Thursday, May 10, 2012

Part Twenty-Four, Chapter Four - A Fear So Great It Can Only Be Expressed In All Caps

I guess if I had to summarize this big-ass chapter it'd be "Gris continues to ignore facts being waved in his face."

Everyone Gris meets on his way to bed asks if he's been beat up, and when he wakes up the next morning his hair is caked with blood.  "It called for extreme measures.  I took a shower."  This is of course satire of the intelligence community's legendarily poor hygiene. 

After an Authentic Turkish Breakfast so Hubbard can show off his familiarity with foreign cuisine, Gris stunned to see Utanc leaving the house in her BMW, and in the passenger seat next to her is GUNSALMO SILVA!  Karagoz the housekeeper wanders by and casually mentions how Utanc hired GUNSALMO SILVA! as her bodyguard after getting spooked by some strange men hanging around town.  The poor little mobster was broke and surviving on handouts from the villa staff, so it's nice that he has a job.  Gris is of course scared speechless and concludes that everyone's conspiring against him.

Moments later, Utanc drives back up after an extremely short car ride and returns to her room without so much as glancing at Gris.  But GUNSALMO SILVA! freezes halfway through disembarking, staring intently at Gris, "leopard" in hand.  Gris is of course unarmed and frozen in terror of this Apparatus-trained super-soldier.  Silva slowly advances on him, "squat, muscular, very Sicilian, terrible," stops, scratches his head with the barrel of his sawn-off shotgun, and asks if he's seen Gris somewhere before.

He frowned harder.  Then his face brightened up to a dark cloud.  "Oh, I know.  It's that God (bleeped)

Okay, gotta rant about this again.  Gris getting his head sawed open without any painkillers?  Fine.  Gris' evenings with his sex slave?  Acceptable.  Heller tearing people's faces off with his metal cleats?  Quality entertainment.  But curse words?  Good heavens, let's spare those poor robotbrain translators' delicate sensibilities and censor such offensive language!  What the hell, Hubbard?

I mean, if the bastards are Three Laws compliant they ought to be freaking out from all the murder going on...

He frowned harder. Then his face brightened up to a dark cloud. "Oh, I know. It's that God (bleeped) nightmare I get. You're the guy in it! I'm standing there in a barn full of flying saucers!"

Silva looked me up and down and nodded. "Well, that clears that up."

You're confused.  You know something's not right, but the problem keeps slipping away between your fingers when you try to grab hold of it.  You're not sure how you got here, and one of the first things that happened when you found yourself here was an attempt on your life.  You have a strange compulsion to do certain things, and you don't know why.  You can feel that you're thinking differently than you were before whatever made you like this.  And then there's a recurring nightmare, where you find yourself in a place that couldn't possibly be real, next to a strange face you see every night.  Then one day, you find that face in the waking world.

And you say to yourself "oh, well, that clears that up."

Silva asks to talk to Gris somewhere private, and Gris takes him to his room, where the guns are.  He makes pleasant conversation by asking why Silva isn't, you know, dead, leading to two pages of (bleeped) exposition about that (bleeped) murder attempt the other night.  Long story short, Silva woke up while being lugged into the hotel room, rolled up the blankets to make a dummy under the sheets, and hid under the bed when Jimmy "The Gutter" Tavilnasty came in.  Jimmy stiletto'd the hell out of the blanket, utterly destroying his reputation as a serious hit man, and Silva grabbed the shotgun Jimmy was wearing and blew off Jimmy's left leg, then his crotch.  Police show up, consul gets involved and takes Silva's money, and now he's Utanc's bodyguard.

At no point does Silva wonder why he suddenly found himself being hauled into a hotel room.  Instead he explains "I somehow feel I'm a lot smarter about business these days.  I seem to know what to do just like that."  Which is why he wanted to talk with Gris.

Gris interrupts by suggesting that in this rough country, a bodyguard could really use a helmet.  Silva doesn't react as Gris plops a hypno-helmet on his head and flips the switch... and then he continues to not react, he doesn't look dazed or anything.  Silva calmly remarks that he doesn't need any headgear and takes the thing off, and I have to admire his restraint after getting hit by some unwanted haberdashery.  Instead he explains that he's got this "strange idea" to report to the "God (bleeped) head man in Turkey" for instructions, who is of course Gris.

See, though he's working for Utanc, he has that feeling that it isn't what he should be doing.  Then Silva spends a page talking about his drives with Utanc and reveals that not only does she speak English and uses lots of big words he has trouble understanding, but she's worried about the "foreign intruders" working for the CIA and did a price check for a hit against them.  And Gris pretty much ignores these surprising revelations about his "Poor little wild desert girl," because my god is he an idiot.

Now, Gris has figured out that Silva seems to be looking for orders from him.  He's got an Apparatus-trained hitman at his disposal, a threat he spent the last couple of chapters soiling himself over.  So you can probably guess he's going to completely waste this opportunity. 

Utanc was talking about a hit on the local US consul, but Gris suggests something farther away, a proper suicide mission for Silva.  The president is probably asking too much ("Hell, I don't want to be no hero like Oswald"), so instead Gris suggests assassinating the director of the CIA.  Silva thinks it over, agrees, and Gris sends him off, promising money, ammo, and a plane ticket to the States in the morning.

Yes, now the threat that turned out not to be a threat in the first place has been neutralized.  Gris is both wasting an asset his superiors trained and sent to him and removing a potential rival to his beloved Utanc's affections.  He shakes Silva's hand and sends him to what he hopes to be his death.

"Good luck," I said fervently.  But I did not say good luck to whom.

There's usually about one sentence per page that makes me wonder if this novel was awkwardly translated from another language.

So basically this latest plotline - Silva as a threatening hitman - could have been resolved if Gris had sent a servant to ask the strange man what he was doing on their front yard.  Instead of fleeing the scene and hurriedly slapping together a plan involving mind control helmets and surgical implants and wasting the reader's time for four chapters.  Then again, if we cut all this filler crap and the Parts that turned out to go nowhere, we might get Mission Earth down to a trilogy, four books tops.

Back to Chapter Three

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