Friday, June 21, 2013

Part Fifty-Eight, Chapter Two - Madison Tries to Destroy the World, Again

The plot doesn't even make an appearance in this chapter, instead the author somehow manages to get his own characters wrong.

Gris wakes up the next day when the yacht's wireless officer knocks on the door with confidential messages for Teenie.  When the man learns Teenie isn't around, he leaves.  Gris, a suspicious espionage expert, neither makes an attempt to get his hands on these unexplained missives or even thinks twice about how odd it is that a teenager who can barely read is having private correspondence with someone while touring Europe.

The day after that, Gris notices a bunch of "DEMONSTRATORS!" mobbing the dock, waving "TURKS GO HOME!" or "TOOLS OF YANKEE IMPERIALISM" signs.  Madison and Teenie have to brave a gauntlet of thrown stones when they return from exploring Mount Olympus, and are only able to reach the yacht after the crew uses fire hoses to provide covering... fire?  Water?

Madison knows what's up - someone's running a "black PR campaign," probably the U.S. consul.  He managed to grab one of those signs and there's even a "Printed in the USA" label on the back.

And Gris, who constantly chortles about how the ruling regime's supposed to put the boot to those "riffraff" in the lower classes, and who knows firsthand that the US government is actively trying to inconvenience, if not destroy, its own citizens, is shocked.

"A government shouldn't attack its own citizens," I said.  "That's psychotic!"

"Of course it's psychotic," said Madison, "but whoever said the American government was sane?  You mark my words, the American consul this very minute is handing out press releases to the Greek papers saying we're Turkish saboteurs.  I'm the pro, Smith.  You aren't."

So the author derails a character to cram in another paragraph of anti-government "satire," presumably because Greece was one of the countries that closed its ports to Hubbard during the Sea Org days.  And then I guess he engages in some revenge fantasy, because Madison starts talking about starting his own "black PR campaign" that culminates in the assassination of the Greek Premier and war between Turkey and Greece.

Gris objects again.

"Hold it!" I wailed.  "You'll have Russia and the U.S. involved in atomic war next."

"What's wrong with that?" said Madison.

"We'd be in the middle of it!" I screamed.

"Oh, I can tell you aren't a pro, Smith.  I'm the one that got the bruises here.  They want trouble, I can deliver.  Count on me, Smith.  Now, Captain. . ."

Yikes, he was dangerous!

More character derailment.  Remember, Madison was introduced as a naive twerp who thought he was doing his clients a favor by getting them in trouble.  Bury only had to order Madison to help someone and they'd be ruined in no time.  He does not know he's destroying people's lives.

Teenie's able to talk Madison out of starting Armageddon (again - he wanted to kick off World War III to immortalize Heller back when a car race was central to the plot), and so the ship sets sail for Egypt, on the logic that because the Turks used to govern the place they're guaranteed friendly treatment.  Former vassals are usually happy to see their old overlords, right?

Gris is worried because their course will bring them marginally closer to Turkey and begs Teenie not to let him fall into Turkish hands.  The bad guy.  Is begging.  A teenage girl.  To save him.

She smiled an enigmatic smile.  She said, "Now get this loud and clear.  If it even looks like you're going to, Inky, I will handle it.  Trust me."

I fell back on my pillow.  I pretended to be mollified.  But, oh, how well I knew the chanciness of life.  I was going to have to be awfully alert if I was going to live through this.

Danger was in the wind!

At least Gris is back in-character for the end of chapter "DOOM is coming!" message.

Back to Chapter One 


  1. "Afterwards on the Apollo they called the incident, "The Rock Festival". It had nothing to do with music, rather an incensed crowd on the Portuguese Island of Madiera had forced the Apollo to flee port. The Apollo had come into the Madiera port of Funchal to have the various Apollo musical groups participate in a hastily improvised public relations gimmick advertised as a "Rock Festival".

    The crowd bombarded the Apollo with rocks and pushed the ships transportation - motorcycles and two small cars - into the ocean. As the chanting crowd continued their various prophylactic activities against the Apollo, Hubbard raced around the deck with a bullhorn and gave completely contradictory instructions to all and sundry and finally beat a retreat the innards of the Apollo. He sulked down there until the ship left port.

    The crew that had been stuck on shore were pummeled a bit by the crowd as they climbed aboard. Others of the crew waited until Portuguese authorities helped them brave the crowd to get back on board. The Apollo moved to mid-harbour to regroup and then just quietly left the port bound for Bermuda.

    Slinking out of ports was something that the Apollo had some practice in the recent years before the "Rock Festival", but it was to be a regular practice as the Apollo brought its special magic to the Caribbean. The rumors that had created the angry Madieran crowd followed the Apollo wherever they went.

    The forced exodus from Madiera marked the end of the Apollo's conquest of Europe and then Africa engineered so remarkably by Hubbard. The Apollo had been kicked out of almost every possible (once) friendly country up and down the Atlantic coast of Europe and North Africa either by the people or government, and had long ago been banished from the Mediterranean.

    Hubbard had concocted a fabulous, and patently untrue lie, called a "Shore Story" to explain the Apollo's presence in the various ports it visited. The Shore Story was that the Apollo was a management training vessel for the executives for "businesses throughout the world" and was very successful at it.

    It was, in part, this shore story which got the Apollo into trouble time and time again. Soon the Apollo's very presence in a port would cause the rumors to surface quickly. By the time of the "Rock Festival", the Apollo was a pretty odd looking affair; people in grubby, oddly assorted uniforms working at all hours on the repair of the ship, other people in other odd looking uniforms running about, the ship itself with rust visible rust streaks and so on.

    The most potent rumor was that it was a CIA ship attempting to overthrow the government. To be associated with the CIA was a cause of not inconsiderable problems. Portugal had recently had a revolution, then a military coup. The Communists were active on Madiera and emboldened by the feeling that the Apollo was a front for the CIA, had planned the "Rock Festival" reception when they heard the Apollo was coming to Madiera. Since Hubbard was not bound by reality, the failure of the Shore Story to explain the presence of the Apollo in the various ports did not faze him and so he doggedly insisted that everyone keep to it and into port they came.

    Eventually Hubbard blamed a world-wide plot against him and the ship carried out by the CIA. (If there were a basis to the 'overt-motivator' nonsense of Hubbard's, *here* was proof! )"

    account taken from

  2. Fascinating stuff.

    The hell of the whole "angry protesters" thing in the story is that I can't find any payoff in the rest of this book. It happens, Madison wonders who's behind it, Gris uses it as an excuse to engage in some paranoia, and that's about it.

    Much like the bigamy subplot, it's something torn from Hubbard's own experiences so he can attempt to rewrite the past, I think. Some people will try to tell you that Hubbard went through a bigamist marriage, but in these books Heller gets accused of bigamy in a story fabricated by the media, so obviously Hubbard was the victim of "black PR" too. Hubbard's boat got driven out of port by an angry mob, much like Gris' boat, so they were both similarly victims of an American intelligence operation rather than a mixture of lies, a bad reputation, and rumor-mongering.

    "Satire" can be autobiographical, right?