Friday, July 26, 2013

The Quest For Skye: Chapter 3

Recap: Chapter 1 told us about Doctor Layland Leontiou and his wife, Malinda, who blew up a lab trying to do some sort of medical nuclear test. Chapter 2 introduced us to Doctor Morgan Hamilton and his wife, Tammy, who have just learned they cannot have kids but have ended up on a 14-day cruise through the Panama Canal (which, as a few friends have pointed out, is ridiculous, as the Panama Canal takes less than a day to sail through) where there is some sort of childhood disease medical convention on board that they were unaware of. Morgan left Tammy to be sad so he could go explore the ship.

Morgan wanders throughout the ship, where every single staff member he passes greets him. Poor introverts must feel stifled. He goes to get a snack at the ship's buffet, picks up a "few delicacies" that he worries will make him gain ten pounds, then mentally mocks the Learys, who he sees eating two full plates of food each.
“That’s enough to feed a platoon of soldiers,” Morgan whispered under his breath, snickering.
Ugh. I've mentioned before how I really dislike Morgan, right?

It's pretty traditional to eat two plates of food at a buffet. This is not outrageously gluttonous behavior. If I go to a buffet and only eat one plate of food, I'm probably not feeling well. Add to that that this is the Learys' first visit to the buffet, so they're probably going to want to sample it all.

Here are the possibilities. Either:

1) Morgan is obsessed with body weight and fitness, to the point that he worries that eating a couple buffet snacks will make him gain 10 pounds and he mocks anybody who eats what he views as an unhealthy amount and he thinks a platoon of soldiers can and should be fed entirely on 4 plates, or
2) The cruise ship serves some sort of special food where just a few bites has a huge caloric intake, so you really only need to take like a bite before you've eaten all you need, and Morgan knows this and is concerned about how much he's eating, but the Learys do not.

I think I'm going with #1.

Morgan wanders over to where the convention is, runs into the guy who's on the front of the convention brochure (but doesn't recognize him at first), then browses the bookstore, where he finds several books by...

Doctor Layland Leontiou.

It's all coming together!

He runs into a woman by the bookstore (I am assuming this is Malinda Leontiou, although it hasn't been confirmed yet) and he shows us his first trace of actually being sad about his situation:
“How many children do you have?”
After a long pause, he added, “None.” 
“Not in the picture yet?” she smiled. 
“Not in God’s picture,” he answered weakly, feeling like the wind had just been knocked out of him.
Yay! He's not entirely a robot!

It's confirmed that he's talking to Malinda, and the two of them talk. It's revealed that Malinda actually knows who they are because they once wrote a journal article with the very academic title of "Why We Are Concerned About Rare Childhood Diseases."
“Dr. Hamilton, you and your wife must come to the convention.” She emphasized the word “must,” raising an eyebrow, and waiting for his response.
When I was reading Twilight, I would frequently giggle out loud at the fact that Stephenie Meyer appeared to really hate the word "said" and instead preferred to have her characters "pout, waving an arm to show her displeasure" or "mumble, his eyes narrowing." The actual things they said so seldom corresponded with their body language, which fluctuated wildly from moment to moment, that it was hilarious to image.

This feels the same way. Everyone do it with me. Everyone say, "Dr. Hamilton, you and your wife must come to the convention," while raising an eyebrow, and you'll notice that it feels ridiculous, because raised eyebrows go along with actually asked questions, not with invitations or insistences. (I don't think "insistences" is a word, but it's what's happening here.)
“Thank you for the invitation, but I don’t think we’d be interested. We’re trying to get away from work. That’s why we’re here.” Morgan blew out a lengthy breath.
“I understand. If you change your mind, the offer stands. Wait! I have an idea. Maybe the two of you would speak at one of our meetings.”
"If you don't want to come to the convention, maybe you'd like to speak at it! That'll help you get away from work! Boy, I have the best ideas!"

Malinda gives him a copy of all Doctor Layland Leontiou's books for free, and Morgan cheerfully muses that this way Tammy will have plenty to read on the cruise. Because yes, I'm sure she really wants to read about childhood disease research, which is all Doctor Layland Leontiou writes about. Does this guy think at all about what he says or does?

He continues to wander through the ship having terrible interactions with people, such as this one with a girl named Kim at the gym:
He stopped long enough to try out the bike and treadmill.
A young woman with jet-black hair sauntered over. “You look like you’re familiar with the equipment.
Because the bike and treadmill are so terribly difficult to use. If this book was well-written I would assume she was being condescending on purpose, trying to make him feel important for understanding the basics of walking on a moving walkway so he'd come back to the gym or pay extra for something. But it's not well-written, so I'm pretty sure this is just Rothdiener's idea of small talk.
“...I’m only here for a cruise, but it seems like everyone I meet is talking about the convention.”
“I guess it’s a big thing. Well-known doctors from all over the world are here for seminars on childhood diseases. Word on the ship is that some of the greatest medical minds in the world are gathering here for fourteen days of discussions and recreation.”
Man, of all the needlessly two-week-long cruises the Hamiltons could have taken, they took this one, somehow having absolutely zero idea of this majorly important conference. If they're such great brilliant ground-breaking professionals, how come they don't have even the vaguest knowledge of what this conference even is, much less that it was happening on the very cruise they had booked? The bigger a deal the author makes of this conference, the more it makes me think that the Doctors Hamilton are pretty bad at their research-y jobs.

Gym Kim shares that her son recently passed away from leukemia, and Morgan shares that he and his wife can't have kids. He mentions that Tammy is "down on God," and Kim talks about how God got her through the time when her son was dying. She shares her back story, which was that she was a "wild child" in high school and once spent the night at a friend's house and everyone came over and apparently had a sex party and thus her baby was conceived.

Eventually she stopped participating in sex parties and got her life figured out. I will give Rothdiener kudos for not saying that everything went perfectly for her afterward - her son's death, of course, is sad, and her parents died shortly after her son was born. That was one of my chief complains about The Quest For Forgiveness - it had Facing the Giants Syndrome, where everything miraculously gets completely fixed once the character finds God. Because most of the time, that's not how it works.

Gym Kim offers herself for Tammy to talk to and randomly offers her fiance Zack for Morgan to talk to. Morgan announces he's going to "the children's area" next, and also that dinner is soon. (I guess his expert time spent on the bike and treadmill worked off the 10 pounds he gained from his snack earlier, so he can eat again now.)

But first, he's going to the children's area in chapter four, and, from what I understand from the book synopsis, he's probably going to meet the titular Skye there.

I really don't want to read Rothdiener's portrayal of an inspiring child. I really, really don't. I hate her already.

(Chapter 4.)


  1. "Why We Are Concerned About Rare Childhood Diseases."

    Wow, I really feel a need to read such an article, because for the life of me I can't come up with on single reason to be concerned about childhood diseases, no matter how rare. It's not like a child could actually die from them in some nasty way....oh wait....

    1. Apparently it was a convincing article too, because Malinda is super impressed by it. Maybe it was the article that convinced Doctor Layland Leontiou. Before that article, he was like, "Pah to rare childhood diseases," but then when he read this uber scientific journal article, he was like, "WAIT I SHOULD CARE!"

    2. I also suspect that medical conventions aren't *quite* as exciting as the author appears to believe. He does know they don't actually perform experiments at them and discover new things right? They pretty much just discuss what they're already working on? Because the way everyone on board the ship sound so fascinated by it, it sounds like they expect great breakthroughs to happen right in the middle of it.

  2. This entire month, I've been revisiting the original Star Trek on DVD, syncing up my viewing with an online friend. When I got to your bit about the up-raised eyebrow, I naturally thought of Mr. Spock. But when you insisted that I actually do it, for some reason I pictured Catherine Zeta-Jones doing it and then I felt all confused.

    Gym Kim sounds like the kind of woman I'd find even more obnoxious in real life than in the book. It isn't even a holier-than-thou thing that so many similar people pick up along the way. It's instead their ubiquitous "Been there, done that" attitude about anything fun or remotely "wild". They're like moral hipsters of some kind.

    "I went to a burlesque show last night."

    "I spent every waking moment of July 2007 in a cocaine-fueled frenzy at Hedonism II. It's not all it's cracked up to be. Get it? 'Cracked up'? But seriously, I'm a lot better [than you, even though I won't say it] now."

    Whatever, person who has seen the light.

    I've decided that I won't be content with Rothdiener's head; I want his editor's, too.

  3. "Word on the ship is that some of the greatest medical minds in the world are gathering here for fourteen days of discussions and recreation.”

    My thought process:

    "Whoa whoa whoa, discussions and WHAT?! Why are they recreating children getting diseases? Does that mean they're giving children their diseases back, or they're doing a reenactment of children getting diseases? What kind of people host a convention for that?

    Oh...recreation. As in 'having fun'. That would make more sense."

    Before that last thought happened, I wasn't nearly as surprised as I should have been.