So now I have finished the book and read all the previous blog posts. You've both touched on everything I would have said. I was going to say something about how interchangeable the characters are, but Chris covered that. What I will say is what is the obsession people have with writing-by-manual? Why is "authenticity" something prized if all it means is that the writer knows more about engineering or flying or whatever than you, the reader? Why is it a good thing to say "Have you read X? It's great - it's written by a real pilot". As if that makes it more interesting to read. I would like to invoke the ghosts of Strunk and White here: why can't you write "The President took the controls of Air Force One and after flying over Albany, turned the 747 north." instead of (and I quote) " As the big aircraft sliced through the clear air on course and at designated altitude, the President checked his flight director instruments and his radio magnetic indicator needles. Their VOR receivers were tuned to a frequency of 117.8 MHz, and as the aircraft passed over Albany the RMI needles moved from pointing towards the nose of the aircraft through 180 degrees until they pointed to the tail."
This harks back to the earlier comment about Ben Bova and the need for some people to have Science Fiction be scientifically accurate above all else.
The ending I was expecting; what I didn't expect was that it was President Blank who made the decision (from Air Force One while up North for some reason - wouldn't want to get Congress, the Senate or more than 2 of his advisors onboard with his benevolent takeover plans) - I had guessed it was going to be the PM, since so much was made about how he wasn't letting anyone know a hint of how he intended to vote.
The coda actually made me laugh out loud: "oh well - there goes the country!" the Governor-General basically says, politely and without much emotion. How very Canadian of him.