Critical Research Failure: Richards sits at a terminal, playing a digital game of "free cell" (sic), claiming that all the games are beatable. Assuming he's playing the most popular and recognizable digital variant of FreeCell note Windows FreeCell. The next most common alternative, which is for Macs, uses the same 15-bit random number seed to generate hands, meaning that the game numbers would be identical., hands 11,982; 146,692; 186,216; 455,889; 495,505; 512,118; 517,776; and 781,948 are objectively unwinnable, requiring five cells instead of the given four.
Overlaps with Writers Cannot Do Math. In the novel, a fictional twelve-year-old boy in Washington won every hand in under four years, which is said to require a rate eighty-eight games a day. Even if it took him the whole four years at eighty-eight games a day, that means he still only beat 128,568 hands. The last operating system to offer a version of FreeCell with fewer than a million gamesnote And it offered 32,000. Not 128,000.was made completely obsolete in 2010, and the novel takes place in 2018. Richards also claims to have 91,048 FreeCell games to yet to beatnote Meaning that he's beaten thirty-seven thousand-ish games going by this novel's logic. With that in mind, Richards should be a veteran at FreeCell, yet he lists a few extremely easy games as difficult* 36,592; 14,712; 64,523, even though they have multiple solutions and don't even require supermoves to win.
Narm: The series is rather darkly dramatic, but at times characters can be ridiculously prosaic and faux-poetic, not to mentioned obsessed with their children. Wolgast and Sara are both ridiculously possessive about their children, but Cronin presents it as a sanctified, divine instinct when it comes off as over-the-topnote "This precious and beloved being. this holy, miraculous, human person," referring to Sara's daughter, seriously referring to baby Caleb as "Beloved Of God" when religion is a total non-issue in the book and there are no devout characters alive at the time. They can also get really oddly sensual, as everyone seems to have an overdeveloped sense of smell and notes them at the most awkward times. The way he writes smells is something typical of authors who overcompensate for their lack of experience in an area (like a blind man describing colors or someone from the tropics writing about snow), which makes it hard to take seriously.
Serial Numbers Filed Off: An interesting case, easily overlooked due to both the timing and target demographic. Justine Cronin capitalizes on the vampire craze, but had they been called anything else there might have been detractors calling the book a case of serial numbers to Fallout.
Case in point- the story deals with highly immoral government practices involving and including research into the use of a virus to create superhuman soldiers in response to a tense political climate. The results aren't pretty. In the aftermath most of the world is a ruined wasteland and the experimental subjects of said project are loose. They even glow (Glowing Ones) and grow larger and more powerful the older they get, in addition to being functionally immortal (Super Mutants). A major plot point is retrieving a vital piece of equipment to repair the life-support systems of the hero's Doomed Hometown (as seen in the first two games). The leads of said hometown are crazy/homicidal/highly unsympathetic (first game). There's a bunch of well-equipped knightly soldiers wandering about killing mutated stuff (Brotherhood of Steel). We have yet to see the Enclave, but that might very well change. The vanished settlements might be a clue in that direction. Fallout Three also has a distinctly familiar feel, with the primary plot moving in a broad circle, both beginning and ending at the site of a 'project' that was heavily featured at several points in the plot. Oh, and both take place in the California-Texas-Nebraska area.
Wangst: Losing a child is a terrible, horrible thing, and anyone is entitled to a significant amount of angst over it, but characters let it define their lives to an extent that many other tragedies don't even come close. This wouldn't come off as grating if it was an individual issue, but it just occurs too often and undermines the strength of too many (female) characters.
Complete Monster: Captain von Berkow is a devoted Nazi hunting the Basque and his charges. Capturing a French informer, von Berkow savagely tortures him before cutting off his fingers, cooking them in goulash and, it's implied, forcing him to eat them. Pursuing his targets to a Gypsy village, von Berkow captures and sexually assaults one target before burning the village leader alive and having the Gypsies massacred by his forces once he has the information he desires. Dedicated only to his advancement in the Nazi regime, von Berkow even considers those who lack his sadism to be failures, believing only he has the drive to rise higher.