Monday, 10 February 2014

Exodus / UK, a book I've read, is head-and-shoulders better than ULTIMATUM and EXXONERATION.  While they were thoughts -- What if America wanted Canada's natural gas?  Well, what if Canada wanted America's oil? -- it's very nearly a novel.  Not quite, but almost.  At least it has a second and a third stage to the businessman's day dream: Saudi Arabia cuts off the United Kingdom's oil AND THEN the Prime Minister asks Canada to take millions of refugees AND THEN Quebec secedes.  (And then the Americans say they'll help England drill in the North Sea, but only if no trade unions are involved. Also, stewardess, are there any more golf magazines? All I've got is Macleans. What kind of first class is this?)

Of course, the premise makes no sense at all, and characters spend a fair amount of time defending it to each other:  "But why would the Saudis deliberately tank an economy that buys their oil?" (They're mad at England for selling Israel weapons.) "Okay, then why don't they cut off America's oil?" (They really need America's weapons.) "Who's going to pay to take care of all the refugees once they get to Canada?" (The UK.) "But then wouldn't it be cheaper to keep them where they are?  Even if it only meant not buying all those plane tickets?" (Unanswered.) "If the UK can get all the oil it needs from the North Sea -- in 18 months! -- once the unions get out of the way, why do all the immigrants have to immigrate at all? (Unanswered.  Stewardess?)

Like they say in sketch comedy, "buy the premise, buy the bit."

Once that's all rolling, Rohmer adds some features unavailable on earlier models: At least three characters with flaws and two professional-grade action sequences, a plane crash and a riot.  The plane crash doesn't actually affect the plot one way or another -- the PM wants to get to a meeting, his plane crashes, they rescue him, he goes to the meeting -- but it's still action.

Rohmer still has no practical sense of how a "ticking clock" functions in a thriller, but at least you get the sense that he gets the sense that he's missing something.  

Rohmer Gets Off a Zinger:

Carter-Smith was from a well-to-do, upper-class family and had discovered socialism on his way through university.  He was the worst kind of know-it-all radical.  With his family fortune behind him, he was ready to redistribute everybody else's money among the workers.  "Rather like a recent Canadian Prime Minister," Sands had been heard to comment.

Rohmer Makes a Cameo:

The Prime Minister agreed. "Excellent idea.  That plan was put forward by some lawyer from Toronto wasn't it?  I've forgotten his name.  Now Mr. Philips, the finance question.

People Tell People Things They Already Know:

As you know, Prime Minister, the Bank of England, with the approval of the Cabinet, has borrowed in the last two years twelve billion pounds...

As you know, the United Kingdom is in economic collapse...

You know, Gaston, we're dealing with the lives of people, men, women and children...

Madam Secretary, you know very well that our relationship with Great Britain is on a completely different footing...

In recent years, especially after the October War of 1973, when the OPEC countries quadrupled our prices within a year -- we have found ourselves with surplus revenue in our hands, in a scale of billions upon billions.  All this you know.

The emigration matter is very important to him as you know...

As you know, I'm the Chancellor.

You know, you're asking the United States to make enormous commitments...

You know, you people are asking for a lot...

... the National Assembly having unanimously passed their secession resolution of which you are all aware...

As I said to you when we talked earlier this week...

He's already on his way, as you know.

As you know, it was as up as high as 10 per cent in late 1975.

Things Secretary of State Jessica Swift is:












"beautiful, beautiful"

Mentions of the Mackenzie Valley, Although it Has Nothing to Do with the Story: 4

Drawings of aircraft: 7

Of air routes: 2

Gentlemen, your thoughts?

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