Friday, February 24, 2012

Part Nineteen, Chapter One - College, Abridged

Alrighty, home stretch... ha!  For a second there I forgot that this was a brick of a novel arbitrarily chopped into ten volumes.  So I guess I shouldn't expect anything like a denouement or climax to wrap up Black Genesis, just more chapters in which things may or may not happen.

It's the next morning and Gris is, of course, still watching HellerVision,.  There's no indication that he's pulled himself away from the viewscreen, that he's slept, eaten, or bathed.  He has no existence outside of commenting on Heller's... huh, got an odd sense of vertigo there.  Anyway, most of the chapter's first paragraph concerns what Heller and Bang-Bang Rimbombo are wearing as they head out to Empire University, but with the last sentence Gris notes that Heller is carrying two large backpacks stuffed with "things I had no clue about."  Even though Gris is pretty much constantly spying on Heller, watching him eat and undress and everything, he evidently missed the minutes Heller spent packing those bags and can't be arsed to rewind the tape.

It's a moot point, really, since we'll see what Heller packed in a moment.  But it's still stupid.

Heller and the mob bomber make it to campus, and Heller picks out a patch of lawn as the Command Post.  He gets Bang-Bang to synchronize watches with him, hands him a copy of the "schedule of plantings we took up last night in the suite," and urges Bang-Bang to treat his mission like a matter of "timed fuses."  Gris is confused, thinking that Heller really is planning to blow up the campus.  So Gris, who is constantly spying on Heller, missed the part the previous evening when Bang-Bang and Heller scheduled their plantings, and cannot be bothered to check the recordings.

You know, Hubbard, you could've had Gris following Heller around in a masterful disguise, commenting and speculating on his actions but unable to react without blowing his cover, and unable to follow him into certain locations.  This way Gris would perform much the same function you're using him for here, but there wouldn't be the problem of a near-omnipresent narrator somehow missing crucial information.  Just a thought.

Heller swaps his red baseball hat with Bang-Bang's USMC cap to preserve operational security and sends the mafia bomber off on his mission.  Then Heller spreads out a Voltarian "ground sheet" - "one of those inch square ones that open up to ten square feet!  The kind that change color to match the ground!"  Next he brings out another Voltarian gadget, an inflatable backrest.  All this because Hubbard can't abide his main character using a puny human picnic blanket and folding chair, and because Gris didn't friggin' check Heller's luggage for mission-compromising space-age contraband.

His outpost all set up, Heller dumps out the piles of books he brought along and spends the next three pages reading. 

Heller demolishes an abridged collection of Dickens (a quarter-inch thick with very large print), and has just as little trouble with a similarly-sized abridgement of the world's greatest literature.  That done, he opens his notebook and next to High-School English Literature puts down the Voltarian mathematical symbol for "operation complete."  Next to fall is English Literature I for First Year College as Passed by the American Medical Association.  The Complete Significances You Should Get Out of Literature and What You Should Think About It, allowing him to put a similar mark next to First Year College Literature.

Our hero is, of course, using his super-human speed reading and memorization skills to flip through this books fast enough to make Gris dizzy, thus allowing Heller to wave off the tutoring requirements of Miss Simmons.  Or something.  Gris explains it with "When he went to get tutored on English literature he would just make a vulgar gesture with his thumb and say, 'Yah, yah, yah!'"  The important thing is that Heller is winning again!  Thrill as our hero effortlessly overcomes any obstacle put in his way!

Bang-Bang runs over, gasps that he "planted them," and stretches out for a nap.  While he sleeps, Heller takes a full half-hour to wrap up College Journalism, which requires an end-of-course paper.  So he writes about one of the fairy tales included in the first year journalism text (just go with it).  I'm sure you can guess which one.


Circulation today was boosted by the timely event of a continent vanishing.  Publishers ecstatic.

The event was further heightened by a conflict of opinion by leading experts.

However, an unknown expert leaked to this paper--sources cannot be disclosed despite Supreme Court rulings--that all was not known about this event.

The unidentified expert, who shall remain nameless, declared that this colony had been founded by an excursion from outer space under the command of that sterling revolutionary and nobleman of purpose and broad vision, none other than Prince Caucalsia from the province of Atalanta, planet of Manco.

Some of the survivors, who emigrated immediately to the Caucasus, which is behind the Iron Curtain and human beings can't usually go there, were incarcerated by the KGB.  Deportation soon followed and they arrived maybe in New York.

The public will be kept informed.

This epic piece of journalism-in-training finished, Heller wakes Bang-Bang and asks for his opinion.  Bang-Bang marvels that anyone able to use big words like "incarcerpated" must be a genius, before hurrying off to continue with his schedule of mysterious plantings.  And this allows Heller to pass himself in Journalism with an "in-the-field citation."

Wish I'd known you were allowed to self-administer your exams and grade yourself on what your friend said.

High-school chemistry makes Heller yawn, and high-school physics annoys him - "Agree amongst you on something, will you?"  College physics makes him laugh about "primitive superstitions," and our puny Earth trigonometry makes him comment "You sure take the long way around."  You need to understand that you, as a human, are an idiot, living on a stupid, corrupt planet, so you should get on your knees and thank your lucky stars that this brilliant spaceman is here to show you the way.

After a lunch break, it's time for Bang-Bang to masquerade as Heller for ROTC, so it'll be the alien's turn to "set charges."  But Heller still has time to kill, allowing him to read a newspaper.  He explicitly looks for something about Grafferty, who I guess is the book's bad guy since Mr. Bury's disappeared and everyone else keeps dying.  While there is an article about the police chief, it claims that he rescued someone from a burning spaghetti parlor, making Heller wryly comment about "the grave responsibility of keeping the public informed."  In case sarcasm goes over your head, Gris explains that the media's purpose is, "of course, to keep the public misinformed!"

But with this scorn comes some worrying doubts - Gris wonders if Heller might start thinking after absorbing all of this data.  He also worries that, since Russian students are trained from kindergarten in espionage so they can spy on their parents, and America likes to copy things from Russia... sorry, had a mild stroke.  Anyway, Gris is watching with bated breath in case Heller's curriculum includes courses on espionage, something he absolutely must not learn about.

Apparently all that stuff the FBI agents taught him back in Part Fifteen, Chapter Four, like how to defeat security systems and track people down, doesn't count as espionage.  Or else Gris has completely forgotten about it.

Eventually Heller gets up and we get to see what Bang-Bang was scurrying around doing.  He makes it to a classroom just as the students are filing out, and reaches into the trash can.

He pulled out a tape recorder!

He shut it off.

He put it in the rucksack.

Heller pulled out a small instant recording camera, stepped back and shot the diagrams on the blackboard.

He put the camera away.

He left the room.

He raced over to another building.

...where he turns on and dumps another tape recorder in the trashcan, cleverly hiding it with a layer of debris.  Yep, Heller's got it planned so he doesn't have to physically attend a single class, just record the lectures so he can speed-learn them later back at his suite in the whorehouse, presumably between rounds of mind-blowing sex with beautiful women.  Gris is, of course, horrified that despite Miss Simmons' valiant efforts, Heller might graduate.

I had a momentary glimmer of hope.  There might be quizzes.  There might be lab periods.  But then I sank into a deeper gloom.  Heller had probably figured those out, too!

Our villain fully understands just how hopeless it is to oppose our book's hero.  He doesn't even waste time speculating over the specifics, he just knows the hero will win.

(Bleep) him, he was defeating the efforts to defeat him!  My hand itched for a blaststick!  I had better quadruple any effort I was making to put an end to him!

Gris, honey?  YOU!  AREN'T!  MAKING!  ANY!  EFFORT!  You are sitting on your ass in Turkey, watching TV, waiting for the sex slave you purchased to show up, and fuming that Heller keeps succeeding despite your non-attempts to stop him  The most you've done for half the book now is send a memo telling your incompetent field agents to get in touch with you whenever they happen to report in, and lose your temper and blow away a canary.  You aren't a real character anymore, you're some kind of badly-thought-out plot device.

...Hey, you know what I realized?  We never learned what that Mysterious Something that Heller ordered was, the one that was going to be delivered last night.  Presumably the delivery happened, and Gris probably saw it, but we aren't going to be told about it yet for no other reason than to preserve the surprise.

Back to Part Eighteen, Chapter Eight

1 comment:

  1. Children raised in Scientology are taught from a young age to spy on their parents and report on them to the church if they say anything critical of Scientology.