The next chapter opens with John being nostalgic for the time before all hell broke loose:

I want to go back to the early years again. I want relive them, add things I now recall. But I must soon emerge from this long tunnel of remembrance. Time is running out. (page 319)

I don’t think that paragraph was very well written. It tries to be all emotional, but I just don’t see it. I have never heard of anyone compare memories to a tunnel, either.

Joy already had breakfast and left him a note saying that she would be gone for most of the day, and left him some pancakes in the oven. Why does John trust her, exactly? She has done nothing to deserve his or anybody’s trust. For all he knows, she’s poisoned those pancakes so that he can’t stop her killing spree.

John does not find this suspicious at all, and muses that he had better clean up. It must be the weekend, because he isn’t needed at the office. The front company is never mentioned again, so for all we know, Rummel could have forgotten all about it.

So while John cleans up after himself, he absent-mindedly has the radio on, and hears that Norman Thomas is running for president as the Democratic Party candidate. Now, if you know anything about Norman Thomas, you will know how wrong this is. The man was never a member of the Democratic Party. Instead, he was…

(drumroll please)

a socialist!

I can only assume this is a case of Rummel believing that liberals are socialists and that socialists are communists.

John tells the readers that Joy is a supporter of the Democratic Party (albeit with incorrect capitalization, because proofreading is of the Devil) but that she hates Norman Thomas with a passion. It is easy to see why: she is convinced that he is a communist. (Even though in real life, Thomas was among those socialists who opposed the Soviet Union, because it was a dictatorship.)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that Rummel agrees with Joy and that she is going to do something drastic. Well, you’re only half right.

“He’s a closet communist,” Joy spit out. “He’s an utterly stupid choice. Have the Party bosses no sense? He’ll put his ideological cronies in the cabinet, and they will do the same in their departments. As they appoint more and more of their kind, they’ll load up the government and the courts with those dedicated to revolution.” (pages 319-320)

I have two questions. The first is, as usual, who talks like that? The second is, why is Rummel capitalizing the word “party”? Usually, that’s only done when a Russian is talking about the USSR. Is he suggesting that one of America’s two political parties is secretly pro-dictatorship? In the 1930s? Has he lost his mind?1

John basically blows her off, pointing out that he has also ranted about politicians he doesn’t like, and so it’s probably nothing. If they were normal people, then John would be justified in not paying attention, but this is Joy we are talking about, the woman who has been trained since the age of three to execute people whom she perceives as a threat. I’d keep the highest watch on her, but just because they have an agreement2 that they will not interfere with U.S. politics, John is not worried that his partner will act on her violent fantasies. She is literally a pathological liar and a serial killer, and yet John trusts her enough not to kill somebody. Is John’s flaw supposed to be that he’s too trusting or something?

As an aside, it is interesting that our theoretical heroes have a rule that they will not interfere with domestic politics. I suppose this is supposed to be so that even Joy has a line that she will not cross, but once you remember that at that time period, both racism and sexism were institutionalized and accepted, you have to debate the wisdom of this. Couldn’t they have poured some of their countless millions into organizations that would work towards the end of segregation, or something? It would be much more productive than just killing people without thinking of the consequences. Or is this just supposed to mean that America is perfect, and needs no improvement? It wouldn’t surprise me if Rummel thinks that, since he also thought that the UK and France were democracies, even though they ran brutal colonial empires.

Now, John had come back from killing Franco the previous night, but had not gotten around to putting away his weapons until that morning. When he goes to the weapons capsule, he finds that “it”, whatever “it” is, is missing.

And I am sure that the readers saw this coming a mile away. I know I did.

John rushes to his Mercedes Roadster3 and races to the Golden Gate Park, going so quickly that he burns the rubber of his tires. He commits practically every traffic violation in the book in order to get there before Joy does. He actually gets into an accident, but doesn’t stop to discuss things with the other driver. I am sure the other driver was really pissed at that. Then he continues recklessly, getting into countless fender benders and near misses, until he arrives at the park. Clearly, San Francisco does not have traffic police. If John were caught, his driver’s license would surely be suspended.

He arrives at the park with only four minutes to spare, and finds Joy perched in a sniper position behind a grassy knoll. I am sure that any connection between this story and the conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination is just a coincidence. In case it hasn’t been made sufficiently clear, Joy is trying to assassinate Norman Thomas.4

She lay on her stomach, clutching her prized British Accuracy International sniper rifle. She had set up a solid support of rocks and a large branch for the rifle, and she was sighting it through the sniper’s telescopic sight. I looked far down the park toward the speaker’s platform, about half a mile away. She wouldn’t miss Norman Thomas when he started to speak. There were no secret servicemen around, this far away. Indeed, the protection of the nominees for president and vice-president had become lax by 1936. There had been no attempt to assassinate a president since that of William McKinley in 1901, and the country had not had war or a terrorist bombing or killing since then, either. (page 321)

Even without any wars, I find it highly unlikely that the federal government would drop security for presidents and presidential candidates. The circumstances of McKinley’s assassination are what finally caused the government to give the president adequate protection to begin with. This would not be an acceptable risk, especially in this modern era.

No one could shoot accurately at this distance with 1936 rifles which, without the stimulus of war, were even less accurate than those in the Old Universe at this time. (Ibid.)

Now, a reader of this spork calling himself “N H” has emailed me a long time ago, to inform me, line by line, of the ludicrous inaccuracies espoused by Rummel in the climax of the book. Yes, we are at the climax. If this is not a problem, I will let him take it from here:5

This is absolute nonsense, all of the major bolt-action rifles used in World War 1 (Mosin-Nagant, Lee-Enfield and various Mauser derivatives) have been designed before the turn of the century and wouldn’t be affected by anything our true loving lovers of love (who loved each other) did. With a period telescopic scope, a trained marksman could make a shot at those ranges easily, and you can’t say no trained marksman would exist since you’d still have game hunters and police marksmen even if there were no actual wars, nevermind that militaries would still be aware of the power of the already-invented machine gun and probably train snipers to take out machine gunners and officers in any hypothetical war.

In a flash, she had her magnum in hand, a silencer attached, and it was aimed at my heart. (Ibid.)

This is the part that’s physically impossible. Revolvers have a gap between the front face of the cylinder and the barrel that allows gas to escape, which prevents them from being effectively suppressed. There are a tiny number of gas-seal revolvers (we’re talking “fingers of one hand” tiny) with the Nagant M1895 the only one produced in any quantity. For an SP101 to mount a suppressor you’d have to either use special ammunition or modify the cylinder, and you’d have to cut a screw thread into the muzzle to actually accept the suppressor or make it a permanent part of the weapon. Needless to say, when Rummel was describing Joy’s gun he didn’t bring up any unusual modifications to it, so this would never work.

She held it steady, finger on the trigger, her arm extended. (Ibid.)

You’d think miss PROFESSIONAL MARKSMAN DRILL SERGEANT ARGH would use both hands with a .357 Magnum.

I fell across the sniper rifle and grabbed the barrel. I held it in both hands with all my strength. If she shot me I hoped that she would not be able to wrest the rifle from my dead hands. (Ibid.)

As I recall John’s not a small guy, so this would have the two effects of almost certainly breaking the scope (probably off its mounting) and giving him the equal and opposite reaction of a rifle scope in the gut. Either way, clinging to the gun is stupid since she probably can’t make the shot now even if she gets it back.

Off in the distance I heard clapping and cheering that went on for several minutes, and then the far voice of someone speaking. (Ibid.)

That’s a bloody impressive voice to carry for half a mile through a fairly densely wooded park.6

I heard her say, in a voice from Hell, “You never did learn how to zigzag.”
Her very last words to me. How ironic. (Ibid.)

I don’t see how that’s ironic at all.7

Even though Joy has John in a very vulnerable position, she does nothing to stop him from taking the gun from her. Instead of keeping it on his person, he throws it into the woods. I guess he was hoping that Joy wouldn’t scramble for it. Instead, she just cries. Strange, before this paragraph everything pointed to Joy being this unflappable “warrior woman” who wouldn’t take crap from anybody, and now she’s crying? Once again, Rummel is inconsistent with Joy’s characterization.

John stares at Joy, saying that she had aged ten years since the previous day, but still claiming that, because she’s Asian, she looks younger than her 57 calendar years. (Now we can calculate with certainty that the year is 1938, not 1936, since Joy was 25 when she arrived in the year 1906. But that wasn’t an election year; Rummel screwed up the timeline again.)

Let me point out that at this point, Joy is older than both of my parents, yet she is still very immature.

The elegant beauty she had matured into was now ruined by wrinkles and lines in her face I hadn’t seen before, and her compressed lips. (page 322)

I guess John is also immature, since he only cares about superficial appearances.

He compares Joy to the perpetrators on the “Colombo” television series. First, it’s spelled Columbo, and second, it is unlikely that the series will be created in the new universe, so the readers of John’s diary will not even get that reference.

Joy drops her magnum into John’s hand. Strange, I could have sworn that John had already taken it from her. Was she dual-wielding this whole time? That would have logically affected the outcome of their earlier standoff.

John takes Joy along by her “cold, lifeless hand”89 and brings her home.

There is now a line break.

John brings Joy to the bedroom. He says that at this time his mind was destroyed and he was acting on pure instinct, ostensibly to avoid responsibility for his upcoming actions. Little does he know that the readers are actually cheering him on at this point, as he smothers Joy.

And with John just realizing the ramifications of what he’s done, the chapter ends. Only one more left.

Ding dong, the Sue is gone. The Mary Sue is dead.


1 Since there was no war, apparently the Great Depression never happened, and so F. D. Roosevelt never became president. That’s the only way I can explain the Democrats not choosing to run him in the 1930s.

2 One that we are just now hearing about.

3 ‘Cause we gotta have Product Placement!

4 Wait. If Thomas is campaigning for President of the United States, and stopping in San Francisco, then doesn’t that contradict the last chapter, which implied that California is now an independent country in the new universe?

5 So everything from here until the next footnote is from N H, not me.

6 N H’s comments end here. I would like to thank him for his help. Now back to me.

7 And yes, this is the chapter in which Joy dies. Now I can finally put that question to rest.

8 page 322

9 No, she is not dead yet.

Tagged as:


  1. Potatoman on 28 September 2013, 15:02 said:

    Goddamnit. You almost had me until I read that very last footnote. I was waiting for so long for them to get horribly killed somehow. In anticipation for this article, I even brought popcorn! :’( Brendan Rizzo, Y U DO DIS?!

  2. swenson on 28 September 2013, 16:21 said:

    Man, you do not even know how excited I was when I clicked on the article and saw “The Sue is dead.” I went “IS JOY DEAD? YESSSSSS!”

    they have an agreement that they will not interfere with U.S. politics

    Oh, so it’s fine to interfere in literally everyone else’s politics (instead of letting them choose for themselves), but interfering with the US is crossing the line? Hmm, could this possibly be because the US is better than everyone else and, as a perfect democracy, could never ever do anything bad ever? I think Rummel would say yes!

    Wait. If Thomas is campaigning for President of the United States, and stopping in San Francisco, then doesn’t that contradict the last chapter, which implied that California is now an independent country in the new universe?

    You’re right! Unless they’re an independent country that somehow still votes for the American president, which I would not put past Rummel to claim, somehow.

    he smothers Joy.

    So, um… does Joy actually say anything? Explain herself? Try to fight John? Try to kill him? Defend herself in any way? Does John try to talk to her? Does he explain to the reader why he felt the only option was killing her?

    It’s just…

    even if I was upset that my significant other was assassinating people after we totally agreed they wouldn’t, I don’t get how I would immediately conclude that killing them was the best option.

    Also, I too did not expect this sort of an ending. I figured Joy would struggle for the sniper rifle and, in the confusion, John’d accidentally shoot her. Drat.

  3. Ziggy on 28 September 2013, 17:47 said:

    I’m glad Rummel didn’t forget to remind us about his Asian skin fetish. I was worried that maybe he had figured out how weird it sounds to repeat that line.

    I was pretty impressed that he managed to make Joy’s inexplicable fall from grace tied to her looks though. It takes cleverness to take a scene where a man basically euthanizes his serial killer wife of 20 years and strip it of any possible emotional resonance. “Eugh, she looks kind of wrinkled and gross now. I guess I should probably stop making excuses for her behavior.”

    At least Rummel didn’t make us watch another sex scene.

  4. Brendan Rizzo on 28 September 2013, 19:00 said:

    Potatoman, Joy does die for real in this chapter. I mention it at the very end.

    As for swenson’s question, Joy does put up some feeble resistance to being smothered, but apparently John outmuscles her or something, even though Joy’s supposed to be a master of multiple martial arts.

  5. Apep on 28 September 2013, 20:25 said:

    I think Potatoman referring to the fact that Joy just gets smothered with a pillow rather than, say, getting shot by the father/mother/sibling/friend of one of her victims. Because as is… yeah, that’s pretty disappointing.

    Still, only one chapter left, and then this huge pile of fail is done!

  6. Juracan on 28 September 2013, 22:25 said:

    The Sue is dead? So… huh… I don’t know how I should feel about this. It’s not a usual thing that happens, you know. Although smothering isn’t a way to go that I think was particularly satisfying…

  7. Lone Wolf on 29 September 2013, 04:41 said:

    Yeah, at least Rummel acknowledged that Joy’s attitude had… negative implications. I actually don’t really mind the way it ended, it has closure. Pity that he decided to write a boatload of stupid “reset-button-in-another-new-universe” sequels next.

  8. Tim on 2 October 2013, 01:03 said:

    Still, only one chapter left, and then this huge pile of fail is done!

    It is the framing story. Yes, at the end. I would challenge you to come up with an event more fundamentally unsuited to what has happened before it than what Rummel comes up with.

    It is truly incredible.

  9. Asahel on 2 October 2013, 10:02 said:

    I would challenge you to come up with an event more fundamentally unsuited to what has happened before it than what Rummel comes up with.

    Well, I always love a good challenge, so…

    Let’s see. How about this? At the end, grief-stricken John is going to use the time machine to go back in time to either a) stop himself from killing Joy or b) stop Joy from doing what he felt he needed to kill her for, but when he’s about to use the machine, future John arrives to kill him!

    That’s got to be fundamentally unsuited to the rest of the story—it even violates how the time travel was supposed to work.

  10. swenson on 2 October 2013, 10:37 said:

    I would challenge you to come up with an event more fundamentally unsuited to what has happened before it than what Rummel comes up with.

    John, deeply saddened over his murder of Joy, walks outside and looks up into the night sky. He heaves a sigh as he raises a gun to his temple and prepares to fire, as he cannot live without Joy, even if she was old and therefore grody. He closes his eyes, sheds a single tear, and is about to pull the trigger when suddenly, aliens from Alpha Centauri invade and turn him into a rabbit with their magic wands, before speeding away to conquer a different planet.

    The End

    (more seriously, for something that could conceivably fit within the story, John pulls the trigger, but then he wakes up in bed and realizes it was all just a dream, and it’s actually still the day before he goes back in time with Joy. But everything they did still somehow had an effect on the world. But Joy’s still alive and not gross and old. And she doesn’t remember any of it so she can’t be mad he killed her.

    Or something.)

  11. Brendan Rizzo on 2 October 2013, 14:48 said:

    That’s got to be fundamentally unsuited to the rest of the story—it even violates how the time travel was supposed to work.

    Not giving anything away, but you’re probably not gonna like Book 3 then.