Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Part Twenty, Chapter Four - Utanc Arrives, Not Appears

The next morning, Gris is awoken by Taxi Driver Who If He Has A Name I've Forgotten It, who gushes that Utanc will be here in two hours and he also needs another five grand to cover shipping fees.  Taxi Driver also demands to inspect her assigned room, and gets Gris to shell out ten thousand lira to outfit the dancer's chambers with the latest locks and iron bars to reinforce the doors.  Utanc is shy, you see.

Gris whips (possibly literally) his staff into action to get the dancer's room decorated, and then waits impatiently for four hours.  Finally a huge truck arrives laden with big metal trunks, which the drivers unload in Utanc's room (for an additional fifteen thousand lira).  Taxi Driver takes the keys to all those locks and tosses them in, and locks himself out.  Utanc, you see, is a "shy, simple, tribal girl" unfamiliar with civilization and still traumatized by her near-rape experience with the Soviet army.  So she was in one of those trunks they unloaded into the room.  Or more specifically, she's "Probably in one of those trunks."

Hot Turkish sun, scorching temperatures, hours on the road, metal shipping container... well, if this story took place in a sane, realistic setting, let's just say that Gris might be asking for a refund soon.

Gris is still eagerly inquiring about Utanc, what she looks like, that sort of thing, like he's worried she might have gotten hideous between being photographed and reaching his house.

"You've seen her then!  What does she look like?"

"You really can't tell through her veil but I'd say she looked just like the photograph I showed you when you bought her.


She is very shy. She not only had a veil on but she was also just peeking out of a truck tarp. Oh yes, here's her bill of sale."


It was all in Turkish and it had a lot of seals and a notary stamp.  

What?  The Turkish government notarizes contracts for human slavery?  During the mid-to-late twentieth century?  After struggling to stamp out slavery and signing all those treaties and modernizing and everything?  Seriously?

It said that one Utanc was the property of one Sultan Bey.  My hands trembled as I took it.  I owned a real, live, Turkish dancing girl!  Body and soul!

As vomit-inducing as this paragraph is, it's made better by what Gris wonders immediately after taking said document.

"Maybe she'll suffocate in one of those trunks," I said.

Not "She might have suffocated in one of those trunks!  We have to save her!"  Or "I'm not paying you until I see her, make sure she didn't suffocate in the trunk on the way over."  No, he sounds almost curious

Taxi Driver suggests that everyone just relax and let Utanc rest so he can leave with the money, and does so.  Eventually Gris hears movement from the room and assures that his purchase survived transit after all.  The rest of the afternoon is him wandering around the villa while the slave girl remains in seclusion.  She does let a housekeeper in with a meal, and later admits two young boys to be her servants.

Yes, the "simple, tribal girl" is expecting manservants.  She insists that they use her shower to be more presentable, and also suggests that Gris do the same, as well as don a turban.  He's much too "scruffy-looking" for her to dance for as is.

And yes, this girl seems perfectly fine with being someone's property, and despite her near-rape by marauding soldiers is willing to give her "owner" an intimate belly dance.

The staff gets some oil lamps going for mood lighting before scurrying out, a freshly-scrubbed Gris gets into position on his dais, and the chapter ends with him waiting for Utanc.

Now, my numerous objections to this chapter's content aside, I think it's worth pointing out that the author has completely abandoned the story's plot, which is ostensibly Heller's efforts to revolutionize Earth's energy and environmental policies in preparation for its annexation by an alien empire.  Since said efforts currently involve some oh-so-exciting schoolwork, the author is attempting to entertain us with a loathsome murderer's attempts to score with a sex slave.

Why would you do this?  What does this add to the story (besides an ipecac), and how does this advance the plot?  If your narrative is dragging on, why do you write about something completely unrelated instead of fixing the problems with what you've already written?   Why would someone who picked up a story billed as a satirical sci-fi epic want to read about the tragedy of human sex trafficking?  Was this story planned?  Did Hubbard actually think about what was going to happen next before he was churning it out on his typewriter?  Did he ever bother to go back and look over what he'd written and revise it?

I know he bombed out of college, now I'm wondering what Hubbard's elementary school English grades were.  He wrote dozens of books and stories and yet seems to know very little about being an author.

...Unless, of course, the fact that Gris has purchased a genuine imported Turkish belly dancer is going to be important to Mission Earth's resolution. (note from the future: yes, but in about the most asinine and roundabout way imaginable)

I'm not sure if that would be an improvement or not. (note from the future: it's not)

Back to Chapter Three

1 comment:

  1. I love the constant stream of regret coming from the notes from the future.