Saturday, August 3, 2013

As One-Word Summations of the Series Go, Not Too Shabby

I was smart and ordered the last three volumes at once, and paid expedited shipping for Volume Eight, so of course it gets here a week after Volume Ten arrived.

But there it is.  A bland- blond man plummets from the sky, clinging to the back of what looks to be a solar-powered sled, or possibly an esoteric piece of exercise equipment.  Claws of lightning arc down behind him, in front of an already burning skyscraper, while two other structures loom over him as though topping to crush him.  And the guy has absolutely no expression on his face.  Must be Jettero Heller.

We should also note that this title breaks the series' tradition of "two words and maybe an article."  Could this mark the point when Mission Earth gets serious, much like how the aptly-named Changes turned The Dresden Files on its head?  Jim Butcher, I'm so sorry for mentioning your series in the same sentence as Mission Earth.

My guess is no, because of the first sentence of the summary on the back.

What happens when billions of tons of ice from the rings of Saturn are sent hurtling towards Moscow?

I'm assuming they'll evaporate in the atmosphere, but the better question is why someone sent billions of tons of ice from the rings of Saturn hurtling towards Moscow.  My hunch is that Gris had another bout of INSPIRATION! because he's the type of person who, when deciding to wipe a city off the face of the Earth, would decide to drop something from orbit instead of using a nuke, and would go all the way out to Saturn (745 million miles away at its closest to Earth) for some ice rather than using the asteroid belt (about 56 million miles away). 

Alternatively, this is one of Heller's amazing ideas on how to solve global warming.

And what becomes of Jettero Heller when he abducts the Emperor of the Voltarian Confederacy during an insane solo raid into the heart of Palace City?

I'm assuming everything eventually works out for him, because he's Jettero Effing Heller.  Also, didn't he die last book?  There was a gunshot and his viewscreen went dark and everything.

The insane Chief of

You just used insane twice in as many sentences.

the Central Information Apparatus

It's Coordinated Information Apparatus.  The correct name is listed right on page five, under the Key.  I think the poor guy working on the back cover just didn't care, and am entirely sympathetic.

has seized control of the Confederacy and the fate of both Earth and Voltar sway in the balance as all hell breaks loose in the fastest non-stop volume yet in L. Ron Hubbard's bestselling Mission Earth.

I guess the fact that this is the "fastest" of the "non-stop" volumes of Mission Earth sets Disaster apart from all those slow, plodding "non-stop" volumes of Mission Earth.  I.e. all of them.

Blurbs!  Orson Scott Card, bless his homophobic little heart, tells us "Remember how you felt the first time you saw Star Wars?  This book will do it to you again."  And I completely ignore this because I suddenly realize how appropriate it is for Card to be raving about a series like Mission Earth.  The rest of the quotes sound recycled, "delicious read" from "an experienced pro" and all that rot.

For the first time in six books, we're given a map of Voltar, in case we didn't believe the cover's promise that Heller would be returning to the capital of the Confederacy.  It's all there: Port City, Palace City, Joy City, Commercial City, Industrial City, the Great Desert, places steeped in history and culture.  Unfortunately, after another map of Manhattan Island there's a map of Turkey, which suggests that dammit we're still not done with it.  

But maybe I was wrong about nothing changing in this book, because Lord Invay's disclaimer as the Voltarian censor drops a bombshell:

This bizarre, fallacious tale has not been made any more palatable by the introduction of a different narrator.  

Whaaaaaa?  Now the author decides to move beyond Gris as the only point-of-view character?  After seven bloody books?  After going through all that trouble of inventing devices that would allow him to (occasionally) watch and narrate other peoples' activities?  If you're going to follow a bad idea through 70% of a project, you might as well go all the way with it, stick to your poorly-designed, malfunctioning guns.

Nor has the narrative gained any credibility by its claims that events in our 110-planet confederacy were caused by a stupid, nonexistant race of people from a planet that sounds more like a lunatic asylum than anything else.

The position of the Crown is firmer than ever.

The planet Earth does not exist!

Point of order, yerhonor - if psychology, the mental health industry, and presumably by extension insane asylums are all native to Earth and not the enlightened, virtuous people of Voltar, how would a Voltarian know what one is?

54 Charlee Nine, the Robotbrain in the Translatophone, reappears to give the standard Translator's Preface, again to remind us of how feeble and backward our grasp of science is.  This time he assures us that things can go faster than light, black holes can be small enough to be captured and used (which were both established all the way back in book one thank you very much), and there's something called "imploded light" located "at the other end of the spectrum."  Opposite from which end, 54-C9?  Gamma rays?  Radio waves?  Ultraviolet radiation?

He thinks highly of someone named Corky, though.  Guess we'll meet him in due time and see if he's worth the praise.

Finally - well, following the Key - Gris gives his recap of the last book before the start of this one, as part of his prison confession to the judiciary.  Nothing about Madison.  Nothing about Teenie.  Nothing about the Golden Sunset.  Nothing about credit cards.  Nothing, in fact, about 90% of Voyage of Vengeance.  All he talks about was how he "killed" Krak and Heller, then left to loot some diamonds from Heller's roadhouse before blowing up a bunch of targets for Rockecenter.  He doesn't even address whether the two were really killed either; he says he ordered Raht to whack Heller and dropped a grenade into Krak's cell, but there's no hindsight at play or phrasings like "I thought they were dead" or anything.  I guess we're supposed to be in suspense for a few more chapters so that Heller's reappearance is still surprising.

Even though he's mentioned right on the back cover.  But since it got the antagonists' organization's name wrong, I suppose it's possible that Heller's been confused for a character who wasn't killed last book.  Maybe it's Bang-Bang who abducts the Emperor.  

Back to an Intermission
Back even further to Part Sixty-One, Chapter Eight

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