Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Part Twenty-Six, Chapter Four - More Voyeurism

I was wondering how much easier Gris' job would be if he got one of those speck-sized cameras on a remote-controlled, tiny robot to send to Heller's room, and that got me to thinking - have there even been robots in Mission Earth?  I don't think there's been any, which in retrospect is kind of a glaring absence.  We've seen black holes harnessed for energy and starship engines that warp space-time, yet the Voltarians seem to rely on purely physical laborers.  There's no mention of android waiters at the swanky restaurants, no battered maintenance droids helping service the Prince Caucalsia at the Apparatus hangars, to say nothing of spy drones that Gris could be taking advantage of.  The closest thing we've had to a robot character was our dear friend the Apparatus Computer, but it probably isn't sentient, just well-programmed by a smartass.

There wasn't much use of artificial intelligences in Battlefield Earth either, just a drone aircraft that flew on a preprogrammed course and dropped bombs.  So is this another one of Hubbard's deficiencies as a sci-fi author, or is this a philosophical choice?  "Life handles force!" remember.  Maybe a Roomba is heretical to the guy and he deliberately excluded robots from his satirical sci-fi epic.

Wait a sec, this is being "translated" by 54 Charlee Nine, the Robotbrain in the Translatophone.  So where's the other 53 Charlees?  Why hasn't there been any mention of such Robotbrains?  Did Hubbard even come up with this, or was it tacked on with the rest of the "Gris' confession" framing device to make up for hacking Mission Earth into ten volumes?

Anyway, the chapter.  Gris has Sexy Time with Utanc, and though we are spared the details he assures us that "Of course, it was wonderful."  Utanc disappears afterward, and Gris decides she's taking a walk instead of wondering what the hell is up with his "girlfriend."  He "suddenly" decides that his luck has turned around and should be made the most of, so he sets out towards an apartment building near the Gracious Palms with the magical telescope in hand.

Gris decides to ring up one of the top-floor tenants to gain entry and buzzes one Margarita Pompom Pizzazz, under the assumption that she's a "showgirl with a lot of boyfriends" used to late-night liaisons.  Unfortunately upon reaching her room he learns Miss Pizzazz is pushing sixty, so Gris decides he's a roof inspector instead of "an old flame."  From the building's top he whips out his magical telescope and starts peeping.

Gris finds the faux jungle/beach room where UN representatives can relieve the romantic conquests of their youth, because as we all know, people of certain skin tones rut in the dirt like animals.  "A small brown diplomat, with his top hat still on, was really making a score with a coal-black girl!"

Oh, it gets worse.

Finally, from somewhere he produced a rope and managed to get it around her ankles and her wrists.  And then he really gave it to her!

I thought I had been satisfied for the evening.  I began to get aroused.  He was going to kill her for sure!

Welp.  Just in case you hadn't found a reason to dislike Gris yet, the author was kind enough to suggest that Gris is into snuff flicks.  Thanks for taking the time to develop your really disgusting characters instead of moving on with the plot, Hubbard.

Unfortunately for Gris, the session ends with both the diplomat and the prostitute still breathing, so he keeps panning the magical telescope around in search of Heller's room.  He eventually finds it, with Heller asleep on his bed, but on the pillow next to him is a Voltarian holographic bust of "THE COUNTESS KRAK!"  How unexpected!  How shocking that this character would have a picture of the woman he fell in love with two books ago! 

Now you might remember that Gris has somehow come to the conclusion that if he gets the Countess to Earth, she'll kill Heller for daring to live in a hotel with other women.  The sight of this display of continued devotion is enough to cause Gris a brief twinge of doubt concerning that plan.

For some reason, I knew not why, it made me uneasy.  Then I threw it off.  What a dog he was, having all these women every day and still putting out Countess Krak's picture!

What does it say about you as an author when your characters keep "suddenly" having thoughts and impulses for reasons they can't determine? 

Thus ignoring that spark of logic trying desperately to be heard in his brain, Gris goes on to scan Heller's chambers with the magical telescope.  But magic is fickle, and though the device can see through walls with relative ease, he can't use it to penetrate the piles of laundry that might be concealing the all-important platen.  Gris realizes that Heller is due to write his third report soon, and so plans on returning the next night to hopefully catch him in the act of retrieving the platen to encrypt it.  Because of course Heller will write the report just before going to bed, as Gris expects, rather than at any point during the coming days.

Fighting the urge to keep a-peeping on the whoring going on at the Gracious Palms, Gris returns to his room where, to nobody's surprise, Utanc is still strangely absent.  Gris doesn't give the matter any thought whatsoever.  Gris does a lot of not-thinking, you may have noticed, which is nearly as bad as the times he does try to puzzle his way through a situation. 

Back to Chapter Three

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