Those last two posts were great - what more can I add about this ludicrously disjointed book?
I would say spoiler alert here, but I'm not convinced anything we've blogged has led a single person to try reading any of these books. Ah well, dear readers - we are doing this for your benefit and no one said it would be easy.
So what do have here: a main character (Sam Harris) who turns out to be just in the wrong job at the wrong time and his story ends somewhere in the middle of the book. An entire social-realist interlude with the extended Kowal family who rather abruptly freeze to death after their story is abandoned in a snow drift. Why are they in the story at all? So surviving father Joe can show up and shoot that weasel Schmit, that's why. Schmit, by virtue of the fact there isn't another one, is the book's de facto villain. How bad is he? He smokes in the presence of non-main-character Sam Harris, annoying him to no end.
And so that must mean that President Barker is the book's main character. He gives it a go, but ends up dying of a heart attack around the middle of the book as well. So I guess he and his virile successor, President Hansen, share main character duties. Unless you count globe-trotting, deal-making vice-president James.
But let's do this in order:
1. Brian - I want to second your suspicion that brilliant young lawyer Joey Kowal is a moron: faced with crippling cold, a family to save and a half a tank of gas to do it with, he takes a stand about going to a shelter - like that would likely be the worst possible choice he could make.
2. Did they have to cut off the gas completely? Couldn't they have done rotating cuts in the region?
3. Once President Hansen comes up with his brilliant secret plan to insure there will never be another Buffalo, what is the first thing he has the VP do? Why, fly north to Melville Island to "get a look at" the energy installation there. Why? Well if it was good enough for President Blank in Ultimatum, it's good enough for VP James. Once again we are subjected to another high-ranking US official flying to Northern Canada in the middle of a crisis so we can get pages and pages of descriptions of how energy is being processed. And there isn't a single bit of information he couldn't have got from the blueprints he asks Hooper for.
So this marks yet another step forward for Rohmer allowing actual scenes of romance, seduction and L-U-V to intrude on the main energy story. As outlandos d'amour VP James and his sidekick Katz fly around the world trying to finish a business deal (there - the last 100 pages summarized for your convenience), we get to see them engaged in a little cat-and-mouse game with the US Ambassador and her secretary. Of course it's ridiculous - James and Ambassador Hunt meet, fall in love, have a torrid affair and agree to marry - in about 24 hours. "But - she's a democrat!" teases President Hansen as the two engage in good-natured guy talk. James Carville and Mary Matalin they ain't, but I'll try and be kind here and say at least when Rohmer decides to write relationship stuff, no one talks about how many trillion cubic feet of natural gas the US will need to make sure there isn't another Buffalo.
And for the second time, a scene caused me to laugh out loud on the bus: VP James is in London, and calls President Hansen to give him an update: "The President sounded mellow and happy despite the hour. James didn't know, although he might have guessed, that John Hansen had just been through one of those delicious wake-ups that his young wife was so good at.".
"although he might have guessed"???? What? The two barely knew each other before they ended up becoming President and Vice-President. It's 7:15 in the morning - is that really the first thing that would have crossed his mind?