Sunday, February 8, 2015

Resistance is Futile

I know I'm late, but after last week, I wasn't exactly champing at the bit to go a few more rounds with Ellanjay's protagonists, given that they're incapable of creating a protagonist who isn't an asshole. But then again, given that none of the members of the YTF are anywhere near as awful as Paul Stepola, maybe I should count my blessings, bite the bullet, and get to it. I do promise, given the outbursts from last week, to cut down on the profanity, but as always, I feel free to rescind that promise every time it gets to be too damn much. Besides science backs my love of profanity. Now I'm sure some fancy-pants intellectual will tell me that the study in question is more nuanced then I think, but hey, anything that justifies me being a potty-mouth.

One last thing, I took the liberty of using Kindle's "Search this book" feature. If you guessed that Dr. Rose's name is never mentioned again even though we're only 54% through the book, congratulations, you're a long time reader of this blog who correctly surmised that the asshole protagonists won't give another thought to the fact that this guy, who went out of his way to help them, is burning in Hell for all eternity.

Now that I've given all my disclaimers, let's put on some Pat Benatar, and tear Ellanjay a new one this week.

Okay, in a stroke of realism, the chapter begins with Lionel experiencing some phantom limb pain. As said in a previous comment, I doubt Ellanjay are going to put too much work in demonstrating Lionel's struggles now that he's lost an arm. We're lucky if we get anything similar to the struggles of Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords. For those not familiar with the Game of Thrones series, Jaime loses his dominant hand in the third book and pretty much finds himself having to relearn how to do everything, including feed and dress himself with his other hand. In addition to feeding and dressing himself, he pretty much has to relearn how to fight with a sword because George RR Martin knows enough about sword-fighting to know that you can't just switch to the other hand after a lifetime of training and practice with the dominant one. So in short, Jaime pretty much goes from being one of the best swordsman in Westeros to practically being a beginner again after the loss of his hand. But okay, I've pretty much accepted that Ellanjay are nowhere near willing to put in the kind of effort that George RR Martin does, so let's get on with the story.

Basically, if you're wondering, Judd and Lionel are no longer at Dr. Rose's house, but another YTF safe house. If you're wondering why the hell they haven't just used Dr. Rose's car to drive the rest of the way to Wisconsin so Judd can be reunited with Designated Love Interest Vicki, well that's because the only thing Ellanjay love as much as God is money, so they seek any excuse to pad this sucker out.

But as much as they love padding, Ellanjay miss an opportunity to do so, by speeding past Lionel's struggles to adjust to be one-handed. That would have both added to the page and been interesting, but it would also involve research, so yeah, probably too much to hope for that they would write about this in a semi-realistic fashion.

Lionel not only regained his strength but also learned to function with only one hand. Eating wasn’t a problem since Lionel could use one hand with most of the food. The doctor and everyone else in the new safe house had been amazed at what Lionel had done.

I will give a little leeway in that Lionel didn't lose his dominant hand, but still gotta question Ellanjay's assertion that Lionel has no trouble adjusting to eating and living with one hand. Trying using a knife and fork when you only have one hand or putting on your shirt and pants with one hand. But again, if they really showed the characters' suffering as a result of the Apocalypse that would cut down on all the haw-hawing they like to do.

We then cut to Vicki who is engaged in Exciting!Thinking!Action. Basically she thinks about all the raids the Tribbles have been doing and how some of the Tribbles have been captured and killed as a result. It's a good thing Ellanjay opted to have Vicki tell us what's been going on, instead of showing us a raid. The excitement might have raised the readers' blood pressure a few beats.

Anyway, after Vicki's brief appearance, Ellanjay decide to cut to Petra for some reason. Sam has spent his days, walking around, working on his blog "Petra Diaries," and trying to convert his friend, Lev Taubman. As you no doubt guessed from his name, Lev is all stubborn and Jewish and has yet to accept Jesus as his savior. He, like all other Jewish characters in this series, also manages to have a Jewy McJew kind of name, despite the fact that he was originally from Chicago (his family moved to Israel just before the Rapture). I sometimes wonder if there's any bad Jewish fiction where while the Jewish characters have traits outside of being Jewish, the Christian characters all walk around with names like Christian McIlovejesus and have no discernible traits outside of doing weird, non-Jewish stuff like not circumcising their baby boys. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

Anyway, Lev and his family have been hearing about how Nicky's healers have very eeeevilly used their supernatural powers to save people so they won't die and burn in Hell for all eternity and they've decided they want to meet up with one of the miracle workers. Sam, of course, is all "You can't go! Nicky's evil and you need Jesus!" But Lev, continuing to display sense (that will probably promptly disappear after the inevitable conversion scene), is like "You're so close-minded." He then mentions that Sam probably won't even come to the debate between Leon Fortunado and Token Jew. I suppose given how debates usually play out in this series, where they're either rushed through or involve displays of logic that wouldn't sway a second-grader, I probably will be disappointed if and when the debate comes, but hey, after reading over thirty books in this series, I'm used to disappointment. I've come to accept that Conservapedia acquired their masterful debating skills from crappy RTC fiction like this.

Anyway, Sam walks away from this conversation all Emo and wondering why Lev can't seem to love Big Brother the way he does and the chapter ends with a cameo from Abdullah. Given that he's described as a friend of Rayford Steele, I'm going to assume that this is the same Abdullah Smith from the adult books.

Abdullah's advice is basically "Keep praying." While I'll admit that the message he gives is pretty standard RTC boiler-plate about how you should pray without ceasing that Jesus will open your friend's eyes, it still feels kind of wrong. As said many times before, if all this is Zod trying to get everybody's attention, why doesn't he just rearrange the stars in the sky or something to spell out "Tim LaHaye was right and you should buy all his books!" in whatever language he wants. Because even though I can see a conversion story coming at me, what if Ellanjay, in a shocking reversal, decide not to have Lev realize that "Jesus is Lord!" and start lamenting how foolish he was to follow the teachings of the rabbis? Oh yeah, what will happen is that Lev will promptly die or he'll Kick The Dog and die. After which Samuel won't give a single thought to his former friend as he gets poked with pitchforks by fiery demons.

Anyway, second chapter, for those of you who missed him for some bizarre reason, we finally hear from Judd again. He and Lionel have spent the next few weeks in the safe house, bravely using the Internet to keep up with "The Petra Diaries" and anything else going on in the world. Yeah, it's really dull except for this one little bit in the opening paragraph.

Judd was glad Lionel was making progress, but each time Judd saw him, he felt somehow betrayed, like Lionel had hurt himself to keep Judd away from Vicki. Of course, Judd knew this wasn’t true, but something was going on inside him, a bitterness he knew had to be worked out.

I know the paragraph says that Judd is mad at Lionel for keeping him from Vicki, but yeah, I'm still wondering if I should dust off the "Ho Yay" tag. But then again, I am a drooling pervert who sees potential for Ho Yay everywhere especially in RTC fiction because it's so much more fun that way.

Plus yeah, Judd, Lionel hacked off his arm solely to inconvenience you.

Anyway, Judd briefly reminisces for the first time in God-only-knows-how-long about his slaughtered raptured family. But he quickly gets back to the important task of reading stuff from his friends because the trip up north is currently on hold, due to Ellanjay seeking any excuse to pad out the series bad road conditions and Lionel not being up to travelling.

Judd has received devotional information from Marshall. Judd is impressed by how Marshall is handling some tough topics like "Being Angry at God Because He Keeps Trying to Kill You" but for those of us still wanting to know how any of these prophecies can be reconciled with Ellanjay's assertion that "God loves humanity," keep wondering. As you probably guessed, we don't actually see how Marshall addresses these topics because Ellanjay always choose to tell rather than show.

In addition to Theodicy, apparently Marshall has also been talking about romantic relationships at the End of the World, leaving Judd to wonder whether he should continue to pursue Vicki or if being with her would take away from his duty to spread God's word. Yeah if it's anything the Tribbles are known for in this series, it's their belief in the Great Commission. While Nicky tries to win souls to his side by being compassionate, doing stuff that offends Jesus by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, the Tribbles have been faithful followers of the one true God, following in the footsteps of Paul, Peter, and many others by sitting on their asses in the Hole-in-the-Ground.

Chang Wong then sends Judd an audio file of Nicky and Leon talking. As you can imagine, it's standard villain "Bwaah Bwaah!" talk that I really can't snark. Suffice to say, maybe Ellanjay will actually show this debate between Leon and Token Jew given that they mention it again. But I'm not going to hold my breath. As Fred Clark would point out, this wouldn't be the first time they've failed to deliver on a promised debate.

Anyway, about the only way to make the conversation between Leon and Nicky interesting is to give them whatever funny voices feel appropriate for their cartoonish personalities. I went with Boris Badenov and Skeletor if you're interested. I'll even let you decide which is which because I'm too bored to care.

Anyway after listening to that conversation, we cut away from Judd back into Petra with Sam.

Anyway all is not well at the Petra Compound. Token Jew and Chaim are trying to calm down the Unbelievers, but they, led by Lev's father, are simply refusing to surrender to the collective. They want to go meet up with the miracle worker. But Token Jew and Chaim won't let them. Lev's father does a variation on the words of the Israelites in the desert, but right now I'm totally with him. Yeah, I would be like "Who died and made you King of Kings?" to Token Jew and Chaim as well. Yeah, there's a reason theocracies generally don't work out to well for minorities.

Sam suddenly feels a need to direct Lev and his mother away from all this malcontents. And y'know I'd been thinking thus far that while this week's selection has been pretty stupid, it hasn't been anywhere near as rage-inducing as last week's. I know, you're laughing at my naivete.

As you can imagine what happens next is Token Jew preaches a sermon that moves the hearts of the unbelievers who bow and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Actually what happens is this:

Tsion quieted the crowd and spoke gravely. “Unless you agree with these, it would do well for you to depart from the presence of these wicked men, lest you be consumed in all their sins. From this point on, let it be known that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; I do not do them in my own interest. If these men do what is in their minds to do and God visits a plague of death on them, then all shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”

When Tsion finished, the rocks trembled. Lev and his mother fell back, and Sam grabbed them as a great hole opened under hundreds of people. The angry men and women were swallowed immediately, falling into a deep cavern. Lev’s father and sister screamed and plunged down, their arms waving as they fell. The wails echoed from the enormous hole, and just as suddenly as the earth had opened, it closed, and the people inside disappeared.

I'm afraid the only commentary I can type up would just consist of me screaming variations on "Fuck you, Ellanjay!" over and over again, so I'm going to bow out for this week, seeing as we've reached the end of the second chapter.


aunursa said...

I probably will be disappointed if and when the debate comes

If I remember correctly, Tsion quotes several Bible passages. Every time Fortunato starts to make a point, Tsion interrupts him.

It's been awhile since I read that book.

Mouse said...

Yeah, that's kind of how I see it playing out, given that Ellanjay have spent many happy years in a criticism-proof bubble and would probably shrivel up and die if they were faced with honest criticism. Plus interrupting your opponent when he's trying to talk proves that you're an Alpha Male man of action unlike your opponent who is limp-wristed, effete, and possibly homosexual.

Firedrake said...

I'm reminded of that bit in one of the Lensman books where our hero has to go undercover as a drug-addicted space bum. And he's the best darn drug-addicted space bum ever! Similarly here, Lionel has to be the best amputee ever because he's a manly RTC man.

Be fair, the Christian characters here don't have much in the way of traits apart from being Christian.

Of course if that para were in a non-Christian book, the RTCs would probably complain that Judd was being unmanly having FEELINGS and all.

And "Islam or the Sword" is bad, but "convert or I'll dump you into Hell right now" is just dandy. Think I'll rinse out my mind now.

aunursa said...

"Thank you, ma'am, Tsion said, but rather than stand by, as you flip switches and do whatever it is you have to do to make this work, let me begin by saying that I do not recognize Mr. Fortunato as most high anything, let alone reverend or father."

Fortunato appeared on the split screen in one of his elaborate outfits, all robed and hatted and vested in velvet and piping. He
was behind an ornately carved pulpit, but it was clear he was seated. His smile looked starkly genuine.

"Greetings, Dr. Ben-Judah, my esteemed opponent. I have heard some of that and may I say I regret that you have characteristically chosen to begin what has been intended as a cordial debate with vicious character attack. I shall not lower myself to this and wish only to pass along my welcome and best wishes."

From Book #10, The Remnant