Soon: Chapter 28: Teh Movies!!!

Studio chief Tiny Allendo is not the most unlikeable character I’ve come across in Soon.  In fact, he seems pretty darned reasonable.

Poolside, Ranold explains the general plan: he and Bia Balaam will “crush the efforts of these zealots to destroy the movie industry.”

Frankly, I think “destroy the movie industry” is a pretty strong way to put the minor and pointless acts of petty vandalism that the underground has engaged in so far, but I don’t blame Tiny for his reaction, seeing as how he’s the head of the only studio in the whole country:

“That’s a relief,” Tiny said.  “This is more than a nuisance, you know.  These people are trying to overthrow us.  And regardless what they think about our product, is it just me, or are these people breaking the law simply by practicing religion?”

“Of course they are,” Ranold said.  “That’s why it is imperative that the uprising be quashed and the underground dismantled as quickly as possible.  We have marshaled a formidable army contingent.  By this evening it will have encircled not just Hollywood but also the entire city of Los Angeles.”

Sounds like a plan!

Paul’s plan is to go out and case L.A.  Before he leaves, Tiny corners him and offers him some “evening companionship“:

“After-hours drinks, conversation, that kind of thing.  Merely mention your pleasure to your valet.”

Paul declines, natch, and I’m sure we’re supposed to see this as evidence of Tiny’s atheistic depravity, but this is a world with legalized prostitution, remember.  Hell, maybe it’s a sign of my atheistic depravity, but I consider Tiny’s offer rather generous.  Tiny, after all, has no reason to suspect Paul is separated married.


Wartime floods had once swallowed up L.A.’s coastal communities, but now the gleaming city of five million looked prosperous.  New technology allowed skyscrapers to withstand frequent tremors, even the most severe.


The current population of L.A. is around 3.8 million.  This Atheistopian population estimate makes even less sense than any of the others.  Out of all the cities Paul has visited, L.A. is the one most affected by World War III.  A frakking TSUNAMI hit the coast thirty years ago, killing thousands and flooding vast stretches.  And yet the population has experienced moderate growth, rather what one would expect under normal circumstances, not the circumstances of a devastating war. 

Paul gets a tourist map and drives around the city while also praying, which doesn’t seem like safe driving to me.  When he gets back to Tiny’s house, the boys head out to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which I guess survived the war and the flooding because it is now a bitchin’ nightclub called The Studio (oooo, original), where you can perform in an interactive movie and then purchase a copy of the scenes you were in.

Which sounds SWEET.

Okay, you guys, this is why I asked about the movies last time.  Because this is just ODD.

As has been pointed out, Jenkins often appears to forget that he is writing about the FUTURE.  Ranold wants to be Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.  Now, we can either be frightened at Jenkins’ ability to see into the future from 2003 and know that True Grit would be remade in 2010, or we can realize that Ranold specifically says he wants to be JOHN WAYNE and just marvel at this weird choice in and of itself.

Honestly, this is pretty easy stuff.  Is John Wayne really the idolized hero for someone born in the late 1970s or early 1980s?  It isn’t for this person of Ranold’s generation. 

I consulted my brother Angus on this one, too.  Like Ranold and me, he is a child of those years.  He immediately (and I do mean immediately) chose an Indiana Jones movie for his interactive role.  Makes a ton of sense.  For those of us from that era, Indiana Jones was one of our first heroes. 

For the record, I chose the original Star Wars movies.

It never crossed Angus’s mind for a moment to pick a John Wayne movie.  When I told him about this scene, he said, “That sounds like the choice Grandpa would have made.”

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? 

Jenkins needs to get with the future-times, man. 

Or at least ask some 30-somethings about their favorite movies.

But this lack of future-thought pales in comparison to Paul’s choice.

He wants to be in Casablanca.


Paul wondered what it would be like to stand next to Humphrey Bogart while he interacted with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

Notice anything about that?  Paul doesn’t want to be Rick Blaine.  He wants to stand next to Rick Blaine.  In fact, when it’s Paul’s turn, he chooses to be, of all people in all movies ever…the PIANO PLAYER in Casablanca.

Paul, you UNBELIEVABLE DUMBASS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???  You can pilot the Millenium Falcon, find the Ark of the Covenant.  You can be James Bond or Superman, you can be in Jurassic Park or Lord of the Rings.  If you want to go classic, you can be Robin Hood or Zorro.

Ranold gets points from me because at least he wants to be Rooster Cogburn, not stand next to Rooster Cogburn.

It’s like Paul seeks out ways to make a situation as unamusing and lifeless as he possibly can.



Posted on January 17, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Maybe “True Grit” had just been re-remade the prior year and Ranold loved it? *sigh* Or maybe Jenkins is once again assuming his audience is … well, Jerry Jenkins, and regardless of when the story is supposed to be set, it’s actually 1962. Always and only 1962.

    If Paul were a classics movie buff I could understand his choice because “Casablanca” is pretty epic. But that would require tedious character set-up and whatnot, and that would distract from all the shiny Atheistopia technology that is so eeeeeeeeevil!

  2. Earthquake-proof buildings miles ahead of anything they’ve got now? Sign me up, SO FAST. I live in an area that’s not too badly earthquake-prone, but people here do worry about The Big One, and when it might hit.

    I *wince* when I realize how out of touch Jenkins is with popular culture to the point of failing to make even modest allowances for movies in advance of our own. For example, in one of the Star Trek: Next Gen novels I read, the movie “Missing Link 3: Vacation in Armageddon” is discussed. Now, it doesn’t exist, but it was so realistically described that originally when I read the book, I actually assumed it existed and asked someone who worked in a video store to try and find it. Heh.

    The other movie mentioned is discussed by Worf: “The hero never speaks. It is called Rambo V.”

    That, of course, doesn’t exist. 😛

    But still, that’s realism! Culture marches on! C’mon, Jenkins, get with the program here.

  3. In a better book, something could have been done with the fact that both Ranold and Paul are classic movie fans. I’m picturing a conversation between them about how nothing produced today measures up to the old stuff, with some jokes about agents in Ranold’s day traveling five miles uphill and fending off dinosaurs. Then Paul lets something slip that sounds suspiciously anti-Atheistopia, and the conversation dies in awkwardness tinged with paranoia.

  4. Casablancat is one of my favourite films; it’s a real classic. So far, Paul has shown no sign that he possesses any ability to appreciate it.
    Rick is a great story character, a tough man who has to do tough things for the greater good and gets redeemed by sacrificing the thing that he loves. Who wouldn’t want to play him? Oh yeah, Paul, that’s who. He wants instead to stand alongside Rick as he wheels and deals, dodges arrest, outfaces the Nazis and says his goodbyes to Ilsa. And he also wants the chance to utter the most famous and misquoted line in cinema history. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that the author was actually revealing something of Paul’s character to us.

    • Something also bothers me about the fact that he wants to play the only black character in the whole movie…thus erasing the black character and replacing him with a white one (because I cannot imagine Paul allowing himself to appear nonwhite under any circumstances).

  5. Ack1 Should have had my morning tea before I typed that. Of course, it’s Rick who utters the most famous line etc!

  6. So what’s the point of getting an interactive movie if all you’re going to do is be a character that looks at the important stuff happening? Couldn’t you get a normal movie for that? Actually, it makes sense that this is what Paul wants to do. After all, Buck was Jenkins’ first wish-fullfilment character, and what does he do in the apocalypse? Sit on the sideline and look at it. So yeah, I can totally believe Jenkins thinks it is awesome to be present for dramatic events and do nothing but look at them.

    And I’m sure we’re supposed to see this as proof of the atheist’s brutal regime, but I got to ask: You have a few vandals and hackers, it might be as few as a single person doing all this. In a city of millions. And your plan to catch him is to surround the city with an army. Uhm, what? That’s plan A? I don’t object to finally seeing some indications that this atheist theocracy is actually in any way bad, but this seems hideously ineffective. What are they going to do? Guard the lasers? Instill a curfew for all 5 million people (which wouldn’t work against the hacking)? We saw in San Fransico that the Atheistopian regime already has police deathsquards, exactly what do they need this army for? Do they have any indication that the zealots are capable of resisting arrest/execution? I know it is a staple of distopian dictatorships to send soldiers to wipe out the hero’s village for little reason, but at least those regimes knew where to point those armies at. There was someone they wanted dead, and they were willing to wipe out the whole town to do it, so that’s what they did. That’s evil, and not as practical as a single assasination, but it could at least work in theory (In practice, they’ll most likely succeed in killing everyone except the hero, who hadn’t really planned to take out the evil overlord before this but by jove he’s going to now). But unless this army is going to save the movie industry from the zealots by levelling LA, I can’t even see from an evil perspective what this army is going to accomplish.

    • “…it might be as few as a single person doing all this.”

      Damn, you’re good. Hehehe. 😉

      • Oh wow. I’m an atheist, and smarter/luckier than the rest of the Atheistapo. At least I’ll know I can get a job in the new world that’ll come ‘Soon’.

        Well, lets see what the n00bs do to find a single man/woman in 5 million men with an army. I’ll make my plan to get 10 people from Silicon Valley to trace the hacks.

    • So what’s the point of getting an interactive movie if all you’re going to do is be a character that looks at the important stuff happening?

      Sounds rather like Left Behind, doesn’t it? =D

    • After all, Buck was Jenkins’ first wish-fullfilment character, and what does he do in the apocalypse? Sit on the sideline and look at it. So yeah, I can totally believe Jenkins thinks it is awesome to be present for dramatic events and do nothing but look at them.

      “One of the choirs of angels. They’re called ‘Watchers’. Guess what they do?”

  7. Darn, I was hoping he wanted to play Ingrid Bergman.

  8. You’re going to fight a small group of vandals by sending in the Army? Oh boy. Hint to people who haven’t played this game (and it had already been played plenty of times when this was written): the rest of the population is not static. When they see a guy in body armour breaking the head of a pretty girl, they are not going to say “yay authority”. When they get curfews and road closures and things as a response to someone messing around with advertising, they get less inclined to help, less willing to turn in their neighbours.

    This works fine if you can control the media story, but in a big city that’s just what you can’t do. Too many witnesses who talk to their friends, even ignoring Atheistopianet.

  9. That Other Jean

    Retro fashion and interactive classic movies! Could Atheistopia get any better than this?

  10. Atheistopia really believes there’s no kill like overkill! Now, I’m no expert in suppressing free speech, but if I were the Atheistopian government, I wouldn’t send in the army. Firedrake already pointed out some reasons why that would be a terrible, terrible idea. It would also be an expensive one.

    What Atheistopia (in its current condition, not one where it looks like any actual paranoia-filled state where religion’s outlawed) needs is a small group of well-trained, very secret agents to act as moles. They infiltrate Christian groups (under aliases and in disguise, because of course the Atheistopian government has access to very thin, incredibly lifelike masks) and then, once they know how these groups operate and who’s in them, they call in the people with the guns to clean up them and all their associates– publicly, of course.

    The propagandists go to town, and the former insurgents’ bases are either destroyed so future groups can’t use them, or, better, closely and secretly monitored so it’s that much easier to get rid of whoever comes next. It’s not a very creative system, but it makes more sense than secretly killing individuals in warehouses and putting large cities under martial law.

  11. The easiest way to deal with this, I would think, would be for the Atheistopian government to start “hacking” the system itself, placing clips which would be considered highly disgusting and offensive alongside the others and claiming Christian groups are responsible for all of them. For increased plausibility, use clips of actual prominent Christians of the past — from what we know of Atheistopian culture, the right quotes from Jerry Falwell et al could be very effective. I would focus on clips condemning gays, telling women to be submissive, and damning nonbelievers to hell, as well as (going back a little further into the archives) forbidding mixed-race marriages, dancing, and rock-n-roll. Christian groups would be about as popular as Al-Qaeda.

    Then again, do they really need to ‘deal’ with it? I can’t imagine that a few out-of-context clips of an actor ranting about sin and wickedness are converting anybody. Ditto the whole ‘replacing tracks on CDs with Bible verses’ thing. News flash: Most of the Bible is very, very boring. That’s not going to do anything but cheese people off. The idea that they need to call in the army is just ludicrous on so many levels.

    • Except this is written by Jerry B. Jenkins, GCAAT, so the Falwell clips would have the opposite intended effect. “Submissive women?” the audience will say, “And no more of that ‘rock and roll’ ‘music’? This sounds wonderful!” Then TurboJesus would show up and have no one to cast into Hell, and TurboJesus would be sad. 😦

  12. Between the anemic near-future setting and the main character’s fixation on Casablanca (incidentally, Mrs Grimble, Casablancat is the best typo ever and I would so watch that), this chapter’s giving me Overdrawn at the Memory Bank flashbacks. I’m imagining Paul as played by Raul Julia and I don’t know what to think about that.

    Since Paul’s big into chess, you’d think he’d want to put himself in The Seventh Seal.

    • I loved Pearl’s introduction to the movie, “…starring the late Raul Julia, a very wonderful actor. What was he doing in this piece of sh…surely, surely very quality, quality cinema.”

      Damn, now I need to watch that episode. 😀

  13. As for movies, rather than play through the movie as-is, I’d rather pick something set in an interesting world and just explore. But then I’m one of those people who goes all the way up to the edge of the game map and gets annoyed when told I have to turn back because I CAN SEE MORE STUFF OVER THERE DARNIT. So I’d probably get irritated when I tried to go sightsee in the fertile parts of Mordor or set the DeLorean for the year one million and found out that the movie wouldn’t let you do that.

  14. “I’m imagining Paul as played by Raul Julia and I don’t know what to think about that.”

    Paul looked at the rippling surface of the African waterhole. The face of the baboon he’d been doppled into stared back at him. Paul estimated the baboon at about three feet tall and forty-five pounds. “Ah well”, he thought, “at least I’m not stuck spending the weekend with Jae and the kids.”

    Paul wandered across the savannah until he discovered another baboon, who was feasting on delicious thick sandwiches spread with fermented berries. “Ha ha,” thought Paul, “he looks drunk to me… and he’s radiating the signals of invitation!”

  15. {sigh] So the interactivity is all about being a particular actor…Not something that interests me. In part, it reminds me of my immense dislike for the Silent Protagonist precept in many Japanese RPGs (well, quasi-RPGs…). As far as I’m concerned, the player is not the lead actor, but the DIRECTOR (and not scriptwriter, either). Their concern is the minutiae, not the main timbre.

    As for why one is supposed to NOT be decenti enticed by Atheistopia’s marvels, I think the conceit is that while the marvels ARE worthy of being marveled at, you should be thankful not to the Atheistopian government and engineers for evoking them, but to God for making such marvels possible in the first place (no “misdirection” of the thanks to the middlemen). Hence why he’s willing to undo some of them as needed; he explicitly allowed them in the first place, so he has liege right to dispel them, as well.

  16. I know I’m very late to the party, but that hasn’t stopped me before :).

    I can think of two 70s-80s movies that would work for Ranold’s hard man image Dirty Harry and The Road Warrior. And for bonus points only small changes to the bad guy in both could paint RTCs as the evil ones.

    In DH all Garak needs for to be RTCified is to have his ransom notes quote from Revelations &c and have him spout a few words about cleansing the atheist filth. And with Mad Max a small few tweaks to the main bad would work too. Hell, in 2 and Thunderdome they went half way that route with Humongous and Tina Turner.

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