Monthly Archives: October 2015
On the evening of Bia’s untimely murder, Harriet Johns stops by Felicia’s desk and they chat office politics for about ten seconds. Long enough for Harriet to tell Felicia that her (Harriet’s) deputy will be replacing Paul. Felicia thinks about how she didn’t expect Paul’s replacement to be a woman.
Look, Jenkins, make up your mind. Either Atheistopia is some kind of unnatural world where women actually have careers and nobody gives it a second thought…or it’s not. But it can’t be both at the same time.
Anyway, Felicia doesn’t have much time to examine her own sexism, because the special dinner meeting of believers is tonight! In Joliet! So, yeah, all these people from the same company drive from downtown Chicago to Joliet for dinner. They even have a stupid and elaborate backstory to tell people, about how they’re all in a bowling league. And Hector even admits that their restaurant of choice is “hardly a secure environment,” but they’re going anyway, mere days after the worldwide massacre. Trudy even has the audacity to make “fish jokes” when so many millions are dead that they can’t even be buried yet.
They are truly loving believers. And so smart!
Speaking of loving believers, the first wave of zealots has left the underground. While the kids pack their own suitcases…
…Paul and Jae talk, again for about ten seconds, about what would happen if Paul was sent to prison for, yanno, being a big, fat traitor.
Jae didn’t seem to want to discuss the ramifications if Paul was sentenced. She made her case about how much she needed him and his maturity in the faith—limited as it was, he was light-years ahead of her—and she said she would be lost without him.
“And what of Brie and Connor?” she said. “How long are they expected to go without a dad?”
Well, they’ve made it for their entire lives so far…
That said, Jae has an interesting order of priority: (1) she needs Paul’s maturity in the faith, (2) she needs him as either her husband or her “head of the family” (knowing Jenkins, probably the latter, and (3) she needs him as a father figure to the children.
Just saying, interesting order there, Jae.
Hey, remember that absolutely horrible doctor from awhile back? The one who “slows down” all his atheist patients?
Well, he’s back.
There was a crash involving a “USSA Television Network” van…
…and a cameraman named Stephenson “Scooter” Davis is the only survivor.
Dr. Gregory “Nazi” Graybill calls Straight to tell him all about it. For little other reason than to remind us that both these characters are still in the story.
Straight draws the natural conclusion:
“So, you’re going to slow him down a little, keep him sedated here so he can’t be helping broadcast propaganda over the state network?”
Okay, there are other things wrong with this whole scenario other than just Dr. Nazi and his monstrous practice of slow-playing the treatment of anyone not RTC. First of all, this goes back to what we were talking about when Dr. Nazi came on the scene—there are only so many times you can “slow down” a patient before people start to get the idea that maaaaaaaybe you’re not such a good doctor. Second, why is a random cameraman the only person who could “broadcast propaganda”? Do Dr. Nazi and Straight really think that the sick leave of Scooter, or even, in fact, the death of three or four other staff members in that van, will slow TV production for a moment? They’ll have an on-air moment of silence for the departed, and then continue the shows. (It really sometimes seems that Jenkins has never spent one week in the real world.) Finally, and speaking of propaganda, is that really much of a problem for the believers? Because Jenkins told us not too long ago that Atheistopia isn’t being shy about airing a pretty robust debate on the whole God issue. There was no sense there that anyone, on either side, was being silenced by the government or any media outlet.
Not that I want to distract from the fact that Dr. Nazi and Straight are monsters, mind you.
Anyway, it all turns out to be moot, because in his (apparently very) thorough examination of Scooter, Dr. Nazi found an ichthus tattoo. Between the guy’s toes.
Like I said, it was apparently a very thorough examination.
Only a suicidally stupid person would have a religious symbol tattooed anywhere on his body when he lives on a planet where religion is outlawed. So Dr. Nazi knows the guy is a legit RTC!
And Dr. Nazi tells Straight. So Straight can visit the guy. Why Straight needs to visit the guy, and why with such urgency, is something Jenkins doesn’t tell us. I thought Straight was more interested in converting patients than in ministering to those already on his side.
Though the mere fact that Dr. Nazi tells Straight about the patient, and not the other way around, amuses me because it is exactly the opposite of what Dr. Nazi claimed would happen, and thus completely negates the entire reason Dr. Nazi befriended Straight in the first place!
Oh, Dr. Nazi. You never fail to amuse.
Well, we all knew this moment was coming. In one way or another. Poor Bia. Jenkins has had it out for her since the moment he created her. What with her being a tall, gangly, single woman and all.
But, we’ll get to Bia. First, Paul and Ranold behave like a recently-broken-up couple:
Paul is hanging out with hundreds of the residents of the underground, waiting to get the evacuation organized and going. FINALLY.
So, of course, Bia calls Paul at that moment. First on Ranold’s phone (landline, I guess, if we’re going to be generous), then from her own phone. Bia apparently puts her skull on speaker, and Paul immediately savvies to that.
Then Ranold. “Yes, you’re on speaker, you coward. Why do you answer her phone and not mine?”
“Because I want to talk to her.”
“And you don’t want to talk to me.”
“You’re a quick study, Dad.”
I don’t know whether to slap these two just because they’re acting like a couple of tweens switching dates for the Snowdays Dance, or because they’re acting like a couple of tweens when thousands (more) lives are on the line.
They snipe back and forth for a couple of minutes, to no purpose whatsoever except dick-waving, until Paul suggests an in-person meeting (remember, he wants to “take [Ranold] on“).
So Ranold proposes the National Cathedral for a meet spot. Of course, it’s not a cathedral anymore, but it is where Ranold arrested hundreds of Episcopalians right after the war, when Paul was a baby.
So Paul might leave the underground
thumb-twiddling planning chambers for the first time in 32 chapters!
So after the (possibly skull) phone call, Bia heads back to her office, but is immediately called by Ranold, who asks her to stay late to look over revised plans for the upcoming raid. (Someday, that raid might happen. Maybe.) She agrees, though this seems rather cavalier for her own safety, given that Paul has just confirmed to Ranold that he and Bia have been in near-constant contact for days now.
The only change is that the date of the raid has been rescheduled to Monday, February 11. (For the record, this will be 20 days post the massacre.) But since Ranold didn’t say what the change was, Bia has to read through everything to make sure. Meaning she is late leaving work, meaning there is nobody else around when she finally gets into her car and is shot, presumably by Ranold.
Now, we know Bia is Saved, so she gets the express ticket to Heaven, not like she would have three weeks ago when she honestly didn’t believe, but we have to remember that this is Bia. She of the tallness and boniness and liking slinky dresses and not being a big fan of Paul. So while her death is not drawn out, neither is it immediate—it takes three shots to kill her.
Which I am going to interpret as Bia being almost Too Tough to Die.
I’m sure Leya would be very sad at her mother’s untimely death. If Jenkins remembered he created her.
So, since Leya can’t, let us pause for just a moment and remember the bad-assedness of Bia Balaam.
Bia finally has her audience with Ranold. Sitting outside his office, she naturally ruminates on how he wasn’t the man he once was, what with being OLD and all. (Seriously, in Atheistopia, early 60s must be the new early 40s, no? Whatever.) But she concludes that he is still smart and tenacious (yeah!) so it’s risky for her to be there.
Though, why? Although asshat Paul made a big deal about how she’d have to behave in the usual Jenkinsian way and lie-without-lying, this shouldn’t be nearly so undoable as it was with Felicia—Bia is telling the truth as she knows it.
Notwithstanding that Jenkins devotes the whole chapter solely for this interaction, it really doesn’t end up being much of a big deal—Bia says that she thought Wipers was dead, but now isn’t so sure. Which is the truth. The only thing she sorta waffles on is why she thinks this. She actually thinks this because she now knows that Christians are the good guys who would never kill anyone. (Except not.) But she says she has doubts now because Ranold has doubts.
This pointless quest now over, Ranold is awesome again, and has actually concluded that Bia is in communication with Paul. Does Jenkins even get how good Ranold is at his job, to have sussed this out?
Anyway, they go back and forth, and Ranold is understandably pissed that Bia didn’t, yanno, tell him that she’s been in regular contact with the enemy. Ranold is ticked at Bia for withholding that information from him, but he also acts a bit like a jilted boyfriend, inasmuch as Paul has returned Bia’ calls, but not his:
“How many times am I supposed to leave messages on his system? After a whole, a man gets the point.”
Would that be his skullphone “system, Jenkins?
So the chapter ends on the ominous(?) note of Ranold asking Bia to use his phone to try to call Paul.
Landline to skullphone then, Jenkins, is it? Why the hell did he even create these damn things when he forgets them every other chapter???
Man, this book. I can’t wait for Wintermas!
So, yeah, I’ve not been the best with getting out posts lately. However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the upcoming Wintermas season, and have decided…
That instead of my usual Wintermas romance novel, I will review not one, not two, but THREE Wintermas movies.
Well, okay. Two Wintermas movies and one episode of a TV show.
I feel very good about this plan.
But it does entail finishing Shadowed before Black Friday, so here we go!
After her meeting with Straight at the closed-in-real-life-but-open-in-Atheistopia restaurant, Felicia has a plan, a way to get “back into the game”–she’s going to GO BACK TO WORK!!!
I know. Shocking.
Strange. In her in-box, along with the normal buildup of busywork, were more than a dozen sealed plain white envelopes. Each contained a folded sheet depicting a simple ichthyic symbol, a sketch of a fish made by two intersecting curved lines. Could there be that many secret believers here?
I’m less surprised by that than I am by the fact that the in-boxes of NPO staff contain paper, not emails. Aren’t we in a FUTURE where there are hardly any books?
This just seems like an unbelievably risky way for the zealots to communicate with each other. With paper that anyone could see them drawing on or sticking in a mailbox. With their fingerprints on it. I mean, holy crap, seriously.
Heck, poor Felicia didn’t even know what was in these envelopes. Which means she could have potentially opened them in front of anybody. And can you imagine (because Jenkins, apparently, can’t) the atmosphere of heightened suspicion that must exist since the genocide?
And here’s the kicker–these fish papers aren’t any kind of special code, key to the survival of the resistance. They’re just “notes of encouragement.” That’s it. In fact, Hector has to get Felicia to his cubicle on pretense so that he can inform her verbally of the dinner meeting the believers are having that night.
Because there are no less than THIRTY secret believers in Felicia’s office. Which was also Paul’s office. Yep, Paul was just the greatest agent alive, wasn’t he? Dickweed.