Friday, August 23, 2013

Part Sixty-Four, Chapters Three and Four - This Book Came Out Five Years Before The Crying Game

One last note about the whole comet fiasco, which I somehow forgot to mention last time - Corky the Talking Tugboat ran the numbers, and although the effects will take a little longer to kick in due to the glancing nature of the impact, Heller's comet did manage to get Earth's core to "spin slightly more true to the axis."

So, even when Heller's 2,375 miles off target, even when he kills a hundred million people, he still achieves his ultimate objective.  What a guy!

The tug lands, Heller and Gris hop out, the former making sure that his untrustworthy companion stays where he can see him, the latter waiting for a good moment to try and backstab his nemesis.  The cat stays behind to guard the spaceship.  Given the number of pirates and mobsters who have met their ends after being attacked by said feline, this is not as hollow a threat as it should be.

When they reach the villa gates, Gris, while claiming to unlock them, triggers a quiet alarm to scramble his goons.  Sure enough, as he and Heller walk closer to the building, Gris sees movement in some bushes (that Heller, with his superior vision, does not), and knows that Musef and Torgut are here to save the day.


One from the right!  The other from the left!

They were drilling straight at Heller's face!

Below them were the muzzles of guns!

Suddenly a scream!

"The DEA man!" cried Musef.

There was a clatter.

A lead pipe had fallen to the walk!

Wait, I thought they were both carrying guns?  And why'd they drop their pipe but not their pistols?

The flashlights were weaving a wild pattern as they went away.

They got to the wall.

They went up a straight over the top, barbs and glass and all!

"Run for your life!" Torgut was bellowing in the field beside the villa.

Ayep.  Those two vicious wrestlers turned enforcers were so traumatized by Heller back in Book Two, that even when they caught him flat-footed in an ambush, even when they had guns trained on him, they decided to flee rather than risk shooting at him.

Pretty exciting stuff, when bad guys are too terrified of the good guy to even try and fight.

Heller doesn't respond to this - no quickdraw and snapshots, no dive for cover - beyond asking Gris "What was that all about?"  A thoroughly disappointed Gris declares that they must have scared off some robbers.

The two make it to Gris' room, where he hopes to step on a particular tile to activate another alarm, but Heller's in the way, and on top of that they hear someone coming - and not from the villa hallway.  Instead the secret passage to the Apparatus hangar opens, and who should step out, carrying two bags of heroin (Gris' psychic powers allow him to see inside bags), but "UTANC!"

She stopped.

And then in a draw so fast I didn't even see a blur, she had a small gun in her hand!

With a sudden yank, Heller had me in front of him!

Hubbard, I know you want to present Heller as some kind of incorruptible hero too pure for this sinful planet, but when he does stuff like use human shields or blow up buildings full of federal agents or work for mobsters, it's kinda hard to see him as that sort of good guy.  At best he's a delusional antihero who assumes that his superiority to these aliens means he's automatically occupying the moral high ground.

Utanc was raising the gun!

"Oh, darling!" I screamed.  "Look, look, look!  It's me!  DON'T SHOOT!"

In terror I watched her finger on the trigger.

I made a struggle to get free.

She looked straight at me.


And there's Chapter Three's cliffhanger ending, which I'll immediately defuse by continuing.

Gris takes a bullet to the ribs, and he meets Utanc's "cold and ruthless!" eyes before Heller throws Gris forward to absorb another shot.  As Heller and Utanc grapple on the floor, Gris spots the alarm tile, activates it, then notices and collapses from the pain of his wounds.

Heller heroically strangles Utanc with one hand, while with his free hand he starts tearing at Utanc's clothing.  As Gris wonders if he's about to witness some rape, Heller manages to completely strip his struggling victim.

Writhing and twisting and trying to get out from under him, Utanc was naked on the floor.

The body, every muscle taut, writhed over on its side in my direction.

Through the pink mist of pain, I could not believe what I saw.


This bothers me more than the whole mass slaughter of Russia thing.

The comprehension hit me like another bullet.  And then a wave of nausea swept through me.

See, the millions killed by Heller's gross stupidity at least died to move the plot forward.  It was the only way the author could imagine ending the threat of nuclear war, and had the side effect of knocking the south pole back into place.  Two birds with a hundred million stones.  The world of Mission Earth is now different for their passing.

Ever since this creature had come, I HAD BEEN MAKING LOVE TO A HOMO!

Utanc?  Entirely pointless.

I vomited.

Utanc's evidently the one stealing stuff from the Apparatus, a subplot which as you'll recall was totally ignored by Gris and never ended up going anywhere.

The not-woman has a wallet taped to his inner thigh, and of course he's carrying his ID card - Col. Boris Gaylov (subtle, Hubbard) of the Soviet KGB.  Heller declares that Gris is now part of the biggest Code Break of all time.

So (bleeping) what?

The whole Code Break thing has always been a nonsensical threat.  When Gris was trying to catch Heller making one in earlier books, he simultaneously needed to keep Heller in place on Earth until he got word that it was safe to kill him.  There was no way that hauling Heller off and trying him for a Code Break would work with that plot.  Now Heller's hitting Gris with the same threat, as if any of Gris' many, many other crimes weren't already worth executing him for.  

It's redundant at best, self-defeating at worst.

Heller reached across the floor to where the heroin had spilled.  He scooped up a handful.  "If you don't talk, this is going to go down your throat!"

Utanc screamed and writhed and tried to get away.

Hero is now threatening to force-feed a prisoner narcotics...

"Russia is no more," said Heller. "You can't betray it, as it has ceased to exist. Talk!" The handful of heroin approached her mouth.

Yeah, "her" mouth.  Post-reveal, Utanc's for the most part referred to as "Utanc," and the author uses "the" instead of gendered possessives when describing what body part Heller is holding down.  "The homo" is used here and there, or "the creature," but twice Utanc is indicated as female, while at the very end Gris refers to Utanc as "he."  So word use is a bit inconsistent here, though the raging homophobia comes through loud and clear.

Also, the hero has now come to terms with his mass-murder and is attempting to use it as leverage during an interrogation.

The Gaylov Formerly Known as Utanc reveals that he was raiding this base to supply the USSR's global spy network, and discovered - and reported - that everyone there was an alien the moment he arrived after being "purchased" by Gris.  So, Code Break it is.

Why did the Soviets desperately need Turkish heroin when they, at the time this was being written, had a military presence in Afghanistan?  Why could they not start up their own drug farms?  How did they know that a rich idiot named Sultan Bey would be the perfect pawn in their scheme of infiltrating an underground drug production facility?  What did they do with the knowledge that the drug manufacturers were aliens?  Why did Utanc focus on drugs and cash instead of alien technology?  Why was the top secret Apparatus base powerless to detect an apparent belly dancer waltzing in and out of its supply stores?

I've tried to find where any of these questions are answered, but no luck so far.  So it looks like the whole heap of unresolved, related subplots that the Utanc subplot brings up aren't going to go anywhere.

All things considered, I think the real reason Utanc was included in the story can be summed up with Gris' "I HAD BEEN MAKING LOVE TO A HOMO!" scream.  The author has decided to use a particular character as his punching bag, so here we are.  Ha ha, that guy was doin' another guy when he thought it was a girl! 

Gris ends the chapter recovering from a lot of puking, but certain that Heller will soon be dead now that the base is on alert.  "I hated him now more than ever for costing me the love of my life--Utanc!  She was gone forever."

So hey, why did the Soviets decide to send a crossdressing gunsel to belly dancing school instead of using one of their female agents to... ah, but I answered my own question two paragraphs ago.

Back to Chapters One and Two


  1. Wait, Gris and Utanc had sex before, right? So how could he not have known she was a man?

    Or did they only have oral sex or something? I forget; this whole thing really starts to blur after a while.

  2. I think it was limited to oral, though this was back when Hubbard showed more restraint during his sex scenes, so it depends on what you read between the lines.

    At any rate, it does mean that Gris doesn't know a man in a gauzy dress when he sees one, nor when "she's" crawling all over him in bed. And that, intimacy aside, Gris never got past First Base with his lover.

  3. Third paragraph, you have "former" and "latter" reversed.

  4. Replies
    1. "I did not see that coming."

      Neither did Gris!!!

      *ba doom tish*

  5. I knew that's where Hubbard was going when Utanc kept turning the lights off before sex. I think the young boys (because homosexuality = pedophilia) and Utanc being able to drive a stick-shift (because sexism) were also supposed to be hints.