Monday, April 30, 2012

Part Twenty-Three, Chapter Eight - Hat > Nuke

I think a lot of Gris' problems can probably be traced back to his training.

My old Apparatus school professor in Wits Utilization used to say, "When the natives have you lowered in boiling oil and are sticking spears into you, it's time to accumulate data."  I heeded his advice.

Now if it were me, I might suggest accumulating data before things have degraded to cannibalism, perhaps so you can avoid getting eaten altogether.  And maybe you should focus on escaping from your imminent demise instead of gathering data about how hot the boiling oil is and what the speartips are made of.  But whatever, Gris is accumulating data now, by which I mean he's watching more HellerVision.

The book's absent hero is in his suite with Bang-Bang, Vantagio and Izzy, being tutored by his employer.  Vantagio describes the "democratic process" as when "politicians give the people things the politicians don't own in order to get elected," which differs from communism in that with the latter it's the commissars who grab everything for themselves.  I can only assume Hubbard's using "commissar" to refer to Soviet government officials rather than the political officers attached to the Soviet military, which are the commissars most people are familiar with these days.  That's because the Soviet Union renamed those bureaucratic People's Commissars to Ministers shortly after World War II, so once again Hubbard is being horribly dated.  And now you know.

Izzy interrupts Vantagio so they can get back to discussing the Master Plan, which makes Gris perk up despite the absence of nude models.  They get out an atlas, Vantagio suggests taking England first, and then that dratted interference cuts in right on cue.  And Gris is horrified by the implications.

His logic is as follows:
  1. Heller possibly, definitely, might know that Gris is acting against him
  2. Heller is studying Political Science
  3. Someone's talking about "taking England"
  4. Therefore, Heller is plotting to take over the world to use the combined military might of mankind to go after Gris!
Never mind that, y'know, Heller's now the head of an international corporation expanding into as many markets as possible.  Nope, he's clearly an aspiring world conqueror.

Faced with this deadly new threat, Gris quickly devices a plan and leaps into action!  Among the items he requisitioned were some of those dastardly hypnohelmets.  So Gris goes to the hospital, shaking Dr. Prahd out of his bed with Nurse Bildirjin, and orders him to help rummage through the massive inventory.  Turns out there's a whopping sixteen of those hypnohelmets, which horrifies Gris, but with Prahd doing the heavy lifting he manages to dig them all out, even if the doctor isn't sure what the devices are.

"But what are they?" Prahd pleaded as Karagoz stuffed the boxes into the wagon.

"The most deadly contrivance known to any sentient species," I said.  "The thermonuclear bomb is nothing compared to them.  And there you had them right in plain sight!"

He's a citizen of an advanced interstellar empire that uses black holes are power sources, and the most awesome weapon he can think of is a nuke.  That's kinda disappointing.  

Gris stuffs those deadly, deadly hats into the GrisCave and readies one for use, recording a "suggestion-command" for it.  He writes letters to Lombar Hisst and Captain Snelz... I just had to stop and consider how different this book would be if Gris were expected to send regular reports too.  "Dear Lombar, this week I sat on my arse trying to watch naked women on the television.  I guess Heller did stuff."  "Dear Lombar, good news!  That belly dancer I ordered just arrived!"  "Dear Lombar, my agents failed in their mission and are hospitalized, I have no idea what to do, and I haven't left my room in days."

Anyway, he packages those mind-control helmets to go with his letters and Heller's report back to Voltar via the Blixo.  And the chapter ends on a cliffhanger with Gris confidently preparing to implement his plan.

I was going to combine both the cunning skill of Earth psychology with the police techniques of the FBI.  How could I miss?

Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Back to Chapter Seven

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