipulated into place, a few discreet assassinations to authorize, and some not so discreet reputation ruining to do. And of course, there was Chaim.

    Hattie liked Chaim, for all he was a worshipper of the higher one. He was a good man, the sort of man Hattie would have liked for an uncle. And he looked at Nicolai and saw her love’s innocence and sweetnesss, his desire for peace. His presence was a balm on Nicolai’s soul, a comfort in the dark and ugly game her lord-father and the higher one played.

    Nicolai had been born for her, raised for her, and he understood some things were necessary. But his nature could not be changed, and his heart was bruised and battered from the violence he saw and perpetuated.

    So the fact that he had been endangered by Ben-Judah stupid little broadcast, in which he announced his conversion to messianic Judaism, angered her. And unlike her love, Hattie had no issue with using violence to get her point across.

    “Chaim!” She called, waving to the botanist as she crossed the lobby. “You’re well today?”

    “Harriet,” Chaim said, embracing her. “My dear friend, I am heartsick, but that cannot be changed. I depart for Israeli today, to see if I cannot help Tsion.”

    “Tsion’s family,” she murmured, arranging her face into an expression of sorrow. “To think people could be so cruel.”

    “I do not understand it,” Chaim said, nodding. Hattie squeezed his shoulder comfortingly.

    “We will do what we can to protect you both. The world has lost too many already.” Or she would do what she must to protect Chaim, and make sure Tsion died in a convincing enough ‘accident.’ Stupid fool, announcing the higher one had murdered all the children, and expecting it to go well. She frowned carefully. “But we will need to be discreet. If we’re seen protecting one religious figure above the others, it may lead to further violence. I’m sorry, Chaim.”

    “I understand, my friend. Nicolai must be fair, even when it is difficult, yes?”

    “Just so. Return as soon as you can, please. Nicolai will worry when you are away.” She embraced him a final time, and hurried to her waiting car, biting down on her smile.

  • ReverendRef

    Is it just me, or does it sound like Buck’s jealous?

    I don’t know if jealousy is right. To me, it sounds more like Bucky-poo is overly self-assured of his own position and is just waiting for Steve to get his comeuppance. I see it as more along the lines of Dana Carvey’s Church Lady from SNL, “Well, isn’t that special.”

  • SkyknightXi

    I think it also comes down to whether or not a human is working in concord with God’s designs or not. A piece from Anselm of Canterbury’s “Cur Deus Homo?” (the main proof used for substitutionary atonement) comes to mind here, about why God’s desires trump all else:

    Anselm. If you should find yourself in the sight of God, and one said to you: “Look thither;” and God, on the other hand, should say: “It is not my will that you should look;” ask your own heart what there is in all existing things which would make it right for you to give that look contrary to the will of God.

    Boso. I can find no motive which would make it right; unless, indeed I am so situated as to make it necessary for me either to do this, or some greater sin.

    Anselm. Put away all such necessity, and ask with regard to this sin only whether you can do it even for your own salvation.

    Boso. I see plainly that I cannot.

    Anselm. Not to detain you too long; what if it were necessary either that the whole universe, except God himself, should perish and fall back into nothing, or else that you should do so small a thing against the will of God?

    Boso. When I consider the action itself, it appears very
    slight; but when I view it as contrary to the will of God, I know of nothing so grievous, and of no loss that will compare with it; but sometimes we oppose another’s will without blame in order to preserve his property, so that afterwards he is glad that we opposed him.

    Anselm. This is in the case of man, who often does not know what is useful for him, or cannot make up his loss; but God is in want of nothing, and, should all things perish, can restore them as easily ashe created them.

    Boso. I must confess that I ought not to oppose the will of God even to preserve the whole creation.

    Anselm. What if there were more worlds as full of beings as this?

    Boso. Were they increased to an infinite extent, and held before me in like manner, my reply would be the same.

    Anselm. You cannot answer more correctly, but consider, also, should it happen that you gave the look contrary to God’s will, what payment you can make for this sin?

    Boso. I can only repeat what I said before.

    Anselm. So heinous is our sin whenever we knowingly oppose the will of God even in the slightest thing; since we are always in his sight, and he always enjoins it upon us not to sin.

    Boso. I cannot deny it.

    Anselm. Therefore you make no satisfaction unless you restore something greater than the amount of that obligation, which should restrain you from committing the sin.

    Boso. Reason seems to demand this, and to make the contrary wholly impossible.

    Anselm. Even God cannot raise to happiness any being bound at all by the debt of sin, because He ought not to.


  • SkyknightXi

    I’m wondering if the conceit at work here is that if someone develops a heart that can become regenerate, then God will guide them to the TF, rather than force the TF to expose themselves to the reprobates’ crosshairs. Unless and until the Holy Spirit moves the TF to actively preach (which Moshe and Elijah are already doing anyway, so the TF isn’t really needed for that right now), they’re to stay put to receive those who’ve already begun to convert and grant them aegis.

  • o/ It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Buck feels fine. /o

  • The descriptions of clothing, food, architecture, decor, and so forth in the WoT seemed to me to flow just as easily as the action and dialogue did. This is not necessarily true of the descriptive passages by other writers.

  • Hth

    I think it absolutely comes down to good works being meaningless, in the sense that the biggest argument guys like LaHaye hear from the ordinary world is, But what about all the nice people I know who aren’t RTCs? LaHaye wants you to understand, in gruesome and extensive detail, that all the nice people you know who aren’t RTCs may be exactly as nice as you think they are, but God doesn’t care about that.

    Otherwise, you might decide that A) God really doesn’t care whether or not you go to Tim LaHaye’s church, or B) going to Tim LaHaye’s church doesn’t improve your life in any noticeable way. Both of those conclusions are super bad for business, so it’s to the advantage of people who are invested in that business to make you too scared to entertain those ideas for long. Ergo, church can’t be about any measurable outcome (good works, virtue, Christlike behavior, etc), but only about the completely unprovable threat of looming hell.

    (BTW, I’m not saying that having a robust spiritual life doesn’t improve your life — I think in many/most cases it does. It’s just that a simple moment’s observation will show you that it doesn’t particularly correlate with membership in any specific sect, which doesn’t help LaHaye and his ilk herd people into their sect.)

  • Abel Undercity

    Just goes to show: When you have a friend in Buck, you… really need to get more friends.

  • Ygorbla

    Man, it sure would be nice if someone had told Plank Nicolae was the antichrist, wouldn’t it? Someone who knew?

    Of course,. if someone knew Nicolae was the antichrist and still took a job for him, that would make them a complete monster.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And he’s Douglas Adams, so he gets away with it.

  • Jared James

    You are not wrong.

  • Sue White

    He wooden be making a pun, wood he?

  • JustoneK

    nailed it.

  • 50 Shades is bad, but not as bad. Imo, it’s not even as bad as Twilight, though it’s horrible on a lot of levels. And I don’t think Twilight is as bad as LB. To get as bad or worse than LB, I think you need to look at the later works of L. Ron Hubbard.

  • Well, he’s talking about what isn’t necessary to the book. Even so, there is insight into Arthur’s state of mind and character there. He has problems sleeping. He has a good side. He has to do everything in the correct order, even getting ready for bed. He has blue-striped pajamas. And it’s Douglas Adams’ style, so it’s well-written.

    One can describe napping and showering in a way that matters. Simply stating that a character napped and showered isn’t it. What boggles my mind is how easy it is to make napping and showering matter in a way that pads word count even more. But Jenkins couldn’t be bothered. He’d rather describe phones, that’s easier.

  • Every time I finish one, I go back over it to see if there’s anything I
    could have developed more, any arcs I could have pursued. Usually, I
    can’t find anything.

    I have the opposite problem. Minor characters become major characters. I end up with two times the major characters I wanted, five times the intermediate characters, and so many minor characters it’s ridiculous. And I could write a book about any of them. Trying to focus on the people I want to stay main characters of *this* story is difficult.

    I don’t do much description at all. Certainly not overly much. If your novels are the length you like them at, then roll with it. But if you want to add more, description is probably not the only way to go. Also, description just info-dumped on the page may occasionally be necessary, but usually there’s a better way to do it. It can develop character or advance the plot, and occasionally it can do both.

  • Tofu_Killer

    Now that you mention it, Nicky’s situation does resemble The Man Who Was Thursday a little.

    Since we know L&J would never read Chesterton* (HEATHEN!), this must be unintentional homage.

    *Oh how I wish GK had written Left Behind, then the self parody would have been intentional.

  • nemryn

    I’m assuming his ‘hunch’ was “Gee, I bet Steve isn’t even in his office, he’s probably out debauching with Old Nicolae.”

  • Daniel

    But what are the TF actually doing that would make their exposure such a massive problem? The one world faith clearly has no problem allowing Moses and Elijah to preach, in a massive stadium, so other religions- even End Times Christian religions- are allowed to continue unharassed. Nicolae has never actually said to anyone that he’s the antichrist, so in theory if Ray and Buck were to tell him they were born agains there’s nothing he could do to confront them without having to blow his own cover. The antichrist has discussed Ray’s faith with him, and Ray’s tendency to badger people into sharing it. So he knows and has done nothing to stop Ray. So what threat would the Tribbles actually be facing if they went out, spread the word, and just dropped hints as to the identity of the anti-christ? No one’s asking them to be Sophie Scholl, just to do what normal day to day God bothering RTCs do nowadays anyway. In fact, the argument could be made that by not doing this Nicolae is more likely to spot that something’s amiss- how many RTCs keep their faith to themselves?

  • Tofu_Killer

    OMG*! Here is another example of L&J riffing off someone else’s ideas!
    Steve Plank is like Harvey Dent/Two-Face in mirror image!

    As for the stupid part as you call it, that is most of the series, but you will notice that the Tribbles (excepting those throwaway characters that die midstory and the poor poor Bride of Buckey) are essentially unharmed, just like the other ineffectual good guys in this world. So maybe you are right, but damage is a sign that you aren’t Saved/worth knowing.

    *Oh My Golly (given the context).

  • Daniel

    Thanks for that. It does seem extremely relevant to Timkins’ version of Christianity, right down to allowing a convenient excuse for not doing anything, no matter how slight, that might “go against God’s will”. Of course, in the quote above there is no criterion stated for how we know something is the will of God, and how often “the will of God that I not do X” and “X being a time consuming pain in the arse” might be the same thing. In Timkins’ outlook I think that this is significant- “the Lord’s will” and “what I want to happen” are, miraculously, nearly always the same thing.

    In the spirit of Anselm I’d like to propose the following:

    “Buck Williams” is an investigative reporter than which there can be none greater.
    An investigative reporter who is concerned about other people is likely to make more contacts, and thus have more sources, and thus write more detailed and better stories than a reporter who is self involved and disdainful of others.
    Therefore “Buck Williams” cares about other people.

  • Daniel

    To cut the guy some slack, apparently in the original draft the line “Buck showered” was followed by:
    “He felt a drop of water as the shower burst into life. Then another. Several more droplets hit him at once. He was no maths expert, but he counted at least seventeen hitting him on the shoulder at once from the top of the range shower head he’d had specially fitted by Bath Sheba’s, the baathroom supply shop in New Babylon. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty. This was going to be quite a shower, he thought as the twenty first droplet followed with deliberate speed, majestic instancy. Twenty two, and more.”

    The editors advised him that this was very similar to a novel by the Count from Sesame Street so it was edited out for legal reasons.
    “Twenty three, twenty four drops of water “AH AH AH!” thought Buck as the twenty fifth made its presence felt.”

  • No one can be expected to know how Romanian politics works.

    Except for Chaim Rosenzweig. :p

  • I’m with you on that, Lliira! My current novel attempt was original supposed to be a 20-page short story. Now I’ll be lucky if I can keep it to 200 pages.

  • Daniel

    It’s also interesting that often non-believers are accused of nihilism, based on the idea that you can only enjoy life while joyfully anticipating your death. If these books show anything in their main characters it’s almost total nihilism. They are saved from total nihilism by a monstrous self-regard, but even this is not self exploratory- they don’t seem to want to know themselves. The things they value are tokens of their status, and can be dismissed readily when something more impressive comes along- look at Rayford and his Air Force One to Condor 69 or whatever it’s called. They do not care about each other, even, except insofar as the other Tribbles reinforce their image- Chloe clings to Buck to make him manly, Amanda is a mercenary trophy wife and it’s clear they don’t really count as characters because no penis. Ray reflects Buck’s view of himself as a maverick, without ever challenging him to buck any system except accepting recommendations in restaurants, and Rayford gets to feel patriarchal and respected whilst never doing anything to deserve this. They are a Potemkin village made flesh. They don’t engage with their own world, they don’t do anything to save it, because they don’t believe it’s worth saving. They are hollow, horrible characters and I’m puzzled and frightened that anyone would use such bland shells as wish fulfillment roles for themselves- how can you aspire to be seen as either of these two men?

    The only mitigating factor is the unintentional echoing of Wilde’s explanation of “the love that dare not speak it’s name”- the older man seeking the spark from the younger, who in turn wants to learn from the silver templed pilot. They’d obviously not like that, but you know, David and Jonathan also got a mention in Wilde’s speech.

  • Daniel

    Incidentally Romania has just unfurled the biggest flag in the world. It weighs five tons. Rather unimaginatively it is the Romanian flag, but if you like big flags you should check it out. Or, if you like heavy flags. Or if you like red, or blue, or yellow in large quantities- there’s something for everyone.

  • Daniel

    They couldn’t have returned. During that week it’s a requirement that all school children get sent to be eaten slowly by insects and freeze to death in rain sodden tents in Northumberland, with murderous teachers plotting midnight runs through the unceasing drizzle. Most of the kids end up like Harry et al plotting how to destroy said teacher, so actually I think J.K. Rowling was aiming at gritty realism there.

  • flat

    I completely agree with you.