Soon: Chapters 24-25: Paul’s Recruit

Soon is back!

When we last left our “hero,” he was busy congratulating himself on being such a good Christian that he was unable to cheat on his wife. 

Sure, that’s a bit odd, for two very different reasons:

1.  Paul is separated from his wife

2.  Paul has just spent months, plus the past several hours in particular, lusting after Angela, and has just allowed her to kiss him (albeit on the cheek)

And this is capped off by this delightful fact:

1* Separated or not, Paul has not told Angela about Jae

Nothwithstanding all this, Paul has asked Angela to help him “nail” Morty Bag-of-Donuts (groan), and Angela has accepted with all the enthusiasm of a 14-year-old girl going to see Breaking Dawn for the fourth time.

Paul handed Angela a set of button covers to slip over the ones on her blouse.  “Make sure this one goes over the second-to-top one,” he said.  “It looks like all the others–”

“Pretty.”

“Yeah, but can you imagine?  A set like this costs a fortune.  That one is a transmitter connected to the frequency of the receivers in my molars.”

It’s really hard for me NOT to imagine Angela looking like this:

Button covers are PURTYFUL
 
 (Picture from Anime History)
 
I also want to know when God put it on Paul’s heart to pack button covers for a woman’s blouse when he went to Las Vegas, since he had no idea Angela would be there.
 
So Angela goes out onto the streets of Las Vegas and valiantly…does what she does every day, and try to convince Lucy to leave her possibly-legitimate employment.
 
(Since it’s been awhile, I will just reiterate here how stupid this attitude towards prostitution is.  Prostitution is legal in Atheistopia, but all that has done is change the word “pimp” to “employer.”  Jenkins never considers for a moment the changes that would take place in the lives of prostitutes if the job was legal.  And it’s not like he doesn’t have places to look for guidance, either.)
 
But no, poor Lucy is the stereotypical abused prostitute in a world of legal prostitution.  The first day, Angela gets nowhere fast, and Paul makes the following inane assessment:
 
“Experience tells me she’s going to pass,” Paul said.
 
What experience would that be, Paul?  Your years of experience in trying to convince prostitutes to leave their legitimate employers.
 
Nah, guess it’s just his Manly Man Knowledge.
 
The second day, Lucy has a black eye because she was out of Morty’s sight (from his penthouse window) for too long.  Now, if my employer punched me in the eye, there would be certain consequences.  Too bad Lucy isn’t in a legal line of work where she could be assured that…
 
OH WAIT SHE TOTALLY IS
 
(And yes, I know that Morty may not be a legit employer.  But based on Angela’s efforts to tempt all prostitutes away from their careers, the clear implication is that this is a risk that all prostitutes face on a regular basis.  See here, when Angela alludes to prostitutes being in danger from their employers.)
 
Anyway, as Lucy and Angela are talking and Paul is listening in and doing nothing like the useless sap he is, Morty himself pulls up in a car and HOLDS A GUN ON ANGELA AND KIDNAPS HER OMG.
 
And on that INCREDIBLE CLIFFHANGER, we will wait until next time, when Paul plays James Bond.  Badly. 
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Posted on January 3, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Paul just took the covers off the women’s clothes he’d already packed. (Whatever you do, do it shamefully and with guilt!)

    I’d never heard of button covers before, and Wikipedia suggests they exist primarily to stop buttons being undone when it’s not appropriate. Sounds like an RTC sort of thing.

    “That one is a transmitter connected to the frequency of the receivers in my molars.” “So every time I undo my blouse, you get a toothache? Talk about aversion therapy.”

  2. That Other Jean

    Long, long ago, when women did a lot of sewing at home (which is about Jenkins’ speed), button covers existed to which fabric could be applied to make generic buttons match a particular garment. That’s likely what he’s writing about here, except his are sooper-sekret radio-transmitter button covers that make Paul hear voices in his head.

  3. I’m near Jenkins’ age and I can remember blouses with matching fabric-covered buttons, but I don’t think I’ve seen them since about 1967.. So is Aethiestopia having a retro fashion revival? That’s the only reason I can think of for Angela having blouses with covered buttons in the first place. And wasn’t it handy that Paul just happened to have button-covers that matched Angela’s blouse?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I’m near Jenkins’ age and I can remember blouses with matching fabric-covered buttons, but I don’t think I’ve seen them since about 1967.. So is Aethiestopia having a retro fashion revival?

      More likely Jenkins and his Church Lady target audience (like a lot of RTCs) are still time-stopped in the 1950s/First 1960s. And I say this AS an aficionado of that period who uses retro fashions in my art & writing.

      You see, the Nifty Fifties have this reputation with RTCs as some sort of Godly Golden Age where everyone went to church and apple-cheeked kids NEVER talked back to their elders. And it’s not even the REAL 1950s, but a Mythic Fifties according to Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed.

      A couple years ago, I was visiting my writing partner (a burned-out country preacher) and while talking about the vintage decor in his rural church, he showed me some brochure about some Christian boarding/prep school. All the boys were in crewcuts, white shirts, dark ties, and short pants and all the girls were in Hollywood 1950s kid’s dresses (except the skirts were longer). This picture was taken in the early 21st Century.

    • So is Aethiestopia having a retro fashion revival?

      If it is, doesn’t that just make it even more awesome than previously imagined? 😀

  4. This whole setup is even more painfully artificial than Josh Jordan throwing the toys out of his pram because the government wants the stuff it paid for.

    Jenkins really doesn’t grok legal prostitution, and is relying on the stereotypes his RTC audience has about prostitutes to carry him (and them) past the huge holes in logic opened up by the way he’s created a hybrid legal/illegal prostitution system in Atheistopia (his writings give effect to ths even if he’s claimed Atheistopia would have legal prostitution).

    Mighty convenient that Paul just happened to pack clothes that would let him spy on people! In the hands of a better author this could be used to great effect – the spymaster planning for all contingencies as he packs his clothing, bringing everything from his portable transceiver kit to special clothes he’d need to wear, or ask someone else to wear, should he meet an informant in his travels who doesn’t want to wear a wire.

    In this book, it’s Jenkins doing an ass pull and forgetting that Paul packing women’s clothes would have gotten him funny looks from Jae (or even a phone call later with “Honey, I think you accidentally packed some of my clothes”).

    • I think Jenkins may be split between “prostitutes are Fallen Women and therefore Evil” and “prostitutes are Exploited and therefore Good”. Binary thinking is hard work when you try to apply it to the real world.

    • Jenkins really doesn’t grok

      As far as I can tell from reading the various reviews/snarkings, you can finish this sentence with anything. I can’t, off the top of my head think of anything he does grok.

      Mighty convenient that Paul just happened to pack clothes that would let him spy on people!

      Ah, but this is weirder than that. Paul apparently just happened to pack clothes that would let a woman spy on people. Either there’s a fact or two about Paul that didn’t quite make it in the book or Jenkins failed to grok plotting again. (Though I’m glad to see I’m not alone in thinking that button cover spy gadgets are WTF. Just make the transmitter a button. Or a pin that could be worn by people of any gender. Or a pen. Or an earring.

      • Just make the transmitter a button. Or a pin that could be worn by people of any gender. Or a pen. Or an earring.

        Right. Once again, Jenkins appears to have gone out of his way to make things awkward and weird. A society with an umbrella pen would surely have a gender neutral spy pin or necklace or something!

        • randallmRandall

          Actually, it’s even weirder than that. She probably already has a phone installed in her head. There must be a simple software update that Paul can get that would allow her to beam every word she says and hears directly to his recorder hardware (don’t ask where he had that installed). Jenkins hasn’t thought about the world he created even that far.

          • Either that or he forgets that he invented skullphones in the first place. 😉

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Could be that, could be Jenkins’ thing about “Nifty! See How Clever I Am!”

          • inquisitiveraven

            He’s apparently forgotten the skull phones on other occasions (oil well fires, anyone?), but he could’ve justified the molars thing by claiming the skull phone network is too easily hacked for secure transmission. Did he think of this? Noooo.

          • It’s much easier in the real world: when the police get an intercept warrant on a mobile, the phone provider gives them a realtime feed of all the voice into or out of the tapped phone, taken directly off the phone switch. That can be routed to another phone, or anywhere else they want it – no on-site recording hardware needed.

      • “Ah, but this is weirder than that. Paul apparently just happened to pack clothes that would let a woman spy on people.”

        I had thought of a way to rationalise this, namely, that Paul might have thought that since his target was involved with the prostitution racket, he might be able to get one of his prostitute-employees to spy on him– but that would suggest the prostitutes in Atheistopia also wear Fifties-style blouses with button covers, and I don’t think Jenkins would get that creative.

        • But fifties-style blouses are the height of sexiness! (To someone who was an adolescent in the fifties, this is quite possibly true.)

          • Yes, arguably (Doris Day in *The Man Who Knew Too Much* FTW), but not prostitute-sexy. If Jenkins’ libido is that completely stuck in the Fifties, I’d expect he’d be picturing prostitutes as dressed sort of like Joan in *Mad Men*, rather than, well, like Peggy or Betty Draper.

  5. “Experience tells me she’s going to pass,” Paul said.

    Not just “my experience,” but Experience with a capital E. Yeah, I know, first word of the sentence, but the first thing I thought of was the salt-miners’ contingency plans for murder: “Protocol says…”

    As if Experience and Protocol were independent entities, and nothing to do with the people who cite them.

    “The buttons on you blouse can talk to my teeth”? Good Lord that’s ridiculous.

  6. I’d like to say it would be out of character for Paul to secretly spy on his one-night stands in secret, hence why female spy gear (based on it description, it can be used to spy on the woman herself too) is in his travel bag, but it isn’t.

    I just read the first Foundation book. It still has its cool points for such an old book, but the female characters are not among them. The only part in the book where women get any screentime or even acknowledgement of their existence is when go like Angela or that picture from Ruby over the high tech jewelery, and the men discussing (in front of the woman) how women will be paying throught the nose for the bling. The bad guy then gives it to his wife to shut her up. So yeah, not good, but this book at least has the excuse that it was actually written in the fifties, while Jenkins has been voluntarily stuck in that period.

  7. It is *entirely* possible to depict prostitution as a legitimate, legal job and yet still make it skeevy, unpleasant, and the employment of utter last resort for a woman. (It’s likewise possible to make it the exact opposite, and various combinations in between.) There are lots and lots of jobs that are perfectly legal and yet perfectly horrid; this could have been the crowning moment of Jenkins’ worldbuilding: Up until now, the only thing Atheistopia had against it was shoving seditionists into napalm barrels. It was otherwise a pretty groovy place. This could have been Jenkins’ chance to show the uncomfortable reality, to depict something that many more people in Atheistopia (besides the seditionists) could come into contact with. I daresay this could have been an Omelas moment.

    But that clearly would require more creativity and writing ability than Jenkins is capable of… something i have a feeling he would be actually proud of.

  8. I think we should hail Jenkin’s as prophet to how awesome the future is going to be.

    We cure cancer. Retro clothes are back in! We have no more wars! Truly if we follow this mans teaching, ban religion and legalize prostitution, we can do it!

    Now I’m just waiting to see what he buggers up next. Prostitution is legal but they are still beaten/abused. What next? Is he going to make out the NHS is powered by a forsaken child?

    • If it is a single child, that’s pretty efficient. Most diabolical power sources require hundreds, if not thousands, of tortured souls. At least dozens for smaller ones.

      It’s a renewable energy source too, so that’s good.

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