Soon: Chapter 21: The Mother Ship

I wasn’t kidding before: Paul really is re-tied and re-blindfolded for the trip back out of the mine. 

As Paul is wheeled out, he thinks about what he has learned:

…a city in a salt mine…a mother ship for Christian groups.

That is a very odd choice of words for Jenkins.  You really want to compare RTCs to fictional space aliens?  Granted, the analogy is apt in a way, what with the RTCs being yanked off the face of the planet by their very own Big Giant Head, but it still seems weird.  I wonder what Jenkins thinks of space alien theories?

Once they’re in the back of a truck (where Paul still can’t see anything), he is unbound and re-sighted and gets to talking with Straight:

“Think about it.”  [Straight says] “How many churches–or lampstands or stars–come up in [the third chapter of Revelation]?”

“Seven?”

“And what seven divisions could Christians be grouped under?”

“Well, we are the United Seven States of America.”

“Right.  And the affiliations aren’t random.  You know history is my game, Paul.  Check the history of those seven churches of Revelation and you’ll find that each bears a distinct correspondence to one of our seven states.”

Yes, because when Revelation was written, IT WAS OBVIOUSLY REFERRING TO AMERICANS.  Because no other Christians anywhere else in the world matter.

US(S)A!  US(S)A!  WOOT!  WOOT!  WOOT!

“Take Ephesus.” Straight said.  “It was a port city called the ‘market of Asia’ because it was the most important financial center on the Mediterranean.  Besides banking, a major industry was making silver shrines to the goddess Artemis.  The Bible tells us that, in addition to believing in false gods associated with silver, so many Ephesians believed in magic that when their divination books were burned, it was as if fifty thousand pieces of silver had gone up in smoke.

“Ephesus remind you of someplace?”

Paul stared, dumbfounded.

“Thought so,” Straight said.  “And–just as an aside–remember, in Acts Paul is called upon to revive a man who fell from a third-story window in Troas.”  Paul sat back, speechless.  “See, Paul, once you start looking for signs that the end is upon us, they’re everywhere.”

Well, yeah, WHEN YOU WRITE THEM INTO YOUR OWN STORY OMG.

You know, I wouldn’t even mind this silly game-playing if it didn’t happen ALL THE DAMN TIME.  But Jesus, our Paul-like hero is named Paul.  His best buddy is named Straight (after Straight Street in the story of Paul).  Paul persecuted a guy named Stephen, just like his Biblical namesake did, and it just keeps coming and coming and WRITE YOUR OWN STORY, DAMMIT.

I have no problem with Meaningful Names, I have no problem with imagery and playing with themes.  But it’s just so obvious and it never stops and EVERYTHING is an anagram or a 1:1 Biblical reference. 

OBVIOUS MUCH?

*pant pant*

Finally, Paul and Straight stop being astounded by their own story and get back to the hotel.  It’s late at night, but two dudes are sitting in the lobby, reading newspapers.  This is VERY SUSPICIOUS and also OBVIOUSLY ABOUT PAUL BECAUSE THE ENTIRE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM. 

Paul takes other people’s obsessions with his life as perfectly natural, and goes to bed.

The next day, he manages to set aside all his musings about mother ships and his United Seven States of American Superiority Complex and play some chess.

Being a Jenkins hero, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear two things about this tournament:

1.  Paul dominates.

2.  Everyone else is a loser.  In every sense.

Many players looked antisocial, even unwashed. 

Nice.  These losers sure are different from our Glorious Hero Paul.

Although, I bet that any one of these folks has more friends than Paul, who came to the tournament with his only friend, a guy he has known for only a couple of months.  And who just had him tied up and kidnapped.  Sorry, I think the chess nerds win at life in this respect.

Some carried dog-eared paperbacks of chess strategy.

Really?  They did?

An old-fashioned book was engraved on [Stephen’s medallion] and Jefferson peered at it.  “I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid.  What’s that about?”

“Just a book.”

“You’re not old enough to remember books.”

Chapter 9

That is pathetic.

Paul is in the novice division, playing against 13 others.  Straight is playing in the “tougher” division.  But of course, after a slow start, Paul becomes “the talk of the tournament” by dominating the afternoon rounds and (OF COURSE FUCKING OF COURSE) winning his division and a trophy.

Yay.

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Posted on October 29, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. What are they going to replace books WITH? I know e-readers are all the rage, but (a) not everyone can afford one, and (b) you still need to power them up. Books don’t NEED energy, except when first printing and binding them.

    {/ardent librarian}

    • Well, given that this is the Glorious Atheistopia, which has cured cancer and a wide variety of other social ills – which as we all know are just signs that it is corrupt and evil and secretly out to control everyone – then obviously they have abundant green energy or cold fusion or something (weren’t solar-powered weapons energy weapons or something mentioned early on?) to power all those e-readers. And of course, having everything in digital media means that the Glorious Atheistopian Evil Overlords can edit any text they want by putting the changes into a suite of standard updates and patches to the e-reader’s software, downloaded whenever the user goes online.

      And, heck, in reality there’s a new tablet in India which, while subsidized by the government, goes for about $35. It’s not particularly fancy, as far as tablets go, but it can definitely serve.

      If I had any trust that Jenkins had thought this kind of thing through, it could be a nifty little detail of an entirely too clean and tidy futuristic dystopia, where books have been entirely replaced by digital media and all written knowledge is subject to immediate and covert revision to fit the daily agenda of the secret masters of the world.

      Instead, though, this is more likely never to be followed up on and is there as another shallow point for why the atheistopia is ever so evil because “OMG THEY TOTALLY HATE BOOKS YOU GUYS – AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS A BOOK!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I think this is gonna wind up as another example of “Jenkins just didn’t think things through.”

        In writing SF, you’re going to not be able to think everything through. Not if you want to step out of Analysis Paralysis and actually write something. Yet Jenkins the GCAAT shows time and time again that he not only doesn’t think everything through, he doesn’t think ANYTHING through. He doesn’t even do the minimum needed to work out a consistent background milieu.

    • Well, e-readers have come down *drastically* in price in just the last year, and electronic ink actually uses very little energy. Given the tech that Jenkins has already displayed (when he remembers it), I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an e-reader cost ten bucks and was powered by photo-electric cells like a pocket calculator is today.

  2. >>>Really? They did?

    But, Ruby, in an Atheistopic Wintermassy future the word “paperback” obviously will come to mean something else entirely! And “dog-eared” won’t be referred to folded pages, but instead to… to… does New Testament say anything about dogs and their ears that can be, if one squints, interpreted as a critique of Atheistopia?

  3. Being a Jenkins hero, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear two things about this tournament:

    1. Paul dominates.

    2. Everyone else is a loser. In every sense.

    *collapses in fit of gigglesnorting*

    I JUST got done reading the (second) golfing with Josh Jordan chapter in Edge of Apocalypse, and between that and this chapter review I’m convinced that any character LaHaye’s sponsored books have as a main character has to be a massive Gary Stu.

    Even Mitchell McDeere in The Firm wasn’t quite this unlikable of a jackass (though he gets pretty close).

    I continue to love the more barbed and sarcastic snark in your recent chapter reviews. 😀

    Well, yeah, WHEN YOU WRITE THEM INTO YOUR OWN STORY OMG.

    Word on the exasperation with authorial meddling! (*thinks of Pastor Paul Campbell and his HAY LOOK END TIMES stuff*)

  4. I think I’ve heard of RTCs describing the big church that runs all the little local churches as “the mothership”.

    But in that other totally realistic OMG this is going to happen story of the End Times… the USA wasn’t divided into seven megastates.

    Human minds are really good at pattern matching So much so that they generate a lot of false positives. (Because if that movement in the bushes wasn’t really a sabre-tooth tiger, you’ve run away for nothing but you can find something else to eat.) But when that pattern-matching engine triggers too often, you get conspiracy theories. Once you start looking for patterns… you will find them. See also confirmation bias.

    See, Paul, once you start looking for signs of anything – even that the world is secretly controlled by the Canadian Ground Squirrels – you’ll find them everywhere.

    • See also Pareidolia, the formal name for precisely this. As you say, combined with confirmation bias, you get conspiracy theories all over the place…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I think I’ve heard of RTCs describing the big church that runs all the little local churches as “the mothership”.

      Because calling it “the Cathedral” would be too Romish…

  5. “Mother ship”? Is it really in Jenkins’ best interests to compare end-times Christianity with the Heaven’s Gate cult?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Well, isn’t the Rapture another form of “Join Bo & Peep Behind Hale-Bopp”?

      More seriously, here’s a quote about Heaven’s Gate from a book I picked up recently — UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture by Gergory L Reece:

      “Heaven’s Gate was a closed society, suspicious of the external world. In place of the kooky fun of most contactees, Heaven’s Gate was deadly serious. … Unlike most other contactee groups, and practically all of the individual contactees, Heaven’s Gate found little that was good in human nature, little that could give them hope. What hope they had was thought to be coming from above, a startship in a comet’s tail. They had given up on transforming the world; the best they could do was escape it.”
      — UFO Religion, p.155

  6. So Jenkins ‘learned’ something from his collaboration with LaHaye: It is awesome and highly compelling to write a fictional story that closely follows your Biblical interpetation and then have your character gush about how amazing the Bible is to perfectly predict these events. scuse me, I need to puke somewhere.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    You know, I wouldn’t even mind this silly game-playing if it didn’t happen ALL THE DAMN TIME. But Jesus, our Paul-like hero is named Paul. His best buddy is named Straight (after Straight Street in the story of Paul). Paul persecuted a guy named Stephen, just like his Biblical namesake did, and it just keeps coming and coming and WRITE YOUR OWN STORY, DAMMIT.

    And “Paul-like Hero Named Paul” has a last name of “Stepola”, i.e. “Apostle” spelled sideways. (See How Clever I Am?)

    The kicker is, Jenkins started with a legitimate idea: Transpose the story of St Paul from the Book of Acts to a modern/near-future setting. Like Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe to Cotton Patch Gospel to Joshua, retell a familar story in a fresh setting, trying to capture the new freshness of the original when that original story was first told. That’s a legit premise. More allegorical than you usually see in today’s fiction, but still legit.

    And he took this legit premise and hackworked it into this steaming load that Ruby’s been deconstructing for at least 20 postings. With all the tropes of bad fanfics. No, I have seen bad fanfic attempts (God have I seen bad fanfic attempts) that are better than this. And to top it off, Jenkins’ shit don’t stink in the Jesus Junk Store circuit — he’s even charging $1200 a pop for mail-order courses in Christian Fiction Writing! Wish I had his racket…

    I have no problem with Meaningful Names, I have no problem with imagery and playing with themes. But it’s just so obvious and it never stops and EVERYTHING is an anagram or a 1:1 Biblical reference.

    Welcome to Christianese. By Christians (TM), for Christians (TM). It’s why all the acknowledged classic Christian F&SF writers come from Western-rite Liturgical Churches instead of Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelical (TM) ones.

    Being a Jenkins hero, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear two things about this tournament:

    1. Paul dominates.

    2. Everyone else is a loser. In every sense.

    Repeat after me, kiddies:
    AUTHOR SELF-INSERT.
    LIKE ERAGON AND BELLA.

  8. …a city in a salt mine…a mother ship for Christian groups.

    Bullshit. It’s a mothership for precisely one Christian group, because all the others are evil self-worshiping heretics. Don’t piss about, Jenkins.

    I have no problem with Meaningful Names, I have no problem with imagery and playing with themes. But it’s just so obvious and it never stops and EVERYTHING is an anagram or a 1:1 Biblical reference.

    He kind of doesn’t have much choice – his belief system is based on the idea that that Bible is 100% meaningful imagery to the real world and that everything in the Bible is 1:1 real-world reference. At a certain point, it stops being a regular story, and just ends up being-

    Oh.

    Right.

    Everything actually makes sense, now.

    Jenkins doesn’t write sci-fi, or apocalyptic fiction, or even Christian fiction.

    No, what Jenkins writes, is Bible fanfiction.

    • “No, what Jenkins writes, is Bible fanfiction.”

      That’s fantastic. So true.

    • One of the traditions of fan fiction (yes, I know it’s not universal) is that when the author of the original finds out about it s/he is horrified…

      • Since God is considered to have been the original writer of the texts in Jenkins’s belief system, does this mean God is now covering his/her/its eyes and questioning how it was that Jenkins managed to write bad derivative works?

        *imagines God thinking, “I think we need to have a little chat when that fellow shuffles off the mortal coil.”*

        • *Imagines God arranging said ‘shuffling off the mortal coil’ at a earlier date than originally scheduled.

        • This demonstrates one of the reasons I can’t take Christianity too seriously. Despite God supposedly caring deeply if humans worship Him or not, He never sees fit to send a couple of cherubim down to smack around His fan-club for making Him look bad in front of the unbelievers.

  9. The thing that bothers me is, the books Paul the Apostle wrote that were eventually collected in the bible weren’t prophecy. They were the collected letters of a real guy (and somebody imitating that guy) talking to other people in the same age. You can’t derive from that story that in 2047 (or whatever) a guy named Paul will do the same stuff.

    If you’re going to have the adventures of Paul Stepola in the 21st century, you can’t go quoting the adventures of Paul in the 1st Century.

  10. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing it so much lately, but I can’t help but keep comparing the God of Soon and the God of Devil Survivor Overclocked in my head.

    Both of them are dicks, both of them have arbitrary “tests of humanity” that tend to end in bloodshed and suffering, and both employ adherents that seem disturbed at best, and sociopathic at worst. The biggest difference is that DSO’s God seems to actually have an end goal that somewhat makes sense.

    …Yeah, it’s probably bad when a roleplaying/strategy game hybrid that features a mythological kitchen sink of entities makes more theological sense than your big-time Bible fanfic.

  11. Okay, I hereby declare “You’re So Vain” to be Paul’s and Jenkins’s themesong.

    And I’m betting Jenkins will go and decide that when Revelation mentions Philadelphia, it’s AKSHUALLY talking about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  12. “Take Ephesus.” Straight said. “It was a port city called the ‘market of Asia’ because it was the most important financial center on the Mediterranean. Besides banking, a major industry was making silver shrines to the goddess Artemis. The Bible tells us that, in addition to believing in false gods associated with silver, so many Ephesians believed in magic that when their divination books were burned, it was as if fifty thousand pieces of silver had gone up in smoke.

    “Ephesus remind you of someplace?”

    As an Aussie reader here .. umm.. no. Not really. Silver city – er ..Broken Hill maybe? That’s famously nicknamed The Silver City :

    http://www.brokenhillaustralia.com.au/silver-city-mint-and-art-centre/

    Although its nowhere near any existing modern day ocean nor really does the word “market” describe it at all.

    I’m curious which city Jenkins really means here. Banking suggests maybe New York combined with ports and trade but “marketplace” er, not really – well, unless Wall Street is what he had in mind? Not getting the “silver” or temples connection here either. “Smoke”would suggest smog which would suggest to me more LA than NY city, hmm.. Nope. Puzzled..

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