Saturday, November 8, 2014

Techno-Porn as written by the Technology-Iliterate

Ellanjay, with their finger on the pulse of today's youth, decide to begin with exciting!remodeling!action! Yeah, I'm bored to tears soon. I know I said in a previous snark that one of my favorite post-apocalyptic tropes was when the heroes got together and started rebuilding the destroyed structures of society, but I'm more into stuff like how they wire it for electricity or get the plumbing going. This, with Vicki and Shelly painting the walls and choosing curtains...yeah, lethally boring. I prefer things that are lethally funny myself.

Vicki is still worried and is only able to stop thinking of Judd when she plunges into her remodeling project, which is one of her few character traits that actually feels human. Few things worse than sitting around worrying; it's a natural human impulse to want to do something even as inconsequential as choosing curtains.

She then writes in her journal which makes me go o_O. Since when does Vicki keep a journal? I can't remember if it's been mentioned before and I'm too lazy to look up. But anyway, here's her entry:

I can’t think about Judd dying. The thought is too horrible. I keep hearing that man’s voice who answered the phone and it makes me sick. From the time Bruce Barnes started teaching the Bible, I’ve known that things would get worse. But it always seemed like something far off, an evil in New Babylon. Now the evil has spread so much that we’ll have to worry about normal citizens, not just the GC. But a life without Judd …

I suppose points for constructing a fairly realistic teenage girl's voice here. But I still have to raise eyebrows. Ellanjay and their characters keep going on and on about how the second half of the tribulation is going to be so much more horrible than the first half, but I have to go really? Given that all the water's turned to blood, killing all the creatures that live in the water and probably all animal life on this planet, God (aka the guy doing all this) is really going to have to hustle if he wants to impress me.

Vicki's section ends with her and Judd finally having a phone conversation which I won't recap because it's fairly dull: Judd recaps what he and Lionel went through in South Carolina but tells her that they're okay now and talks about how he hopes to see her soon.

After the conversation, we cut to Judd's POV. He and Lionel are staying at a plantation house on an island on a river. I don't know if this place actually exists in the real world--Ellanjay don't provide enough details about the place for me to check--plus I already have way too much useless information taking up valuable neuron space so yeah, don't really want to know.

So the South Carolina believers hold a meeting and we get this weird little detail:

The youngest members were a little younger than Judd. Luke and Tom had found them on an island not far from Beaufort. Their ancestors were African slaves, and though they were glad to be safe, the kids felt strange living on a plantation.

This is the extent their discomfort is mentioned and for that I'm grateful, because the few times Ellanjay try to address racism...yeah, still remember the first book where Lionel was introduced and it talked about how some of his relatives accused him of losing his blackness...please don't make me say any more about just how awful that passage truly was.

Nothing really of note comes of this meeting. They just talk about whether to try to get Judd and Lionel to Wisconsin or go on the offensive against the bounty hunters. My eyes lit up at the "go on the offensive" line but quickly my hopes dimmed as I was reminded that nothing ever happens in these series. For pete's sake, the Power Rangers are more pro-active than the Tribbles. At least when there's a world-destroying evil on the loose, they actually try to stop it.

The chapter ends with Vicki showing Becky and Colin their new home. Woo...

Next one, well for those of you who like techno-porn, we start with descriptions of technology. Unfortunately, since Ellanjay have demonstrated a complete inability to predict any kind of advance in technology (like the rise of cell phones and internet porn), their attempts at tech-porn come across more as unintentionally hilarious.

JUDD and Lionel met with Carl and found he had some of the latest gadgets and phones from the Co-op. “Sometimes they deliver supplies, food, and clothes, and other times they have stuff like this.” Carl held up a tiny phone about three inches square.
“How do you punch in the numbers on something that small?” Lionel said.
“You don’t. It’s all voice activated. And look at this.” Carl removed a soft plastic piece from the back of the phone and placed it in his ear. “You talk and listen through this without using your hands. You can look at the display to see who’s calling, but you never have to hold anything. Some are so small you can actually fix the transmitters to one of your teeth.”

This series was written from 1997-2004, so we can chalk up "smartphones" as yet another invention Ellanjay didn't see coming. I'll let someone more versed in technology than I take a stab at taking apart Ellanjay's latest attempt to sound futuristic and tell me if their invention sounds at all practical or if it sounds riddled with flaws.

The SuperPhones also come with earpieces so they can communicate with anyone so long as they have their earpieces in. And apparently this network is worldwide, so props to Ellanjay for predicting a trend that might actually happen: worldwide cell coverage. Always said that the day they get rid of the out-of-area problem with cell phones is the day the Horror genre is pretty much dead. My quibble is this: how exactly are they keeping the GC from tapping and listening in on their worldwide network? Because with current cell phones, law enforcement can easily track you by the pings received from your phones from nearby cell towers. But I am thinking way too much into this, mostly because the story is giving me nothing else to think about. Sorry...

The section ends with Judd calling Vicki again and talking to her. Nothing they talk about is of any real importance, but Vicki finally tells him about that prophecy she received from Anak: about how the one she loves won't return to her whole. She's come to believe it refers to the original members of the YTF and not auxiliary and is worried. Judd reassures her and hangs up. He then turns to Lionel and asks him to be his best man when he and Vicki get married.

Next section, we're in Petra with Sam. He's working on the latest installment of the Petra Diaries. The section begins with a brief summary mentioning that Token Jew's been busy explaining various parables. There's also a mention that tomorrow Token Jew will talk about the Sermon on the Mount. I'm kind of (in a masochistic way) curious as to what Token Jew will say about it. The Sermon on the Mount is probably the greatest passage in the New Testament, one that lends itself to thousands of sermons and never fails to elicit a sense of "Am I really being the best follower of Christ I can be?"

Most of the citizens of Petra have come to embrace Anti-anti-Christianity, but there are a few holdouts. Here's Sam's compassionate writings about them:

As Tsion or Micah begin to speak, these defiant ones and those who are not sure about Jesus often fall to the ground as if in pain. They struggle and cry out, tear their clothing, and throw dirt in the air. If you have ever read the story of Jacob when he struggled with the angel of God, this looks exactly like that. They are fighting the very God who has died to save them and calls to them even now.
The Bible talks about this kind of spiritual warfare. I have never seen it so dramatic as here in Petra. The people can’t walk away from the teaching. It is right in front of them every day, and they cannot escape the voices of truth speaking so clearly.
If you are reading this and you feel this same wrestling in your soul, do not resist God. He loves you and wants to come into your life and forgive you, change you, and make you a new person. Allow him to do that today and end this fight with the God who loved you enough to die for you.

Since I know most of you aren't Biblical scholars, I will quote the passage, Genesis 32:22-32, where Jacob wrestles with God.

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

I imagine the reason Ellanjay is citing this passage is another attempt to prove that they're not anti-Semites by choosing a passage of great significance to the Jewish people. But I can't help but feel that Ellanjay miss the point. Jacob wasn't ever punished for wrestling with God; he was blessed. I take that to mean that it's okay to wrestle with God, to question the decisions and motives of said being, not to blindly obey. But you know how Ellanjay feel about questioners.

After writing his missive, Sam walks around and finally decides to confess his feelings to Naomi Tiberius For those of you who didn't cheat and browse the wiki, she shoots him down, saying that she sees him only as a friend and nothing more. Heartbroken, Sam decides to check his email.

Turns out he got an email from Aron Ben-Eliezar, son of Rabbi Ben-Eliezar. For those of you who've forgotten about Rabbi Ben-Eliezar, the Rabbi, like all good Jews, has abandoned the faith of his fathers and become a good RTC. Aron asks to see Sam in Tel Aviv. His message goes like this:

Sam,
I finally received your note. Thank you for writing. I’m glad to know my parents are safe, but I don’t believe they are followers of Ben-Judah. I know they aren’t foolish enough to buy what Carpathia says, but they wouldn’t turn their backs on our faith.
Joel and I would like to talk with you, but not by email or phone. And please, don’t tell my parents about contacting me. If you can come late tomorrow night, we will wait for you.

Shalom,
Aron

In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, Mr. Stein says that something doesn't feel right about this email. He doesn't think they're loyal to the GC, instead saying they're lost lambs in need of a shepherd. Sam still wants to go to Israel and talk to them and I roll my eyes. How is it that they seldom consider that all these helpful emails might be a goddanged trap by the GC? But even if it were, no worries: like I said before, preschoolers armed with their safety scissors are more of a threat than the GC. But looks like we'll get another travel montage soon as Sam and Mr. Stein decide to leave the safety of Petra and go to Tel Aviv.

6 comments:

Firedrake said...

Ladies! See, you do have a role in the post-apocalyptic wasteland!

Wireless headsets certainly exist. Voice recognition is better than it was, but still unreliable. The main problem in miniaturising a phone is the power supply.

I seem to remember that one of these books (maybe not an LB one, might have been Soon) claims that its superphones don't register with the towers. Because that would work.

Arynne said...

Has anyone ever noticed the guy Jacob wrestles with seems to be afraid of the morning sun? "Let me go, for it is daybreak." If I'd been in Jacob's shoes, I'd have been thinking less God/angel and more "undead". ;-)

Quasar said...

"I know I said in a previous snark that one of my favorite post-apocalyptic tropes was when the heroes got together and started rebuilding the destroyed structures of society, but I'm more into stuff like how they wire it for electricity or get the plumbing going. This, with Vicki and Shelly painting the walls and choosing curtains..."

To be fair, this is a pretty accurate representation of how I play 7 Days To Die (voxel-based zombie apocalypse survival game, if you've not heard of it). While everyone else is running around with shotguns to grab supply drops, I get down to the Serious Business of deciding what type of block to furnish the floor with.

Also, this is the left-behind 'verse. Vikki and Shelly couldn't be doing plumbing and electricity: their ladybrains would overheat.

"She then writes in her journal which makes me go o_O. Since when does Vicki keep a journal?"

Since it's never been mentioned before and will most likely never be mentioned again, anything goes as far as personal headcanon. I hereby declare that Vicki prefixes her journal entries with "Stardate" and covers them in doodles of Picard.

I just gave her more characterisation than the entire series, didn't I?

"I can’t think about Judd dying. blah blah blah... But a life without Judd …

Um... you've been seperated from him for how long now, Vicki? You don't need to imagine. You know what "a life without Judd" feels like.

Carl held up a tiny phone about three inches square.
“How do you punch in the numbers on something that small?” Lionel said.
“You don’t. It’s all voice activated...


Pffhahah voice activation! Remember when that was gonna be big?

(To be fair, it actually would have been impressive if they'd said "touch screen")

...And look at this.” Carl removed a soft plastic piece from the back of the phone and placed it in his ear. “You talk and listen through this without using your hands.

And look like a douche doing so!

"You can look at the display to see who’s calling, but you never have to hold anything."

Alright, to be fair, they're not doing too badly at this point. Caller ID and hands-free phones are real enough, and don't feel like Maxwell Smart gadgets. Voice activation is the only real eff up so far. So, reluctant props to the auth-

"Some are so small you can actually fix the transmitters to one of your teeth.”

Tooth Phone. Dammit. They were doing so well. Do you think the tooth phone goes in front of or behind the cyanide molar?

This one seems to stem less from an easily forgivable failure to predict technology, and more from a complete obliviousness to human nature. The general public is never going to install non-dental technology in their mouth, just like we're never going to voluntarily have microchips installed in our foreheads or hands.

(Okay, I suppose the early adopters might, if we somehow end up in a transhumanist utopia where those things could be useful. But the early adopters are, what, 5% of the population?)

Quasar said...


My quibble is this: how exactly are they keeping the GC from tapping and listening in on their worldwide network? Because with current cell phones, law enforcement can easily track you by the pings received from your phones from nearby cell towers.

Well if the GC is anything like modern law enforcement, they're hording data but not actually listening to it beyond running a few keyword searches. So long as you avoid words like "christian" and "god" and the names of known fugitives, and switched up your codewords every couple of days, you could probably stay off their radar.

The moment you're *on* their radar, though, you're well and truly screwed. They've got all your calls. Rayford and Buck should have been shot a long time ago.

Judd reassures her and hangs up. He then turns to Lionel and asks him to be his best man when he and Vicki get married.

Wait waitwaitwaitwaitwait... when the crap did he propose? Did he actually do it over the phone? Jesus Christ onna stick it's a good thing SMS hadn't caught on when they wrote these books. Could you imagine?

From: Judd
To: Vikki
"u want 2 get hitched? :-) lmao"

"That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok."

"... his two female servants..." What a lovely euphemism. I think I'd feel less dirty right now if the translators hadn't tried to cover up the meaning of the original hebrew.

This is your daily reminder that the old testament can be a fucked up place. Yes, Jacob/Israel owned sex slaves.

"... Naomi Tiberius..."

Props for an awesome, albeit rediculous, last name.

... she shoots him down, saying that she sees him only as a friend and nothing more. Heartbroken, Sam decides to check his email.

Because that's what you do immediately after someone breaks your heart. Check your email. Are we sure this is a story about humans and not some weird reptilian aliens?

Anonymous said...

// "I can’t think about Judd dying. blah blah blah... But a life without Judd …"

Um... you've been seperated from him for how long now, Vicki? You don't need to imagine. You know what "a life without Judd" feels like. //

Yeeeeah... As someone who has actually lost a fiancé in real life, this sticks in my craw. I get why Judd dying would be upsetting for Vicki, but it shouldn't be unimaginably horrible-- in her case all it means is that she won't see him again for another couple of years. I mean, separation is hard and all, but knowing for a fact that your loved one is coming back to you, almost to the exact date, sounds pretty good from where I'm sitting. "Unimaginably horrible" seems like it should be reserved to describe the people Vicki knows who died as non-RTC's...

--Froglet

spiritplumber said...

I guess that Ellenjay heard about "Bluetooth" at the time, and that it had to do with phone headsets.