Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Part Twenty-Six, Chapter Three - Skyscraper Trumps Obelisk

With his status as a Senate Investigator secured, Gris is now able to boss around any government official in America, which I guess he needs to do to take down Heller.  You know, the guy working with an organized crime syndicate at odds with the government.  It's time to go to New York and settle things once and for all!

Two days later and Gris is still waiting on Utanc to finish up her mysterious errands in Washington D.C.  Gris, who effectively purchased Utanc from a smuggler, can't or won't be so crass as to order her to come along with him, and apparently trying to persuade her would be a waste of effort.  Held hostage to her whims, Gris decides to hire a cab and follow Utanc on her next outing.  He tails her to the Lincoln Memorial and watches her staring down the National Mall.  Despite his attempts to be discrete, Utanc turns as Gris approaches, addresses him as Sultan Bey, and talks about how beautiful the Washington Monument is.

My curiosity was aroused.  "What's so beautiful about it?"

"So tall, so white, so hard."  She put her finger in her mouth and looked at it again.

Inspiration!  I said, "That's only 550 feet high.  In New York City, the Empire State Building is 1,472 feet high, close to three times as tall!"

"It is?" she said, incredulous.

"Indeed, it is," I said.  "It even has a spike at the top."  And we left that very night for New York City.  It takes real genius to operate in the Apparatus!

So Utanc is a "simple desert girl" with a suspicious knowledge of modern audio equipment, foreign languages, international fashion, and old movie stars, who disappears on mysterious errands just about daily.  She's clearly being set up to be a spy or something.  And yet she's also simple enough to be impressed by phallic imagery and wants to go to New York to see the spike at the top of the Empire State Building?  Or, if that bit of aching stupidity was a sham for Gris' benefit, why did she wait until he followed her to the Memorial to agree to go where he wanted to?  Why not just cave in the next time he pestered her?  Or is he even asking her to get ready to head out?  Was she waiting for him to work up the nerve to follow her out so they could move on?  Why not just tell him she's ready to move on?

And why the hell does Gris have the heights of a monument in the nation's capital and a landmark in New York memorized?  Does he also know the height of the Sears Tower?  The UN Building?  Is this trivia limited to the United States, or has he also memorized the heights of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben?  When did he study this, and why?  What about buildings on Voltar?  Wait, I just checked and the Monument is 555 feet tall and the Empire State Building is only listed as 1454 feet tall by Wikipedia.  Did these heights change between now and when this was written?  Was Gris just making up numbers? 

This is how brain-breaking one stupid penis joke is in this wretched book.

They get to New York and rent a penthouse in a hotel Wikipedia doesn't recognize.  Gris is elated that there's a second bedroom, so he's graduated from the sitting room couch to an actual mattress.  Utanc is presumably comatose from overstimulation after seeing all those tall, rigid, multistory structures making up the city.  The next morning Gris tries to turn on the HellerVision but gets a flare out - he's too close to the relayer installed on the Empire State Building to see what Heller's up to.

Since every Apparatus agent in New York is hunting down criminals who need a new face courtesy of Gris' half-baked Mobster Hospital, we get one and a half pages of Gris going to the Empire State Building to switch off the relayer himself, before chickening out at the thought of climbing up the radio towers extending from the 102nd floor (the view from the top: "This place was HIGH!").  Instead he goes to Raht and Terb's hospital, berates his men for having broken arms and a wired jaw, and poses as an investigator hunting draft dodgers (in the 1980's?  Or did Hubbard start writing in the 70's and didn't change anything after the war ended?) to get them sawn out of their casts and discharged, presumably so they can climb up the Empire States Building and switch off that relayer for Gris.

When Gris returns to his hotel room (Utanc has disappeared as usual) he suddenly remembers the magical telescope from a few chapters ago, which he brought along for this trip.  We get another attempt to explain how it works.

The telescope, when you turned it on, wasn't really a telescope as such.  It threw a beam.  The beam sensed the other side of a wall by going through the spaces between the molecules of a wall and not finding any.  When it didn't find any more to go through, it made a patch of energy which acted as a mirror.  And the image on that mirror was what came back to the viewer.  It also had an audio pickup.  Well, well.  It sure looked like a telescope.

From this we can conclude that the molecules that make up an object are set in a rigid, regular pattern so that a beam can go between two molecules and not hit a third.  And that said beam is an intelligent beam able to tell the difference between not hitting anything because it's traveling between molecules and not hitting anything because it isn't going through a wall anymore.  And that this beam carries soundwaves as well as relaying light to create images. 

The more Hubbard tries to explain it, the worse it gets.

All that aside, the Magical Telescope is useless because it keeps confusing New York's smog for the walls of buildings.  Then Utanc shows up with some bellboys carrying lots of baggage from her latest shopping trip, and when questioned about finances reveals that somehow most of the money she's started with is still there.  Gris doesn't ponder this mystery, because Utanc is all excited by the Empire State Building, so "tall and bold and hard!  So HIGH!"  She suggests that after dinner, when the lights are out, she might come into Gris' room and "well... you know..."

So Gris gives up on getting anything else accomplished that day in anticipation of Sexy Times.  End chapter.

Back to Chapter Two

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