Silenced: Chapter 25: Brilliant!

“Ranold,” Margaret called out, “the message light is blinking on the phone.”

The message is from Bia.

International counter-terrorism: best left to answering machines.

Bia’s carrying the Idiot Ball right now: she totally bought Paul’s “Bia’s great and loves her kids” fake-out.  Seems a bit out of character for Bia to fall for such an obvious ploy, but she is a woman, amirite?  So much as mention her kids, and she’ll be putty in your hands.

Jae realizes what Paul was doing, but is pissed:

[Paul] was a master, but if his brilliance had cost her the chance of seeing him over there, she was not going to be happy.

For those keeping track, this is the second time in seven pages that Paul has been called “brilliant.”  Repeat a lie enough, right?

But Ranold is still suspicious, because fool him once…  (Also, though he doesn’t actually say so, I suspect that he hasn’t forgotten that Paul has been jealous of Bia since the moment they met.)


Ball Dangler makes a statement that they’re not going to negotiate with terrorists (meaning Styr Magnor, but he might as well be talking to Paul and Co.), and Paul reflects on Dangler:

…while Paul was diametrically opposed to his worldview, it had not always been that way.

“Good thing I stuck Jesus into my heart six whole months ago!  Otherwise, my kid might be dead tomorrow!  Oh well, I guess that’s just what everyone else (who’s grown up in a world where religion is outlawed) gets!  Sucks to be you, almost everyone on the planet!  Can’t make an omelette, right?”

Styr plays some more Telephone with ChappellShow, with Paul directing ChappellShow’s end of the conversation.  It’s all pretty boring and redundant, but ChappellShow manages to set up a meet with Styr at a pub in Shoreditch.

So soon we get to see Paul’s mad spy skillz in action again!


Posted on March 18, 2014, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. It’s in line with the behavior of the protagonists in Left Behind, but somehow even worse. Jenkins keeps writing characters that are allegedly recent converts, that are somehow every bit as arrogant and secure in their choices as he is. Even when, like Paul here, they temporarily muse about how they used to be filthy heathens too, it doesn’t affect their actions or thinking in any way.

    Paul shouldn’t have just remembered that he used to be unsaved, but he should’ve also realized that he had the “benefit” of witnessing several miracles, finding RTC tracts from their fathers, interacting with multiple RTCs including one who specifically targets him for conversion, and having access to the contraband Bible due to his job. And that maybe, MAYBE, he could stand to be a bit more forgiving.

  2. “[Paul] was a master.”
    “Wow, my husband is just a master manipulator. He just brilliantly mislead Bia into thinking he likes and respects her now, by paying some insincere attention to her and her kids. But I really want to go over there and enjoy the presence of my loving husband. Sure, he used to be a jerk, but he likes and respects me know, what with him paying a bit more attention to me and the kids and… Son of a bitch!”

    • Ivan, please accept this brass-cogwheel-bedecked Internet, with my compliments.

      • Thanks. I know it’s not classy to laugh at your own jokes, but I have to admit I’m still snickering over it.

        It helps that it’s a pretty fair point too. These past several chapters have been about Ranold trying to convince Jae that her husband was deceiving her. And here Jae is admiring how good her hubby is at deceiving. Connect the fucking dots, woman!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      “[Paul] was a master.”

      Because he’s the Author Self-Insert.
      And the Author says so, so there!

      He’s the Alicorn Self-Insert OC who comes out of nowhere and saves Equestria while Celestia, Luna, and the Elements of Harmony all watch in adoring awe!

      (This reads sooooo much like Bad Fanfic…)

  3. Blinking answering machines in the age of skullphones? Huh. I just assumed Atheistopia would have something cooler.

    It’s all pretty boring and redundant

    It’s Jenkins’s idea of a thriller novel. Boring and redundant are standard features.

    • Ranold actually knew that the message had been left for him, he just liked having his right eye blink red periodically and startle people. Margaret has to “remind” him so he’ll stop embarrassing her with it, though.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      It’s Jenkins’s idea of a thriller novel. Boring and redundant are standard features.

      “Buck” Jenkins, you are NOT Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy.

      And your Author Self-Insert du Jour is NOT James Bond or Jack Ryan.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Blinking answering machines in the age of skullphones?

      Like an episode of the mash-up “Dan vs FiM”:

  4. “Hello. You’ve reached the home of Ranold and Margaret Decenti. We’re not available right now, but if you leave a message and the number of a skull where you can be reached, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible. If you’re an NPO intelligence agent, please include your full name, security ID, and GPS coordinates for verification. Thank you!”

    • In the sandwich shop queue, the guy behind taps you on the shoulder and says “it’s for you”, then starts talking in your boss’s voice.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy


      Is this another example of the “SEE HOW CLEVER I AM?” school of character names?

      As in “Decent-I = I Decent, Get It?”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        P.S. The reason I’m so down on “See How Clever I Am?” is locally we had a fanboy (literally living in his Mom’s basement at 50) who fancied himself a Great Author (and was always reminding everyone within earshot — and later Internet reach — of the fact).

        His actual attempts at fiction (as opposed to talking about My Great Idea for My Next Masterpiece) were literally unreadable. Guy may as well have followed each and every sentence with an inline footnote of (See How Clever I Am?). It was truly AWFUL.

      • Yep. Here’s Jerry Jenkins patting himself on the back for his “significant” names.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy


          That sort of “significant name” makes sense only within Allegory, and an attempted technothriller is NOT an Allegory. Years ago on his Left Behind snark thread, Slacktivist (or one of his commenters) made a point that in trying to set LB in a “realistic” world and make the Book of Revelation “Realistic”, they lost the power of Mythic imagery (and Allegorical symbolism) and without that Power of Myth and imagery were left with just a third-rate imitation technothriller.

          But that’s par for the course and then some among Fundagelicals, with their Spiritual Engineering Checklist instead of a Bible.

          “When you point at something with your finger, the dog sniffs your finger. To a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.” — C.S.Lewis

          • I think the purpose of much Christian™-brand cultural material, including this book, is to be “just like X, only Christian™-approved”. (This is most obvious in CCM.) So the Michael Murphy books are Christian™-Dan-Brown. These are a bit further from that approach, because there’s no single obvious source for this sort of near future story for Jerry to have copied. And it’s not as if you can say “just like the Book of Acts, only Christian™”. I think that most of the time the near future setting gets forgotten about, and it’s Christian™ James Bond.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Firedrake, if you can describe something at “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that’s NOT a good sign.

      • Ranold B. Decenti = Benedict Arnold

        Took me FOREVER to get this one.

        • It’s a particularly nonsensical “significant” name since, if anything, Atheistopia is the United States (declared independence from monarchy/religious control), Ranold is George Washington (the military guy who helped get it started), and Paul is the bitter, high-ranking officer who sells out his country to ingratiate himself with God (King George III), narrowly avoiding capture by Ranold.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            But Paul is the Author Self-Insert, so He’s the HERO.

          • Exactly. Ranold (spoiler alert!) never betrays anyone or anything. He is unfailingly loyal to Atheistopia and the “world system.” As you point out, it’s Paul who’s the traitor.

      • Actually, we already divined out that “Ranold B. Decenti” is an anagram of “Benedict Arnold”.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy

    For those keeping track, this is the second time in seven pages that Paul has been called “brilliant.” Repeat a lie enough, right?

    More like a fanboy writer admiring himself in the mirror of his Author Self-Insert. I’ve seen it so often in bad fanfic.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Ranold,” Margaret called out, “the message light is blinking on the phone.”

    Question, Ruby, everyone:

    How do you hook up an answering machine (with blinking message light) to an implanted skullphone?

    • I can see the phone network switching the call to a second receiver if the primary fails to answer*, but Ranold is apparently getting direct calls from his agents, so it seem like poor security to send missed calls to his home answering machine.

      *(I assume skullphones have a “mute” option. I hope they don’t have a “vibrate” option.)

      • inquisitiveraven

        Oh gods, Paul would be all over that one if they do.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Ranold is apparently getting direct calls from his agents, so it seem like poor security to send missed calls to his home answering machine.

        Remember just which Greatest Christian Author of All Time did the worldbuilding.

    • It’s all components. The call comes in to the switching server, which tries to reach the skullphone (and maybe other phones too) and fails. It then stores the voice message and sends out a message-waiting alert to all devices subscribed under that account. Ranold’s “answering machine” is just a flashing light with a network connection. (We can actually do this now with VoIP.)

    • “Arnold, your left eye’s flashing.”

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, March 21st, 2014 | The Slacktiverse

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