In the sixth chapter of Blackout, Shaun discovers what his next move will be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Blackout.
Oh my god, ONE OF MY PREDICTIONS MIGHT COME TRUE!!! Holy shit, this book is going to be ridiculous, at least because I AM GOING TO MEET THE MASONS IN THE PRESENT INSTEAD OF IN FLASHBACKS OR ANECDOTES. Oh shit, y’all, Shaun is going to tear them apart, and it’s going to be vicious and awkward and help me please.
But before I spend time freaking out re: the Mason, there are a few important things that happen in chapter six of Blackout.
I am kind of terribly excited for the Becks/Shaun roadtrip, even though there’s a huge potential for awkwardness. I think it’s going to be highly entertaining that these two Irwins are going out into the world while being off-the-grid, too. Obviously, it’ll be fascinating to see how Grant writes those scenes. I know enough about this fictional world, especially given the last couple chapters of Deadline, to know that traveling while off-the-grid is a challenge. Actually, that is an understatement. It’s more than just a challenge. Getting to Berkeley alone is going to be a frustrating hassle, but going out east for thousands of miles? How are they going to manage that?
But I assume we’ll deal with that when the time comes. For now, Shaun is in the hands of Dr. Abbey, who actually wants Shaun to come back alive. How charitable! Just because he’s immune to Kellis-Amberlee doesn’t mean he won’t face other terrors out in the landscape of post-Rising America. (Wait, can I even call it that anymore? You know, since they’re now in the SECOND Rising? Oh god, how about we just call it Zombie America? DEAL.) Part of the group’s preparation is, unfortunately, heartbreaking to me: They are splitting up. I’m satisfied that Shaun acknowledges how much he hates it, how it’s clearly a bad idea given his own personal standards, but yet it’s probably the most reasonable thing for them to do. Alaric is staying behind with Dr. Abbey, while Mahir and Maggie are heading out to Seattle to try and find the Monkey, all while Maggie spins a fiction of her own regarding Mahir. The only problem I foresee with Maggie and Mahir pretending they’re in a relationship or dating to distract the online community is thatâ€¦ well, Mahir is married. Is no one going to tell his wife? Or perhapsâ€¦ oh shit, what if they’re doing this on purpose to drum up a ~scandal~? OH. SHIT. THAT WOULD TOTALLY WORK. That being said, lord, I already feel bad in advance for Mahir’s wife. Are we ever going to meet her properly in the book?
It’s in this chapter that the next step in the group’s plan is laid out. First, Grant deals with Maggie, and it’s some of the best characterization in the series so far. God, I know this is going to sound incredibly silly, but I really like it when authors get their characters??? OKAY, WAIT, LET ME EXPLAIN THIS. I am not one of those people who believes that authors routinely misunderstand their own creations, and I think you can get into some really bad places with that sort of logic. That being said! I remember being so outraged during my Twilight read (I’M SORRY I AM BRINGING IT UP BUT IT’S LITERALLY THE BEST EXAMPLE I HAVE FROM MARK READS) at how characters would do things completely in opposition to what Meyer established earlier in the series. Bella’s characterization is often all over the place, and LORD, she completely butchered Jacob because apparently people started liking him more than Edward??? OH, I WONDER WHY THAT HAPPENED. (Which is not to excuse Jacob’s horrible, misogynist behavior in New Moon and particularly in Eclipse.) I think that this is also the case with the last two seasons of Buffy at points, though I blame that more on there being too many cooks in the kitchen in terms of the writers.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Mira Grant totally gets Maggie. She understands that this life of fight or flight is not for Maggie. Maggie wouldn’t do this. She’s only involved this deeply at this point because she loves these people. But she’s a Fictional! She is openly emotional and affectionate, and she enjoys the life she lives. She loves her goddamn pile of cute puppies! It’s sad that Maggie cannot go into hiding if necessary because that means she might have to completely sever contact with all of these people. That’s awful! But this is not Maggie’s life. And I really appreciate that Grant gives this character the space to say this.
It’s during Shaun’s conversation with Maggie that he has an epiphany about what he needs to do next. Like, okay, I may have yipped a little when Shaun realized that he could contact the Masons to help him get inside a hazard zone in exchange for giving them access to all of the files Alaric sent them at the end of Deadline. Oh lord, IT SEEMED LIKE THE BEST IDEA, DIDN’T IT?
But I was put on edge when Georgia appeared again to Shaun. It’s so surreal that this is happening when we know Georgia is alive (and somewhat well?) across the country. It’s even weirder when Shaun’s hallucination of his sister is actively telling him to find a way to make her go away. Shaun tries to reason with Georgia, saying he needs her because he can’t make it through his life without her. But the truth isâ€¦ well, he has. He has made it this far without her actually being there. And while I don’t want to dismiss the importance of Shaun’s hallucination, the truth is that Shaun has survived. Barely so, miserably so, but he’s made it. And he is so consumed with this idea that he’s a failure that he can’t even see how much he’s done all on his own.
There’s a momentary bump in the road after this strangely heartwarming pep talk: Becks points out how truly terrible Shaun’s plan is:
“I’m on the side that doesn’t get us slaughtered, Mason. Think about this for thirty seconds, why don’t you? We give them the key to the files. They unlock them, and go all kid in a candy store over the contents, since hey, their stupid son just gave them the scoop of the century. They toss it all online. And people everywhere stop shooting zombies because they think their loved ones might get ‘better.’ ”
I grimaced. “Not good.”
“Not good at all. And then the government will lean on the Masons to tell them where to find us, so we can be used to ‘prove’ that it was all a hoax.”
Well, shit. BUT I WAS SO EXCITED. I WANTED TO MEET THE MASONS. THIS IS NOT FAIR. Okay, it’s extremely reasonable, but what about what I want?
“She wants me to sign her unpublished files over to the Masons. The stuff they were willing to take me to court over.”
Oh. OH. Oh, god. That’sâ€¦ awkward. This made me want to go back and read all over her unpublished entries for context. She reveals a lot of uncomfortable shit, doesn’t she? Oh lord. Again, totally reasonable idea, especially as a bargaining tool for the Masons, and yet I’m still sitting here feeling super awkward. Having said that, I CAN’T WAIT TO GET TO THE MASONS. HOLY SHIT.
Mahir was opening his mouth to answer when a scream rang out from the other side of the garage door, followed by the sound of gunfire. In the brief pause between the first volley of shots and the second, we could all hear the moaning coming from inside.
SON OF A FLIGHTLESS BIRD, WHAT??? OH GOD, WHY IS EVERYTHING GOING TO SHIT ALREADY?
Dr. Abbey gave me a dressing-down this morning for yelling at her staff.
GODDAMN IT, WHAT HAPPENED?
Yes. You were right. We will proceed.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, WHO IS DR. DANIKA KIMBERLY? That has to be related to Georgia, doesn’t it? Fuck it, y’all, I shouldn’t have tried to be prepared.
Mark Links Stuff
–Â I amÂ now on tour!!!Â I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see me speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
-Â Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsÂ is now published and available for purchase!Â It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
-Â Commissions are still open while I am on tour!Â There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!
-Â Nominate me for a Hugo award in Fan Writer or Dramatic Presentation – Short Form!