aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Chapter 64: Another Better World Shall Be

These be the words which the LORD did there confound the language of electrical systems.
kingjamesprogramming.tumblr.com

Afternoon, May 14, 2017
New York City

Stefan had the most useless job at the entire United Nations – which was saying something. He and Ben stood outside of the door of a UN office building all day, checked everybody’s badges, and denied them entry if their badges were wrong. They never were.

A man separated from the stream of pedestrian traffic and walked up to Ben. “Excusa me!” he said in a heavy Spanish accent. “I am from the el Mexico! I no can able poder read English the bueno! You to read directions for me please, por favor?”

Ben gave a heavy sigh and took the paper from the man. “It says to take the bus from Times Square to an Indian restaurant called Raja Horah – ”

Ben burst into flames, then fell over dead.

“Moron,” said the man, without a trace of an accent.

Stefan’s hand flew to the gun he kept on his waist, but before he could reach it somebody grabbed him from behind and sliced his throat.

“Nice work,” said Dylan. Madegbuena grinned disconcertingly. “The rest of you hanging in there okay?”

Four people who couldn’t speak without breaking their spell of invisibility awkwardly resisted nodding.

“Right!” said Dylan. “I’m at the front. Erica’s at the back, because I can talk to her mentally and so we can communicate and steer you people together. No talking until we’re in front of Ngo’s office. Let’s roll.”

He groped around until he found the harness linking the six of them, then spoke the Spectral Name and disappeared.

They made it through the atrium, up a staircase, and about ten paces into the second-floor corridor when the lights all went out at once.

There were no windows. The building was pitch black.

For a second, they all just stood there.

“What now, boss?” Clark finally asked.

“I thought I told you to shut your mouth and stay invisible.”

“Not like anyone can see us now.”

“It’s the principle of the thing. Anyway, I have a flashlight in my pocket…one second…there.”

It remained pitch black.

“Okay, the guy who sold me this flashlight is super dead.”

“Dylan,” said Mark. “My watch isn’t working. It usually has a light function.”

“Okaaaay,” said Dylan. “So, the world has been plunged into eternal darkness.”

“Wait,” said McCarthy. “You were going to bring a radio, right? To listen in on the police? Turn it on.”

Alvarez took a little ham radio out of his pocket and turned it on. Nothing.

“Electricity’s not working,” said Mark. “Maybe no technology is.”

“What’s going on?” It wasn’t any of their voices. Some sort of UN employee? A janitor?

“Ah,” said Dylan, “we’re the maintenance crew. There’s been some kind of big electrical failure. We’ll be taking care of it, but until we do I want everybody to stay in their offices. We should have power back within the hour.” He spoke confidently. For some reason Erica felt reassured even though she knew he was lying. A door closed shut; the employee seemed reassured also.

“Dylan,” said Clark, “fire your gun. Straight down. Somewhere it won’t hit anything.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

There was a conspicuous absence of gunshot.

“Oh, for the LOVE OF GOD,” said Dylan. “I try to do ONE good assassination, and it HAS TO be on the day guns stop working. This is RIDICULOUS and I want to SPEAK TO A MANAGER.”

Mark’s voice, clear and strong. Nine syllables. The Luminous Name. What would normally have been a pale sphere of light appeared as a brilliant ball of crackling fire.

Dylan looked at it lovingly, like an old friend. Very gradually, his face twisted into a smile.

“This was you guys, during the dress rehearsal,” he said, and changed his voice to a feminine whine. “Oooooh, Sohu West appearing in the middle of our mission, that’s stupid. Oooooh, you’re making us prepare for too many outlandish things that will never happen. Well – ” He changed back to his regular voice. “Here we are. Electricity’s stopped working. Guns have stopped working. And your instincts are perfect. Mark, mi compadre, you are exactly correct. We switch tactics. We use the Names. UNSONG has imprisoned the Names for too long, and so today the Names will take their revenge on UNSONG. God hath delivered them into our hands.”

Alvarez’s radio crackled to life, at first wordlessly, and then in the clear accents of a news broadcaster: “I’ve just been told radio has been restored. If you’re hearing this, radio has been restored. According to our sources, the Other King has destroyed the Archangel Uriel with a kabbalistic missile, causing all technology to stop working worldwide. Uh, except radio. Which has somehow been restored. If radio continues to function we will try to keep you updated as more comes in.”

Dylan shut off the radio.

“Holy Mother of God,” said Clark. “I’m not a Bible-reading man, but I am almost positive it’s bad news to nuke an archangel.”

“We are BOOJUM,” said Dylan. “For us, chaos is never bad news. Let’s find Malia. Mark, Luminous Name. Everyone else, back to being invisible.”

Lit by the fireball hovering above Mark’s invisible forehead, they made their way down a long UN corridor until they came to a door marked DIRECTOR, UNSONG.

Dylan flung it open as hard as he could.

Malia Ngo sat at her desk. A bare desk, just a few sheets of paper and a metal nameplate reading MALIA NGO, DIRECTOR-GENERAL. She was dressed in a dark red pantsuit and her trademark pearl necklace. She had paperwork in front of her, but didn’t seem to be working on it. She seemed to be waiting. Behind her was a window. The sky seemed unnaturally dark for this hour of the afternoon, and flames peeked out of some of the skyscrapers.

Six assassins uncoupled their harness.

Before Dylan could give any kind of a monologue, Erica pushed her way forward, broke her invisibility, and spoke.

“We are the Singers. We – ”

“I am UNSONG,” said Malia.

“We have come to free the thousand thousand Names of God.”

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.”

“You can’t – ” said Erica, but before she could finish her sentence, Ngo wheeled around in her chair just in time to face Madegebuena, who had appeared behind her with a knife. She deftly seized the weapon, then stabbed him in the throat. He fell to the ground. A sword of dark fire appeared in Ngo’s hands.

“That’s it,” said Dylan Alvarez, breaking his invisibility. “I challenge you to a placebomantic duel!”

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142 Responses to Chapter 64: Another Better World Shall Be

  1. Evan says:

    Slight typoe: “invisibilty.”

    • Anonymous says:

      For some reason, I initially read the ‘pitch black’ fragment as implying that spacetime ceased existing, and they just failed to notice as they were speaking through… whatever it was.

      This not really an error in the text, but…

      She was dressed in a dark red pantsuit and her trademark pearl necklace.

      The book III cover shows no pearl necklace; what it does show is a working desk light, which doesn’t look like it’s based on the Luminous Name.

      (Also, that’s what she said.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Hmm, maybe it just depicts a later moment (when the desk light starts working again) and those pearls are in fact going to be literally cast before them.

        The latter seems a bit unlikely, though.

        • Kolya says:

          The illustrations aren’t exact – note that in part 1’s illustration, Aaron is confronting Ana before she fell off the ladder – which contradicts the text.

        • David Marjanović says:

          The pearls do seem like Chekhov’s gun to me.

      • Tasty_Y says:

        Lack of necklace and a working lamp are errors resulting from having to work based on a short description. Re: lamp, Scott decided that maybe she used the Luminous Name *on* the lamp, and let’s just go with that.

  2. Hoactzin says:

    Well, I guess placebomancy dictates that the black dude has to die first.

  3. Quixote says:

    Vote for Unsong

    http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=unsong

    Loose lips sink ships

  4. ItsGiusto says:

    Considering how close we are to the supposed last chapter, I’m surprised how slow we’re moving still.

    • Gazeboist says:

      What do you want, cliff notes? An outline?

      This story slowed down in a couple of places during book 2, but I feel like people just *miss* what’s going on sometimes.

      • Cniz says:

        Seriously. In this (short!) update alone:
        – The effects of the destruction of Uriel’s machinery became apparent
        – Radio was restored, somehow
        – Erica, Dylan et al confronted Malia Ngo
        – Madegebuena was killed
        – Malia Ngo wielded a sword of dark fire

        Fast enough for me.

      • FortPwnall says:

        Well, I know for a fact I’ve been missing what’s going on in this whole book. It’s complicated and weird.

  5. Stib says:

    Thoughts on why New York is on fire?

    And what the dark fire sword indicates?

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Massive technological failure could potentially start fires, maybe?

      (As for the sword… no idea.)

    • The coment king says:

      Having just read Nightfall: Because people will panic because the light stopped working and start a fire to be able to see?

    • In a large city there are bound to be a number of fires that are put out a moment later. They stopped being put out.

      Is there a Firefighting Name?

    • Yossarian says:

      Could be a combination of normal technology failure and Name-based technology failure at the same time. Consider this:

      Mark’s voice, clear and strong. Nine syllables. The Luminous Name. What would normally have been a pale sphere of light appeared as a brilliant ball of crackling fire.

      As I understand, a good amount of technology has been switched over to recently-rediscovered Name technology instead of slowly failing scientific technology. Now, what happens to a machine if you give it a 10 times larger power boost than it’s designed to handle? Could easily be anything up to explosive deconstruction. If you are driving a Motive Name-powered car, it could be similar to your internal combustion engine suddenly guzzling UDMH-ClF3 mixture instead of usual gasoline-oxygen one…

  6. koogoro says:

    Flaming swords seem to be the provenance of the line of the Comet King. Perhaps Malia Ngo is the daughter of Robin and Thamiel?

    • Tetrikitty says:

      Actually, the line of the Comet King usually has the sword named Sigh – it’s angels that have flaming swords, though not usually ones with dark flames.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Oh, true. She could be a demon (but demons are distinct from fallen angels in Unsong, and a fallen angel probably couldn’t pull a sword without holy water or something), or maybe a Watcher? The latter would seem a bit out of place, but…

        • Matthias says:

          It might be reasonable for a child of Thamiel to be a demon. Perhaps Malia rebelled against her father too. (I want to say maybe she dies cursing his name, but I can’t imagine how to include her in the prophecy like the Cometspawn.)

          • Simon_Jester says:

            A child of Thamiel might not be a demon, any more than a child of Raziel is exactly the same thing as an angel.

            But just as the Comet King has/had quasi-angelic powers (including a holy sword that was a match for Thamiel’s bident), so might a child of Thamiel have quasi-demonic powers (including a sword of dark fire).

        • Arancaytar says:

          a fallen angel probably couldn’t pull a sword without holy water or something

          Pirindiel did it sober, way early (I think Chapter 5).

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Oh you’re right, I’d forgotten. So fallen angel is still a possibility. Except for the whole part where she’s sitting at a desk, I guess!

      • koogoro says:

        I think Sigh is an angelic sword. As has been previously noted, Blake’s The Grey Monk contains the line “And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King.”

        I agree that this probably isn’t Sigh, unless it has been corrupted somehow, but this probably still implies that Malia Ngo is either part angelic or part anti-angelic.

      • Eric says:

        Sataniel uses black fire in Chapter 20 after he’s been “tutored” by Thaumiel. Admittedly, it may be for the plot convenience of having black on white for a diagram.

        • Aegeus says:

          It was probably just for contrast.

          There’s actually a famous midrash that says that the tablets of the Ten Commandments were written in black fire on white fire. But after the sin of the Golden Calf, the fire faded away, and Moses had to carve the next set of tablets out of ordinary stone. So it’s not necessarily an evil style of writing.

    • That’s what I was thinking.

  7. Kolya says:

    I hope we get some explanation as to why radio started working again unlike other technology. If we don’t, maybe better to have the announcement come through some special UNSONG announcements system internal to the UN?

  8. Kolya says:

    Also, not to nitpick, but “A man separated from the stream of pedestrian traffic and walked up to Ben” makes me wonder why no one in the crowd seems to notice the security guards’ murders.

    • anon says:

      This is a good point…

    • Decius says:

      What makes you think that nobody noticing was part of the plan? A quick and easy placebomantic Somebody Else’s Problem or Bystander Effect applied to the situation completely negates any observers, and moving quickly negates any response.

    • Deiseach says:

      Yeah, that did make me go “And they don’t have CCTV monitoring the outside of the building because?” as surely somebody has protested UNSONG or tried to infiltrate it before. I thought the sudden darkness was the response – UNSONG saw the deaths of the security guards, knew intruders were outside, and let them make their way in so they could catch them quietly and easily.

      I have to admit, in this chapter I am cheering for Malia Ngo – I really dislike Dylan and I don’t think he knows what he’s doing (apart from fomenting chaos). I hope Mark makes it out okay and gets away, but the rest of them can be chopped to bits by a sword of dark flame for all I care, and that includes Erica.

      • Marvy says:

        I’m not ready to give up on Erica yet. I hope she eventually realizes that fixing the world is not just a matter of swinging a giant hammer in dark room full of glass furniture. I think even your opinion of Dylan is a bit too low, but not by much; he really is hopeless.

      • Shoefish says:

        Dylan doesn’t foment that much chaos in the grand scheme of things, he mostly murders and tortures people and takes great pleasure in their suffering. usually innocent people. He’s a bad man.
        One can cheer for them all to die (Except Mark)

      • MugaSofer says:

        Malia’s “I am Unsong” here definitely feels like she’s being set up as the Hero Of Another Story.

  9. Eric says:

    I know that age is weird in UNSONG, and the Comet King had unusually fast growth powers, but the fact that the whole “Robin fucking Thamiel” thing happened in 1999 should make it at least a little bit more improbable that Malia Ngo is the child of Thamiel and Robin.

    • stavro375 says:

      Chapter 17 puts TCK’s birth at November, 1976. Chapter 29 puts his defeat of Thamiel in October 1978, at which point he appears to be around 8 or 9. By 1982 (six years after birth), he’s grown old enough to have children.

      Chapter 14 puts Malia as taking over UNSONG in 2007 (about a decade before the “present,” May 2017), and puts her joining UNSONG in 2005 (two years earlier). So Robin gives birth in 2000 or so, and the baby spends about five years being tutored by the devil himself. She joins UNSONG as a magically-aged teenager, and rises in the ranks (and physical maturity) at lightning speed.

      • Nelshoy says:

        I don’t think the comet kings aging translates to the cometspawn, since sohu is normal-aged before getting stuck at 8 by thamiel. Maybe different rules apply to devilspawn?

        • Jared says:

          The Comet King is the child of an archangel and the cometspawn are grandchildren of an archangel. If Malia is the daughter of Thamiel, she is more analogous to TCK than to the cometspawn.

        • Good Burning Plastic says:

          Well, Jane is 35 and Aaron who is 22 thought she was around his age or slightly older.

          • A. says:

            Humans are often really bad at estimating age of humans of other races. I’d say Aaron’s failure to guess her age would not be surprising even if Jane was a regular human.

        • Nyx says:

          I think it’s very plausible that Thamiel would both want Malia to grow faster than normal and be able to make it happen.

  10. anon says:

    “I am UNSONG,” said Malia.

    That’s interesting. Megalomaniacal, maybe.

    • Evan Þ. says:

      Well, she is personally an NGO…

    • Tetrikitty says:

      Not as megalomaniacal as “I am Erica.”

      I think she’s probably doing something placebomantical in a similar vein.

    • g says:

      MEGALOMANIAC is an anagram of MALIA NGO CAME. (Perhaps I’m late to the party and everyone else already knows this.)

      • Nemo says:

        Definitely did not know this. Which means it’s also an anagram for MALIA NGO ACME. The overt meaning of ACME is the pinnacle, the top, the best thing. The kabbalistic meaning of ACME a trap set for your enemy, that will without fail fall upon your own head. From this we see that the MEGALOMANIAC / ACME MALIA NGO represents the pinnacle of power within UNSONG, and the law-abiding world, but also that she is a trap which will doom the plans of the very entities that put her in place… namely the Comet King.

        • Simon_Jester says:

          Given Alvarez’s Road Runner-like ability to escape his enemies and trick them into destroying themselves…

          It probably also means that Malia Ngo will start the duel by pushing a button that drops an anvil on Dylan, only for it to squash her instead.

          • Marvy says:

            I dunno. One of Dylan’s superpowers is coming impossibly well-prepared while catching everyone else off-guard. I think he might have met his match. To wit: the spectral name doesn’t work on the Director (though they don’t know it yet), she does not seem surprised to see them, and she effortlessly scored a deadly hit on the Mr. I-Appear-Out-Of-Nowhere.

            She is really good at this strange game Dylan likes to play. I think this is the first time he’s played against anyone near his level. (Mark McCarthy is not at his level, but he knows Dylan well enough to at least avoid underestimating him.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Something I had in mind for a while…

            “These things don’t actually bind me, you know. The books of black magic say they do, but nobody ever thinks to ask who wrote the books of black magic.”

            What if placebomancy/ritual magic working at all is actually the work of Thamiel himself, and he can simply cancel its effects at will? Of course, the fact that Jalaketu used the power of narrative against him in chapter 29 would count against this hypothesis, but then it might have been a strategic retreat. He likes giving people hope only to deny its fulfilment at the last moment.

          • JB says:

            This could be the point where Erica saves the day in hilariously ironic fashion just when BOOJUM’s powers have amounted to nothing.

          • Ninmesara says:

            may my luck dry up and my head turn green and my liver explode and everybody die

            An anvil on top of his liver?

      • Marvy says:

        Just noticed: last 4 letters of MEGALOMANIAC are … NAIC. This is Not A Coincidence (TM),

    • Deiseach says:

      Erica introduced herself (and the rest of them) as “We are the Singers”. Malia was responding to that – I think not just “UNSONG the agency” but “unsong, the opposite of song – not silence, but the opposite of the singers”.

    • alwhite says:

      More context.

      “We are the Singers”

      “I am UNSONG”

  11. Daniel Blank says:

    Malia is going to win this. This is good. Uriel is nuked. That i bad.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      No, Malia is going to totally overpower Dylan but then Erica is going to unexpectedly win the encounter for BOOJUM in a single stroke. And this is Dylan’s plan.

  12. Droid says:

    Whelp, looks like we don’t have to worry about how to spell that guy’s name anymore.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    Magdebuena

    Madegbuena. Twice.

    He’s not from Magdala unlike some other people. He’s from a place where gb makes as much sense as gw does elsewhere, while gd doesn’t even compute, a place ruled by people with names like Gbagbo and Kpatindé.

    • Droid says:

      My pet theory is that the spelling of his name was unstable and not anchored in reality.

    • uncle joe says:

      Actually that’s not the case

      “Nice work,” said Dylan. Madegbuena grinned disconcertingly.

      “You can’t – ” said Erica, but before she could finish her sentence, Ngo wheeled around in her chair just in time to face Madegebuena, who had appeared behind her with a knife.

      Smart money says it’s not a coincidence, but I don’t know what the point would be

      • David Marjanović says:

        Our esteemed host has corrected the spelling in one place within the last 24 or so hours, and almost corrected it in the other place. Coincidence? I think not!!!

  14. I thought it would be necessary to ask Samyazaz to restore for long-distance communications.

  15. LHC says:

    Okay, so I’m a fucking Sloth, here, but it just occurred to me that the name “Ngo” is in fact pronounced as a homonym to the word “woe”, which really enhances the evil feel of her name.

  16. Yossarian says:

    …to an Indian restaurant called Raja Horah…

    Tsk, tsk. Dylan is starting to repeat himself. Not a good sign.

    • Simon_Jester says:

      Meh, it’s been sixteen years. If the world still contains people stupid enough to be tricked into speaking the Mortal Name after the inevitable wave of copycat killings that must have spread across the world in the wake of the burning Bush… I think Dylan’s earned the right to repeat his ‘best’ gimmick.

      Once.

    • Anonymous says:

      How is it exactly pronounced anyway? The previous time Dylan used this trick, he put it as a name ‘Sonja Horah’, which suggests it’s approximately /ja’hoɹɑ/ (because ‘Sonja’ can’t be /sɑndʒæ/, can it?); but this I read it as suggesting the pronunciation /dʒæ’hoɹɑ/ or /ʒæ’hoɹɑ/.

      Yes, I’m kinda desperate for things to nitpick, I know…

      (Also, I kept pronouncing ‘Sigh’ as /saɪ/ as a joke, but given the Blake poem reference, it seems it’s actually meant to be /saɪ/…?)

      • Marvy says:

        Given the current evidence we have so far, I think it’s safe to say that anything that can be inferred from a Blake poem, should be inferred from a Blake poem. Thus, the name of the sword is just like the English word “sigh”, rhymes with “why”, etc.

  17. Grek says:

    Observations: A ham radio was brought to listen to the pigs. Radio is invisible light and therefore dark fire. As the head of UNSONG, Ngo obviously gets first dibs on wielding both radio words and dark fire swords in the middle of a kabbalistic crisis.

  18. Sword of dark fire (by Malia, as opposed to TCK’s sigh0 equivalent to HPMOR’s fiendfire pheonix(by Quirrelmort, as opposed to Dumbledore’s Fawkes)?

  19. Jeffery Mewtamer says:

    Regarding above comments about age:
    I’ve never been able to reliably guess ages of people of my own race, have known people of the same race who were ten years apart in age, yet the older looked significantly younger than the younger. I’ve also known at least one person of my own race who looked the same at 70 that he looked at 50.

    Also, even if you need to use mystical powers to age yourself to maturity quickly because no one takes children seriously and you can’t just claim to be a midget/dwarf/whatever the politically correct term for outliers on the short end of the adult height spectrum is, what reason is there to not freeze your aging once you hit your physical prime? There probably aren’t many who would choose to be an eternal eight-year-old like Sohu, but I bet plenty would love to be eternally in their twenties.

    Also, a thought from last chapter:
    is being one-quarter archangel enough to qualify as semi-angelic in the mind of the Archangel of Physics and Mathematics? After all, semi- is a prefix meaning half.

    • Matthias says:

      I’m not sure Uriel is that literal (or at least still that literal). But just in case… A major part of Father Ellis’ original usefulness to Jalaketu was that Ellis is a Christian priest and the story sets up some parallels between the Comet King and Jesus, not just Jewish notions of the messiah. In orthodox Christian theology, Jesus isn’t half-human and half-divine, but fully human and fully divine. (There is still some disagreement on how those aspects are reconciled into the nature of Jesus as some capital-O Orthodox churches reject the Chalcedonian definition of Jesus as having the human and divine aspects in a hypostatic union into one nature.) So it’s a bit of a stretch, but perhaps the Comet King was always fully angelic but also fully human, but because of issues related to the War Against Hell, needs to really work at keeping that balance. And the Cometspawn, who came about from something more mundane than a virgin birth, are now just half angelic.

  20. Ninmesara says:

    Hmm… There is one thing I don’t get here.

    First, Malia (a supposed 50yr old woman or something like that) was unable to hit Ana with a gun, and later was unable to her on foot.
    I have a really hard time believing this to be the same woman who overpowers Madgebuena and summons a sword of dark flames.
    The only explanation I can see is that her power might have been limited by Uriel, only for those limitations to disappear once he was killed.

    • Stib says:

      I think this is pretty likely to be the reason – Uriel did mention keeping semi-angelic creatures limited in power.

    • Cinz says:

      Or, rather, that Malia wanted to detain Ana without harming her or overpowering her, so that they may cooperate, as she had claimed. Neither her nor Aaron were a direct threat, unlike a group of people who very obviously intended to kill her, if given the chance.

    • stavro375 says:

      It’s placebomancy. It would be anticlimactic for the hero to die by gunshot while running away, so Ana didn’t. But it is very, very climactic for the villain to show her power by spotting and overpowering the unspottable and unoverpowerable, so she does.

  21. Gamzee Makara says:

    Point in favor of Malia being child of Thamiel and Robin:

    When Aaron spoke the vanishing name in the presence of Malia, he warped near Jinxiang. A parallel might be that one’s half-angel, one’s half-Thamiel.

    • Adrian Smith says:

      Surprised to not see anyone else mention this.

      • wr4ith0 says:

        I’m guessing Dylan is thamiel. He’s just too good at lying, even with placebomancy.

        For some reason Erica felt reassured even though she knew he was lying.

        Also if Malia is Thamial’s and robyn’s daughter there’s the intriguing possibility that Malia was raised on the side of light and turned against him. After all look robyn and her inlaws. I wouldn’t assume even the son of Satan by her would end up evil.
        Which would give Dylan a very good reason to want to kill Malia.

        • David Marjanović says:

          the intriguing possibility that Malia was raised on the side of light and turned against him

          There’s precedent: Good Omens!

          • Kolya says:

            I suggested this earlier. Someone suggested that Jinxiang corresponded to Ana in this situation and Ngo/UNSONG to the Marines.

        • Carey Underwood says:

          A young Dylan is the person who gave Robin the ritual to summon Thamiel, and he tried to talk her out of it; seems unlikely.

  22. Brendan says:

    Okay, I don’t get this. When you read a Name that you don’t know about, isn’t the first thing that happens “you gain an understanding of what that Name does, without triggering it”? That’s how the whole plot started, after all. And yet, Dylan used a Word twice now to trick somebody into incinerating themselves.

  23. Arancaytar says:

    Okay, it looks like Ngo is at least twice as terrifying as she seems.

    • Kolya says:

      “Ngo wheeled around in her chair just in time to face Madegebuena, who had appeared behind her with a knife.” I know M can shift between dimensions, but why was he visible? He hadn’t spoken in this dimension and why would he have become visible (and thus, as far as he knows, lost one advantage over Ngo)?

  24. stavro375 says:

    Since I don’t think anyone’s noticed:

    A conspicuous lack of horrible wrongness.

    • Marvy says:

      Holy cow, how did I miss that!

    • anon says:

      Huh, good catch.

    • Could be they feel it, but between them being on a mission of assassination and the sudden unnatural darkness and technology failure they misattributed it?

      • MugaSofer says:

        They know about the aura, though, they mentioned it in their planning.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or the narrator (Aaron) just doesn’t mention it, because he doesn’t have direct access to their emotions (as opposed to his own and, via SCABMOM, Ana’s). On the other hand, the narrator did describe Uriel’s thoughts when he first met Sohu… but otherwise it seems rather consistent with how the story is told: Aaron describes his own actions together with his thought process, while the story of most other characters is narrated from a more detached, third-person perspective.

        That, or Dylan’s placebomantic amulet simply worked.

  25. I’m notoriously terrible at predicting plot, but the Luminous Name suddenly being more vivid made me think this Uriel-nuking thing is a ploy to boost the Comet King’s powers to destroy Hell. I’m not sure who might be doing that in what fashion, or why now rather than previously, (or whether the Comet King is even still alive and whether it matters) but it’s my suspicion regardless. Maybe he really did die and it took a while to get in touch with his soul? …yeah, I have no idea what I’m even talking about.

  26. Gamzee Makara says:

    Another piece of evidence for Malia being the child of Robin and Thamiel:

    If a singer tries to do good, and a song is what a singer does, then an UNSONG could be interpreted as a result of someone trying to do evil.

    Robin was trying to do evil when she summoned, and slept with, Thamiel. Sure, evil such that a far greater good could arise, and she may be vindicated. But she was still locally being an Unsinger, and perhaps therefore in a position to create an Unsong.

  27. BTW, where did the title of this chapter come from? I tried googling it but only found Unsong references.

  28. I just remembered the African zombies that behaved normally only because of “the mechanical movement of molecules.” Since mechanics stopped working, would the zombies have been turned into statues? Or would they have re-acquired souls?

    • JJR says:

      Well, the issue was that there was not enough divine light to give everyone souls. The greater effectiveness of the luminous name suggests the world is getting a great deal more divine light now. So I would guess that they have required souls. Unless the shock oh having the mathematical soul fail and be replaced by a flood of divine light was fatal to their bodies or something.

  29. Hans says:

    Am I the only one who reads about radio still working and is reminded of this song?

  30. Sniffnoy says:

    You know, it occurs to me that Dylan’s plan to kill the guard in this chapter just doesn’t seem very reliable. Ignoring the fact that it relies on the guard not being on watch for the Mortal Name, it also requires that the guard pronounce the “j” in “Raja” as a “j” rather than a “zh”.

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