Monthly Archives: December 2010

Soon: Chapter 1: Flags and Angels and Stars, Oh My!

Well, Christmas may be over for us, but Wintermas is not yet over for the Stepola/Desenti clan.

…Connor kept staring at the Wintermas tree.  “Why do you have a flag on top of your tree, Grandpa?  My friend Jimmy’s mom says when she was little people put stars or angels on top of their trees.  She’s still got some.”

Ranold waved dismissively.  “Not in this house.  And not in yours either, I hope.”

“Of course not,” Paul said.

Connor climbed into Paul’s lap and wrapped his arms around his neck.  Paul sensed the boy’s fatigue.  “Why not, Dad?”

“We’ll talk about it in the morning,” Paul said.  “Now why don’t you and your sister–”

“But why not?  They sound pretty, like they’d look better on a Wintermas tree than an old flag.”

Why does Connor, a child of “36 P.3.,” talk like a 1950’s crew-cutted neighbor of Beaver Cleaver?  “An old flag…”

Ranold stood and moved to the window with his back to them.  “That flag stands for everything I believe in, Connor.”

“He wasn’t saying anything about the flag,” Paul said.  “He doesn’t understand.  He’s just a –”

“He’s old enough to be taught, Paul.”

“It’s never come up before, Ranold.  I plan to tell him–”

“See that you do!  And you ought to check into that mother who’s harboring contraband icons.”

Paul shook his head.

“What’s wrong with angels and stars, Daddy?”

“I promise I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

This passage is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, as I believe the Slacktivist has pointed out with regards to Left Behind, Jenkins does not seem to know how to convey dialogue without constant use of “he said,” “she said,” “he said,” “Paul said,” said…said…said.  It’s really boring.

In larger terms, the passage is symptomatic of a huge problem in Soon as a whole: What is illegal and what is not?  What is “known” about religion by a general population in a world in which religion has been outlawed for 36 years?

Why is a “Wintermas tree” in Ranold’s home, and why are “Wintermas presents” opened, while he takes deep personal offense at the mere mention of angels or stars?

If religion and “contraband icons” are outlawed, how does Connor, a child of five, even know what an angel is?

These questions will never be answered.  Soon is nothing if not extremely confused about what people who have outlawed religion would know, and what they would do.

By the way, a quick Google search revealed more of what I already knew–that some people already put flags on top of their trees, and I’m pretty sure not all of them are evil godless haters like Ranold. 

I wonder if Jenkins thinks that Theme Trees, even Patriotic Theme Trees, are not Really Real Christmas Trees unless they have stars or angels on top.

Soon: Chapter 1: …and World War III

It’s always a risky business to portray the causes of war.  Jenkins has put himself into an awkward position, too—he portrays atheists as “incorrectly” attributing all wars to religion.  Yet, he must make World War III about religion.  It would be a very odd thing, indeed, for a world war to be “caused” by money or power or land, and then for atheists, the world’s most despised minority, to be able to rise up and convince the entire planet that religion must be outlawed. 

In other words, it’s a bit weird for Jenkins to simultaneously say that atheists are wrong and overreacting and only looking at the worst of religion, and also that…they are entirely correct, in this world that he has created, that religion did indeed almost kill everyone.

[Paul’s] religious studies program was a virtual military history course, especially when it came to World War III.  It had been sparked by the Muslim holy war against Jews and the West, which began with the American World Trade Center attacks in 2001.  The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to an escalation of the Israel-versus-Palestine conflict, prompting devastating terrorist attacks in the nations that tried to quell it—in both North America and Europe—in 2008.  Meanwhile, Catholics and Protestants continued to war in Northern Ireland, culminating in the destruction of major landmarks in London; the Balkans exploded with the mutual persecutions of the Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox Serbs; Hindus and Muslims battled over Kashmir; and various Asian religious factions skirmished.

So, all religious “skirmishes” around the world are conflated into one gigantic conflict.

Also, the American World Trade Center?  Um, isn’t it just The World Trade Center?  Is Jenkins really that concerned that his readership, primarily American Christians, will be confused about which World Trade Center he means?

But the part that made me giggle, the first time I heard this, was this part…

…various Asian religious factions skirmished.

Not because there is anything inherently amusing in the skirmishes of Asian religious factions, but because I would challenge Jenkins to name even one “Asian religious faction.”  I get the feeling that Jenkins quickly named off the “skirmishes” he knew off the top of his head (Iraq, Northern Ireland), then Wikipedia’d a few others (Balkans, Kashmir), then realized that the world is not made up of just Western Europe, the Middle East, and the United States of America (USA!  USA!  Woooo!).  So he quickly included a few “Asian religious factions” to cover the globe. 

Of course, there’s also the matter of Africa and South America, but I suppose it’s asking a bit much that Jenkins remember them, too.

Narrator: The South American group includes Brazil and Argentina.

Mike: And a few other countries not worth mentioning.

-MST3K, Santa Claus

Jenkins gets back to the Asian religious factions when he begins to detail a few bits of WWIII.

Ranold had been commander of the U.S. Pacific Army during the war.  He was on his way back from Washington to his headquarters at Fort Shafter, north of Honolulu, when disaster struck. 

Feel free to check me on this, because my military knowledge is not what it might be, but wouldn’t it have made more sense for Ranold to be in the Navy, if he was headquartered in Hawaii? 

Conflict between Asian religious factions in the South China Sea resulted in the launching of two nuclear warheads.  A colossal chunk of southern China, including Kowloon, was literally separated from the rest of the continent.  Besides the devastation of the bombs themselves, which snuffed out tens of millions of lives, the violence to the topography caused a tsunami of such magnitude that it engulfed all of Hong Kong Island, swamped Taiwan with hundreds of feet of water, raced to the Philippine Sea and the East China Sea, obliterated Japan and Indonesia, swept into the Northwest Pacific Basin and the Japan Trench, finally reaching the North Pacific Current.

This is the Soon equivalent of travel porn, isn’t it? 

Oh, and if you think there will be long-term worldwide repercussions to the setting off of two nuclear bombs, then think again.  Radiation, cancer, pollution?  Nah.

It was upon the whole of the Hawaiian Islands, swallowing the entire state before any evacuation could take place.  Not one person in all of Hawaii survived.  The great tidal wave eventually reached Southern California and Baja California, reaching farther inland than expected and killing thousands more who believed they had fled far enough.  It changed the landscape and the history of millions of acres from the Pacific Rim to what was then known as North America.  The global map would never look the same, and decades later the grief at the human toll still lingered.

Is it just me, or is Jenkins trying to make the deaths of thousands in California sound much worse than the deaths of tens of millions in China?  There’s just something about the term “snuffed out” that lends a certain air of disrespect that the Californians don’t receive.

Paul and Jae have the following scintillating conversation about Hawaii:

“We all have painful areas, Jae.”

“Of course we do.”  Jae steered the children toward their beds and tucked them in.  “But, Paul, he did lose his entire army and the population of a whole state.  Hawaii was a state then, you know.”

Paul bent to embrace Connor, who turned away, appearing upset by the tone of the conversation.  “There were a lot of states then, Jae.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

They closed the kids’ door and stepped into the hall.  “Just that it’s not like losing a whole region would be now.”

Paul seems awfully casual about the war that robbed him of his father.  But hey, we need as much evidence as we can get that Paul Is An Ass, right?

Soon: Chapter 1: Paul’s Ph.D.

There are two topics that are consuming the next few pages (and the comments section!): Paul’s religious studies, and World War III.  They both feed into each other, so I have just decided to tackle the Ph.D. first.

So, Paul and Jae met in graduate school…

…just after Paul had left the army’s top secret, elite counterterrorist strike unit, Delta Force.  He had joined the army to honor his father, who had been killed in World War III when Paul was an infant.  Despite his obvious proclivity for it, the military wasn’t much of a career since there was little armed conflict in the world anymore…

No worries, readers.  Paul may have left the Army, but it wasn’t because he was some sort of unmanly wuss who couldn’t hack it.  He just couldn’t fight enough to suit him, like a man oughta.

By the way, is it really such a great thing to have “obvious proclivity” for something that “wasn’t much of a career”?  It’s such an odd little non sequitor to put those two phrases next to each other, though at least it is a way of telling us twice that hey, never fear, Paul liked shooting stuff.  They just didn’t let him shoot enough.

A world without armed conflict?  Score another one for This World Rocks.

[Paul’s mother] had taught him that every war stemmed from the fairy tales of religious extremists and that the most rewarding career he could choose would be one in which he helped maintain an intellectual, humanistic society that eschewed both religion and war.

An intellectual, humanistic society?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–those atheist bastards!!!

Good use of RTC buzzwords, though, Jenkins.  “Fairy tales” is always a winner.

I don’t think I’ve met an atheist, no matter how “militant,” who would say that all wars are caused by religion.  Most people have a good enough sense of history and perspective to also recognize the contributions of power, corruption, land, and  money.

Paul dreamed of a corporate job, but when his Ph.D. in religious studies didn’t open those doors, Jae urged him to pursue the NPO.

What, a degree in religion didn’t lead Paul to corporate power and instant wealth?  Why, I’m shocked!  I mean, heck, these days when you major in religion, you can write your own ticket on Wall Street, so especially in a world where religion has been outlawed, how can you blame Paul for thinking that…

Oh.  Never mind.

So, Paul joins the NPO, which is had risen from the ashes of the FBI and CIA after World War III.  He travels all over the world, teaching and consulting and banging as many half-drunk coworkers as he possibly can.

Two more things to note:

Studying the world’s major religions had introduced [Paul] to a broad range of cultures, background that proved invaluable when investigations drew him or his colleagues overseas.

Yeah, keep your eyes open for instances when Paul demonstrates a working knowledge of other cultures.  Then, chug like crazy.

Also: Paul has never read the Book of Revelation.  Needless to say, this turns out to be Very Significant later.

Soon: Chapter 1: Paul and Jae and Height

So, Paul is a serial-cheating jerk (who may or may not also be a date-rapist!), and Jae is a shrewish harpy.

Can this marriage be saved?  Must it be Saved to be saved?

Hell, why did Jae marry this ass in the first place?

Well, Jenkins tells us.  Sorta.

First, he grinds the action (such as it is) to a halt with some details of Stepola/Decenti relations.  Now, written by a good writer, exposition can be a perfectly good and useful tool, letting us in on characters’ backgrounds and helping us to understand and identify with them.

So, here it is: This is the first…sigh…Wintermas that the Stepolas have ever spent with the Desentis, because Paul’s mother died of brain cancer that fall, and she was alone while the Desentis were not.  (Paul’s father was killed in WWIII.)  The grandchildren are “formally acknowledged” by their grandparents.  Ranold B. Decenti takes every opportunity he can to disparage Paul’s job.  Paul can’t even decide (after knowing him for more than 10 years) how he should address Ranold.  And, as already discussed, he can’t stand to be in the same room as his wife.  So, basically, everyone hates and/or resents everyone else.

Well, ’tis the season!  😀

Then, after hearing these uttery banal details of their sinful atheistic lives, we are told of Paul and Jae’s courtship: they met in graduate school.  Paul was studying religion (on his atheist mother’s recommendation), and Jae, economics.

[Jae] was tall and lithe, a celebration for the eyes.  He–she said–would easily pass muster with her father, an ex-army general and one of the founding fathers of the NPO.  They married in 26 P.3., right after grad school.

Well, hey, when based on nothing more than prettiness and parental approval, how could a marriage not thrive for forevermore?

I’m just astonished that Jenkins mentioned that Jae is tall.  That’s a helluva lot more description than we usually get of his female characters.  In fact, both he and Tim LaHaye tend to confine their description to their male heroes, and then, solely to height.  Rayford Steele is six-four, Michael Murphy is six-three, just like Paul.  I wonder if Jenkins promised LaHaye that he would never make another hero as tall as Ray-Gun.

Like “drop-dead gorgeous” Hattie Durham, we have no more specific idea of Jae’s looks than that she is “a celebration for the eyes.”  Whose eyes?  Well, Jenkins’, I suppose.  And Paul’s, at least until the first half-drunk co-worker turned his head.  Again, shades of Babylon Rising–even after she’s dead, we have no idea what Laura Murphy looked like, except that her husband thought her beautiful.  Do LaHaye and Jenkins just not care about appearance, as long as the men are tall and the women are gorgeous?  Do they think the utter lack of description makes us identify with the heroes more?

Pity the short RTC man or the non-gorgeous RTC woman who reads these and just can’t identify with the characters, because how can you identify with a character unless they are just a placeholder for your own reflection?

Soon: Chapter 1: Our Hero and His Godly Wife…Sorta

Well, there’s no putting it off any longer–time to introduce our “hero.”

As I’ve mentioned before, it appears to be Jenkins’ intent in these early chapters to make Paul Apostle as unlikeable as possible, so that his conversion from the evils of atheism will be that much more dramatic.  Problem is, Paul is just as much an ass after becoming a Christian.

But not to worry–he’s quite a big ass right now, too.

Paul has been married to his wife, Jae, for ten years.  They have two kids: Brie is seven and Connor is five.  Paul’s job, working for the National Peace Organization, keeps him on the road frequently, which leads us to Paul’s Big Sin: he’s a serial adulterer. 

But here’s the interesting thing: read these paragraphs, introducing Paul’s “indiscretions,” and let me know who you think Jenkins thinks is behaving worse: Paul or Jae…

Complicating this year’s festivities for Paul was that Jae was again on his case about the time he spent on the road–her code for not trusting him.  He had been caught in an indiscretion, which she persisted in calling an “affair,” more than six years before.  At thirty-six, a muscular six-foot-three, and possessed of a quick wit, he had always been attractive to women.  Often when traveling he would have dinner with a female colleague who, after a few drinks, would radiate the signals of invitation, sometimes even brazenly.  If the women was appealing–and not infrequently she was–Paul didn’t say no.

These encounters were mostly one-time, no-strings flings that livened up the boredom of travel and, to Paul’s mind, had nothing to do with his marriage.  But Jae sifted through his luggage like Sherlock Holmes and quizzed him relentlessly.  Her jealous obsessions and tight-lipped silences were wearing him down.  Paul used to love merely gazing at Jae.  Now he could hardly stand being in the same room.

So, the lines are drawn.  Jae is the one who is obsessed and relentless.  Paul is the one who simply doesn’t say no–and who can blame a witty, handsome guy like him, right, when appealing, brazen women are throwing themselves right into his arms?  I mean, he might have to duck and let them fall, and that would be very un-gentleman-like.

(Oh, and naturally, Paul is very tall.  LaHaye and Jenkins’ heroes always are.)

There is so much to break down here.  Between having their two children, Paul was caught in an affair.  Being caught did not stop him from engaging in numerous other “indiscretions” between the time his daughter was an infant, and the present.  And the fault for all this lies, in the words of the author, with brazen Other Women and a jealous, tight-lipped wife.

Rayford Steele is starting to look like a paragon.

Heck, Paul doesn’t even get what Rayford gets–interest in only one woman, while unhappily married to another woman who constantly guilt-trips him and their daughter about religion.  There’s nothing wrong with Paul’s wife, nothing wrong with their marriage–at least, nothing is mentioned beyond mere boredom.

And here’s the strange thing.  The really strange thing.

Jae has stayed with him.

Through six years of infidelity, she has stayed married to Paul.  It’s not like they have some sort of agreement or arrangement, and she’s not in the dark (far from it).  She’s stayed, desperately unhappy, with a husband who can’t stand her.

Jae is an atheist.

Doesn’t this seem just a bit odd?  By RTC lights, aren’t atheists supposed to be amoral seekers of selfish, hedonistic pleasure?  Yet Jae has not slapped Paul to the curb and struck out on her own.  She has not sought revenge by having any “indiscretions” of her own.  She seems committed to the marriage, to the point of not leaving when her husband a) cheats on her (many times, with many women) and b) can’t stand her.  (Oh, and we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the contempt and loathing Paul has for Jae.  Compared with what’s to come, the serial cheating is nothing.  And again, it gets no better post-conversion.)

This is really the first (though by no means the last) instance of Jenkins’ characters interfering with their religious roles.  Jae is playing the role, as The Slacktivist once put it, of “the good, godly wife,” who stays in her marriage no matter what because God Hates Divorce.

Except Jae doesn’t believe in God.

In Left Behind, LaHaye and Jenkins (through Rayford) excused Hattie Durham’s lack of concern about his married state because “she claimed no moral or religious code.”  Rayford himself wasn’t concerned about his married state until after he got religion.  So why here, in an atheistic dystopia where Christians are burned alive, are the morals which are supposedly exclusive to Christians being held by atheists?  Could Jenkins actually be saying that atheists care about marriage, too?  Or is Jae just a prop, something Paul can cheat on now so that he can’t cheat on her after his conversion? 

Which brings us back around the circle.  Paul needs to be Christian in order to be faithful.

Why doesn’t Jae?

Soon: Chapter 1: It’s a Very Atheist Wintermas

As I mentioned a few posts back, there is a lot of ground to cover in these first few chapters.  Aside from the weak-ass plot and awful, awful characters, there is all kinds of atheist world-building going on.  Or at least, what a Real True Christian thinks an atheist world would be like.

And Jerry Jenkins thinks that in an atheist world, December 24 would be Wintermas Eve.

Washington, D.C.,  still knew how to do holidays.

Dense snowfall didn’t slow traffic or seem to dampen spirits this December 24–Wintermas Eve–of 36 P.3. 

The main thoroughfares of the historic city sparkled with blinking white lights that washed the trees with cheer.

Santas dotted street corners, ringing bells and thanking passersby for donations, but not to the Salvation Army, for neither salvation nor army remained de rigueur.  The money would go to international humanitarian relief.

They’re giving their money to international humanitarian relief?  Those atheist bastards!!!

Okay, many, many things about these bits from the opening chapter cry out with questions. 

To start simply: Does Jerry Jenkins think that white lights are an evil, secular abomination?  Does he think that colored lights are just too Christian for the atheists to deal with?

I was joking about the international relief thing, but I wonder if Jenkins was.  Is he actually trying to say that his evil atheist dystopia has a few good points, like generosity?  Or does he just think that charity is something less when it’s not religious charity?

Okay, and most important: Wintermas? 

Wintermas…

Jenkins thinks that in an atheist world, December 25 would be Wintermas??  Um, what about all those other holidays at this time of year, Jenkins?  Wouldn’t it make sense for atheists to either declare no holidays in December at all, or for December to be some kind of genera-holiday?  Because I’m sorry, renaming Christmas but still having the holiday on December 25 does not strike me as particularly atheist at all, especially the straw-atheists of RTC imaginings.

Also…Wintermas?  Winter Mass?  This name leaves us with only two options that I can think of:

1.  Jerry Jenkins does not realize that “Christmas” is derived from “Christ’s Mass,” or is so convinced that Catholics are not Real Christians that he does not care (and thus, thinks everyone else feels the same way)…

or

2.  Jerry Jenkins thinks that atheists do not realize that “Christmas” is derived from “Christ’s Mass,” and thinks that in an atheistic dystopia, at the meeting to name the winter holidays, not one single person there would know what a “mass” is.

Some group or other is being insulted here, accidentally or not.  I’m just not sure which one.

Wintermas.

I just cannot get over that.  As someone said in the comments, this is Imagination Fail.  Not even for one moment could Jerry Jenkins imagine how a non-Christian might name a wintertime holiday.  Nope, he just transposed the words “Christ” and “Winter.”  In an atheistic dystopia, he thinks that is what would happen.

Wintermas.

Christ…

Soon: Prologue: Subtlety and Violent Death

So they drag Andy to some deserted industrial park, because let’s not miss a cliché.  By this time, “some big shot” in a limo (no doubt solar-powered) has shown up, and directs the mean, raw-boned lady as to what to do next.  Although why the Big Shot is directing them is anyone’s guess–they’re already all set up for what they’re going to do.

Indeed, they have a 55-gallon drum just sitting there, waiting, and Andy seems to know exactly the purpose to which it will be put (he smells “acrid fumes” coming from the barrel, and prays that he will be “stoic“).  Because nothing is more important than being a Big Strong Manly Man (TM) until the end.

“Actions have consequences, An-dy,” the woman said.  (Emphasis Jenkins’.)

Okay, what’s with the weird emphasis on the first syllable of Andy’s name?  What, is the raw-boned woman six years old?  It’s not like Andy is some kind of strange and unusual name.

And even though “surrender wasn’t in his nature,” Andy can only imagine how he would fight his way to freedom, and lets himself be stuffed into the barrel, which happens to be lined with napalm.  He imagines how they would shoot him if he made a run for it.  Me, I think if I had to choose, I would take the bullets over the being burned alive, but maybe that’s just me. 

Oh, and he wants to spit in the raw-boned lady’s face, but refrains.  Andy’s a gentleman.

“Now others will get the message.  The USSA does not tolerate subversives.”

The USSA?

Are you serious, Jerry Jenkins?

The USSA???

Honestly, are you serious?

Holy crap, you are serious.

*headdesk*

Sigh.

So Andy is imagining scenarios of torture, but they’re really just there to kill him.  Hell, they don’t even ask him a single question, which seems like a real wasted opportunity.  Surely the…oh geez…the USSA might be interested in “the compund” where Andy’s compatriots are.  I mean, they have a compound.

But no, they just kill him.  Man, the USSA is inefficient.  The guy isn’t even struggling or spitting or anything.

Now, I’m no expert in the area of being killed while stuffed into a barrel of napalm that is set on fire, but Jenkins manages to inject the scene with at least a bit of horror.  (Well, he has to, doesn’t he?  After all, this is just what eeevil atheists would do to a Christian, if only they had the chance.)

Andy willed himself to make no sound, but he failed.  He had drawn in enough air to fill his lungs just before the conflagration enveloped him with a heat so hellish he could not fathom it.  And he exhaled with a scream so piercing he could hear it above the roar of the fire.

Now, not to take anything away from Andy’s pain in the moment, but I do feel compelled to point out two things, the first of which may seem insensitive, but is related to the second point:

1.  Andy’s pain, great though it is, is over in seconds.  He has time for one scream before he dies.

2.  Speaking of hellish, this is what RTCs think will happen to atheists forever when they die.  Oh, and all those other silly Other People, too–the Muslims and Hindus and Wiccans and Buddhists. 

I want to be fair about this, I really do, so I went and checked, and found footage of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (though it is important to remember that Jenkins is the sole author of Soon) talking about the fate of nonbelievers and the existence of hell, on Beliefnet.

So if people deny Jesus, they get stuffed into a fired-up barrel of napalm…forever.  Which, okay, would suck, but someone has to explain to me how this threat would make me a) believe in him, and b) even if I did, worship him out of anything but abject fear.

So ends the Prologue.  On to Paul Apostle!

Soon: Prologue: Idiots and Phones and the Mark of the Beast

Well, that’ll teach me to use the words “calendar” and “porn” in a post title.  Someone found my blog by searching for “porn calendars.”

Hey, whatever works!

Jerry Jenkins does indeed get started on the phone porn right away–the paragraph I quoted a few days ago was the second in the book.

The first just introduces us to the fact that Delta Force Command Sergeant Andrew Pass drives a Chevy Electrolumina.

In case you are interested, his pursuers are in a Suburban Hydro.

Cars apparently powered by sun, electricity, and hydrogen?  Like I said before, This World Rocks.

So, Andy tells Jack that he is being followed, that he is unarmed, and asks that he “get hold of Angela in case I can’t.”

Then, Andy hangs up.  (Well, he touches his thumb and pinkie together, which is hanging up.)

This all raises some intersting questions:

1.  What do people who use sign language do in this world?  Seems like they would be constantly calling Australia.

2.  Same question for people who work with their hands.

3.  How can anyone ever be assured of privacy in this world?  When the Marvelous Phone (praise its holy name) can be activated by tapping your fingers, can’t anyone’s life be put on speaker phone at any time?

4.  And based on that question: WHY THE HELL DID ANDY HANG UP?  Why doesn’t he want Jack and anyone who can hear him to know what happens?  Seriously, WTF?

Idiot.

Boring scene short, Andy is caught.  Good job, Command Sergeant.

A rawboned, thin-lipped woman with a shock of silver hair stepped forward.  “Andrew Pass?”

He would not respond.

Oooo, Andy, you’re such a tough guy.

And remember folks, unattractive women are always evil.

Another uniform, a young man, patted him down.  The vapor rushing from his mouth told Andy the kid was excited.

Yeah, only a young, fresh kid would be excited under such circumstances.  Sure, Andy was just chased through the snow and captured by nefarious and vague evildoers, but it’s all pretty mundane.

“Unarmed.”  He cuffed Andy’s hands behind his back, the steel cold on his wrists.  “I’ll wand him.”

Oh no.

He ran a detector over Andy’s limbs, stopping when a high tone signalled the ID biochip beneath the skin of his right forearm.  The young man studied an LED readout.  “It’s Pass, all right.”

Wow, Andy really is dumb.  If everyone has the Mark of the Beast, just like in Left Behind ID biochips, then a) what’s with the tough guy, I’m-not-telling-you-my-name-and-you-can’t-make-me game?  And b) why is he surprised when the bad guys scan his biochip?  Wouldn’t the whole point of having biochips be so you could scan them?

Idiot.

The bad guys toss Andy into a truck and drive off.

Would his family or his compatriots have a clue what became of him?

Hmmm, I dunno.  Sure would be cool if you had a phone implanted in your skull that you activated by tapping your fingers or just speaking, wouldn’t it?

Idiot.

Soon: Prologue: Calendars and Phone Porn

Housekeeping: yes, the Amazon picture is accurate in that the cover is rather underexposed, but it seems to be that way on purpose.  Also, the letters on the Amazon picture are rather…shinier than my copy.

There’s always time for Firefly!

Anyway…

The…umm…how should I put this?  The introduction to the Prologue explains the dating system of this Brave New World:

At the conclusion of World War III in the Fall of 2009, it was determined by the new international government in Bern, Switzerland, that beginning January 1 of the following year, the designation A.D. (anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord” or after the birth of Christ) would be replaced by P.3. (post-World War III).  Thus, January 1, A.D. 2010, would become January 1, 1 P.3.

Okay, several problems with this that I can see.  First, of course, is that not everyone in the world uses the Gregorian calendar in the first place, Jenkins.  I mean, I know you’re American and all, but since we are talking about an evil global government, you might wish to consider that other calendars would be changed, as well.  So, Islamic calendar, Hebrew calendar, who cares, right?

Also, if we’re so concerned about naming things after gods, why aren’t we interested in the names of the months?  Or days of the week?  Does it only count if things are named or organized in honor of Christianity?

Also, speaking as a secular American, I have never really associated our current calendar with “the year of our Lord.”  I know, I know, sacrilege.  But it’s one of those things that has become so secularized that one barely considers the religious meaning. 

Like Christmas!  😛 

(Oh, and more on that later, too!) 

I’m just sayin’, if I was running the eeevil worldwide atheist government out of Switzerland (hey, a girl can dream!), the calendar would not be high on my list of Important Issues to Address.

On to the Prologue!

Pius, this is just for you: some good, old-fashioned Phone Porn:

He [Andy Pass, more on him later] touched the tip of his right thumb to the tip of his pinkie, activating cells implanted in his molars.  He could have dialed with his other fingertips, but he opted for voice recognition and quickly recited the numbers that would connect him on a secure, private circuit to his brother in the underground compound.

“This is Jack, Andy,” came the answer that resonated off his cheekbones and directly to his eardrum.  “GPS shows you heading north on Sixteenth toward Silver Spring.”

Okay, holy crap.

The phones are implanted in your skull. 

There is no escaping The Phone.

Holy.  Crap.

The phones of Jerry Jenkins’ future are implanted in your skull!

I promised phone stuff.  I have delivered. 

Trust me, it only gets weirder from here on in.

We haven’t even started.