Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Wheel of Madness Turns Once More

Nope, not feeling reflective enough to do some sort of essay, so I'll just react to the words in front of me rather than sit back and think.  Let's crack open volume three.

There's our cover, consisting of our leather-bound Aryan hero, an obnoxious pink Cadillac, an older car flying through the air, a tank utterly failing to hit a stationary target, and an explosion.  There's little indication that it's a science-fiction story, what with the complete lack of spaceships or obvious aliens or anything.  Looks more like a novelization of The Fast and the Furious' forgotten 80's precursor.

There's gonna be racecar driving, isn't there?

The blurbs on the back assure us that the book is " paced ... espionage and intrigue prevail," according to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.  Orson Scott Card's comment about losing sleep makes a reappearance, and as always the word "dekalogy" appears with a footnote to explain that this made-up word refers to a ten volume series, because you, the reader, are an idiot unable to look at the words "trilogy" and "decade" and draw a conclusion.

This book's map is centered on Long Island and southern Connecticut, or as it's rendered due to the book's stiff spine, "Conncut."  And sure enough, on the western portion of Long Island is "Spreeport Speedway."  Somehow Hubbard knew that fans looking for some sci-fi were secretly yearning for a novelization of a NASCAR event.

There's the usual Voltarian Censor's Disclaimer denying the existence of Earth and warning that this narrative was written by a confessed liar and murderer.  It also warns that "anyone undertaking even a cursory reading of this collusory yarn does so at his own risk," which is... well, pretty damn appropriate.  I think more of Hubbard's books should warn readers not to read them.

54 Charlee Nine is back to give the Voltarian Translator's Preface, in which he modestly mentions that translating "a nonexistent world speaking nonexistent languages" is no trouble for someone used to interpreting political speeches or judicial opinions," har har hate the government.  He also lets us in on a little secret: Earth scientists "think electrons are little 'things' that whirl around other 'things' called atoms," but they're wrong - "electrons aren't anything but motion," and if humans (who don't exist) would ever figure that out, and what motion really means, "they'd crack the 'Einstein Barrier' and come up with some solutions for a change."

Other authors base their speculative fiction on what could happen after the next scientific breakthrough.  Hubbard laughs at how stupid everyone else is and how everything we know is wrong. 

We get an eight-page Key to Enemy Within, which spoils characters yet to appear and, like the Key in the last book, lists characters from an earlier volume that have no relevance to the current plot.  Looks like Prahb Bittlestiffender is due to show up, and he'll get a Turkish teenage girl for his nurse.  Babe Corleone's defining characteristic is that she's six-foot-six.  Hot Jolt is described as a popular Voltarian drink without any description of what the hell is in it.  Spurk is listed even though he's been dead for five hundred pages and isn't likely to recover in time for a later appearance.

And then Part Twenty begins with more of Soltan Gris' "confession," as he attempts to summarize the events of the last book.  He explains the premise - how Mission Earth was supposed to fail but Jettero Heller is too damn awesome to do so - and again Babe Corleone's height is brought up.  Yes, six-and-a-half-foot women aren't ordinary, but if that woman is also a mob boss, is her height really the most important thing about her?

Oh, and Gris also mentions that platen.  Y'know, the sheet of paper with holes in it that decodes the secret messages in Heller's mail to his bosses.  The doodad the Gris desperately needs to get his hands on, the thing he's known he needed to get for half a book, and the thing that he has made absolutely no progress towards getting, instead preferring to sit on his ass and watch Heller ride the subway.

Gris' letter winds down with "As Raht and Terb were about to arrive and Heller's days were numbered, I decided to check in on him.  I pulled up the viewscreen and turned it on."  He's giving his report to the "Justiciary" and ended it like he's cuing a flashback.  Oy.

Well, let's get this party started.  Judging from the first page of the first chapter, it looks like... Heller and Bang-Bang are loafing around reading comics.

Buckle up and prepare for blastoff.

Back to Part Nineteen, Chapter Six

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