Soon: Chapter 2: The Way They Talk

Jenkins’ characters have the oddest ways of expressing themselves.  They often do not communicate in a straight-ahead kind of way.

Now, admittedly, making veiled threats could be seen as something of an art form, verbal or written.  Perhaps something not to be attempted unless one knows what one is doing.

Now that’s he’s done spitting in cemeteries, Paul is back at the Decenti residence to get his despised family to the airport on time.  And Ranold has a few last-minute words for his son-in-law:

 “You may not have done the best for yourself, attending that funeral.”

“Meaning?”

“Paul, the agency is focusing more and more on homegrown subversives.  If it comes out–the truth about Pass, I mean–and it’s known that you went to his funeral, that you were old friends–”

“I didn’t go as an old friend.”

Huh?  Then what did you go as, Paul?  An iguana?

Maybe Paul means he went as a “like a son” to The Dork Too Stupid.  Which I guess makes him a son who doesn’t know he has a sister.

Hmm, I think I just officially creeped myself out re: Paul’s attraction to Angela.

Erm…moving on!

“Whatever made you go, it was imprudent.”

“You’re saying it could hurt me inside the agency?”

“Of course.”

My brother, Angus, was visiting this past weekend.  I showed him this passage, and he laughed at this part, wondering why Paul couldn’t just say that he had known the guy for years, and went to the funeral to pay his respects, oh yeah, just like all the other guys from the Army who were there.

And, failing that, he added, why couldn’t Paul just lie and say he secretly suspected The Dork of being subversive, and wanted to do some recon of his own?

“That would require my knowing the truth before I went, now wouldn’t it?”

Ranold pressed his lips together.  “You did know.  I told you.”

“Then I would be in trouble only if anyone in the agency knew that you had told me.  Am I right?  Surely I can count on you to sit on that…Dad.”

Ooo, Paul, you’re such a clever macho-man, the way you turned that right around on that mean old Ranold!

Asshat.

And the original objections still stand.  Even if Paul was improperly informed, he could still say 1) he didn’t believe it, or 2) he did believe it, and was spying.

Oh, and one more note.  Angus’ reaction to this entire passage was, “Geez, this Ranold guy makes it sound like atheists would never go to funerals.  Yeah, because we would never care about other people or want to pay respects and say goodbye.”

Welcome to JenkinsLand, Angus.

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Posted on January 26, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Well, don’t you know, that athiests are just mad at god, so of course…
    No… sorry, I refuse to follow the idiot train today.
    I hate this verbal, GOTCHA game that Captain Jackass seems to enjoy playing. Almost as much as I hate the nepotistic theme of, “I can trust YOU dad.”
    It’s almost like Athiests CARE about family, which in Jenkinsland, they don’t… but they do, except when they don’t… except…
    It just goes on and on, hurts my head to even think about.
    Overall. Just bad writing to try to set up… what? Everybody spies on everybody else in athiest land… oh right, that must be it, because communist Russia had everybody spying on each other, and they were ALL athiests, so of course all athiests must spy on each other. Except when it’s family of course…
    This is just so… argh… shut up! Jenkins! Shut up, shut up shut UP!

  2. Jenkins has never previously been reluctant to attempt literary techniques that are clearly beyond his skill…

    I wonder whether this conversational style springs from those mini-arguments that RTCs like to pretend will convert someone – and this is a world in which they can actually work.

  3. Well it’s nice that someone in this book finally hinted at the kind of paranoia that should be standard in a napalm-barrel society like this, except….I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem to work. There’s no fear here, just a vague implication that you shouldn’t be seen with “those kinds of people.” Maybe there’s more to the passage that’s not shown, but this is the sort of conversation I’d expect to see if Paul had invited an uncouth friend to the country club, and Ranold was warning him that it might hurt his chances with the membership committee.

    “Then I would be in trouble only if anyone in the agency knew that you had told me. Am I right? Surely I can count on you to sit on that…Dad.”

    I think maybe he IS “just like a son” of Too Dork Stupid. This kind of blindly suicidal behaviour has got to be genetic. When somebody threatens you with the power of the napalm barrel state, you fold and make excuses! You don’t try and tough talk the guy with the state on his side!

    • Perhaps this is Jenkins projecting the way he thinks the real world works – if you’re seen hanging around with RTCs, you’re likely to find other people start avoiding you, after all.

      I would love to drop Jenkins into a real underground movement. Fifty/fifty whether the secret police or the underground would kill him first.

    • Nope, there’s no more to this particular passage–that’s the whole conversation.

      And fear not–there’s plenty more paranoia to come! 😀

  4. I think the implication is more that to Ranold, theists don’t deserve respect to begin with. Well, either that, or theists and atheists shouldn’t be capable of respecting each other in the first place (granted that the antitheists all over FSTDT aren’t going to help refute that).

    (And trust me, Ranold is going to get a LOT worse. How much worse? Gel Ovt Onq greevgbel.)

  5. Sure… go tell the guy who barely tolerates you that he should sit on the fact that you went to the funeral of a subversive.

    On the one hand, Paul should just shrug and say he had to pay his respects to his former commanding officer and mentor, and be done with it. Obviously, maybe, doing that was more important to him than his career. That’s cool; it actually makes Stepola one-tenth less of an ass than I thought him to be before. But seriously, telling his father in law to cover for him when his father in law seems a bit less than pleased with his son in law… that’s taking Stepola’s career-suicidal-tendencies to a new level.

  6. It’s kind of sad that I can pick out themes and patterns in these works by now. This is once again pressing how important it is that their characters have prestige and recognition, because all good characters need to be popular despite being utter douchebags. He doesn’t act worried about his life or freedom…he acts worried that he won’t get that next promotion.

    • While sharply skimming through Soon, I noticed that one of the people converting Stepola refers to the Tree of Life in New Jerusalem et al. as “just for us” (i.e. those beholden to the Christ). Yes, that exact phrase. The phrase “addicted to obvious specialness” already keens from that. And if I get that just from that one little phrase (admittedly with the genre as context)…

      • As we’re introduced to more and more of the Underground Zealots, it becomes more and more clear that these people very much want to be oppressed, with all the specialness that entails for them. And really, that’s what this book is about–the final fantasy of the RTCs who right now want to be oppressed, but recognize that they are not actually being oppressed (yet).

        • Choir of Shades

          Dangit Ruby, now you have me imagining Rayford in little red armor, Paul in a snazzy red outfit with a totally awesome red-hat-with-a-white-feather-in-it, Buck in white robes with a hood and red embroidery, and what’s his face from EoA in blue robes and a pointy yellow hat (he is the nuker after all) fighting a giant demon named Athe.

  7. To be fair, I don’t think Jenkins was trying to say that atheists have no respect for the dead. After all the other people at the funeral, at least some of them are atheists too right? Of course sometimes it’s hard to tell what jenkins is trying to say. I swear the man can almost contradict himself in the same sentence.

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