Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part Sixty-Seven, Chapters Three and Four - Investigative Journalism, Voltar Style

Aaand in Chapter Three we go right back to Monte looking up things he read in Gris' account in official texts, then capslocking about how they aren't there.  Why was the interruption even necessary?  Guess Hubbard just ran out of steam that day.

Monte wakes up "despite the accusative racket Hound was making with spinbrushes and closet doors" and continues to wonder what happened to Izzy, Rockecenter, And The Rest.  He remembers Gris' reference to the legend of Prince Caucalsia, cracks open his 145th Deluxe Edition: In the Mists of Time, Legends of the Original Planets of the Voltarian Confederacy as printed by the government's Lore Sector, and finds that "FOLK LEGEND 894 WAS DELETED!"  Establishing, again, that things in the story aren't in the books so there's been a cover-up.

My eye was wandering over a page where an investigative reporter, Bob Hoodward, had overturned the presidency.  That didn't quite ring true. What was an "investigative reporter?"  I tried to imagine it. Obviously, it was somebody who investigated and wrote a book about it.  Yes, that must be it.  But to overturn a presidency?  That seemed to be laying it on rather heavy.  There was no such profession as "investigative reporter" in the Confederacy.  Had Bob Hoodward overturned the whole planet?  No.  The confession also said that he had gotten shot.

I'm surprised Voltarian has a word for "president" given their love of feudal titles.

Then Monte's mom makes him come outside and play "bat ball" with Corsca (previously The Corsca Girl) and her brother.  Monte doesn't have fun.  Then he goes back inside and gets right back to his investigation, as though the previous paragraph of interruptions hadn't happened.  Hubbard, why?

Monte opens up In the Mists of Time to confirm that yes, Folk Legend 894 isn't there.  Presumably there's a conspicuous jump from Legend 893 to 895.  Monte notices that In the Mists of the Time was published by the government, as were the textbooks he checked last chapter.  So the government... is not printing something... like they're putting a cover over it, covering it up, you could say... and assuming Gris is not making everything up... then "I WAS STARING AT THE GREATEST GOVERNMENT COVER-UP IN THE LAST MILLENNIA!"

We are learning nothing new in Chapter Three.

The weird thing is that right after making this statement about the "greatest" government cover-up, thereby implying that there has been more than one cover-up so that this example stands out as noteworthy, Monte says that

It was the first time I had suspected that the government would ever do such a thing.  Believe me, reader, it shook me.  I had always been brought up carefully to believe that, in government, truth, decency and honor were inseparable.  Every relative I had, had dinned it into me!  And I believed it myself!  Could a government actually pretend something didn't exist which did?  Could it be partners with a lie?  Incredible!

So he knows what a cover-up is, and that his government has done plenty of them in the past thousand years, yet is awestruck that the government would try to carry one out.

As Hound dresses him, Monte decides to become an investigative reporter.  Surely "they" would "HAVE to publish" his expose of the government's wrongdoing, or else he'd go on lecture tours!  And his name would be in lights and all his family members would be proud and he wouldn't have to marry that fat, rustic Corsca lady.  Damn straight!  Yeah, he'll blow the lid off this Mission Earth thing and expose the truth, no matter what

But wait, I had better be a little more steady on my facts. Had there been a government cover-up? Or was that copy of the Mists of Time just a printing error?

Oh.  That may be a good idea, yeah.

So in Chapter Four, Monte goes to visit his cousin, Sir Chal of the Royal Astrographic Institute.  After deciding that an investigative journalist would be "furtive," Monte asks Flipper, a clerk he's known since his boyhood, for some antique star charts to decorate his study with.  He ends up with a box of three-dimensional prints of flat paper that can move around thanks to an "optical trick," and sure enough one of them "WAS THE BLITO SYSTEM!"

Monte takes his finding to Cousin Chal, who pooh-poohs the out-of-date charts for being inaccurate, with "minutes of error" on them.  Monte counters that such errors shouldn't include the omission of entire solar systems.  Cousin Chal gets a weird look, says "Give me that chart" even though he's already holding it, and steps out of his office, demanding to know which idiot gave Monte the old papers.  And poor Flipper gets assigned to some space surveys.

It was quite a row.  It took me an hour to get connected through to my Aunt Ble and get her to get her husband Lord Cross to catch the transfer order as it came through the Royal Personnel Office and change it to librarian on one of our family estates.  I couldn't have Flipper's head rolling into my lap and staring at me with accusing eyes.

I've checked, and against all expectations, Monte doesn't seem to end up the lone fatality in a late-night vehicle crash on a lonely back road. 

I wasn't permitted to retain the chart. But I had something else. A conviction.


Lord Invay hopes that by publishing this story, which accuses the government of covering up Blito-P3, readers will stop insisting that the government is covering up Blito-P3.

And another conviction: Being an investigative reporter was not without perils!

Perils for the people around you, that is.

But I could begin to see my name glimmer in the skies of Voltar.  The nightmare of Modon faded a bit.

NOW what would I do?

Look up more files to confirm, again, that Gris' testimony is accurate and that, again, the Voltarian government is covering up Mission Earth.  

Back to Chapters One and Two

1 comment:

  1. Well, Hubbard had a first wife and a third wife, but no second wife, so maybe it made sense to him that his aliens could skip over a number in their Folk Legends in the same way.