Even though he said this just a few pages ago, John reminds us that he and Joy have only one more appointment before they can leave Mexico. According to him, failure is not an option, because if they do not succeed, they will die.

If you know about the events of the Mexican Revolution, then you may have noticed that John and Joy missed one crucial person on their mission. That person is Victoriano Huerta, the reason that the Mexican Revolution gave way to anarchy in the first place. In this chapter, John and Joy are going to go after him. John tells Joy information that she already knows, and Joy blows him off.

By sheer coincidence, Huerta’s apartment is only one block away from Labastida’s detective agency, so the protagonists do not need to walk far. An armed guard, who surprisingly does not search them for weapons, escorts them to Huerta. We also learn that Joy is able to identify the exact make of rifle the guard is carrying. Methinks she is a little obsessed with the subject.

When Huerta first sees Joy, he kisses her hand and makes his lust for her apparent. I don’t care that he was a ruthless warlord, I don’t think that even he would be so brazen as to try to force himself on a guest. At no point does the narrative suggest that John and Joy are anything else, from Huerta’s point of view. There is such a thing as hospitality. John muses that Huerta and Labastida are opposites when it comes to how men in Latin America treat women. As though he is one to talk.

Huerta acts like a good host to John, though his body language makes it obvious that he has the hots for Joy. What about Joy is so irresistible to men in this novel?1 After some small talk, Huerta mentions that John was meeting with him to give him a proposition. With his nervousness evident, John says that he will pay Huerta a large sum for the latter to move to Spain and never visit Mexico again.

Wow, the protagonists are actually taking the nonviolent course of action for a change. I wonder how upset Joy is about this.

Huerta questions John about his motives, and we get this:

I swallowed, took a breath, and answered calmly, “My government knows that someone will assassinate you if you stay here. Therefore, it is willing to help you move to a home in a new country, and to make it worth your bother.” (page 233)

LOL isn’t it so ironic that it’s John and Joy who want to kill him?

Huerta then demonstrates why you should not say such a thing to a warlord. He orders his bodyguard to arrest John and Joy, and asks them which one of his enemies sent them. I mean really, could John have worded that in a more suspicious manner?

Fortunately for John, his life is saved thanks to Joy’s Super Ninja Reflexes ™ allowing her to bend the rifle out of the guard’s hand and dislocate his arm. This causes enough of a commotion for John to wrest Huerta’s own gun out of his hands. He actually isn’t completely useless for once. This still requires both John and Joy to move faster than a speeding bullet.2

Now that Joy has the rifle, she orders Huerta’s bodyguard to back against the wall. John is so worried that he preemptively begs Joy not to kill the man at her mercy. Surprisingly, she complies.

With them both incapacitated, John tells Huerta that he and Joy have most definitely not hired a Mexican criminal syndicate to assassinate their enemies, and that they have Huerta’s best interests in mind. He gives him an ultimatum: if he stays, he will die, but if he leaves, he will live.

Huerta glances towards Joy, and after learning that she is (allegedly) a secret agent, gives his now-useless guard some impenetrable hand signal. Without skipping a beat, Joy immediately “[digs] her fingers into the switch on his carotid artery”3 and the guard collapses. Not only is that completely disgusting, there is no “switch” on the carotid artery. Joy has just done the anatomically impossible. Furthermore, if she broke the skin, that guard will probably bleed to death.

Scared out of his wits, Huerta says he will take the offer for five hundred thousand dollars.4 John accepts, and as they get up to leave, Joy throws a knife at the portrait of Porfirio Díaz hanging on Huerta’s wall. She then undermines everything John said earlier by saying that she will kill Huerta personally if he doesn’t leave. With that, they leave the apartment, and for some unknown reason a high-ranking official of the government lives in the worst part of the city.

And therein lies the rub. Huerta isn’t a relative unknown like Pancho Villa or Emiliano Zapata. He was a close ally of the President. He and Díaz’s nephew instigated the coup against Madero. In other words, he was a very wealthy man with connections. There is no reason why he could not simply contact Díaz, explain what happened, and have the full wrath of the Mexican government descend on John and Joy. The only conceivable reason that this doesn’t happen and John and Joy get away with this is because they are Sues. It would probably have been less risky for them to just kill him, and there is no reason to leave him alive if they are going to kill the other warlords. Not to mention that sending Huerta to Spain would put him in a position to ally himself with Franco later on. A story like this cannot simply ignore the Butterfly Effect. I don’t think Rummel put any thought into the consequences of his characters’ actions.

After a line break, Joy asks John why he begged her not to kill Huerta’s bodyguard, asking if he really thought that she would kill a helpless man. I don’t know why they are even having this conversation, considering that the answer is obvious. She killed those teenagers after she incapacitated them and made them no longer a threat to her. For some reason, John does not bring this up, even though he angsted about it to no end several chapters ago, and says that it’s just a natural response to that situation.

The two of them are convinced that they have managed to turn Mexico into a stable democracy without the country descending into civil war, even though their actions have created so many unintended consequences that by all rights they should have gotten themselves killed and failed to prevent any of the bloodshed. Yet they are already counting their chickens before they hatch and saying that Tor’s groupies would be so proud of them. The worst part of all this is that much of their violence wouldn’t be strictly necessary to achieve their goal, anyway. Huerta was perfectly willing to leave Mexico before Joy threatened him. This scenario is just a train wreck, pure and simple.

John has a Significant Dream in which he is giving a lecture. Joy is in his class, and asks him about the Mexican Revolution. John says there was no revolution, and that Mexico peacefully transitioned to American-style democracy in 1909.

How many times do I have to say this? THEY DID NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. In a world that obeyed the laws of cause and effect, it is likely that their meddling only made things worse. In order to actually prevent all the bloodshed, they would have to convince Díaz to leave power peacefully and make Madero a more effective president, in addition to getting rid of those who would start a coup. That last part would be easier said than done. All they did is practically tell Mexico’s oppressive government that they wish to overthrow it. Do the characters honestly think there will be no backlash from that? Violence creates as many problems as it solves, something that Joy would know if she weren’t a bloodthirsty maniac.

And with John waking up from his dream, the chapter ends.


1 Don’t worry, Sue-dometer. It will be over soon.

2 And if they can do that, couldn’t they just run out of the room?

3 page 234

4 Funny how in every case the Mexicans speak of dollars instead of pesos.

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  1. goldedge on 1 March 2013, 00:07 said:

    the more and more I read this spork. The more I think what the is the point Tor’s groupies picking John being this time traveler trying to prevent democide? Why not have some Else who has some combat experince. And Jonh always questioning on “not killing people” well why is he taking guns?

  2. Apep on 1 March 2013, 12:11 said:

    I’m noticing something with books I really dislike, like this one – it’s not that they’re bad, it’s that there’s so much obvious potential for the premise that the author’s are out right ignoring.

    Take this book for example – two people go back in time to prevent the some of the most violent incidents in history. But, since time travel is a one-way ride, they

    A) can’t skip ahead to wherever they need to go next, having to probably spend the rest of their lives essentially living undercover,

    and B) have no idea what effects their tampering will have on history as they know it.

    That’s an interesting premise for a series – at first, the books are sci-fi thrillers, but then they transition into full-on alt-history.

    Unfortunately, Rummel is too enamored of his pet socio-political theory (along with his self-insert and Mary Sue girlfriend) to bother with the story’s potential.

  3. swenson on 1 March 2013, 12:15 said:

    Ugh, I hate books where things happen because they happen, regardless of logic, realistic consequences, established characters, or, in this case, actual history. It’s just a random string of events that we’re told are connected, but have absolutely nothing to do with each other. It’s just… think about what you’re writing, and if the logical conclusions of what you’re writing is not where you want your story to go, then you need to change something so it does end up where you want it to go. Or just embrace the differences.

    You’d think an expert in history would realize that small decisions by people have major ramifications that can’t simply be glossed over; apparently not.

  4. LoneWolf on 1 March 2013, 14:28 said:

    Not to mention that sending Huerta to Spain would put him in a position to ally himself with Franco later on.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Rummel is mildly sympathetic to Franco.

  5. Brendan Rizzo on 2 March 2013, 23:48 said:

    Now wait just one second here. That’s going too far. I am pretty sure that Rummel considers Franco a dictator and not someone to be admired. Let’s not make up unfounded accusations here.