NRA: A global broadcast

NRA: A global broadcast September 7, 2012

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 51-56

Last week, at the top of page 51, we saw Buck Williams happily accepting help from Loretta while simultaneously plotting to exclude her from his own plans for refuge. This week we begin at the bottom of that same page, returning to Rayford Steele’s perspective for a longish sequence in which he exhibits that same disgraceful combination of ingratitude and self-centered cowardice.

Rayford is in the pilot’s seat of his newest new plane:

The Condor 216 was outfitted even more lavishly than Global Community One had been, if that was possible. No detail had been missed, and the latest communications devices had been installed.

DEAR SPACE INVADERS: This belongs on your list of high-priority targets. (Photo by B. Kris for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.)

This ought to be foreshadowing. Jerry Jenkins’ effort to wow readers with his clumsy descriptions of the new plane’s “lavish” equipment doesn’t actually matter or mean anything here in Nicolae. It could have mattered, but it doesn’t.

Like all the pages of the plane’s unspecified specs sketched out earlier by Earl Halliday, this just turns out to be Jenkins’ attempt at Tom Clancy-style tech-porn. It’s only function here in the book is to allow Rayford to eavesdrop on Nicolae’s little speech to his “ambassadors” during the flight — a narrative convenience that could just as easily have been accomplished by having Amanda holding an empty drinking-glass to the door.

We get a couple pages of throat-clearing and padding as the plane takes off, including what proves to be some very confusing business about just where Amanda Steele is sitting in relation to the other handful of people on this super-jumbo-jet and a blow-by-blow account of Rayford’s initial use of the earphone eavesdropper thing-y that Halliday rigged for him:

Rayford sat back and pulled his earphone band toward the back of his head, as if pulling the phones off. However, they were still close enough to his ears so that he could hear and his copilot, because his own earphones were on, could not. Rayford pulled from his flight bag a book and opened it, resting it on the controls before him. He would have to remember to turn a page occasionally.

Jenkins takes great care to ensure that his readers are not themselves misled by Rayford’s clever ploy:

He would not really be reading. He would be listening. He slipped his left hand under the seat and quietly depressed the hidden button.

Rayford hears Nicolae say, “Mrs. Steele, if you would excuse us –?” And then his wife says, “Certainly.”

I assumed this meant either that Nicolae and his cronies departed to a meeting area elsewhere on the plane or that Amanda left them to go sit somewhere else. That assumption seems to be supported later on when we learn that Amanda, unlike Rayford, hasn’t heard a word Nicolae & Co. say during their meeting. But we also later learn that she’s been sitting right next to them the whole time. It is, as I said, confusing.

Rayford listens intently as the Antichrist and his henchmen launch into an expository discussion of their evil plans as explicit as the villain’s speech at the climax of any James Bond thriller:

Carpathia was saying: “Mr. Fortunato remained in Dallas briefly to arrange my next radio broadcast from there. I will do it from here; however, it will be patched to Dallas and broadcast, again to throw off any enemies of the Global Community. I do need him in on our talks, in the night, so we will wait on the ground in San Francisco until he is able to join us.”

As always in these books, a clear statement of travel itinerary must come before we can move forward with plot, character or theme.

“As soon as we leave the ground out of San Francisco, we will trigger both L.A. and the Bay area.”

“The Bay area?” came a heavily accented voice.

“Yes, that is San Francisco and the Oakland area.”

I’m not sure whether the indeterminately ethnic ambassador here is meant to be a stand-in for any readers potentially confused by the term “Bay area,” or if Nicolae’s proud sense of sophistication for knowing this is meant to be a stand-in for Jenkins’ own pride at employing what he seems to regard as esoteric local lingo.

In any case, what follows is Nicolae’s elevator-pitch for the Red Horse of the Apocalypse:

“What do you mean by ‘trigger’?”

Carpathia’s tone became grave. “‘Trigger’ means just what it sounds like it means,” he said. “By the time we land in Baghdad, more than Washington, New York, and Chicago will have been decimated. Those are just three of the North American cities that will suffer the most. So far, only the airport and one suburb have suffered in Chicago. That will change within the hour. You already know about London. Do you gentlemen understand the significance of a one-hundred-megaton bomb?”

There was silence. Carpathia continued. “To put it in perspective, history books tell us that a twenty-megaton bomb carries more power than all those dropped in World War II, including the two that fell on Japan.”

“The United States of Great Britain had to be taught,” came the accented voice again.

“Indeed they did,” Carpathia said. “And in North America alone, Montreal, Toronto, Mexico City, Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles* will become object lessons to those who would oppose us.”

Rayford whipped off his earphones and unbuckled himself. …

Having overheard the arch-villain’s scheme, our protagonist springs into action.

But before we can discuss what Rayford does, we first have to consider all the many, many things he doesn’t do.

Specifically, he doesn’t do what Jenkins — apparently inadvertently — seems to have set the stage for him to do. Everything leading up to this point suggested a classic “live microphone” scenario like the one — **spoiler alert** — that brings down Lonesome Rhodes at the end of Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd.

Here is what Rayford has at his disposal:

1. A live feed of the Antichrist candidly exposing himself as monstrously evil and the enemy of all humankind.

2. A cockpit equipped with every imaginable “communication device” — including, according to what Carpathia just told us, the capability to broadcast to the entire world.

3. A son-in-law and co-conspirator who heads up a global media company and is world-renowned as the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time.

That’s all pointing inexorably in a single direction — a much more interesting direction than anything we’ve yet encountered in this sad chronicle of the impotent bystanders of the Tribulation Force.

Instead of whipping off and unbuckling and leaping from his seat, all Rayford needed to do was punch a few buttons in the cockpit to ensure that he wouldn’t be the only person hearing Nicolae’s evil secrets. Instead of hearing those secrets and keeping them, Rayford ought to have been able to let the whole world hear them.

You know how that scene goes. You’ve seen it in a dozen different movies. We’ll keep Nicolae’s speech, verbatim, but rewind back to the beginning of it. We see Rayford flipping switches on the lavishly outfitted latest communications devices and …

Cut to: A greasy spoon diner on the side of a highway somewhere in the American west. A waitress, a short-order cook, and a handful of truck-driver-types stare in disbelief at the television above the counter, from which we hear the voice of the global potentate: “As soon as we leave the ground out of San Francisco, we will trigger both L.A. and the Bay area. …” The coffee the waitress has been pouring overflows and spills. “… ‘Trigger’ means just what it sounds like it means.”

Cut to: A black barbershop in, let’s say, Baltimore. The barber and his customers stand frozen as they listen to Nicolae Carpathia’s voice coming from the radio: “By the time we land in Baghdad, more than Washington, New York, and Chicago will have been decimated. …”

Cut to: A ramshackle trailer somewhere in the American South. We see a ragged couch with a threadbare afghan draped across the back, and the backs of the heads of a stereotypically “redneck” couple facing the television, from which Nicolae’s voice says, “Those are just three of the North American cities that will suffer the most.” The camera swoops in and around to reveal an impressive arsenal laid out on the coffee table and we see that the couple are busily loading guns like Burt and Heather Gummer.

Another radio, in an exotic-looking shop in some exotic-looking city, perhaps Istanbul. An exotically foreign-looking shopkeeper and his customers gape, wide-eyed as they listen: “That will change within the hour. You already know about London. …”

Another radio, this one in a street café in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background just so nobody in the audience fails to understand what they’re looking at: “Do you gentlemen understand the significance of a one-hundred-megaton bomb? …”

And on and on, quickly skipping from scene to scene — Tokyo, Beijing, Sydney, Rio — to show that they entire world is listening and hears Nicolae’s entire scheme.

We cut back to Nicolae, there on his plane, blithely carrying on without realizing that all his illusions are being stripped bare. He doesn’t realize it until it’s too late.

“… Object lessons to those who would oppose us,” he says. Then, suddenly, he understands, flying into a rage and lashing out in fury and palpable contempt for all the little worms, wretches and fools who have been following him blindly. And this too, of course, is broadcast before the signal is abruptly cut off, replaced all around the world by the familiar face and voice of the GIRAT, Buck Williams, who outlines to this heightened global audience all of the Antichrist’s plans for tyranny, the Mark of the Beast and all the rest.

Buck would have to go into hiding after that, of course. So would Rayford and Amanda, if we can figure out a way to get them off the plane. Maybe they could pull a D.B. Cooper and parachute away, or hide and then sneak out via the landing gear like Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.

But then the Steeles’ escape would be the least of the plot challenges this would provoke. Such heroic action on Rayford’s part would change everything that follows, transforming this into a radically different series of books.

And that, of course, is why it doesn’t happen.

Tim LaHaye’s fatalistic theology and the Hobbesian, musical-chairs immorality of his political views won’t allow any such heroism in his characters or in his narrative.

Here, as ever with LaHaye, we can ponder cause and effect, chicken and egg. Are the authors and their protagonists so appallingly selfish as a consequence of being trapped in a world shaped by his fatalistic theology? Or is that fatalistic theology itself a consequence of LaHaye’s pre-existing appalling selfishness?

I think maybe it’s both.

Either way, the deterministic prophecies and theodicy of LaHaye’s vision won’t allow Rayford to try to thwart the Antichrist’s divinely appointed schemes. To do so would be for him to oppose the great Author of Evil himself, LaHaye’s God.

And so Rayford cannot be a hero. He cannot even try to save the world. He cannot be allowed to try to save Montreal or Toronto or Mexico City or Dallas or Washington, D.C. or New York or Chicago or San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Rayford Steele has just learned that millions are about to die in all those cities, and he has the ability to warn them. But he doesn’t try to warn them. He doesn’t even want to try to warn them.

All that the authors will allow Rayford to do is try to warn his own daughter and son-in-law.

Rayford whipped off his earphones and unbuckled himself. He stepped through the cockpit door and made eye contact with Amanda. He motioned her to come to him. Carpathia looked up and smiled. “Captain Steele,” he greeted him, “is everything well?”

So, again, Amanda was apparently sitting right next to Nicolae during his entire speech outlining his plans to nuke city after city. And yet, somehow, Amanda didn’t hear any of that.

“Our flight is uneventful, sir, if that’s what you’re asking. That’s the best kind of flight. I can’t say much for what’s happening on the ground, however.”

“True enough,” Carpathia said, suddenly sober. “I will soon address the global community with my condolences.”

Jenkins can’t resist showing us yet again that Carpathia is delighted at destruction while putting up a sham appearance of sadness. Carpathia claimed to be a pacifist, remember, and in the author’s minds, this is what all pacifists are secretly like — sneaky, disingenuous killers just trying to trick you into letting your guard down. In the authors’ minds, they’ve actually proved that all pacifists are really like this, because portraying it that way proves it to be so.

Rayford pulled Amanda into the galley way. “Were Buck and Chloe going to stay at The Drake again tonight?”

“There wasn’t time to talk about it, Ray,” she said. “I can’t imagine what other choice they’d have. It sounds like they may never get back to New York.”

That’s true — the perhaps-nuclear destruction of Chicago’s airport and of all of New York City have likely put a serious crimp in their travel arrangements.

“I’m afraid Chicago is a certain someone’s next target,” Rayford said.

“Oh, I can’t imagine,” Amanda said.

“I have to warn them.”

“Do you want to risk a phone call that could be traced?” she asked.

“Saving their lives would be worth any risk.”

Amanda embraced him and went back to her seat.

Rayford has a cell phone now too, suddenly, and he uses it to call the Drake Hotel.

Thus begins Jenkins’ elaborate attempt at sustained suspense. In Jenkins’ case, of course, that involves several pages of desperate phone tag.

This sequence is meant to be thrilling and nerve-wracking, but it’s hard to care much because it all involves characters who themselves don’t care much. Rayford doesn’t care about warning anyone except for Buck and Chloe. He doesn’t give even a second of thought to all of the other people in Chicago — his own neighbors. Nor does he care in the slightest about the lives or deaths of any of the millions of people in Montreal or Toronto or Mexico City or …

You know what? It’s too much work to try to list all of the people Rayford Steele doesn’t care about. Much easier just to list those very few he does regard as fellow humans: Chloe, Buck, Amanda and … Nope, that’s it actually. Just those three and no one else at all.

“Not even Loretta,” as his daughter might say.

The desk manager of the Drake Hotel is friendly and polite, eagerly providing Rayford whatever assistance he can. When there’s no answer in Buck and Chloe’s room, he asks:

“Would you like to leave a message on their voice mail?”

“I would,” Rayford said, “but I would also like to be sure that the message light is lit and that they are flagged down for an urgent message should they visit the front desk.”

Rayford is on the phone with this man, with this fellow human being and fellow Chicagoan. He’s talking to this man and could easily have warned him — could easily have told him exactly what tells Buck and Chloe in the message he leaves them:

“Don’t take the time to do anything. Get as far away from downtown Chicago as you can. Please trust me on this.”

He could have urged the desk manager to flee, to evacuate the hotel, the block, the entire city, to warn everyone he possibly could warn. The man would listen. He knows what has already happened to New York, Washington and London. He knows Chicago has already been struck twice. He would heed this warning. He would warn others. The housekeepers and bellhops and valets at the hotel could be spared. If they acted quickly thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, could be rescued from certain death.

But Rayford says nothing to this man, nothing to any of them. He doesn’t care about them.

The desk manager reassures Rayford that he will do everything he can to ensure that Buck and Chloe get Rayford’s message. “We’ll certainly do that, sir,” he says. “Thank you for calling The Drake.”

And Rayford says nothing.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Aided Rayford’s desperate calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I read that list and I have the same oddly mixed emotions I had watching Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s silly, but entertaining, 1996 summer blockbuster. In that movie, evil space aliens were methodically destroying all the great cities of earth. Except — as here — they didn’t quite get around to all the great cities.

Just like Nicolae, those space aliens neglected to destroy Philadelphia.

I’ve lived more than half my life here in the Delaware Valley, in and around the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a world-class city — a proud metropolis that can boast of a unique role in American and world history. It’s the home of world-famous icons like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Rocky statue. Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. It’s bigger than Dallas — bigger than San Francisco and D.C. combined.

I find myself illogically and inappropriately offended at seeing our great city getting snubbed like this by space aliens and Antichrists.

I know there are many writers among the readers of these Left Behind posts, so here is my plea to you: Please, in your next apocalyptic novel, short story or screenplay, remember Philadelphia. When your alien spacecraft descend, or your zombie hordes shuffle, or your Old Ones re-awaken, or your post-singularity machines arise, think of Ben Franklin and the birthplace of liberty and pay us the respect of including our great city among your prominent targets. At least have the courtesy to have your aliens/zombies/Old Ones destroy Philadelphia before, say, Cleveland. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

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  • Rikalous

    By the time we land in Baghdad, more than Washington, New York, and
    Chicago will have been decimated. Those are just three of the North
    American cities that will suffer the most.

    So if I’m reading this right, the North American cities that suffer the most will be decimated. If the worst death rate is ten percent, that’s obviously still tragic but it’s a lot better than I’d expect from the way they’re talking about it. Nicky really is an underachiever, isn’t he?

  • Diona the Lurker

    Wasn’t the tv movie of Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven set there? And wasn’t she told by those working on it, ‘don’t worry, we can quite easily blow up Portland’?

  • I don’t know about you, but I think in this case at least telling and not showing is a good thing.  Do you really want Jenkins to go into detail with all of the luxury doodads they installed into this vehicle?

  • Paul Durant

    I’m pretty sure the aliens never invade Philadelphia because aliens do not enjoy having batteries whipped at their heads. Sure, they’re prepared to hold back the puny human armed forces with their puny human guns and missiles. But chucking batteries? What is WRONG with you earthlings?

  • Bificommander

    The four ‘Apocalypse’-movies, a.k.a. Left Behind’s Asylum knockoffs actually do what Fred suggests. At least 3 of the 4 movies end with the heroes succesfully revealing the Anti Christ for the monster/false god that he is to the world. The second movie ends with them foiling the distribution of the Mark of the Beast, but I think it isn’t done publicly. And of course that means the story of Apocalypse runs into the other problem.

    To wit, there are four movies (and the last one takes place only a year after the Rapture), all those movies end with a victory of the Christians over the Anti Christ, and yet by the next movie the Anti Christ is still in power. His intentions and identity have been exposed to the world (including a badly stock-footaged version of that montage Fred describes. With all of the text being in English yet understood by everyone around the world.) and yet every time in between the movies the world forgets this more thoroughly than New York forgot the accomplishments of the Ghost Busters in between their movies.

    So it makes the script writers, and by extention the prophecy timeline authors look like hacks. But at least the protagonists of the movies don’t look like foolish monsters (though the god in that movie certainly does. The AC admits he knows he’ll lose, but is trying to drag as many humans down into the lake of fire with him. Which is pointlessly petty, but makes more sense than the AC’s plan in Left Behind. But it does mean god could cancel the Rapture, forgive everyone, and the devil would be the only one that loses.)

  • LMM22

    the nukes (or analogous superweapons) are always trained at population centers rather than strategic targets.

    “Hardcore History,” in one of the more recent episodes, has a good episode on the logic that led up to dropping the first nuclear bomb — in particular, he points out the ways in which the construction of aerial warfare went from (well, attempted) strategic targeting of military installations (1) to intentionally terrorizing populations in order to promote revolt and/or surrender to … well, just revenge. The fact that we, in fiction, don’t even recognize the first purpose (and barely recognize the second) today says a lot about the ways we’ve internalized total warfare.

    (1) Between WWI and WWII, at one point, bombers were assumed to be unstoppable. One strategist proposed a solution to strategic bombing: the other country would be alerted ahead of time, so they could evacuate everyone from the area that was being targeted. Military installations and factories would be destroyed; no one would die.

  • fraser

    I’m remembering Richard Condon’s novel Whisper of the Axe from the 1970s. It involves a terrorist scheme to launch attacks on American cities so atrocious and widespread they’ll inevitably provoke a military response, which will inevitably create more casualties so that the US government becomes as loathed for brutality as the terrorists. At this point everything falls apart and an honest broker, a peacemaker unaffiliated with either side steps in.
    That would have been a much more effective scheme for Nicolai. And fitted nicely into the Peacemaking is Evil theme.

  • It’s pretty odd from a pragmatic point of view that Nicky is going to nuke what amount to his own centers of economy and transport.  Destruction of these places, especially on the scale discussed is just going to make maintaining control–as well as, well, everything else–orders of magnitude more difficult.
    What idiot starts with bombing commercial airports, anyway?  Nick, baby, YOU control 90 percent of the world’s air forces.  You might need those runways.  It’s much easier to hold them with ground troops and SAMs, of which you also control 90%.
    Even if the actual goal is just to inflict suffering, that goal is failing, given that instantly killing a few million people pretty much ends the suffering, at least for the survivors.
    Any good general will tell you that death hinders one soldier, while a wound hinders several.  Evacuation, medical attention, recuperation resources; demoralization of everyone involved, etc.

    But if you must depopulate the major cities, given that you have no necessity to avoid retaliation, the way to go is chemical weapons.  They are nasty, panic-inducing, and lethal, with the benefit that they leave the roads, bridges, airports, and railways intact for your forces, plus most of them go away after a short time.  You can use the persistent ones in places you never need to go, if you need a more persistent object lesson.
    It’s sort of disgusting that I’m much better at Nicky’s job than he is.

  • Oh, don’t worry–San Francisco is subject to persecution at the hands of Evil Atheists of the Future.

    If you’re interested, the San Francisco stuff starts here:

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/soon-chapter-5-frisco/

    And the L.A. stuff ends here:

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/soon-chapter-36-the-end/

    Spoiler Alert.  I guess.

  • Queenisis98

    So  . . . what *does* happen to Loretta? Am I right in assuming the Tribulation Force abandons her and she is incinerated along with the rest of Chicago?

  • Fate of Loretta:

    Fur vf pehfurq jvgu ure bja pne qhevat gur Jengu bs gur Ynzo rnegudhnxr.

  • Tricksterson

    And keep in mind, which the authors apparently do not, that if he dies, he and his wife have a guaranteed ticket to Heaven.

  •  People who use “decimate” correctly almost always act as if killing 10% of a population “isn’t all that bad, comparatively.”  Killing 10% of a population is, in fact, a worse death rate than pretty much anything in history that has ever killed a large chunk of the population except for the black death.

    Killing 10% of the US population is roughly equivalent to exterminating california.

  • Beroli

     I’m going to be a wet blanket here and say that “to destroy a great number or proportion of” has been the primary definition of “decimate” for, I’m not sure how long, but at least over a decade now.

    Words change.

  • Beroli

     To be fair, TurboJesus would likely tear up those tickets for the sins of: Attempting to interrupt the timeline, suicide, and destroying the cell phones and tons of expensive tech-toys on the plane.

    (And Amanda, of course, would come in for even more of his wrath than Rayford would despite not having actually done any of these herself, due to being Rayford’s wife.)

  • Beroli

     Xvyyrq ol furrc, nynf.

  • EllieMurasaki

    People who use “decimate” correctly almost always act as if killing 10%
    of a population “isn’t all that bad, comparatively.”  Killing 10% of a
    population is, in fact, a worse death rate than pretty much anything in
    history that has ever killed a large chunk of the population except for
    the black death.

    True, but when the context suggests they’re aiming for a death toll nearer 90% of the affected area…

  • The Condor 216 was outfitted even more lavishly than Global Community One had been, if that was possible.

    Still no kitchen, though.

  • Or “completely wreck”.

    Well over a decade. If we want to be ridiculously pedantic, “decimate” means something much more specific than “10% of people die”. It means a conquering state pseudo-randomly choosing 10% of the free adult male population among the conquered to kill in a show of power and to seriously mess up the community. Seriously messing up the community and showing power were always the goals. 10% was arbitrary. The spirit of the word “decimate” isn’t in the 10%; it’s in the horror.

  • As often happens, I don’t have time to read the comments. So I’ll just leave a promise for Fred: Fred, as a fellow Delaware Valleyan, if I ever get around to writing a disaster novel, I promise to level and obliterate Philly! Billy Penn’s hat will FALL!

  • christopher_young

    “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” (attrib. W.C.Fields as a proposal for his epitaph)

  • I don’t see why aliens always have to attack major cities anyway.  Heck, Phoenixville was good enough for The Blob!

  • Ken

     Didn’t Satan and Carpathia learn *anything* from Screwtape?

    No, and neither did LaHaye and Jenkins.

  • wendy

    I’m pretty sure ‘the City’ is actually supposed to have a capital THE. 

  • “In 1963 DOE declassified statements that the U.S. had the
    technological capability of deploying… a 50-60 mt gravity bomb on B-52s.”
    U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Declassification, 1
    June 1994, “Drawing Back the Curtain of Secrecy: Restricted Data
    Declassification Policy, 1946 to the Present, Part V,” on line, DOE OpenNet [http://www.osti.gov/html/osti/opennet/document/rdd-1/drwcrtf4.html].Nicky Mountain could have sent his minions scurrying through the DOE archives to pull up 30 year old research on high-yield devices. I suspect that 30+ years of research would have devised ways to scale up 50MT to 100MT.Not the most efficient use of the stockpile, as others have mentioned, but a heck of a terror weapon.OTOH, just lobbing 5 20MT nukes at the same time isn’t likely to work – if you don’t get the timing exact (micro-second exact), they’re going to fratricide and you’ll only get a small fraction of them actually going off.

  • Yo.  http://www.offutt.af.mil/

    Also home to the tallest skyscraper between Denver and Minneapolis, thank you very much. 

  • Aaron Boyden

    At least with larger bombs, getting more yield without increasing size isn’t an area where any notable progress has been made since the 60s (the majority of the mass of really big bombs is the actual nuclear material, which was already used extremely efficiently in the really big bombs, so what you’d really need for an improvement as big as doubling yield would be a different kind of nuclear reaction which produced more energy for the same mass of nuclear material.  There really hasn’t been much research into any such alternatives).

  • Fbzrguvat yvxr gung unccrarq va Wrevpub, jurer Fra. Gbznepuvb znantrq gb tnva cbjre va gur jrfgrea cbegvba bs gur Havgrq Fgngrf, qhr gb orvat frra nf n fgebat yrnqre nsgre gur ahpyrne nggnpxf. Vg bs pbhefr urycrq gung Wraavatf naq Enyy jnf pbaarpgrq gb Inyragr, jub jnf ohfl genpxvat qbja nalbar jub zvtug fgvyy erirny uvf uvqqra ntraqn.

    Gura Unjxvaf znantrf gb trg Grknf, hanssvyvngrq jvgu rvgure fvqr hagvy gura, vaibyirq jvgu cebbs gung Wraavatf naq Enyy unq, va rssrpg, cerpvcvgngrq gur ahpyrne nggnpxf sbe gurve bja orarsvg.

    SPOILERS for Jericho under the ROT13.

  • The Soviets were able to dead-drop Tsar-Bomba, albeit with a parachute and special fins. In fact, one substitution would have turned it into a 100 MT bomb. Details on Wikipedia.

    The technology was definitely there; it’s just a question of whether a MIRV would have been more practical.

  • Aaron Boyden

    The plane that dropped the test version of the Tsar Bomba managed to get 28 miles away before it went off, and still was almost knocked out of the sky by the shock wave; it might not have survived if it had been the full power version rather than the scaled-down clean test version.  And the parachute that was used to slow the fall so the detonation could be delayed would have made it easy for someone to try to shoot it out of the sky before it exploded, and so only scatter a bunch of nasty nuclear material instead of producing an insane explosion.  So the Soviet approach doesn’t really seem to count as a practical delivery system.

  • Oh, granted. The whole thing was proof of concept and political saber-rattling, but the basics were there and if the Soviets had wanted to create a delivery system for it, I’m sure they could have come up with one.

  • Fred, you may be pleased to learn that “Patient Zero,” a zombie novel by Jonathan Maberry, features a climax set in Liberty Hall in Philadelphia, where the terrorists plan to unleash a zombie plague to coincide with the dedication of a sister bell to the Liberty Bell.

  • Lori

    Jericho had some major flaws, but it did also have some really interesting stuff. I give the producers full marks for just going for it when they knew there was basically no chance they’d get another season. The Big Bad in the final season was basically Blackwater. That’s no big deal now, but at the time it was a pretty gutsy move. Obviously nothing got on the air that the network really objected to, but they pushed it more than a lot of other people would have. Most people in Hollywood are way too careerist not to just kiss ass, especially when they know they’re about to be looking for work. 

  • The Leverage team has done the “live microphone” reveal more than once, which just goes to show that if you want to save the world, thieves and grifters are a better choice than RTCs.

  • PJ Evans

    the reviewer was just flabbergasted that the Soviets would nuke Omaha

    The reviewer never heard of SAC, I guess.

  • PJ Evans

     Maybe Ellanjay think that ‘decimation’ means leaving 10 percent alive.

  • PJ Evans

     Nah. ‘the’ only gets capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Aaron Boyden

    Sure, it could be done.  I suppose the logical approach would be to take some big rockets designed for carrying heavy payloads into space and modify them for use as ICBMs, and modify the Tsar Bomba design to be a warhead for such a super-sized ICBM.  Shame the writers didn’t bother to think it through; if Nicolai was up to anything like that, it would provide more exciting conspiracies for the Trib Force to discover and do nothing about.

  • Zorya_EvenStar

    All I can do at this point is quote Dorothy Parker:  “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

  • A. Hunt

     As a Giants fan, I am way, way ahead of you.

  • Hell, that world broadcast of the nefarious-scheme plan?

    It was done pretty decently in a pretty freakin’ crappy movie.

  • Actually a notable Roman use of decimation was against their own.

    A legion screwed up really badly?  Line them up.  Count off every tenth man.  Kill him.  See if the remaining 90% ever fuck up that badly again.

    That sort of thing.

  • That said, the colloquial usage of “decimate” has come to mean “near total annihilation”. Which is a rather odd expansion of its meaning, but mmkay then.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, granted. The whole thing was proof of concept and political
    saber-rattling, but the basics were there and if the Soviets had wanted
    to create a delivery system for it, I’m sure they could have come up
    with one.

    Truck with bomb followed by car, truck driver parks downtown and hops into car, car runs like hell, bomb remotely detonated from a safe distance?

  • You sure a road could take 27 tons? (O_O)

  • Lee B.

    Actually, they did (almost) create a delivery system.  The Proton rocket was originally designed as a giant ICBM for lobbing Tsar Bomba-sized warheads*, but when the Strategic Rocket Forces decided they didn’t really need something that large, it was modified into a heavy-lift launch vehicle (which was actually chief designer Chelomei’s true goal).

  • Aaron Boyden

    For the truck, it couldn’t be a u-haul.  Not sure about the dimensions of the Tsar Bomba; it might not fit in a standard shipping container, but of course you could always put it on a flatbed, though it might be a suspicious-looking load (or it might not look weird at all; again I don’t know exactly what it looked like).  More importantly, though, a ground burst is generally a lot less effective than an air burst, so you really want to use planes or missiles as your delivery system.

  • The_L1985

    …Chloe is his daughter. Squick.

  • Hmm. Yeah, I think it was meant to be between Rayford and Buck.

  • Tricksterson

    Both actually.  While not to the extent of Ray and Buck, who might as well have matching heart tattoos on their arms, there’s a fair amount of subtext between Rayford and Chloe.  In fact if you look at the whole “purity ball” thing and the concept that a girls virginity “is in the care of her father until she’s handed into the care of her husband” there’s a big chunk of father-daughter subtext to the whole fundgelical subculture.  That was my target.

    Or I just enjoy squicking people out.

    Or both.