The next chapter begins with this line:

I should have known she would betray me. (page 252)

Could John be getting disillusioned with Joy again, for real this time? Find out in this new installment.

Because they are now travelling in separate ships, John and Joy change their ticket arrangements. Apparently Joy speaks Chinese, meaning that she can fluently speak at least three languages. Now, knowing one language that is not your native tongue is one thing, but two is quite another. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn another language, time that Joy does not have. My Sue-dometer has just gone off. While John returns home, Joy is en route to “Peking”1 to somehow make an appointment with the leader of the Korean resistance, Jung Il Han. I cannot find any information on a Jung Il Han active in the early twentieth century, so I don’t even know if Rummel spelled the name wrong or not. I wouldn’t put it past him. Particularly in that the name is suspicious, since il is Korean for “sun” and an element of the Korean name for Japan, while Han is how the Chinese refer to themselves; thus his name evokes both Japan and China. (And “Jung Il” together is reminiscent of the then-current North Korean dictator.) It may even be possible that he is a wholly original character. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. Jung Il Han is in China because he wants their help. Regardless, the fact that John and Joy are apart for more than a week is in fact a plot point.

During this time, Joy is able to communicate with John via their implants. Keep in mind that they are an ocean apart, and in 1908 there were no communications satellites or cellular towers. They shouldn’t get any transmission. Joy tells John over their impossible connection that she met with General Han2 and offered him a whopping thirty million dollars for his campaign, with the usual threat. This is important later.

After two days of no contact, John starts getting worried. Just before he sends a telegraph to China to investigate, Joy calls him and tells him to transfer the money over, and that she’s on the ship back. John asks her what happened and she says that she will explain when she gets there.

When she arrives back in San Francisco, she actually does come clean, surprisingly enough. But before she does, she preemptively makes excuses for what she did, and, like a child who broke their parents’ vase, begs John not to get mad.

It turns out that Han is the only character in the book not to be intimidated by Joy’s threats. He is suspicious of her from the start and thinks that she’s some sort of Mata Hari figure hired by the Japanese.3 He asks Joy if she’s a secret agent, she stupidly says yes, and he orders his men to tie her up.

See, what I don’t get is that Han is the only person who gets suspicious when told that our protagonists are secret agents. No one else really has any reaction to that, or thinks “wait a minute, these guys are enemy operatives”. Probably the only reason he does is for the cheap conflict which will be explained below.

Of course, since our magnificent Sue can’t be defeated by mere mortals, Joy knocks them all unconscious in a matter of minutes. We actually get to read John’s thoughts on this:

Minutes. You took minutes. I thought that it would take that long only if you had a broken leg and a paralyzed arm. Then out of the mental depths where my horribles lay hidden came What, you didn’t kill them? (page 253)

Even John understands that something is not right about the world of this series.

Joy continues explaining that Han kept trying to interrogate her, but she would not tell, because she can’t. She isn’t working for any government. Despite this, Han accepts the money for some unspecified reason. When Joy takes her knife and threatens him, he doesn’t take it seriously. Again, he is the only person to do this. But then, Joy reveals an astonishing twist. The general said that he would only accept their assistance if Joy slept with him.


Yes, apparently the frickin’ leader of the resistance is so venal that he will not accept thirty million dollars, which would certainly help his cause, unless the provider has sex with him. Rummel is making his antagonists be Stupid Evil again.4

Joy says that she had no choice but to accept, and that is why she took so long in returning. Quite understandably, John flips out. This makes the second time that he has a normal reaction. It’s a shame; he could have become a genuine character without Joy. However, he is not upset about the fact that his girlfriend was basically raped. Instead, he thinks that Joy enjoyed it and that she cheated on him. Dude, you know what happens when Joy gets angry. I don’t think you want to provoke her. What the hell, Rummel?

Joy justifies herself by saying that it was for the sake of the mission, and that the sex act did not mean anything to her. That’s not helping her case. Both John and Joy are equally contemptible here.5

At this, John loses it. In his own words, “Vesuvius finally erupted and [he] spewed ash all over San Francisco.”6 Gee, thanks for that imagery, Rummel. He jumps off the couch and starts trashing the place, much like Tom Cruise, or maybe Tommy Wiseau. You can make The Room jokes now. The next paragraph really is melodramatic.

And as quickly as John’s anger erupts, it subsides, and he starts to see the “necessity” of Joy’s actions. The sheer speed by which he goes from outraged to accepting of what Joy does is really disturbing.

Joy goes to comfort him, and John spills his guts out about how he wants to marry her and start a family with her, but that their mission makes this impossible. It’s as if this book has become a romance novel.

The scene suddenly changes without a line break, for some reason. John tells us that years later, they learned that they were successful in stopping the military in taking over Japan. It’s totally unrealistic, but did you really think they’d fail, considering how this book works? Somehow their monetary donations were able to cause American politicians to support Korea and oppose Japanese imperialism, even though Japan was their ally and few people in 1908 thought imperialism was a bad thing. At this point, Great Britain ruled like a quarter of the whole world. If you think about it, this would only make the Japanese more angry with the West, as they would claim that the Western countries are allowed to have colonies, but will not let them do the same. This blatant display of hypocrisy would be far more likely to turn the Japanese public right into the hands of the militarists, instead of the other way around like the book claims. Even today, more than sixty years after the transition to democracy, many Japanese believe that they are superior to all other nationalities, and believe in certain pseudosciences to support that.7 It would have been worse in the Imperial period. It is also said that Saionji Kinmochi was able to win the position of Prime Minister and push through reforms, even though he was Prime Minister in real history—in 1911, in fact— and wasn’t able to stem the tide of oligarchy. I have already said that the only way that they would have been able to turn Japan into a democracy before it actually did would be if they got a grassroots movement going on, and they didn’t. Once again, Rummel is convinced that his characters made things better, but if you apply logic to the situation, they only made things worse.

John and Joy celebrate upon hearing this news, but John can’t stop brooding about Joy. And with him expressing his disturbance about Joy’s demeanor, the chapter ends.


1 Really, Rummel? I understand that “Peking” was the spelling used when you were young, but nowadays all media use “Beijing”, and that is what’s written on modern maps. You’ve been out of the loop for several decades.

2 So “Han” is apparently his surname. Even then, I can’t find any information on him, so he probably is an original character.

3 He actually wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

4 Though I can sort of see where Rummel’s coming from this time. Men in the early 20th century considered women beneath them, so from Han’s perspective, I imagine he thought that Joy was now at his mercy.

5 Oh, and before anyone says anything, the book did establish earlier that Joy was sterilized before the start of the mission and that she brought anti-venereal pills from the future. The only question is why she had them with her in China. Did she think this was gonna happen, or something?

6 page 254

7 Not that they’re all like that, mind you. I have a Japanese friend who has never once made any racist comments to anybody, but the point is that xenophobia is a bigger problem in Japan than the West.

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  1. Finn on 15 March 2013, 00:45 said:

    Aaaaand, somehow they are able to bribe the entire world into peace and harmony? If it was that easy, the world would have been in peace and harmony long ago. The ease with which they do this all is ridiculous, and does nothing for the story.
    This book is proof that even well-educated people can write bad books.

  2. swenson on 15 March 2013, 08:10 said:

    I should have known she would betray me.

    I think I might actually be curious and have some tension here, if not for the fact that this book is unbelievably stupid.

    Re: Peking: I suppose it could’ve been deliberate, as in the early 1900s, that’s what it was called, right? But John and Joy would undoubtedly still think of it as Beijing internally (especially as they’re both supposed to be fairly young).

    Jung Il Han

    General Han

    Backwards name time!

    Also, there is only one General Han, and his last name is Solo.

    The general said that he would only accept their assistance if Joy slept with him.

    The sound you just heard what my head thudding into my desk repeatedly. This is such, such a cheap trick. It makes no sense, it just adds, as you say, cheap conflict.

    On the plus side, it gives me an excuse to link to TVTropes: This is a Scarpia Ultimatum.

    and that is why she took so long in returning

    Two days, though? Man. General Han really must be something…

    It’s as if this book has become a romance novel.

    Worse: a stupid romance novel.

    John tells us that years later, they learned that they were successful in stopping the military in taking over Japan. It’s totally unrealistic, but did you really think they’d fail, considering how this book works?

    How convenient. Rather than have to realistically work through the logical fallout of their actions, Rummel just writes AND THEN EVERYTHING WORKED OUT TOTALLY FINE I SWEAR and moves on. Truly a hallmark of excellent writing. And historian-ship.

  3. eekee on 19 March 2013, 21:22 said:

    About languages, I’m not sure that there’s anything wrong with an educated person of that era being fluent in 3 languages. My father grew up in Egypt, born in 1918 to a fairly privileged family of ex-pat Greeks. He grew up speaking Greek and French fluently, and had a little understanding of 3 other languages. (This is before Gamalab d’Nasser (sp?) made things fairer for the Egyptian people.) The crunch is he told me he was the worst one at languages! He said it was normal for his fellows to speak 6 or 7 languages well. His claim was backed up by his poor grasp of English even after living in the country for 30 years, 10 of them with few other Greeks to talk to. I’ll just say Yoda sounded perfectly normal to me, and no-one else gets his speech pattern right. :D

    If this John and Joy grew up in a sufficiently high social caste and in a sufficiently cosmopolitan place, they could have spoken a number of languages, but then I’m fairly sure “Joy” would have been a servant’s name at the time. Also you made that comment about time… I don’t know. I have no interest in reading the book, I just wanted to make that “truth is stranger than fiction” type remark.

  4. LoneWolf on 21 March 2013, 10:28 said:

    Gamal Abdel Nasser. This was some nice spelling.

  5. Spanman on 21 March 2013, 21:48 said:

    il is Korean for “sun” and an element of the Korean name for Japan, while Han is how the Chinese refer to themselves; thus his name evokes both Japan and China. (And “Jung Il” together is reminiscent of the then-current North Korean dictator.)

    Moreover, both “Han” and “Il” are the most common Korean words for the number one, making this name particularly boring.