Monday, July 1, 2013

Part Fifty-Nine, Chapters Two and Three - The Island Sojourn Ends

The chapter opens with Gris suddenly getting a reply from Raht on the radio, with some good news, some bad news.  Good news is that he got the locator doodad working.  Bad news is Gris isn't on Chios, or an island at all for that matter, he's actually on the Turkish mainland.  Scare chord!

Gris demands - well, pleads - for Raht to relay orders for immediate pickup to the Turkish base, because his advanced alien communications device has an easier time reaching the other side of the Atlantic than a place a few hundred miles away.  While Madison, referred to as "Mad" for one sentence of dialogue, continues to ask too many questions about who Gris was talking to and what that remarkably small device is, Gris anxiously awaits retrieval.  He sees lights on the horizon, but alas, it turns out to be sunlight.  "IT WAS DAWN!"

And that'd be a great cliffhanger ending for the chapter, or rather last chapter.  Much more logical than ending it mid-conversation with Madison.

With the sun out, there's no chance of that line-jumper picking Gris up, but as "the intensity of the morning twilight" increases... wow, really?  Gonna spot something by the afternoon midnight next?  Anyway, Gris is able to make out the Golden Sunset and some other ship just a few miles away, but before he tries to swim for Chios, he suddenly notices

MEN!

They came from around an outcrop on the beach.  One, two, three, four, five,

Either the author is deliberately wasting our time, or using this to show how Gris' puny brain struggles with simple counting.

six . . . BLACK JOWL!

They were working

Walking?

north along the beach.  They must have landed in a quieter cove to the south, not choosing to dare the pounding surf opposite me where we had landed.

THEY WERE SEARCHING!

Jowls keeps looking back at the boats and talking into a handheld two-way radio, something that I must remind you Gris didn't have for the first leg of his mission.  Gris imagines the planes and tanks and ships of the Turkish armed forces getting called in to capture him for his scheduled stoning, then remembers he has a gun... but decides against risking a shot.  "It was only a .22 caliber weapon and while I had heard that a .22 would travel a mile, I didn't think it had a very lethal impact at long range.  I had better wait."  And it's a good thing too, or else we'd never hear what Jowls is here for and how it can make Gris' life even more miserable.

The scary MEN! spot the raft Gris and Madison rode ashore in, seem to notice a trail leading from the landing site to the cliff the two are hiding out in, but decline to move in and apprehend them.  Instead Jowl and his flunkies deflate the raft, carry it back to their own boats, and return to the ships, which then sail north.  At this point Raht calls in again to inform Gris that he'll be picked up at sunset.

Madison continues to be inquisitive, but rather than simply restating how hideously unsuitable the man is for a career in espionage, the author uses the conversation to tell us something about the Voltarian language.

"Another name?" said Madison.  "Something Gris?  That sure is a funny language.  Sounds like Chinese but it's not Chinese as Chinese is in tones and I used to have to order my laundry in Chinese.  It sure isn't Russian.  Sort of liquid and lilting.  I don't think I've ever heard some of those vowels.  And that S isn't really an S.  One does it by actually blowing one's breath.  It sounds more like HIST."

"Shut up!" I snapped at him.

I am not looking forward to seeing Madison on Voltar, babbling constantly about how weird the language is and marveling at every little difference from Earth life and vowing to put it in 18-point type on the front page. (editor's note from the future: don't worry, Madison will give us bigger things to worry about)

Chapter Two ends with Gris settling down to wait for pickup, though "Little did I know the forces of evil that were at that very moment churning in the world.  And that I was at the very center of the vortex!"   Which is to say Gris knows that forces of evil are churning in the world, but not specifically which forces of evil are churning in the world.  But the reveal's coming up soon.

Chapter Three is a pitiful two pages long.  Gris and Madison sit in a cave all day, getting thirsty.  Madison plays some terrible Hoochi-Hoochi Boys music from radio Istanbul until Gris yells at him.

Get stoned with me,
You oughta get stoned with me,
Can't you see I'm dead without you.
Take my joints,
I'll never puff them.
Grab my bhong . . .

And Gris spends a third of a page hallucinating giant cans of "ice-cold Seven Up" before passing out.  If I were PepsiCo, I'd be taking legal action to get my products out of Mission Earth.

More about the Voltarian language.  Like in the middle of writing Book Seven, Hubbard realized how little world-building he'd done.

A hand was shaking me.  "I think somebody is calling that other funny name you've got--Gris, Gris."

I stared up groggily.  It was Madison.  I felt annoyed.  "For Gods' sakes, if you're going to say it, say it right.  What you are trying to enunciate as an English G is pronounced halfway between HA and TH with a throat rumble."

So his name out to be anglicized as what, Soltan Achthris?  Soltan !ris? 

At any rate, a vehicle arrives in broad daylight, but before Gris can bring up the impotent Code Break plot point, he notices that it's not a flying tugboat, but...

There sat the huge, bulletproof 1962 Daimler-Benz, the red Eagle blazing on its side!

There was Ahmed the taxi driver.

There was Ters the driver.

BUT THEY WERE DEAD!

Well, you wanted them dead, took steps that should have made them dead, but you didn't stick around to confirm this and simply assumed they were dead. 

I had killed them with a bomb!

Thirst and repeated shocks had caught up with me!

Now I was not only having delusions, I was also being haunted by ghosts.

Oh what, a giant can of soda is a hallucination, while the vision of someone you thought you'd killed is obviously a ghost?

Ters gave his evil laugh.

I fainted dead away.

And there's our cliffhanger ending.  Goodness only knows why this shocking revelation comes in the middle of a new Part rather than ending the last Part.  Guess Hubbard didn't want a Part ten chapters long. 

So yeah.  Back in Turkey.  The Rapemobile is back, along with its disgusting crew.  And all those subplots are set to resume after nearly two books.

There is very, very little incentive to keep going, save for the promise that at some point there will be a scene sort of similar to the one depicted on the cover.


Back to Chapter One

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