Babylon Rising, Chapter 67

Oh, man, this chapter sucks.  It’s like Tim LaHaye realized there was an intelligent, competent, interesting female character in this story, and ordered that a stop be put to that kind of nonsense, but QUICK!

Since the loving presence of her father had departed, [Isis had] lived her life in hiding.  Her academic studies had been a way of avoiding all the things in life that scared her, and her little office buried at the Foundation was really a kind of bunker from which she had successfully kept the outside world at bay.

Hey, Alteration Retcon!  Retcon!!!  RETCON!!!!! 

RETCON!!!1!!11!!ELEVENTY-ONE!!!!!

Yeah, so much for the brilliant philologist, renowned by experts the world over for her skills, having chosen her profession because of a lifeling love of the myths and worlds of the past.  So much for the conflicted child, loving her individuality even as it kept her apart from her peers. 

Back when we were introduced to Isis, we were given a very clear picture of her background.  Nothing about “hiding from the world.”  Just someone, an eccentric and interesting someone, but not a scared someone, who happened to love her work.

This sadly calls to mind Lyz’s not-infrequent observation, over at the awesome And You Call Yourself A Scientist!, that in the movies, beauteous female scientists are only allowed to choose scientific careers because of personal tragedy.

Because a woman being passionate about a challenging field of study is just silly, isn’t it?

Grrrr…

Sigh.

Anyway, who has time to worry about the retcon of Isis when there are MARINES around?

Colonel Davis runs right up to Murphy and introduces himself.  And completely ignores Isis and Jassim.  Seriously, he doesn’t even address them.  But, hey, Isis is a woman and Jassim is a Muslim, so it’s not like they matter.

Oh, and just in case we might have any doubts that Davis is a Marine, he wears aviator sunglasses and has a bone-crunching handshake

So, we’re sure. 

A sonar sled has just been left at the site.  Apparently just sitting out in the hot sun for months, because “the fellows who cleaned this place out left a couple of items they couldn’t find a use for on the black market.”

Hey, bonus!  And, holy crap, this is just like when Buck found that bicycle sitting on the post-Rapture Manhattan sidewalk!

Now, I Googled sonar sleds, and it appears that they are used primarily for underwater exploration, not under-sand exploration.  If anyone knows differently, please feel free to correct me.

In the meantime, it strikes me as odd that Murph and Jassim can just drag the sled, a lightweight plastic oblong the size of a child’s mattress–slowly across the rockslide while Isis watched the images forming on Murphy’s laptop computer screen a few yards away

But after a mere thirty minutes, they see some sort of man-made object…perhaps a dozen feet beneath the surface…[that] wasn’t small.

It’s Just That Simple! 

And hey, guess what???  Colonel Davis has a bulldozer!

A Marine mans the bulldozer at Murphy’s direction for twenty minutes, then the following exchange takes place:

[Murphy] walked over to the area of newly excavated earth, then turned to Colonel Davis.  “Now all we need is a few shovels.”

Davis saluted smartly.  “Coming right up.  And I’ve got twenty men with plenty of experience digging holes, if you need ’em.”

WTF WHY IS HE SALUTING MURPHY AND WHY DO THESE MARINES HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH THEIR TIME THAN DIG HOLES FOR THIS LAZY-ASS ARCHEOLOGIST WHO DID NOT EVEN THINK TO BRING SHOVELS???

Sigh.

Colonel David clearly thought out this whole archeological expedition much more thoroughly than the actual archeologist on hand.

The Marines dig until one of their shovels bounces off some bronze doors.  Gee, maybe this is why archeology is best done by professionals–so that shovels won’t bounce off priceless and fragile artifacts.

The doors are basically pointing towards the sky, because after an interval of three thousand years, the building has shifted from the vertical.

Because the doors appear to be sealed shut, a couple of Marines attempt to pry them open with shovels.

And again…why are people prying at ancient stuff with shovels when you could damage it WTF???

But they manage to open the doors.  And then Murphy grabs the Idiot Ball and starts to dangle himself over the edge of the doors that, as far as he knows, may lead to yet another bottomless pit.

And then (gasp! choke!) Murphy’s fingers slip, and he falls down the hole.

Idiot.

Time for another facepalm, this time from a fellow archeology enthusiast.

Meta-Isis facepalms, too.  But regular Isis just screams.  Because she is a girl.

And so, Murphy carries on the proud family tradition of accidentally falling down holes and discovering awesome things.

Because guess what????

Right there at the bottom of the hole which I guess is the far wall of the now-horizontal building…RIGHT THERE IS THE GOLDEN HEAD OF KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR WOW!!!

Yeah, when Murphy comes to after falling, he is staring right into King Neb’s golden face.  Because the building going from vertical to horizontal in no way damaged the Golden Head!

It’s Accidental Archeology at its best!

Way to be, Murphy.  You’re a credit to your profession.

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Posted on November 6, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Dear heavenly days, it really is Murphy’s law, isn’t it?

    Everything that CAN be done wrong, WILL.

  2. Yay, another fan of Lyz! (Are you following A Course of Steady Reading?)

    I don’t know anything about ground-penetrating sonar. Ground-penetrating radar, yup, absolutely; that’s usually on a wheeled trolley. Maybe Dinallo read something about underwater archaeology and misinterpreted? “Sled” certainly suggests underwater kit to me

    I feel that at this point Murphy should plummet onto something sharp. Something blunt and rusty would also do. Somehow I suspect that this is not the impression LaHaye wishes me to gain of this character.

  3. A complete and total shift from horizontal to vertical seems…unlikely, though I suppose not impossible, given that it is a desert and sand is not known as the best foundation.

    I’ll also give them a pass on the golden head surviving. It’s, again, unlikely (especially ’cause it’s gold) but not actually all that impossible, especially in an, apparently, sealed room.

    The jumping into the bottomless maw of the potential find-of-a-lifetime? Argh! I mean…Argh! What if he’d landed on the head, instead of next to it? Good-bye head! What if he’d hit a wall with the next Rosetta stone on it? I can accept Murph is enough of a fool to dive in without being worried about himself, but not caring at all about the contents of the thing? I think we can now official establish him as an Archaeologist in Name Only. The man should leave more digs in ruins than Daniel Jackson. ><

  4. Oh, good lord. I echo that Picardian double facepalm, because one facepalm won’t do. That’s the only part I laughed at; the rest of it was so painfully idiotic I just shook my head in disbelief.

    I’m convinced that LaHaye and Dinallo are modelling Murphy on Inspector Gadget and have completely missed the point of the cartoon. Inspector Gadget doesn’t get his man because he’s smart, he gets his man because he’s totally unaware that Brain and Penny work behind the scenes to help him every step of the way.

    And even then, Gadget’s less painful than Murphy is, because Gadget isn’t a misogynistic, entitled jackass. And hell, Inspector Gadget episodes are actually funny because you can see him bumbling all over in good-natured police-inspecting, while Brain tries to get him on the path of the real MAD agents, and Penny’s busy using her badass computer book to save the world.

    Isis not only has the dual burden of being the helper to Murph-the-jackass, she can’t even get the benefit of consistent characterization and a nice word from Murphmeister. At least Inspector Gadget treats Penny well, even if he honestly has no idea she always helps him out.

  5. Oh, heavens.

    Isis, we miss ye, and we hardly knew ye. *ceremonially downs a shot of virtual whiskey in her memory*

    Once again: This heavy- and ham-handed use of Marines is– it just — I don’t– WARGLGHBRGLBRG! Having been ex-military I think I can say with sure tongue that no colonel would salute a civilian except in the most ironic and insulting manner possible. (“Oh, so Indiana Murphy here thinks he’s in charge. Sure thing, Mr. Big Hero Archaeologist, Sir *salute* Punk.”) Second, WARGBRL Murphy is on the FBI’s ‘persons of interest’ list for being associated with the suspected bomb factory in the basement of his church.

    Third, wasn’t he in the previous country rather pseudo-legaly? Wouldn’t the State Department have questions about where he was coming from when going into Iraq? I mean, one of the things thats of concern in Iraq is aid in the form of terrorists and insurgents coming into Iraq from other Middle-Eastern countries, and Murphy, suspected domestic terrorist that he is, I don’t think that Marine colonel would be quite so quick to salute.

    I really should stop applying logic to the LaHayeverse. It’s a loosing proposition.

    • I’m not ex-military, but my first reaction (after the obvious WTF ISIS and boggling at the stupid archaeology) to this entry was, “They sent a *colonel* out there to help this guy? Surely an officer of that rank has got better things to do than stand around supervising a bucket-and-spade party?”

      (Long-time lurker and occasional poster on slacktiverse blogs. Sheep, non-homicide, etc.)

  6. So two trained professionals let a troop of marines go to with shovels, pry the doors open, and then just tumbled in? I . . . what? How did Murphy live this long?

    I am so sad that he did not fall into an Indiana Jones-style pit of vipers. How much better would than scene be if a venomous viper was coming out of the golden head?

  7. I belatedly second what Firedrake said. They definitely buggered up what kind of geophys survey equipment they were talking about. Shame, because otherwise it might have actually made them look like they had a clue. Unfortunately, with all the other problems, by their powers combined, they are… absolutely brain-hurting.

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