Chapter 17: New York State of Mind

Paul has already said that San Francisco is his favorite city (even though he lives in Chicago, like so many (all?) of Jenkins’ heroes).

But he also told Koontz that he loves New York.  And to be honest, I’m kinda surprised that Jenkins has held back on the New York “reveal” for so long.  New York, after all, has a long and proud tradition as the setting for post-apocalyptic and/or disaster stories.   Deluge, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Escape from New York, Escape from the Bronx (wooo!) and more recently, Day After Tomorrow and War of the Worlds.

Now, it’s not difficult to see why this is.  Even people who have never set foot in New York are familiar with the iconic landmarks.  Seeing famous buildings damaged/destroyed/repurposed in fiction makes the threat more immediate, more real.  (And can be a great way to show off your effects budget.) 

Moreover, in cases like Atheistopia, it can be a way to show the heartlessness of the enemy.  (They turned Notre Dame de Paris into the “University of the Self-Movement”?*  These evil atheists MUST BE STOPPED!!**)

So, let’s see how Jenkins handles the challenge of presenting a post-WWIII, Atheistopian Manhattan:

[Paul] had visited New York a couple of times as a youngster [only a few years after WWIII], but it seemed all the new buildings designed since then were black.  It gave the island, particularly midtown, an ultramodern look and feel.  While some of the ancient landmarks–the former Empire State Building (now the Atlantica Tower) and the former Chrysler Building (now the Northeast Tower)–retained their gray-granite charm, sleek black skyscrapers with black tinted windows dominated the skyline.

That’s it.

Seriously, THAT’S IT.  The buildings are black.

Wow.  How spooky and futuristic (oh, excuse me, ultramodern) to have buildings be black.  What happened, did Jenkins just get black granite countertops in his kitchen and think that this made it the most super-duper ultramodern kitchen EVAH and so he decided to make New York City look the same?

Black buildings…it must be…THE FUTURE!!!!

Though I would be remiss if I did not also notice Jenkins’ nod to travel logistics–it takes Paul only an hour to fly from Chicago to New York, and today it takes about two hours.  Huzzah.

I would also be remiss if I did not note that the NPO is putting up Paul in The Pierre.  Which makes tons of sense except that it totally doesn’t, since the Pierre is right next to Central Park and the offices of Demetrius and Demetrius are in the Financial District.

Paul’s digs

(Picture from Wikipedia)

Plus, where is the money coming from to house Paul in a luxury hotel?  He works for the Atheistopian FBI/CIA conglomeration, and he’s staying in this gorgeous hotel, far removed from where the investigation is actually taking place?

Nothing but the best for Our Hero.


*Yes, this actually happens in Silenced.

**Though really, Paul doesn’t seem to care.


Posted on August 6, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Wow, the posts are comming at an exponentially growing rate. She can’t take it anymore, captain!

    Yeah, that New-New-York is a dissapointment. Instead of making everything IPod-white, he makes it black because, y’know, eeeeevil.

    And all Jenkins heroes bath in luxury, y’know. Whether they are pilots, reporters or agents, they get nothing but the best. Chalk up another leitmotif.

    • And even more luxury is coming…it’s weird and very “of the world” for our newly-minted RTC “hero.”

      I’m not sure if the quick post rate is because I find this section dull, or just because this is the first weekend in forever that I can devote to writing. But this may be it for the weekend because I also have some work writing and the Atheism 101 thing on Slacktiverse to finish.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I wonder if this is Jenkins indulging in some Author Self-Insert Wish Fulfillment. Just like so much bad fanfic.

  2. Choir of Shades

    Crankin’ ’em out, eh Ruby?

    So long as I think about it in terms of a much better piece of dystopian fiction, 1984, I don’t have as MUCH a problem with Paul staying in luxury. Paul is a member of the secret police (I almost wrote sex police there), the Atheistapo as we’ve been calling them. In the Orwellian dystopia this would place him in the highest social class, which does bask in luxuries.

    Actually I’ll give the whole black buildings thing more credit than it certainly deserves (more than Jenkins deserves for it at the very least). Remember that Athiestopia also seems to be environmentally conscious. Black buildings lose more heat at night and take more heat during the day, meaning the energy costs of such a building are higher. Through logic, we can conclude that Atheistopia is awesome because it can support inefficient buildings designs (inefficiencies introduced purely for the rule of cool) without negatively impacting the environment.

    I’d like to know what Atheistopia’s primary power source is. Have they perfected geothermal? Have they created cold fusion to an economic scale? Has Arizona been replaced by one big solar farm? Gravitic reactors? Matter-Antimatter? Hell, given that this is the home of the pen umbrella, I wouldn’t be that surprised if they had created perpetual motion.

    They turned Notre Dame de Paris into the “University of the Self-Movement”?

    …Please tell me the name was at least in French. It’s an awful name either way but…Also, to give Jenkins the credit he deserves on that one (it’s not good credit) I sincerely doubt that building said university will have involved any additional construction. The grounds to the Notre Dame de Paris are not THAT big. Even if they demolished the iconic building (which is itself incredibly unsuitable for university purposes, beyond maintenance as a historical monument), the university would have to be rather small.

  3. inquisitiveraven

    I share Ivan’s disappointment at the lack of white (or at least, light colors, since white would be hard to keep clean). Given that JJ has shown a distinct inclination to poke at liberal environmentalism, you’d think the new architecture would be be light colored where it isn’t glass to minimize the heat island effect. I’d also expect a distinct one way glass effect as builders tried to optimize the view from the interior while maximizing energy efficiency. This means that the exteriors of the building would be highly reflective. Also,if the film I’ve applied to my windows is any indicator, the tinting would be dark gray/brown, and not black.

    This book was written post 9/11, right? So, no mention of a memorial to the perils of religious fanaticism at Ground Zero? He could have made so much hay out of that.

  4. “It gave the island, particularly midtown, an ultramodern look and feel.”

    “Ultramodern, at least, from the point of view of a hypothetical early 21st-century observer, if they were reading a hypothetical book about Paul’s exploits. To Paul, they simply looked modern.

    “Paul took a deep breath. ‘It sure is fascinating, living here in the near future,’ he said to himself.”

    I actually kinda like the concept of a NYC dotted here and there with gigantic 2001– style black monolith buildings, but I do agree with inquisitiveraven — you’d expect more shiny and white in a civilization that views itself as a utopia. A Mirror’s Edge aesthetic, bright and clean on the outside, corrupt on the inside, would make a lot of sense in the world Jenkins wants to depict.

    They turned Notre Dame de Paris into the “University of the Self-Movement”?

    I usually just eat a bran muffin for that.

  5. I’m kinda disappointed Notre Dame isn’t the Temple of the Cult of Reason again… But I suppose if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Jenkins, it’s that historical context is for chumps.

    (Erm, medium-time reader, first time commenter – love the review, keep it up 🙂 )

  6. Perhaps the buildings are black because they’re covered in solar-electric panels?

    Getting from ORD to JFK in an hour of flying time… yes! They’re supersonic! (740 miles by great-circle distance.)

    But… government employees get put up in luxury hotels? I could swallow the future history with all its implausibilities, but that just goes against human nature. [throws virtual book out of virtual window]

    • inquisitiveraven

      Until very recently, solar panels had to be opaque. If you’re building high rises, you kinda need windows to keep the occupants happy. , And see-through solar panels are no more black than my window film. Although, it might be less shiny. I haven’t seen any actual exterior shots, just the computer generated images from the manufacturer’s website. There’s also the matter that you don’t want to clad the entire building in solar panels, just the sides that get the most sun exposure.

      • I’m assuming that Atheistopian technology takes in all the light that’s falling on the window glass (minimal reflections, because they dazzle people and confuse birds). As much light as the person behind the window wants is passed through, and the rest is converted to electricity. Light from inside all gets turned to electricity, for privacy.

        …at least that’s the sort of tech I’d expect to be behind black buildings. What they do with infra-red is another matter.

  7. Ruby, I don’t know how you do this – this is just terrible, terrible writing. Right now I’m half-way through ‘Child 44’ by Tom Rob Smith, which is set in an real-life atheistopia – Stalinist Russia. *And* the hero is a secret policeman whose job is to hunt down dissidents.
    Smith depicts a terrifying society – people are encouraged to denounce their friends, neighbours, even family members for ‘thought-crimes’; people so denounced are always assumed to be guilty and invariably end up dead or in the Gulags. Everybody lives in fear. (Amazingly, though, this atheistopia permitted churches and religion – one character is arrested for uttering an ‘anti-Stalinist prayer’ at Sunday Mass.)

    Alongside this, Jenkins’ writings look like a novelisation of a third-rate Disney movie.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Back in the Eighties, local fandom had a saying: “It’s gotta be Christian (TM)! Look how shoddy it is!”

      As I write this, my writing partner is teaching two panels at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference (on flashfiction and genre fiction, i.e. SF/Fantasy/Horror) and shopping our classic SF novel out to agents and publishers. (Rest assured, he’s meeting with MAINSTREAM SF agents who are attending; no way is our stuff gonna wind up on Jesus Junk Store shelves next to Jerry Jenkins.


  8. –the former Empire State Building (now the Atlantica Tower) and the former Chrysler Building (now the Northeast Tower)

    Man, Jenkins really does love pointless renaming doesn’t he? I mean its not the Christian State Building or the Chrysler Islamic Center for Religious studies? Why bother renaming secularly named buildings in Atheistopia?

    • Because Chrysler sounds too much like Christ?

    • Base Delta Zero

      ‘Atlantica Tower’ presumably because ‘Empire State’ refers to the state of New York, which is now part of Atlantica. As for the Chrysler building… maybe Chrysler did something exceptionally bad, or something?

  9. And, seriously… he didn’t make ONE mention of the big brass bull/calf/bovine that sits at the bottom of Broadway? Come ON, Jerry! I want to hear what you have to say about that monument to ‘greed is good’ capitalism, how similar it is to the Golden Calf that Moses kicked Israelites asses over (and I don’t mean the donkeys they rode in on) and how it relates to Atheistopia! I dare you! I double-dog dare you! Hmph. Chicken!

    • But Greed IS Good in RTC land. Or no, greed is bad, but huge profits from other people’s work and not paying any more taxes over it is good, and how dare anyone call that greed!

    • Ya know, its kind of telling that much is made of gay pride parades or what not while genuine statue of a calf near our financial district no less is almost never mentioned by fundies. Capitalism really has overtaken poor, neighbor-loving Jesus.

  10. Choir of Shades

    For that matter, there’s the fact that hardly anyone would want to give their kids religious names at this point. John (gospel author), Paul (…I think we’ve been over this one), and George (a saint who was martyred in the 3rd century) as names would be horribly distasteful, to say nothing of Ringo.

    At the very least, names of foundational figures would be verboten, like Paul, John, or Jesus. They may or may not force people with those types of names to change them, but they’d at least forbid children from being named that in the intervening time. Also I don’t quite recall, but…Angela was born after the war, right? Somehow, ANGEL doesn’t seem like a name that Atheistopia would allow.

    • Yes, Angela would have been born after the war, as she is a couple of years younger than Paul.

      As for Paul, he is Paul Jr. Which Jae (and Jenkins) seem to forget in the sequel, when Jae muses on how Paul was named for the apostle Paul. Um, no, Jae (and Jerry)–he was named for his father.

  11. inquisitiveraven

    So does Jenkins give us New York’s population? Is it absurdly close to recent census figures like the previous cities whose populations he gave us? One thing that’s bugging me is that he doesn’t seem to have considered that the kind of nukes that could split off a chunk of continent would create one heck of a Fimbul winter. We’re talking major die off here, and maybe not enough population left to support civilization on the planet, yet the US population in this novel seems barely changed from current levels. It’s as if the entire die off happened in those Other places.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Paul has already said that San Francisco is his favorite city (even though he lives in Chicago, like so many (all?) of Jenkins’ heroes).

    Out of curiosity, does Jenkins hail from Chicago? Usually a writer tends towards a setting he is familiar with. Does Jenkins seem to have an accurate grasp on the geography and sites of Chicago? (Contrasted with cruise ships on the Jordan River and eight-hour slogs East-to-West across Manhatten?)

  13. Hey, the Pierre…. isn’t that they building they used in Ghostbusters?

  14. And… why did they feel the need to rename the buildings, exactly?

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