Nurse Bildirjin comes in with food and that suspicious smile. She spoon-feeds our recovering villain protagonist, and even though she appeared what, last book?, now Gris takes the time to properly describe her. And wax misogynistic.
She was a very pretty girl, though young. Raven-black hair, a tan complexion, even, white teeth, full lips, big black eyes capable of considerable expression. And very well developed in spite of her being only sixteen. But she was a woman and treachery could not be far off. Anybody can tell you that beauty and treachery go hand in hand. That's why you have to kill songbirds wherever found. But where women are concerned, it's the other way around. Where killing is concerned, they always choose me as the first target of choice. Piled onto earlier experience, Krak with her hypnohelmets, Miss Pinch with her red pepper and even dear Utanc with her credit cards proved that beyond any doubt whatever! I was learning to be wary. Nurse Bildirjin undoubtedly had something up her sleeve!
Actually, she doesn't, but the nurse is very interested in what Gris has under his sheet. She goes to the foot of his bed, lifts the linen, and declares "That's what I wanted to see." Gris panics and screams for Dr. Prahd - using his alien name in front of the human nurse, who deduces that he's shouting for "Dr. Muhammed" - who comes in to check on the holes from the feeding tubes Gris was until recently hooked up to, and announces that his patient is doing well. When Bildirjin directs his attention between Gris' legs, he amends that Gris has done "very well." Gris demands that they get him a mirror to see what they're talking about.
I looked in the mirror.
I almost fainted.
I looked again. I shrieked, "You've made me into a horse!"
"No, no," he said with professional calm. "That's simply normal. You are so used to one testicle not being there and the other drawn up into the body that a normal scrotum and actually having testicles may look strange to you."
"But the LENGTH of IT!" I screamed.
I don't want to read this book anymore.
This is supposedly "a new style of Science Fiction epic, rooted in the clandestine worlds of intelligence, drug smuggling and crime." This was supposed to be a work of satire, lampooning the world we live in by showing it from an alien's perspective. The story is ostensibly a hybrid sci-fi/spy thriller about a secret battle between rival extraterrestrials for our planet's future.
But now it's about Gris' junk. Mission Earth failed as an intelligence thriller because it wasn't very intelligent or thrilling, and failed as satire because the author decided to use the term to excuse his delusional rantings. But at least it stayed somewhat on-topic up until now. For the most part. For some parts. Some parts that were even contiguous.
Now the main plot has been "resolved" and abandoned, and we're going to spend the next few chapters talking about Gris' dong.
It's like suffering through a terrible speaker who keeps forgetting his place and getting distracted with boring and unrelated anecdotes, and you sit there in the audience silently pleading for him to finish so you can get on with your life, but then the speaker tosses the speech aside, drops his trousers, and decides to show off the jellyfish stings he got at a nude beach.
Except this is a book, so we're free to just throw the thing at the wall and go do something else. But I won't, due to this blog and the Sunk-Cost Fallacy.
Dr. Prahd explains that he's fixed all of Gris' injuries, given him an all-new skin, and restricted himself to removing some of Gris' scars and warts instead of actually making him good-looking. And as for the genitalia, he points out that in Gris' "home habitat, a tumescent size of ten inches is not overly large." He also mentions that Gris should now feel more vigorous and develop more muscle tone as a result of his unnatural male enhancement.
L. Ron Hubbard and science go together like manatees and treadmills.
Gris keeps insisting that Prahd did something "peculiar," since surprise tinkering with his patients' sex organs seems to be standard for this guy. Prahd searches his memory and admits that he did leave one of Gris' new testicles "in the growexpeditor a bit too long. But it won't produce in excess of more than half a pint of semen."
Damn you, Sunk-Cost Fallacy.
Despite being assured that this can only enhance his sex drive and he'll still produce normal "human" (not Voltarian) babies, Gris bursts into tears and sobs about how, logically, the fact that he's got larger gonads is going to completely alter his psychology.
"Ask any Earth psychologist. All a personality is, is a product of the cells. One has urges. They come from the reptile brain, the censor and the id. And all that is made up of cells. You have changed my cells and so you have utterly changed my whole character."
"Ah," he said. "In your case especially, how I wish that were true. Unfortunately, you are just mouthing the superstitions of an uninformed primitive cult: you find it on many backward planets. They try to make men believe that character is inherent and passed on by an evolutionary chain or some such nonsense. In some witch-doctor cults they even go so far as to say a man is totally the effect of his cellular inheritance and therefore can't be changed. It's a way
I'm gonna interrupt to speculate that Hubbard uses "cellular" in the way more informed science fiction authors might reference "DNA." I think he's caught on to the fact that something in those little blobs that make up bigger blobs is rather important, but he hasn't quite narrowed it down to what. While at the same time completely misconstruing the effects they have on a person, of course.
of excusing their inability to mold character. When people try to hold them responsible for creating a criminal society that way, they just glibly say 'a man is just the product of his cells.' It obscures the fact that they are just too incompetent and too criminal themselves to mold character and teach right from wrong.
"Ah, no, Sultan Bey. If cells and glands were all there was to life, I'd be a God, wouldn't I? And I'm not. I'm just a poor cellologist, unpaid, but doing my job anyway, and without even a thank-you from my superior, but suspicion undeserved."
Prahd adds that it's really a shame that his field can't influence personality - particularly in Gris' case. But he declares that he can do what he can to make his patients' lives better, and hopefully Gris' enhancements won't "have violent consequences for others or this planet," which is some ominous foreshadowing if I've ever read any. (edit from the future: Yes. Yes it is.)
But there you have it - people are more than what their cells tell them to be! Yes, this book has successfully debunked psychology's insistence that people are purely the product of their biology. Not their minds, or their upbringings, or their neuroses, but their cells. Psychologists think your cells are what's important, and are what dictates who you are.
In other words, Hubbard has valiantly argued against a theory that only existed in his mind to begin with. You show those windmills who's boss, L. Ron.
Back to Chapters Four and Five