Chapter 14 opens on New Year’s Day of 2002. There is no time to celebrate the holiday, however, as John still needs to train. Otherwise, he’d get beaten up at the first sign of trouble.

Joy is teaching John about how to fall properly, and minimize harm. Naturally, she acts like a Drill Sergeant Nasty. However, John can’t take much more of her abuse:

Now, I had been a college teacher. I knew how to teach. She was no teacher. She had the skills, but not the manner. Were it not for the mission, and that I was falling ever more deeply in love with her each day, and our mission—of course—I would have told her to do the anatomically impossible. (page 139)

HOLY CRAP, SOMEONE ACTUALLY CRITICIZED THE SUE! Better reinforce the roof, because the sky is falling.

After more of this nonsense, the chapter ends.

What is with these ultra-short chapters? That one was only two pages.

All right, onto Chapter 15.

This chapter opens with John having overslept. This isn’t important at all, it just shows that Rummel can’t think of many ways to begin a chapter.

During the next training session, John watches Joy effortlessly defeat a giant Eastern European man. If my Sue-dometer were here, it would be going off right about now. This whole demonstration was just to prove to John that Joy is a badass.

Joy then claims that karate is useful in a real fight. Taku, I’ll let you explain everything wrong with this in the comments section.

We then learn that Joy also knows kung fu, taekwondo, and “t’ai chi ch’uan” (whatever that is— Rummel is using Wade-Giles romanization again). How much time has she spent training?

In any case, John complains about Joy fighting dirty, and Joy says that in a fight, anything goes. What, are they going to get into street fights once they arrive in the past or something? How would that possibly help them on their mission? Joy says that “[p]aranoia is the best defense.” Okay, it looks like somebody has gone off the deep end.

“When do you let your guard down, then?”
“When your opponent is down and incapacitated. Dead is best.” (page 144)

Remember what I said earlier about Joy being a sociopath? Yeah.

Then, John says that, even with all her prowess, there is a chance that Joy could lose a fight. Joy frankly denies this, and berates John for saying so. My poor, poor Sue-dometer.

Then, there is a really stupid flashforward to our heroes’ struggles with opening a jar. I will not discuss it further, as it is stupid. I don’t even know why Rummel wrote this scene. With more pointless domestic anecdotes, the chapter ends.

Chapter 16 is about… the circumstances leading up to John and Joy having sex. Basically, Joy starts training John in judo throws and one thing leads to another. I want to keep this spork PG, so I will not go into any more detail.

Oh, don’t think that John will be less horny now that he’s finally scored. This book doesn’t work that way, because Rummel is a Dirty Old Man. In fact, John just gets hornier now that he knows that Joy will do it with him. Just remember that these are supposed to be our heroes.

At dinner, Tor seems to know that her daughter has had sex with John, since she cracks a few innuendos directed at them. …And I’m done with this scene.

Remember when this story had a plot?

Finally, Tor seemed to jerk into an awareness of our presence. She released her locket and looked at us, saying, “Ah, yes, well, I’ve got to tell you about your minor operations, planned for tomorrow. You will each have a transmitter implanted in your throat and a receiver in the bone behind your ear. This system will be powered by your body’s own electrical grid, and will never need replacement. Each implant will be cushioned against jarring. It will survive all but a hard and direct blow. It will operate on shortwave for about eight thousand miles, and even further if sunspots are quiet. Your body is the antenna. You toggle on the transmitter by saying ‘KK,’ which are letters unusual enough that you would not say them accidentally. Once turned on, the transmitter is voice activated and will transmit what you say, even in a whisper. You also toggle it off with a ‘KK.’ This will keep you two in touch.” She smiled directly at Joy this time. (page 151)

There are so many things wrong with that that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t really have the energy to point out the absurdities here. With more of John’s frat boy attitude, the chapter ends.

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Comment

  1. Fireshark on 5 January 2013, 14:10 said:

    Wow, you’re really updating a lot! Thanks!

    Why is John in love with Joy? Like, even after this point in the story all they ever do is fight and be jerks to each other. Was there something beside’s Joy’s attractiveness that actually factored in? I can’t remember.

  2. Finn on 5 January 2013, 15:43 said:

    Pffft. “KK” is not an unusual set of syllables. What if they were talking about the KKK? Or if they accidentally said “Okay” twice? These are pretty drastic measures, too. What if the radio waves from the transceivers give them cancer? Is this way of communication really necessary?

  3. Fair on 5 January 2013, 16:18 said:

    “QQ” or “XX” or even some nonsense word would be far better. Does this book ever actually move into something that resembles a plot, or does it mainly consist of John and Joy screwing each other/John wishing he and Joy were screwing each other? I think someone should inform Rummel that gratuitous sex=/=good story.

  4. Fair on 5 January 2013, 16:29 said:

    Um, Finn, are you sure radio waves cause cancer?

    radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation can be categorized into two types: ionizing (e.g., x-rays, radon, and cosmic rays) and non-ionizing (e.g., radiofrequency and extremely low-frequency or power frequency). Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as from radiation therapy, is known to increase the risk of cancer. However, although many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk (1). The only known biological effect of radiofrequency energy is heating. The ability of microwave ovens to heat food is one example of this effect of radiofrequency energy. Radiofrequency exposure from cell phone use does cause heating; however, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature.

    Source Cancer Institute

  5. Pryotra on 5 January 2013, 17:03 said:

    What if they were talking about the KKK? Or if they accidentally said “Okay” twice? These are pretty drastic measures, too.

    I’m so glad that someone else thought of that.

    I think the plot got drunk and wandered off. They do that sometimes in these types of novels. It should be back eventually.

  6. lilyWhite on 5 January 2013, 17:15 said:

    Now watch them come across someone named “Kay” or whose name starts with the syllable “Kay”. “Okay, Kay…”

  7. Finn on 5 January 2013, 17:40 said:

    Um, Finn, are you sure radio waves cause cancer?

    Nope, I wasn’t sure. It was just a guess. Still, I would be hesitant to put anything like that in my body. You never know what could happen. Especially since from reading the article it seems like it hasn’t been proven…yet. There’s still the risk that it will be proven in the future. Also, the technology John and Joy are using sounds new-ish, and it might be untested.

  8. swenson on 5 January 2013, 18:10 said:

    What if they were talking about the KKK?

    I was going to laugh and make a horrible joke about them trying to join the KKK, but then I realized that they might legitimately want to stop the KKK, so that could be an actual problem here! Yeah, why not a code phrase, like “buffalo marbles”, or even just a letter combination that isn’t repeated, like QM or something else even more unlikely to be said accidentally?

    I think we’re rather grasping at straws to criticize here, though, because NOTHING IS HAPPENING. D:

    And no, I don’t consider them banging to be something happening, because it shouldn’t be happening.

    Re: cancer thing: wouldn’t it be entertaining if they both developed cancer far from a time period where there’s better treatments for it, though?

  9. Fair on 5 January 2013, 18:52 said:

    @swenson
    I rather wish they would get cancer, because the series might be mercifully shortened.

  10. TakuGifian on 5 January 2013, 18:56 said:

    Okay, here we go…

    Joy then claims that karate is useful in a real fight. Taku, I’ll let you explain everything wrong with this in the comments section.

    Thank you kindly. clears throat Karate is a system designed for competition sparring and kata demonstrations, not for real fighting. Yes, it has a powerful (slow) kick and a powerful (slow) punch, but any street fighter can dodge the laughably slow karate full strikes that the system employs. Second, it has only four defensive techniques, none of which would actually work if your opponent is stronger or more skilled than you. Further, the traditional karate blocks are slow, especially for recovery to strike.

    Basically, karate is kung fu stripped of effectiveness and nuance, and bulked up with machismo.

    We then learn that Joy also knows kung fu, taekwondo, and “t’ai chi ch’uan” (whatever that is— Rummel is using Wade-Giles romanization again). How much time has she spent training?

    Wade-Giles is still sometimes used by some places – mostly the sketchy McDojos that want to sound cool and exotic – and this is fairly convincing evidence that everything Rummel knows about tai chi is from a book written in the 70s.

    If she has been training since the age of three, it is possible for a 20-something to be moderately effective at all three. But using tai chi in a fight is very different from practising as a meditation art, even though it’s the same movements. I somehow doubt that Rummel really appreciates that tai chi is a fighting art, but wanted something exotic and cool to add to Joy’s shopping list of talents. The subtleties and nuances of fighting tai chi are much more suitable for a real street situation than karate, but it takes about 20 years of constant training to become effective at random fight-situation tai chi, and that’s only if you’ve been practising it as a fighting system and not as a glorified breathing exercise.

    “When do you let your guard down, then?”
    “When your opponent is down and incapacitated. Dead is best.”

    I don’t even know what to say about this. There’s a saying among martial artists, aim to disarm before you wound, wound before you maim, maim before you kill, and never kill.

    Also, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

    Then, John says that, even with all her prowess, there is a chance that Joy could lose a fight. Joy frankly denies this, and berates John for saying so.

    AHA! Proof positive that joy learned at a sketchy McDojo run by someone who took a summer camp’s worth of karate lessons, and then got their black belt from a cereal box. No true martial artist, no matter what style or system they use, would ever be that foolish. Martial artists must always train with the knowledge that there is someone out there better than them, stronger or faster or more skilled. McDojo teachers have to talk themselves up to compensate for lack of skills, so their students learn to talk themselves up as well, and the cycle continues.

    What if the radio waves from the transceivers give them cancer?

    If it does, then every person on the planet with a cochlear implant is at risk.

  11. swenson on 5 January 2013, 19:32 said:

    I’m glad we have you around to talk knowledgeably about the martial arts stuff. It’s one of those things where I can tell when we’re being fed nonsense, but I don’t know enough to explain why it’s nonsense.

    I do hope we get some ridiculous fight scenes later, though. :D

  12. Epke on 5 January 2013, 19:56 said:

    During the next training session, John watches Joy effortlessly defeat a giant Eastern European man.

    Because nothing says (Western) power like sticking it to them dirty commies! I bet he even looked like that Russian in Rocky… uh… before the brain damage.

    We then learn that Joy also knows kung fu, taekwondo, and “t’ai chi ch’uan”

    Siiigh. While “kung fu” has become synonymous with Chinese martial arts in non-Asia, it does not mean that. Kung fu is a level of skill one has mastered: examples being: you can have kung fu in cooking, kung fu in painting, kung fu in dancing etc. I find this irritating because Sue Joy goes on about the proper name of their uniform and John’s improper bow, but can’t be arsed to get this right?
    And regarding tai chi: if she wants an internal style, Baguazhang is more than satisfactory.

  13. TakuGifian on 5 January 2013, 21:36 said:

    Siiigh. While “kung fu” has become synonymous with Chinese martial arts in non-Asia, it does not mean that. Kung fu is a level of skill one has mastered

    YES. I didn’t want to harp on about it because it’s a fairly obscure point, but Chinese martial arts are technically called wushu (sometimes wusu, depending on regional accents), and the practice and eventual mastery of it is called wushu kung fu. ‘kung’ by itself means ‘work’ or ‘achievement’, and ‘wushu’ means ‘martial/military discipline/study’.

    But I wouldn’t expect most people to understand that, let alone apply it properly. Even many accomplished martial artists mix the terms up, because in popular modern usage ‘kung fu’ refers to the fighting focus, and ‘wushu’ refers to the sports/demonstration focus.

    And regarding tai chi and baguazhang, every martial art style has both internal and external aspects. It’s about finding the balance and learning to utilise both aspects. In reality there is no line in the sand between ‘internal’ styles and ‘external’ styles, there are simply styles with different positions on the continuum.

    Regarding Joy going on about improper bows, I wonder which bow she was referring to? Karateka bow very differently to Tai Chi masters, who bow differently to practitioners of Southern Shaolin-influenced styles, who bow differently to Northern style practitioners…

    I’m glad we have you around to talk knowledgeably about the martial arts stuff.

    It’s my pleasure. :preens:

  14. Brendan Rizzo on 5 January 2013, 22:30 said:

    Because nothing says (Western) power like sticking it to them dirty commies! I bet he even looked like that Russian in Rocky… uh… before the brain damage.

    Hell, I want to know more about Joy’s opponent. Is he in Tor’s groupies? If he is, then why wasn’t he there during John’s initiation? If he isn’t, then why is he there to begin with, considering that Tor’s groupies are supposed to be top secret.

    But for the record, he looks nothing like Drago. More like the stereotypical East German Olympic swimmer, except male.

  15. Fireshark on 8 January 2013, 00:53 said:

    I found a page for this book on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Democide-Never-Again-Series-Book/dp/1595263004

    From the Author

    It’s as though President George Bush was sent back in time.

    lolwut

  16. LoneWolf on 8 January 2013, 01:19 said:

    The mission of these lovers in these novels in the Never Again Series is the same as that of Bush’s foreign policy — to promote freedom and end democide and war.

    Rummel definitely seems to be a fan.

  17. Epke on 8 January 2013, 12:43 said:

    And regarding tai chi and baguazhang, every martial art style has both internal and external aspects. It’s about finding the balance and learning to utilise both aspects. In reality there is no line in the sand between ‘internal’ styles and ‘external’ styles, there are simply styles with different positions on the continuum.

    I’ll bow to your knowledge in this, as I have very, very little experience in martial arts: by internal arts, I have always understood it as a more spiritual and mental training, while the external family focuses on the physical aspects first and are often much faster and explosive. Anyway…

    Foremost, these novels are character driven entertainment, filled with strong action, humor, pathos, high emotion, sex, conflict, and maybe even tears.

    Hahaha-… oh, he’s serious?

    Unseen, loves dark foe Power, like a deadly plague, Infests, corrupts, kills.

    I… that’s one strange sentence. And wow, these books are expensive. $66 for a new one in hardcover? Robbery, I say, robbery!

  18. TakuGifian on 8 January 2013, 20:05 said:

    by internal arts, I have always understood it as a more spiritual and mental training, while the external family focuses on the physical aspects first and are often much faster and explosive.

    All martial arts have mental and/or spiritual training. Some styles emphasise it, some neglect it. All martial arts move quickly in fighting application, even tai chi. What tai chi is good at is moving with minimal wasted energy, moving with intent, and moving with flow rather than forcing against it. If you think tai chi cannot be explosive, you haven’t seen it performed with fighting application. Very few people have, so it’s perfectly understandable.

    Foremost, these novels are character driven entertainment

    Well, it can be said that John is certainly thrusting the story forward.

    The story being his groin. Into Joy.

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