Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Last time we got to spend time with the only cast of this book I care about, the folks in Korea. Had this book been just about them it would need a different title but it would be more interesting to me at this point. Unfortunately this session spends two of three chapters at the title location, where people vie for power and look to stab each other in the back or seduce a married man…and they’re the heroes. I don’t care about realism in my fiction, I care about believability and heroes I can root for beyond “well at least they didn’t kill a bunch of innocent people to start a war with the people they hate”. So far that’s been difficult.
While the real heroes have been working to find the bombers in Korea, when we last saw Op-Center they were trying to finish off a computer virus and stopped long enough to see North Korea moving in to either protect their borders or launch an attack, or potentially both. That was their only heroic contribution. We’re still not quite half-way through this book, but let’s see how much closer we can get.
- Chapter 34: Tuesday, 8:40 AM, Op-Center: 7 pages
- Chapter 35: Tuesday, 8:55 AM, Op-Center: 3 pages that should have just been part of the previous chapter since “a different room” isn’t enough of a location change that it should need its own chapter
- Chapter 36: Tuesday, 11:07 PM, The DMZ: 3 pages
What does it mean when I’m more interested in what’s going on at the Korean Demilitarized Zone than I am the folks trying to stop a war and protect American citizens?
Remember that part about the North Korean armies moving in? Well, maybe they’re not. Op-Center is getting conflicting reports from their system and an unattached system from Japan (although remember there are also baddies operating over there…from a pachinko parlor) making it unclear if the DPRK (from Wikipedia: North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is on the move or not. Herbert gets on Stoll’s case because he designed the multi-million dollar system that has a glitch after the system was invaded and decides to jump down his throat about it because he’s a jerk. He gets so mad at Herbert that he yells about how sometimes the unexpected happens, accidentally bringing up the bombing that cost Herbert his legs, potentially as an example but even Stoll realizes as soon as he says it that it’s a low blow. I’m on Stoll’s side here. Oh, he was wrong to bring up the bombing but even he owns up to that mistake. Of course Herbert doesn’t forgive him. I get the feeling Herbert’s a big technophobe. Maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t like Herbert, but Stoll was just told he was a failure who cost the country billions while the system is one of the things that sold Op-Center to the bigwigs. That was a low blow too. Not as low perhaps but still Herbert being a jerk.
So Paul assigns Phil Katzen, the Environmental Officer who used to work with Greenpeace, to help because he also knows a lot about computers. While initially he doesn’t think he can help, he relates what happened to how Russian whalers came up with a way to trick Greenpeace into going to a false rescue while they hunted where they wanted, until they figured out how the Russians were pulling the trick off, which is what leads Stoll and Katzen to come up with a way to get the real satellite report as to what North Korea is doing. Finally somebody does something and it’s the hippie and the computer nerd. In a book co-created by a man who appears to be far-right, at least when it comes to the Sandy Hook shooting. Life is funny that way. Also during the meeting Liz is the voice of reason while the Stoll/Herbert argument almost turns into a war itself, reminding them they have to work together. I wasn’t expecting that.
At least the next chapter tries to soften things on Herbert’s end. Yeah, it was wrong for Stoll to thrown the bombing in Beruit in his face, especially when we learn Herbert’s wife died in that blast like poor Soonji did in the Korean bombing. However, he also admits Stoll had a point. After all, he wasn’t just trying to shut Herbert up. The security measures then met up with something unexpected as has Op-Center’s computer. These things happen. He also admits Liz is right and they have to work together to solve this mystery, both in Korea and with the computers. I will credit this book if it ends up with Stoll and Herbert reconciling. Herbert calls Gregory and asks him to check out the DMZ, and Gregory doesn’t mention he wants to go there anyway to find a peaceful solution and find the real bombers (since he and Hwan don’t believe it was the North). I think Gregory is using this situation to his advantage which is fine only if he’s successful.
Meanwhile, Eyepatch and one of his cronies are waiting to get his operatives from the Sea Of Japan attack back into South Korea. Eyepatch really does have a number of people in high places ready to do low things to resume war, even among the guys he wants to kill. It’s kind of surreal when you think about it or I may just not know what the word actually means. I’m not really into surreal stories that often.
Okay, fine, this set of chapters wasn’t so bad. While I still have my problems with the Op-Center team they have the potential for redemption. I think and hope. At least I understand where Stoll, Herbert, and Gregory are coming from. Heck, I understand where Eyepatch is coming from and I still think he’s evil. I hope this signifies a turn-around in this novel. We’ll see what happens next time.