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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  • flat

    Goodbye mr Plank it was an honor, you didn’t deserve to have to work with Buck williams.

  • Indeed. Most of the Tribbers come away from worldwide plagues and disasters with only minor injuries–broken bones and lacerations, if anything at all. (Not to downplay a broken bone, or a cut requiring stitches, but those are not like losing a limb or most of your face.)

    The two exceptions to this that I can think of are Buck and Chaim. Both in (separate) plane accidents, Buck scars up his face (not like Steve Plank, though), and Chaim gets his jaw smashed. And, of course, both these injuries are put to good use when they need to be “in disguise” to (heh) infiltrate Israel.

  • Lori

    We’re getting into fine levels of comparison here, but I thought 50 Shades was worse than Twilight. I more or less made it through all of the 1st book in the Twilight saga. I didn’t enjoy it all that much and I thought the writing was poor, but it wasn’t a DNF. I knew a lot of people who liked it, I wanted to find out what the fuss was about and I was able to do that. Not so for 50 Shades. I don’t remember where I gave up, but it was well before the end. In fairness, I’m even sicker of rich alpholes and bad BDSM than I am of vampires and that was no doubt a factor.

    I agree with you about LB though. The only real comparison in overall horrible is the later part of L. Ron’s oeuvre and what resulted from it. Looking at strictly the writing other comparisons can be made, but when you factor in impact there’s not much else.

  • Lori

    Do we know why Romania felt the need to have the world’s biggest flag? Is it tied to some particular event or is this just their version of the world’s largest ball of twine*.


    If I had the opportunity I would absolutely visit any of those, because I’m weird like that. Except the one in Branson. I have no desire to go to Branson, aka Las Vegas if it was run by Ned Flanders. The area around Branson, OK. Branson itself, no thank you.

  • Daniel

    I think it’s because of their long standing rivalry with Mexico, which used to have the world’s largest flag, and a rather elegant way to use up the EU’s red, blue and yellow dye surplus. The only other country that could’ve done it was Moldova, and they literally haven’t got enough room to store it. It would have kicked off a major international incident. There’s nothing more inflammatory than sneaking your flag onto someone else’s territory. Except an actual fire. That’s pretty inflemmatory.

    Actually Andorra could have done it too, and Liechtenstein, but who the hell cares about them?

  • Daniel

    Inflammatory. Belgians are inflemmatory. What’s the area around Branson? I assume “the rest of the U.S”?

  • Lori

    I was thinking specifically of the Ozarks, which are lovely.

  • Daniel

    I’m about to google that because I do not know what the Ozarks are. I expect mountains, but I want them to be loveable kid’s T.V characters like the Riddlers.

  • Lori

    Maybe you should stick with your imagination. It sounds fun and there’s potential money to be made there. Because yeah, the Ozarks are mountains.

  • Daniel

    I googled them, and yeah, they look lovely… but I can’t see them getting up to any shenanigans.

  • Lori

    I don’t think that Tyndale is really obsessed about with length though.

    I think that they have a fairly standard word count. Other books put out by them tend to have about the same number of pages as the LB books. As a comparison, you can see the various series cranked out by Bodie & Brock Thoene are about the same length. Themes and other content issues are obviously primary, but I doubt that it’s a coincidence that so many Tyndale books have page counts in the high 400s, just like it’s not a coincidence that Harlequins tend to be between 250 and 285 pages, depending on the specific line.

    I have family members who love the Thoene books, so I read a few years ago.They weren’t good*, but they were much less bad than LB in pretty much every way. I strongly suspect that the amount of filler in even the early LB books is due to Tyndale editorial preferences combined with Jenkins’ lack of skill as a writer and everyone’s desire to crank out as much of this crap as possible because it sold.

    *The ones I read were heavy on Jews figuring out that Jesus was the Messiah after all. There was a real fashion for that in Christian books in the 80s, sort of like all the Amish romances they crank out now and offensive in pretty much the same ways.

  • Lori

    What? They’re mountains. They’ll kill you dead if you don’t keep an eye on them. Freak storms. Rock slides. Wildlife. They get up to all kinds of trouble.

  • It’s time for another round of “How L&J’s religion resembles the Elder Gods of Lovecraft”!

    In his old life, “Buck” Williams would often feel lonely, or uncertain, or need help. When he felt those things, he would call up his friend Steve Plank. Steve would listen to Buck’s problems, help him feel less alone, and try to help him when he could. Steve was Buck’s Friend.

    But now, Buck has a new friend: TurboJesus9000! When Buck feels lonely, he can pray. When he’s not sure what to do, he can pray. When he feels like he needs help, he can pray. Thanks to TurboJesus9000, Buck doesn’t need any mortals to be his friend.

    And Steve? Well, let’s hope Steve finds TurboJesus9000 before the big TJ9K finds him!

  • Lori

    True, but I think Tyndale extends that privilege to everyone. They are very egalitarian that way.

    I don’t think so. I’ve seen other Tyndale books that are much more tightly edited. I kind of doubt that all those authors are managing that on their own. I’m sure their initial product is better than Jenkins’ because of course, but they’re also getting more editorial input.

  • Daniel

    I meant like loveable children’s characters rather than potentially deadly geological features. So less

    and more…

  • Lori

    Some people just seem to be inordinately freaked out by missing limbs. Clearly losing a limb is a horrible thing and I don’t wish it on anyone, but some people’s reaction to it is out of all proportion. I mean that’s half the plot of Iron Man 3.

  • Lori

    Needs more Anne Rice.

  • spinetingler

    ant the mountains have some talented daredevils…

  • Lori

    How do you spell that noise one makes for a bad pun? :)

  • The main reason I think Twilight is worse than 50 Shades is that Twilight is a hate sandwich with hate soup and a hate drink and a dessert of hate. There are two things in the book: Bella’s virulent hatred of absolutely everything, particularly herself, and Bella’s fascination with how pretty the vampires are, particularly Edward. There’s a lot more hate than drooling over surface pretty, and that’s the whole book. It’s horribly depressing to read, soul-sucking, poisonous. I can’t finish the damn thing because it actually causes me physical pain.

    50 Shades is a traditional romance wrapped in pseudo-BDSM packaging. Pretty, rich, experienced man is an asshole. Pretty, not-rich, innocent girl saves him from himself. It’s badly-written, but meh. The thing about it that pisses me off is the way it portrays BDSM, but BDSM is pretty much always portrayed really really badly. For some reason, most people who write BDSM porn have exactly zero experience in it and exactly zero clue how absolutely central active consent is to it. But that’s nothing new. 50 Shades is a terrible book on every level, but I don’t think it reaches that special level of terrible Twilight does, because it’s not a symphony of hate.

  • Lori

    Honestly, I think I brought so much of my own hate to the 50 Shades party that I didn’t notice the lack relative to Twilight. It’s a traditional romance, but it’s exactly the sort of traditional romance that I loath, both on it’s own merits and because everyone assumes that’s what all romances are like.

    I was never a fan of the uber rich alphole, but the economic downturn really solidified and curdled my hate of that trope. Billionaires who act like assholes are not hot, sexy doms with Secret Pain which can only be healed by the lurv of a particularly dim-witted virgin. They’re actually assholes.

    And the bad BDSM thing just drives me up the wall. It’s not even my personal thing as a lifestyle and it still makes me mad that people can’t do even the slightest bit of intelligent research. It’s not like there aren’t places where actual people who are into it hang out and talk. If forums and such are just too intimidating there’s Tumblr FFS. Ol’ Erika apparently was able to find Xtube (which right there explains a lot). You’d think she’d have also been able to find something more useful, but apparently not. All of which has lead to a huge amount of ignorant blather by people yapping on about BDSM who know fuck all and yet won’t stop talking.

    A week or so ago I read a critique of New Adult books as a genre that did a whole “kids these days” and also treated BDSM as if it’s just something to do when you’re bored with vanilla. (Credit where it’s due—I made one very polite comment and then bailed. I was rather proud of myself for not ranting.)

    I’m glad it doesn’t make you angry. If I was in your position I’m not sure if I’d get there or just go right ’round the bend about it and go off on people.

    ETA: 50 Shades also tends to tick me off more because, if you don’t count 50 Shades itself, I think there has been far less obnoxious crap spawned by Twilight than by 50 Shades. Trends come and go and eventually the crap BDSM trend will die down, but in the meantime there is some truly mind-boggling badness being published.

  • Turcano

    AKA the “Middle School Term Paper Method.”

  • FearlessSon

    Needs more Anne Rice.

    Yeah, but they did an exampledectomy of that page. Too much complaining about how quality of any which thing has gone down. All the examples are only found on the individual work/creator pages now.

  • Was the Chicago church the only one that did this? For all we know, everyone on Nicolai’s staff may be secretly Christian and plotting to pull out his chair from under him at a moment’s notice.

  • Come hear my latest sales pitch on How to Get Rich without even Trying: Have an Apocalypse.

  • FearlessSon

    You know, this reminds me a bit of David Webber’s Honor Harrington series, but in that he actually uses number counts partly to enforce a certain sense of scale, but also to build up tension.

    For example, two ships are firing at each other across space. One ship fires W many missiles at the other, X of those missiles are intercepted by enemy counter-missiles, Y are further shot down by point-blank energy weapon point-defense fire, Z of those missiles survive long enough to detonate and project lasers into the ship’s hull.

    Followed by the number of casualties inflicted.

    It works in his case because each number is less than the one which proceeded it, reflecting how from a salvo of so many missiles, all it takes is a fraction of them to get through and kill characters you care about.

    Somehow, I doubt that Jenkins understands how to make this kind of thing interesting.

  • I was never a fan of the uber rich alphole, but the economic downturn really solidified and curdled my hate of that trope. Billionaires who act like assholes are not hot, sexy doms with Secret Pain which can only be healed by the lurv of a particularly dim-witted virgin. They’re actually assholes.

    So much this.

    And is anyone else sick to death of the “experienced kinkster top/complete ingenue bottom” thing? Partly in response to the 50 Shades badness, I’m trying to write a piece of smut that has the opposite.

  • Lori

    So. Sick Of. It. There are other ways to do exposition for the clueless. Part of me wonders if authors or editors just don’t get that Daddy/little is a sub-kink and not How It Works.

  • dpolicar

    I wrote a “baby dom” character for a slash RPG site for some months… someone who had only recently figured out that topping in BDSM scenes turned him on and had basically no idea what he was doing, and was figuring it out as he went along in the company of an agreeable partner. (Said partner was equally a novice, so it wasn’t quite the reversal you’re thinking of here, but the perspective was nevertheless fun to write from.)

  • And is anyone else sick to death of the “experienced kinkster top/complete ingenue bottom” thing?

    Yep. But here, you get into people’s kinks. Many people enjoy roleplaying that. (*cough*) The problem comes when people write it as if this is the way it is or should be — and that causes very real problems for real people. There are abusers pretending to be doms, doing everything abusers do, and books like 50 Shades or Laurell K. Hamilton’s tripe (she wrote in one of her books that ball gags take away the sub’s ability to say no) just help that along.

    I think there’s a grey area when it comes to fanfic and stuff labeled clearly as erotica. This exists to turn people on, it’s pure fantasy, etc., that’s perfectly fine. It’s when something starts being touted as some kind of handbook or realistic description that there’s trouble. Fwiw, the 50 Shades author doesn’t seem to be doing that herself at all, but other people are, and that’s really disturbing.

  • At least according to legend, it didn’t occur to Adams that Arthur was still in his pajamas until they were filming the TV series, which is why it’s not mentioned in the radio series or the first two books.

  • Viliphied

    but none of them ever do it because none of them know each other’s secrets because they’re all too busy derisively sneering behind Nicolae’s back to notice that everyone else is too.

  • As a fan of both Superman and Wonder Woman (though not as a couple), I can definitely get behind that last one.

  • In the film “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” the battlefield promotion rule comes up twice–once when the protagonist is reciting textbook facts to pass his oral exam at the CIA and once when he’s telling the underground revolutionary cell that he’s started how to set things up so the struggle won’t end with their deaths.

  • Sue White

    Hmph. Why would he want Steve to get his comeuppance? Some friend!

  • Ken

    Now that you mention it, Wilbur Whateley’s diary from The Dunwich Horor does sound a lot like L&J’s idea of the Second Coming.

    They from the air told me at Sabbat that it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess grandfather will be dead then, so I shall have to learn all the angles of the planes and all the formulas between the Yr and the Nhhngr. I wonder how I shall look when the earth is cleared and there are no earth beings on it. He that came with the Aklo Sabaoth said I may be transfigured there being much of outside to work on.

  • DavidalBarron

    It reminds me of the Get Smart episode where Max infiltrated a KAOS cell but discovered that every other member was also a mole.

  • j_bird

    Are you thinking of a sad trombone? I’ve seen “wah-wah”.

    Or a “rimshot”?

  • banancat

    Oh god, if that were the plot twist at the end of this Left Behind nonsense, I would read it legit.

  • TheOldMaid

    It depends.

    Chloe: from university student on a full-ride scholarship and 5 semesters on the Dean’s list, to college drop-out and Buck’s “mascot” to use her own word.

    Amanda: from executive, to losing 2-3 jobs (actually, L&J couldn’t make up their minds?) and Rayford’s new cookie-maker in chief. Having said that, we never see her cook. Soon to be dead.

    Bruce: from watching movies in the middle of the workday, to World-Famous Evangelist (TM), to dead.

    Buck’s co-workers (Marge Potter, etc.): fired. His biggest fan but not re-hired by Buck now that he’s in charge.

    Buck’s big boss, Stanford Bailey: fired from the paper he owned.

    Verna Zee: sort-of received battlefield promotion when Lucinda Washington is raptured; loses it when Buck becomes her boss; sort-of gets battlefield promotion again when Buck doesn’t do any actual work.

    So technically, Verna wins. No doubt her No-Prize is in the mail.

  • Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

  • hf

    Smarter Boso: The question is absurd. God would never forbid knowledge
    to his children, who he has endowed with such desire for it, unless the
    time be not right. And yet why would God make us in a manner that allows
    untimely knowledge to hurt us, and also allow an offer of such to reach
    us in His very presence? This is madness. If your question were valid
    then indeed we should not look, as you desire me to say — just as one
    may start from a contradiction in logic and prove all manner of

    (I didn’t recall until after I thought of this how
    appropriate the last line seems as a reply to Anselm. The same guy
    argued, I think, that God could appear to feel passions – such as anger
    and jealousy in the case of YHVH, and also despair as Jesus – while
    actually being an Unmoved Mover out of Aristotle.)

  • Daniel

    I think we all saw that one coming, plane as day. I think you were wise to branch out from wood puns to tools, though. I’m giving this my awl but really there’s just so many I’ll have to leaf out- I just can’t stick to anything. That’s a problem as you grow elder. I should probably stop now and log out before I go overboard.

  • Daniel

    I can’t ever seem to write more than four pages before I give up in disgust and go and eat cake! The longest thing I’ve ever managed was a dissertation and even then I was 500 words below the word count. I had to spend an hour before it was due in adding five words to every page. Personally I thought that was a stroke of genius.

  • Daniel

    Erm, I know I’ve not been here long and this might seem like a terrible imposition, as it’s in no way related to the thread, but can I just ask for… reasons… how interested would anyone be in reading the adventures of a suicidal drunk cyborg assassin employed by the British Royal family who is over a hundred years old and gave Tiny Iommi his metal fingers? Also he is the one responsible for shooting Arthur Rimbaud in London. I’m not sure if I should pursue this, so please, intelligent and witty commentators, let me know how this appeals to non-subjects of HRH.

  • Sounds like in addition to your personal touches it has elements of Tony Stark mixed with hints of Bruce Banner from The Avengers, a wildly successful story.

    In other words, go for it.

    Side note: apparently Amazon wants to buy and publish fan fiction:

    (Be sure to read and understand the terms first: )

  • Matri

    It has just occurred to me: the “crime wave” that the authors keep insisting is happening?

    People helping the less fortunate, and showing kindness to strangers!

    Try putting the whole book into that context. Naturally, the “good guys” would never, ever commit a “crime”.

  • Daniel

    Stepping out of the shower and preparing to take forty
    winks, Buck paused and turned to look out of the window. He gasped as he contemplated the immorality of the unsaved- in the stunning orange glow of the nuclear sunset he saw several people dancing naked on the streets, gyrating and thrusting away. He leapt to draw the curtains.

    “Sick.” He thought, as he saw the lascivious dancers shed their skins in one smooth movement before falling to the floor, exhausted.

    Buck lay back on the bed, grateful for his ability to sleep
    through anything. A seasoned world traveller he had stayed everywhere, from guest houses to five star hotels to the houses of important and wealthy people he knew. They weren’t his friends, as such, because Buck had a code of ethics most people didn’t seem to agree with, and whilst this allowed him to accept favours from them he could never respect them. He had his integrity.

    Buck thought about the great shower he’d just had, and tried to ignore the noises from the corridor where it seemed the other guests had decided to have some sort of a race- there was a thunderous noise of footsteps and obviously some of the more excited guest/spectators were screaming encouragement. Blasphemous encouragement. Buck pitied them.

    The shower head had been specially made in Bath
    Sheba’s, the salesman had told Buck it was the sort they normally sold only to certified heads of state, but now they’d got a job lot on their hands since the obliteration of all nation states and their agglomeration into one supranational world spanning post-modern Pangaea. Buck had negotiated the salesman down from the original price of $4000 to only $3500. He almost felt guilty for it, the salesman never stood a chance. Buck chuckled. It was the one luxury he carried everywhere now- it was universal and thanks to two space-age plastic seals it could be fitted to any bath taps in the world. The rubber tubing could be conveniently fitted into any bag- just what a seasoned world traveller like Buck needed.

    The screams outside continued.
    “My eyes are melting!” one frantic voice shouted,
    and another responded “I can’t find my wife!”.
    “The flowers are in the trash… my eyes are melting… I can’t find my wife… where do the kids today come up with these things?” thought Buck as he flicked the TV on. But nothing happened. He tried again. Still nothing.

    Buck was a seasoned world traveller- he had stayed in Hiltons and less expensive Hiltons, he had slept in cars when someone else was driving, and had once slept on a sofa after that girl in college laughed when he…
    He thought again about the shower head. It soothed him to think of it spraying all over his back and face.
    “Hello, reception?” he shouted into the phone.
    A cheerful voice replied
    “How may I help you sir?”
    “Call me Buck.”
    “Oh hello Mr. Williams, how can I help?”
    Buck rolled his eyes. Like she didn’t know.
    “I’ll tell you how you can help, in case you’re unaware of this the TV in my room doesn’t seem to work.”
    “Yes sir, none of them do…”
    “Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind. As you know I’m a seasoned
    world traveller.”
    “Yes, Mr. Williams, I remember you telling me when you
    checked in.”
    “But I’m also a journalist” he was being modest. He
    wasn’t just A journalist, and the receptionist knew this as well as he did. She was being deliberately obstreperous.
    “How am I supposed to do my journalising if I can’t
    watch the news? Hmm?”
    “I’m sorry Mr. Williams, I think it’s something to do with the nuclear bomb that’s just gone off…”
    “I don’t want excuses.”
    “No, it’s just a lot of people are on fire right now,
    and I’d like to put them out. Also I have family I’d like to check on, and I think my skin might have started to peel off because of the enormous heat.”
    “So how soon can you fix the TV?”
    “I imagine once the electromagnetic pulse has worn off
    or something- I’m not that au fait with nuclear weapons.”
    Buck sighed “au fait”- how pretentious! He spoke to her in plain English she responded in Latin. She was probably Catholic. How he wished he could have told her the truth about what was happening…but he’d already eaten too much into nap time.
    “Is it possible to call out from the hotel?” He prayed silently, and then audibly, that it was. Please God, don’t take my phone!
    “Probably, these phones are universal. But I imagine
    the lines will be busy what with survivors trying to contact their relatives…”
    “Just get it sorted!” He slammed down the phone and sighed again. The unsaved were so selfish.

  • aim2misbehave

    My problem with 50 Shades is not so much its low writing quality (although having read the entire Twilight series, the entire LB series, and parts of 50 Shades, there’s no question which is at the bottom of the quality list. At least L&J didn’t describe Nicolae’s smile as “…full HD IMAX”) as that it, like Twilight, depicts some extremely controlling, abusive, and illegal behaviour as cute and romantic – in fact, there are a few scenes in 50 Shades which are a form of sexual assault, but one that the narrator justifies away in her mind :-(

  • Daniel -You are truly the best commentator I have read in months. Your parody skills are excellent. I wonder: is there any phrase Jenkins uses as much as “seasoned world traveller” above?