Babylon Rising, Chapter 55
A plane travel chapter! In a LaHaye novel!
Ah, but this is Greg Dinallo writing, so we are spared the step-by-step logistics of getting to the airport, checking in, hearing all about the plane, etc.
In fact, we skip right past the entire first leg of the trip:
The first leg of the flight had taken them from Washington to London Heathrow, where the plane was refueled and the crew was changed.
Wow. Well, fine, then, Mr. Dinallo. Just skip telling us about manly pilots and fully-loaded aircraft. See if I care. *sniff*
Now, I can’t decide if what happens next is a continuity error, or just a very weird attempt at charaterization.
Murphy and Isis are both carrying special carry-ons around the airport. Isis has “a voluminus leather briefcase stuffed with books–rare first editions she simply couldn’t bear to check.”
Murphy has his “competition bow in its impact-resistant case.”
Sorry, I just…
Okay, this is a new level of arrogant delusion, even for Murphy. Seriously, dude? Seriously? You’re bringing your competition bow to the Middle East to fight potential murderers? Ummm, whatever you want, I guess. *back away slowly*
Now, both of these character bits are weird for different reasons. For one thing, I happen to know for a fact that even in pre-9/11 days (and this book was published in 2003), you were damn well not allowed to carry any weapons onto a plane, and that included competition weapons. Murphy would have had to check it.
So, I went back to double-check, and turns out that they are flying on a private plane provided by the PFF. (I couldn’t remember if it was the PFF’s actual plane, or if they had simply offered to pay for commercial tickets.)
So, maybe the rules are different on a private plane. Maybe Murph could indeed carry on his bow.
But, then, if it’s a private plane, why was Isis concerned about checking her books? (Especially as she has been established as having complete trust in PFF planes and security.)
Heck, if it was a private plane, why was Murphy concerned about checking the bow?
In fact, the silliness of wanting to bring the bow in the first place, combined with the obsession with how secure checked items would be on a private plane, is what prevents this chapter from being Actually Not That Bad. Because there are a few nice moments of characterization here:
While they waited for their plane to refuel, [Murphy] paced Heathrow’s cavernous corridors and malls in silence, like a man trying out a new pair of shoes. He wasn’t thinking about anything. He was just getting used to his new life, his new existence: the one without Laura.
I like this. Heck of a lot more subtle and show-don’t-tell than the Left Behind books ever get.
Then, Isis reads a book called Lesser Chaldean Apocrypha that she inherited from her father. She thinks about how her father came to own the book himself, and it’s actually an interesting story. The senior McDonald struck up a friendship with a young vicar in England, the two men bonding over their shared interest in ancient gods, a friendship they continued by correspondence.
But after a few months, her father had stopped replying to Merton’s letters, and it was clear to the adolescent Isis that something had deeply disturbed him.
Oooo, spooky. But cool. seriously. This is a cool character bit.
She never discovered what it was. But now, as she slowly turned the pages of Lesser Chaldean Apocrypha, she remembered that this was the very volume her father had been clutching when they found him.
Wha-huh? Okay, 1) it is still odd to me that there was no hint in the first half of the book that Daddy McDonald was murdered, and now there is, and 2) how could you forget which book your murdered father was clutching when he was found?
Anyway, they finally get to Tar-Qasir, and Isis once again demonstrates her awesomeness–while Murphy is sleeping (again, since he slept the entire Washington-to-London leg), Isis does some research, and determines that the ancient sewers would be the best place to find anything that was buried in the past.
Now that Murphy is awake, she suggests they go to the local library to find out as much about the sewers as they can.
Murphy sighed. A library. Of course. Where else would Isis suggest they go?
Yeah, Murph, surely libraries never come in handy for archeologists, right? Ya stupid squarehead.
Murphy then compounds the asshattishness by being bitter about the fact that Isis has easily acclimated to the climate change:
Maybe being an ice maiden does have certain advantages, Murphy thought.
Oh, you sonova–what is your problem with women, Murph? I want to know. What is it that upsets you? Is it that Isis didn’t throw herself into your married arms the moment she met you? Is it that she’s smarter and more competent and better at her job than you are?
Oh, and speaking of which, Murphy, just who is teaching your class right now, hmmm?
While Murphy sits around at the library and does absolutely nothing, Isis charms the librarian with a bribe/donation to the library, in exchange for which the librarian produces a rare and priceless first edition history of the city, with illustrations of the sewers.
Can you imagine any female character in the Left Behind series doing this???
Isis, you are truly in a class by yourself.