Rick Riordan’s inside jokes on book people – Part 2

Like I mentioned in Part 1, I love Rick Riordan’s irreverent digs at the bookish world. For a person who unhappily believes Amazon is eventually going to take over the world, this bit made me snort out loud while reading The Son of Neptune on my train journey to work.

They explored for hours … But they found no Amazons.

Finally they wandered south of downtown, into a plaza surrounded by smaller glass and brick buildings. Hazel’s nerves started tingling. She looked around, sure she was being watched.

‘There,’ she said.

The office building on their left had a single word etched on the glass doors: AMAZON.

‘Oh,’ Frank said. ‘Uh, no, Hazel. That’s a modern thing. They’re a company, right? They sell stuff on the Internet. They’re not actually Amazons.

‘Unless …’ Percy walked through the doors. Hazel had a bad feeling about this place, but she and Frank followed.

The Amazons confiscated the trio’s weapons and marched them down so many flights of stairs that Hazel lost count.

Finally they emerged in a cavern so big it could have accommodated ten high schools, sports fields and all. Stark fluorescent lights glowed along the rock ceiling. Conveyor belts wound through the room like waterslides, carrying boxes in every direction. Aisles of metal shelves stretched out forever, stacked high with crates of merchandise. Cranes hummed and robotic arms whirred, folding cardboard boxes, packing shipments and taking things on and off the belts. Some of the shelves were so tall they were only accessible by ladders and catwalks, which ran across the ceiling like theatre scaffolding.

… The only humans Hazel could see were some black-suited security women patrolling the catwalks, and some men in orange jumpsuits, like prison uniforms, driving forklifts through the aisles, delivering more pallets of boxes. The men wore iron collars round their necks.

‘You keep slaves?’ Hazel knew it might be dangerous to speak, but she was so outraged she couldn’t stop herself.

‘The men?’ Kinzie snorted. ‘They’re not slaves. They just know their place. Now, move.’

They walked so far that Hazel’s feet began to hurt. She thought they must surely be getting to the end of the warehouse when Kinzie opened a large set of double doors and led them to another cavern, just as big as the first.

‘The Underworld isn’t this big,’ Hazel complained, which probably wasn’t true, but it felt that way to her feet.

Kinzie smiled smugly. ‘You admire our base of operations? Yes, our distribution system is worldwide. It took many years and most of our fortune to build. Now, finally, we’re turning a profit. The mortals don’t realize they are funding the Amazon kingdom. Soon, we’ll be richer than any mortal nation. Then – when the weak mortals depend on us for everything – the revolution will begin!’

‘What are you going to do?’ Frank grumbled. ‘Cancel free shipping?’

Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune

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