Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Part Fifty-Two, Chapter One - This Does Not Bode Well for the Rest of the Book

Unabridged version here.

If you were to ascribe to the theory that the author wrote this book by the seat of his pants, without bothering to plan ahead or go back and revise or god forbid cut things to tighten the story, look no further than this chapter.  Last chapter, remember, saw Gris marshaling his forces to stop the Countess Krak from going after the Whiz Kid's fake "wives."  It was a tense race to get a trap set before the Countess mind-controlled her way through another problem.

This chapter kicks off Voyage o' Vengeance with Gris turning on Krak's viewer to see her in a dark place with a stack of clothes.  He can't make out anything of interest, so he decides to watch Dr. Crobe's viewer.

So, uh, we interrupt this attempt to set a trap for a protagonist with a second-hand psychology lecture.

And what a lecture it is!  "Dr. Phetus P. Crobe" is introduced to great applause, and none other than Rockecenter himself is in attendance in a box seat.  At the doctor's signal, a visibly pregnant woman is wheeled in, strapped to her stretcher and screaming how she'd been kidnapped because her husband wanted to run off with another woman.

Crobe sternly slapped his hand across the woman's mouth.  To the attendant he snarled, "I told chu to gag her.  She iss inderruding a scientific lecdure!"

With his other hand he gave a signal.  Another machine was raced onto the stage.  Attendants promptly clamped electrodes to her head.  Crobe grasped a handle on the machine and then, hastily snatching his hand from the woman's mouth, slammed the lever down.  Letters on his viewer flashed


Aren't you glad Gris whimsically installed that feature?  I mean, since we can't see Crobe's face due to the bugging equipment looking through his eyes, we wouldn't be able to tell how he felt about all this otherwise.  That might open up the possibility that he felt REMORSE or RELUCTANCE and save us the difficulty of inferring his emotions based on his actions or words.

Volts crackled and arced.  The woman's body bowed.  There was the grind and snap as she crushed her own teeth.  She lay still.  Crobe lifted the lever, gave a wave of his hand, and the attendants disconnected the machine and sped away.

In "GOOD HUMOR" now that his patient has been cured of "the insanity uf objecding," Crobe continues with his presentation.  He gets an oath of horror from Rockecenter by revealing that, during the patient's examination, he discovered she was "PREGNANTED!"  This is of course criminal insanity due to "de black widowed spider gene t'eory uf woman's evolution," something first proposed by the learned Dr. Kutzbrain.  But now Crobe can prove it, because "De fetus at de crucial stage uf evolutionary development ASSUMES DE VORM DAT BROOFS DE T'EORY!"

The two things to remember here is that 1) Crobe is a "cellologist" able to turn a person's brain into a snake, and 2) yes, this is the sort of author who would have a mad scientist kill a kidnapped, pregnant woman and rip the spider-fetus from her body.

Now, something I didn't notice last post - there's no blurbs between the book's cover and the introduction and crap.  There are only three quotes on the back cover, the L.A. Daily News saying "he'll sure roll them in the aisle," the Kansas City Star calling the book "a wildly wicked and deliciously cynical work... a hilariously satirical view of society."  George Clayton Johnson, author of Logan's Run, apparently thinks Hubbard's up there with Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Dashiell Hammett.  But that's all the positive press the publishers have for it.  So either they ran out of friendly reviews to use, or realized that nobody who made it this far was going to be swayed by another two and a half pages of critical encouragement.  Guess if you make it through Torpedo and Teenie you're in for the long haul.

This means I have to ironically juxtapose Crobe tearing a tarantula out of a woman's belly with a quote from the previous volume of Mission Earth, in which none other than Orson Scott Card called the book "ironic, exciting, romantic and hilarious."  And that's not really fair, he probably wasn't referring to this book.  Maybe for him Mission Earth is ironic, exciting, romantic and hilarious except for "that book where the guy ripped a spider out of that pregnant lady."

Crobe pulls out "a homemade laser-beam gun he must have fashioned" to blast the spider.  Nobody reacts to the fact that this funny foreign doctor just pulled out a laser gun despite living in a society that still uses ballistic weapons, though this is probably because they're still reacting to the tarantula that very same doctor just tore from a woman's belly.

An attendant whispered, "That woman is dead."

"Serves her rightd!" bellowed Crobe.  "She hadt intercourses mit a male!"  To the audience he roared, "De Psychiadric Birt' Condrol iss de mos' bital brogram dat hoomanidy hass ever had!  SUBBORTD ITD!"

Rockecenter was on his feet, applauding hysterically.  This single clapping was not, however, spreading to the large assembled audience.

The Security Chief gave a signal.

All around the vast auditorium, security men levelled automatic weapons at the staff.

"APPLAUD!" roared the Security Chief.

The staff applauded hastily.

So hey, it looks like only a minority of quack physicians actually support the "voluntary extinction through mandatory homosexuality" plan, which of course we surmised from the actions of other psychiatrists in earlier books  And Gris doesn't even try to explain the whole spider thing, trusting the reader to remember last book when Crobe made a snake come out of a guy's brain using alien cellology.  And we'd already heard that psychiatry was taking in patients against their will and murdering them.  So this chapter told us absolutely nothing new!  Thanks, Hubbard!

Crobe leaves, and Gris tries to tie this interlude into the current plot by hoping that Krak ends up in a similar institution.

Oh, what a pleasure it would be to see her corpse as mangled and dead as the one on the stage!

(Bleep)* her!

The asterisk is of course for a footnote reminding us that, to protect the poor robots translating this book for us, all the curse words have been (bleeped) out.  Because in a story where a mad doctor pulls a tarantula out of a woman's uterus or the main character has sex with underaged women or rapes other women in revenge for being tortured as part of some heavy BDSM lesbian action or a necrophiliac hired killer defiles a corpse before his own mother blows his head apart with a shotgun and fake lesbians talk about having sex with farm animals and a mob boss invokes the power of Satan against the soul of her enemy and psychiatrists rape their patients and mobsters bomb parking garages full of federal investigators and the hero slices people apart with spiked cleats, we don't want some foul fucking language upsetting readers' delicate sensibilities.

Back to the Cover and Introduction

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