Soon: Chapter 30: Specs and Jealousy

With the billboards dark and Specs not answering his Skull Phone, Paul speeds back to the postproduction row.  There, he finds that “a team of commandos” has just raided Specs’ place, and shot him dead, leaving as quickly as they came.

As we have seen, Atheistopia does some things marvellously well.  They have cured cancer and homelessness, halved all travel times, made interactive movies, stopped polluting the planet, improved laser eye surgery such that 99.9% of people have perfect unaided vision…

But they just can’t get their act together when it comes to evil dystopias.

Let’s be clear: these billboard and sign pranks weren’t successful in any way that mattered.  They weren’t converting anyone; in fact, they were pissing off the general population (more on that in a bit). 

So the “projectionist,” though no one knew who he was, was one of the most hated men around.

Why didn’t they grab this guy in the most public, orderly fashion possible?  Drag him out, professionally, in front of a crowd.  Make a big show of flipping a switch in his workroom that restores the signs.  Give him a nice, public trial in a kangaroo court, and then have him publicly executed for seditious acts against the state.  Make him the enemy, not the victim.

“Is that guy all right, the guy with the glasses?” [asked a bystander]


Paul had just met Quinn, yet he felt as if he had lost a dear brother.  What a waste.  What a tragic loss.

Okay, this is why I do not take RTCs seriously when they say they love everyone.  That is not love.  It’s certainly not love for a brother.  Because I have a brother (a real one, not just some guy who shares my religious beliefs), and I can pretty much guarantee that my first thoughts if he died would not be “what a waste, what a tragic loss.”

Something else occurs to me: Atheistopia is going to have Specs’ body now.  Do you think it’s possible that they could know what calls Specs received on the last day of his life?

Just wondering.

But that’s not what is on Paul’s mind right now.  He does get that somebody JUST MIGHT BE TRACKING HIM (oh, geez, Paul, YOU FRAKKIN’ THINK SO, EH???), but he doesn’t think it’s Ranold, wise to the fact that Paul is a secret Christian.

Nope, he thinks it’s Bia Balaam, and that she’s just some jealous mannish wimmens or something:

…an aggressive Washington agent who would trust no one, especially the competition.  Paul was a twice-injured operative viewed as a hero in the agency and even more threatening as the son-in-law of Ranold Decenti.  No, Bia Balaam would never give Paul a chance to show her up…

Gotta watch out for those aggressive wimmins!  Never know what nefarious doings they’ll be up to if you don’t keep them safe in the kitchen!

Also, I think Paul is overestimating the clout he has as Ranold’s in-law.  Ranold doesn’t seem the type to keep his feelings of contempt and animosity for Paulie a big secret.

But Paul is concerned enough to FINALLY check his NPO-issue car, and finds a tracking device. 


He attaches it to another car, a ploy that I am sure will work for ten, maybe even fifteen minutes.

And off he goes in his now-nontracked car.

Me, if I was part of the Atheistapo, I’d track Paul via his Skull Phone, but hey, what do I know?

Harriet Johns, the L.A. NPO lady, calls him and tells him to check out the Hollywood sign:

It now read “Hurray for Hollywood.”  Drivers honked and waved as they passed.


Bah.  Headdesk, Atheistopia.  Headdesk for you, this time.

Atheistopia’s Death Count: 30

Posted on January 26, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Not too mention how is changing “Hollywood” to “Holywood” really a huge enough threat that they need to make an example out of Specs? Sounds like the kind of crime that would get maybe a few months in jail plus a fine. Probably barely make the police blotter section of the paper. Even if they needed to do something bigger to Specs than jail time plus a fine, wouldn’t torturing him in order to get him to name names be more useful or finding a Dr. Nick-style shrink willing to declare him crazy on spurious grounds and have him institutionalized and drugged to the gills work better? Again, both methods are less flashy than having a squad take him out and make him a martyr but both work in terms of removing Specs as a threat to Atheistopia. Having a squad take him out runs the risk of what the CIA calls blowback: too risky, runs a risk of attracting too much sympathy for the enemy. Better to take out a threat quietly than a big flashy manuever which has so much potential to backfire.

    • The way Jenkins has much of a muchness made out of, frankly, what would probably just be a high school level prank strikes me as being similar to how he thinks having a rom-com subplot that lasts 50 goddamn pages, or Hattie tee-heeing a prank past Rayford, are examples of mysteries the reader would actually appreciate instead of just “OMG I am rolling my eyes SO HARD NOW”.

      It makes me wonder how sheltered he was as a kid, and how sheltered his audience must be to think this is Good Stuff.

    • Atheistopia’s answer for everything is summary execution. Which is senseless not only from a practicality standpoint, as mentioned (*), but also from a doctrinal standpoint. The government would view religious belief as a type of mental illness — it wouldn’t put a bullet in the heads of everyone expressing it, it would try to cure them. These Christians would be rounded up alive, institutionalized, and then deprogrammed, medicated, or lobotomized. From society’s point of view, they would be helped. “Saved”, you might even call it. Paul should bump into Christians arrested earlier in the book who are now “cured” and happily secularist.

      Jenkins is unlikely to give us scenes like this, because learning to love Big Brother isn’t as cool or sexy as being martyred. It would also raise the question, which Jenkins probably isn’t prepared to address, of whether these deprogrammed Christians still count as saved or not.

      Of course, I expect that like most atheists in bad Christian fiction, the people running Atheistopia aren’t REAL atheists — they know deep down that Jesus is real and the Bible is right, and it just makes them so mad.

      • (*) For one thing, if the government issued death sentences for pulling a prank like Specs’, then the entire Caltech student body would be wiped out before Homecoming. And then who’d they get to design the next generation of skullphones?

  2. Worldbuilding. Jenkins doesn’t quite have it.

    I mean, with each chapter you snark I continue to be appalled at the degree to which Jenkins thinks these implausible situations he spins out could in any way be called a part of groundbreaking Christian literature. 😦

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      It gets worse. Remember the title of this waste of dead trees: Soon.

      As in it’s not supposed to be fiction, but History Written In Advance. This Is What WILL Happen. It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…

  3. Wait, what? Did they have nine extra giant letter generators set up in front of HOLLYWOOD just in case? If so, I can think of way better tricks to do with them then just blanking out one of the Ls.

    The Atheistapo should have thrown Specs into a DVD press that’s busy making copies of Con Air. Then Paul could have run up to him crying, “Specs! You have become that which you most loved!”

    • Please take one (1) coupon redeemable upon demand for one Internets in the style of your choice. Expires upon arrival of TurboJesus.

    • Insert Orson-Welles-applauding-in-Citizen-Kane .gif here.

    • Wait, what? Did they have nine extra giant letter generators set up in front of HOLLYWOOD just in case? If so, I can think of way better tricks to do with them then just blanking out one of the Ls.

      I’d envisioned something more like a giant (hi-tech) version of those road signs that can be programmed to say whatever needs to be said – amber alerts, estimated drive times, warnings of crashes/detours. So adding several more letters would maybe just make the original “Hollywood” half-sized.

      Or atheistopia’s so awesome that they do, in fact, put up 8 times as much equipment as is normally needed, in case they ever want to say “happy wintermas, Hollywood!” or “Be excellent to each other, Hollywood!”.

    • WIN!

  4. When the RTCs take over, their perfect state will look exactly like this only without the technological advances – incompetent secret policemen and all.

    Then the real nasty people, who are always around, will quietly take over the apparatus.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Starting with 1789 Paris, revolutions were normally started by Idealist Intellectuals and taken over by the Street Thugs. This pattern continued for the next 200 years until the Warsaw Pact revolutions of 1989 returned to the American model.

  5. The guy with the glasses? Is that on purpose? How old is this book?

    Oh my God Paul is a self-absorbed moron. He’s been sticking up for his RTC buddies, knows his father in law hates his guts, but his first instinct is “Someone uppity woman must be jealous of my aweomeness”.

    Oh, and great idea switching the tracker now. Had he done it sooner, Specs might be alive. But now there’s no real point anymore. The best thing for Paul to do is to keep that tracker on his car, pretending not to know it’s there, and then switch it just before he’s going to do something zealoty again. By switching it now, he’s letting Bia know he knows she’s following them, and is gathering further suspicion by not telling anyone. He might have tried throwing a fuss about it to Raynold, pretending to think it was the zealots who bugged his car (he can probably even do that without literally lying by merely suggesting the posibility). That way he can get rid of the tracker without looking even more suspicious by clearly showing he has something to hide. Because yes, this switcheroo can work at most untill Bia meets Paul in a place his tracker doesn’t place him.

  6. Hang on, you mean S3kr1t Ag3nt cars don’t have trackers in them as standard?

  7. I think Atheistopia is actually doing a decent job of following the Evil Overlord list.

    “Shooting is not too good for my enemies!”

    “Any tone-deaf bards, clumsy thieves, humorous midgets glasses-wearing hackers or other obvious sidekicks will be summarily executed before they meet the Hero, or immediately thereafter.”

    “My Legions of Terror ™ will be able to hit a moving, man-sized target at 10 paces. Anyone who cannot will be used for target practice.”

    I’m not saying they’re perfect, but their willingness to kill first, and ask questions never at least keeps the numbers of the resistance low.

    • It’d explain their extra Ho lywood letters, too.

      “27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.”

  8. You mean to say Specs was actually the Nostalgia Critic, aka Oh, say it ain’t so!

    ( . . . my sad, sad attempt at cleverness. But at least, unlike Jenkins, I know when my attempt at cleverness is pathetic.)

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