Friday, September 20, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 11

Recap: Not much happened in the last chapter. Morgan and Skye have gone dolphin-kissing, Tammy gave a miraculous speech that got her a random $280,000 donation to do her vague research at her clinic, and now I'm sure we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming of people treating Skye like she is the Messiah. I loathe everyone in this book.

Morgan and Tammy head back to their room to relax, where Tammy falls asleep, but Morgan is awakened by someone slipping two envelopes under their door. It turns out to be Skye, who has cropped and printed all of Mrs. Scott's photos and is handing them out to people. Morgan is completely amazed by this for some reason:
“Are you telling me that you spent the rest of the afternoon cropping and printing the pictures Mrs. Scott took, and now you’re distributing them?”
And, a moment later:
After reviewing the contents, Morgan’s eyes widened, and his face showed astonishment. “You did this by yourself?” 
“Yes. Came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.” Her body bounced.  
“Pretty good isn’t the word. They’re perfect.”
Who the HECK praises someone for their astonishing crop-and-print abilities? That's not exactly something that's difficult to do. To Skye's credit, she does occasionally try to point out that Mrs. Scott was the one who actually took the pictures (no doubt she says this while her body randomly bounces some more), but Morgan insists Skye get all the credit because 1) it was her camera, and 2) she cropped and printed the photos, and also because 3) possession is nine-tenths of the law. Seriously. He throws that last bit in there to tell Skye that she should enter her AMAZING photos in a contest and not give Mrs. Scott any credit. He's such a good guy.

Tammy wakes up and marvels at the photos as well, saying they look like professional photos and that Skye is amazing, except for the fact that ALL SHE DID WAS CROP AND PRINT THEM. Seriously, what do these people think "crop" means?

The story then jumps ahead to dinner hour. Both Skye and the Hamiltons have made a point of mentioning it's formalwear night on the cruise, so everyone's dressed up.
They watched the sunset in silence. Morgan reached for his wife’s hand. It was a tender, wordless moment. 
Suddenly, the quiet was shattered. “There you are,” a little voice erupted as a child leaped in front of their table.
Pah, Skye ruins everything.

She chides them for not sitting with the Leontious, then announces her decision to abandon her parents to sit with them instead. (For her father being all loving and protecting of her, he once again couldn't care less if they actually spent any time together.)

Skye then spends the next page making fun of Morgan, mocking him for his fear of water and yelling that his dolphin thought he was a bad kisser. This leads to a VERY weird couple of lines where Morgan pleads with Tammy to tell Skye that he is, in fact, a great kisser.

Fortunately, the topic changes when Skye reveals her family is abandoning her again:
“Dad, I was wondering. Will you and Mom take me line dancing in Costa Rica?”
“Line dancing?” Tammy asked.
“Yes. Father has to visit one of his clinics there. He’s scared of heights.”
After this extremely confusing section, Skye reveals she actually means zip-lining, and she reveals she's too little and light to be allowed to zip-line for real, but her father knows the guy who runs the zip-line place and as long as she has an adult with her (not on the zip-line with her, just with her) they'll let her on. My friend Jennie did a little research and revealed this is extremely unlikely, assuming Skye is pretty average nine-year-old size, as younger children can often ride zip-lines on their own, but whatever.

And check out this wonderful passage:
“Father says that I weigh so little that when I start down the run, I will end up bouncing around like I’m line dancing through the jungle. He said all of the monkeys will fall out of the trees laughing. He even thinks that the laughing hyena will literally die of laughter.”
Guys, I think Doctor Layland Leontiou might want Skye dead.

Or at the very least out of their lives.

He's certainly given Morgan enough opportunities to kidnap her. Now he wants them to take her someplace where he gleefully imagines her bizarrely bouncing through the jungle killing hyenas as a result of being too small. Never mind that that's not what would actually happen to someone who was too small to zip-line on their own (they'd just get stuck and wouldn't make it to the end of the cable), I can now only imagine Doctor L. L. as some cartoon villain plotting the death of his daughter and muttering, "Curses! Foiled again," every time she comes back alive.

Uh, and then there's a really awkward couple of lines where Skye talks about how she wishes she had breasts.

Then, thankfully, the topic moves on and Skye invites Morgan and Tammy to swim with the stingrays the next day.
“If you want, I guess we’ll come.” Morgan angled his head.
This is why you should always take a moment when you're writing to picture in your head what it would look like. Morgan angles his head, indicating... well, usually a question. Which is totally wrong here. But, more fun, it doesn't say WHICH WAY he angles his head, so for all I know he could be sharply looking up or lurching it toward Skye awkwardly or letting it drop so he could stare at his shoes. In short, there's no way to angle your head after this sentence so that it looks or feels natural.

Morgan asks Tammy if the Leontious have offered her a job, and she says no, but that she's heard rumors that they're "on the threshold of some great discovery." Maybe they involve lab experiments! Maybe they're for rare childhood diseases! We'll never know because we don't believe in being specific!
The couple decided to miss the show that night and go to bed early. It had been a busy day and tomorrow would be another exhausting one.
Well, you know, you guys don't have to hang around Skye all the time...
It was almost one in the morning when they were jolted out of bed by a loud banging on the door. Morgan hurried to see what the racket was.
Yup, it's Skye.

WHERE ARE HER PARENTS?! Seriously. You don't let your nine-year-old wander around the ship at one in the morning, especially not if she's knocking on people's doors. It's not safe or polite or... anything a kid should be doing.

(As I whined about this to my friend Jennie, her response was, "THROW HER OVERBOARD," a plan to which I can heartily agree.)

Skye drags Morgan and Tammy up to the top deck to see something, but she won't tell them what until they get there, of course, and instead of saying, "Skye, you suck, and we are sleeping," they follow her up. The Leontious are there and, upon seeing Morgan and Tammy, Malinda calmly remarks, "Looks like she woke you too." No apology. Nothing.

Again, have I mentioned how I loathe everyone in this book?

Anyway, Skye apparently discovered a comet one time, and it's going to be super bright tonight. (And she couldn't have told the Hamiltons about this at dinner and invited them to come join her... why?) The Leontious don't seem to know any more about the comet than the Hamiltons do.

Skye's a little late to her own comet-watching party because apparently she woke up Mrs. Scott too. She shows up pushing her in her wheelchair and lets her look through the telescope, and then shares the story of how she found the comet. (She got a fancy telescope for her birthday, found something that didn't fit with the star maps, called somebody at an observatory who confirmed it was a comet, and she got to name it Isaura.)

The last section in the chapter is so truly bizarre that I just have to quote the entire thing.
Mrs. Scott studied Skye. “What are your dreams, young lady? Are you going to be an astronomer when you grow up?”
Everyone was quiet as Skye pondered the question; Morgan and Tammy listened with interest.
“I don’t think so, but that’s a hard question to ask someone my age. I do have dreams, and I have lots of prayers. My dreams are only dreams. My prayers are different, because I know they’ll be answered. I’ve been asking Jesus for a miracle!”
Skye glanced at her mother and father who were standing quietly, and then her gaze shifted to Morgan and Tammy.
She reached her arms upward. “If you want your dreams to come true, you have to reach for the sky!”
Everyone watched as the young girl twirled around, hands extended skyward.
“Come on,” Skye said. “Everybody, think of a dream! Say a prayer! Reach toward the sky! Everything will turn out all right.”
Before long, nearly everyone was reaching heavenward. Even Morgan.
Yup. Skye is definitely going to start a cult.

(Chapter 12.)


  1. There's something meta-brilliant about this chapter review including by far the most quoted text, and also featuring a character completely trouncing artistic rights. I imagine Rothdiener randomly Googling himself and finding your blog. At first, he's excited. Then he actually reads the content and becomes upset. He makes his way to this one and sees an entire passage reprinted. He wants to call his lawyer, but upon review, it's noted that all you've done is crop and paste his work.

    Game. Set. Match.

    It did briefly occur to me that perhaps Dr. Leyland Leontiou only tells Skye she can't go zip-lining because of her size. But there were three immediate reasons this didn't make sense.

    1) If it was to get out of having to be the one to take Skye zip-lining himself, he seems to have that covered anyway by pawning her off so easily and frequently. There's no need for an alibi why she can't go.

    2) If it's to mask a concern over her Batten-variant condition, then she shouldn't be zip-lining anyway - which she's clearly going to be allowed to do.

    3) I just don't believe Rothdiener did any research whatsoever into the normal requirements for zip-lining.

    Is a local conservatory authorized to let a person name a comet? How long ago was this comet spotted and named? Does Rothdiener understand that most comets don't remain visible from Earth very long and that even fewer have any kind of predictable trajectory cycle that would bring them back our way? Because unless she "discovered" this comet and had it affirmed that it was new and let her name it all shortly before the cruise, then it's likely long gone from sight by now.

    Come to think of exactly are they seeing with their naked eyes a comet that could previously only be seen by the most special child in the world who'd opened her very first telescope, and not even by astute astrologers until they knew to go looking for it?

    1. And, hey, I even gave Rothdiener *credit* for his work, instead of cropping and pasting and pretending I did it all. (Although I certainly wouldn't want to claim any of this for my own. Meep.)

      The comet has been discovered sometime within the last year, as Skye got the telescope for her ninth birthday. So it could have been very recently. Also, she did helpfully bring along her telescope so everybody could see the comet. I forgot to mention that part. So that at least makes sense.

      However, I have no idea whether she was actually authorized to name the comet. Maybe the conservatory guy was just like, "Aw, sure you can name it, sweetie," but it really had absolutely no meaning and it really goes by a totally different name officially.

      I'm *still* astonished by how little the Leontious care about this comet discovery thing. Doctor L. L. kept saying things like, "Evidently she did this," and "Apparently it's visible tonight." They clearly haven't bothered to get any of the details. They'll rant for ages about how brilliantly she compliments people, but don't think to mention at any point that she DISCOVERED A FREAKING COMET. That's kind of an impressive accomplishment to stumble into.

    2. ...Although re: the conservatory, turns out that was me making a stupid typo and it was really "observatory." Heh. That makes FAR more sense. It's been fixed in the blog but I figured I'd comment here so anyone reading this later wouldn't be like, "What is that Travis guy talking about?"

    3. The only way it works is if the observatory mollified her as you described. Because otherwise, discovering a comet completely trumps writing a paper that childhood diseases are bad and informing a conference of 100 specialists that everyone is someone's child.

      Speaking of which, I also got to wondering how only 100 specialists stretch a conference to an entire week, especially if they're donating an aggregate average of $3 million daily. Like, who is still donating on day four out of 100 attendees? How much can there really be to be said by such a narrow field over an entire week when you figure everyone there is probably already familiar with each other's work?

      I envision it being a thing where the crowd starts showing up later and leaving earlier throughout the day, and each day's attendance is lower than the one before. It's so light on content that Tammy Hamilton can be thrown on stage just 'cause. I mean, sure, it's so carved in stone that Dr. Leyland Leontiou can't possible do anything with Skye, but...


      How come Malinda Leontiou couldn't have taken Skye swimming with the dolphins? Or zip-lining? Or, at the very least, have gone along with them? She wasn't speaking, was she? For that matter, if this whole thing was the Leontious' show...why did he schedule himself to speak simultaneously with the thing Skye wanted to do? We already knew he was the least protective parent in the world, but apparently he's also the most selfish schedule maker, too. And now I think Malinda is even worse, because she's even more detached from Skye than her husband is.

      "Sorry, honey; Daddy's giving a very important speech he scheduled at the same time. I'm sure Mommy would take you."
      "Sorry honey; I'm going to Daddy's speech, or whatever. I'm sure any random stranger you can find will take you."

      Seriously, I hate these people.

    4. I could see the convention being an awesome new thing if this was where the scientists went to actual reveal new findings, before publishing them or whatever. With everyone (presumably) being informed about each other's work in general, you could share a lot of the details. If different groups are focusing on different diseases, it could be a fascinating time of sharing what's going on in the research field. What it is NOT a good time to do is to tell people, "Hey, you should care about this," because YOU'D THINK THEY ALREADY DID, and to give basic information about diseases they were already given basic information about that morning.

      Yup. Doctor L. L. clearly doesn't want to have anything to do with Skye. The fact that he promised her that specific activity, then later *lied* about being unable to shift the conference schedule (when clearly he could, since he added in a brand new speaker out of nowhere), I think the only reasonable assumption is that he thought, "Oh crap, I did promise the little brat that, didn't I?" and had to come up with an excuse that he tooootally couldn't do that anymore.

    5. Being highly trained scientists, it seems unlikely that anyone would be very willing to discuss any ongoing studies since the scientific method clearly delineates between "conduct an experiment", "observe" and "draw conclusion". You could talk some about the experiment or observations, but it's really only in the conclusion stage that any research is ready for discussion.

      Also, highly trained scientists or not, a cruise ship just doesn't seem conducive to in-depth, nuts-and-bolts discussions about research. It's still a symposium, same as any other, where audiences sit and listen to a rotation of speakers, only they're waiting to go hit the driving range on top of the ship or take their kids zip-lining instead of listening to an impromptu lecture about why they should care about the center of their careers.

      Suppose instead of being rare childhood disease scientists, these were magicians. How much mileage would the top 100 magicians in the world get out of addressing one another about their latest tricks?

      "Oh, you're doing the escape artist bit. That's cool."

      "Have you seen the most recent 'disappearing statue' work?"

      In between speakers, every table passes around a deck of cards. One magician is picking everyone else's card, another is making the deck vanish, and a third has replaced it with a bunny rabbit. Everyone is bored by lunch on Day 1.

      My point wasn't so much about Doctor Leyland Leontiou as it was about Malinda. Seriously, where is she during all of these things? Does she really have to be there with her husband to listen to him present information she already knows? Unless I've missed something, she hasn't done any presenting so far.

      I could even understand it if they were magicians, and she was the woman being sawed in half during his act. That would at least explain why she couldn't possibly be with her own super speshul daughter while her husband is on stage.

      HIM: "Hey, before I forget, you're gonna have to take Skye swimming with dolphins. I double-booked myself, apparently, and since this whole cruise ship conference is our show, I couldn't possibly have had any control whatsoever."

      HER: "You are such a jerk. You couldn't have come up with an alibi for me, too? Good thing we've spent her whole time in this world conditioning her to dazzle and recruit complete strangers to do her bidding. She'll be fine. Think while you're yakking away, I'm gonna hit the roulette table."

      HIM: "Right. So I'm speaking and you're 'attending' but really playing the table. Got it. Remember to put $3 on 3 three times."