Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Part Seventy-Five, Chapter Two - Docking Dangers

Voltar has stuff like Joy City, a hundred square miles of lighted signs making "a symphony of shapes and sparkles" underneath the flying buses, but it's not advertising, okay?  They're just, ah, designing memorable displays to create public awareness of the goods or services being offered by establishments.  Completely different.

After drooling over Homeview's distant big shiny dome headquarters surrounded by skyscrapers, any one of which could fit "NBC, CBS and ABC together," Madison is distracted by Flick slowing down for their landing at the townhouse.  We get another two paragraphs describing how huge it is, all "two New York City blocks wide and three long," and also how suspiciously grim it looks with the top four floors all windowless.  And then Madison realizes how high they are: "NOT as high as the Empire State Building," but still up enough to give Madison the heebie-jeebies.

So hey, why all this now?  Why not describe what the building looks like forty pages ago, when we first saw it, instead of spending those pages on Flick rattling off the place's history?

Anyway, we're trying to land, and the convicts are having trouble with the dot-based docking sequence, where you pull up alongside with the hangar deck, point your flying bus' nose at a colored light, and fly forward into what appears to be a steel wall.  The problem is that the cons are balking and the system isn't working, but Madison the Mauler is able to order them to move, and Flick eventually figures out that he forgot to turn on the landing lights.  Everyone - not just Madison, but all those people who have lived in this advanced society for all their lives - gasps with surprise as invisible tractor beams grab the flying buses and swing through hidden doors.  "The building swallowed them!"

Once everyone's good and digested by the building, Flick starts barking orders for the electronics people to fix the other airbuses with proper landing systems, and that everyone should get food.  Madison adds that these stinky Apparatus people need to "bathe, bathe, bathe" before bedtime.  And then Flick reminds them all that nobody's allowed off this level until they've planned how they're going to "rob" the four upper floors, otherwise "it would be cheating!"  I find myself in favor of someone crushing Flick's windpipe with a baseball bat, I'm not sure where that impulse is coming from.

Madison wanders off, "walking through doors that didn't open or close and he found it a bit disconcerting, but he supposed he could get used to it."  But he won't be allowed to remember it next chapter.  Instead he plays with a space tube transporter thingy that zips you down to street level and back in what looks like a free fall but is totally survivable due to space magic.  Madison's too chicken to use it himself and drops a bottle down it, which disappears and reappears in a moment.  I really like this sort of stuff, an ordinary man experimenting to learn how this alien world works, but unfortunately the author prefers to spend time emphasizing the bad guys' B.O.

The publicist continues to examine his spacious but spartan digs, but is interrupted when one of the circus girls, who he learned at some point was named Trotter, walks up to him.  She is of course smoking hot, freshly bathed, and happens to be wearing a bathrobe so open as to be covering nothing.  Trotter... wasn't he in Animal Farm?  Anyway, it's a seduction scene.  She tells him that none of those other criminals can be trusted, but Madison can trust her, because look, she's giving him back his wallet, which she'd stole from the beach so the others wouldn't steal from it.  Yes, she smuggled it out between her legs.  And "That isn't all you can slide there, hmmmm?"

Strangely enough, right after that line Madison proceeds to go through his wallet and count all his cash, even though it's just been doused in... cooties.  His gynophobia reasserts itself when Trotter continues to make advances, suggesting that the two of them hop into bed.  But Madison is a PR, he knows how to handle dames.  He tells Trotter that she's tall, handsome, and devastatingly graceful...

Her eyes began to glow.  Her bare breasts heaved with a shuddering sigh of delight.

"So therefore," said Madison, praying that his pitch would work, "I am saving you as the star of the very first porno movie that we make."

"A bare-(bleep) movie?" said Trotter.

I'd wonder if Madison wasn't taking advantage of a poor woman here, since she doesn't seem to fully grasp what a porno movie is.  But that former Homeview director or whatever was in jail for making porn on the side, so they ought to have some clue.  Maybe Voltarian porn is just PG-13 at most?

This could've been a very different book if Madison was an Earth porno director here to teach an alien race about smut.  Maybe if Hubbard had been born a woman he would've hated pornography the same way our world's Hubbard despised psychology, and written Mission Earth accordingly.  Maybe Battlefield Earth would be remembered as a milestone in feminist science fiction thanks to its indomitable heroine Chrissie, who took down an alien empire.  And maybe Richard Nixon would've become Pope, everything's possible in other dimensions.  I'm on a squidelope.

"Yes, indeed," said Madison, "with men climbing all over you and with the very best angles.  A whole mob of them, fighting amongst themselves to be the first to get you, while you stand proud and stately, pushing them off with your feet until at last, you drop a golden robe, baring yourself totally to the camera and then, disdainfully with scornful finger, point to the one you will take and you do it then on a silken bed while the others grovel weeping on the floor."

"Hot Saints!" said Trotter.  "And I'm the star?"

"Yes, indeed!" said Madison.

"Oh, blazing batfish!  I can't wait to tell the girls!"

She rushed out, robe flying.  Madison quickly figured out how to lock the door.

Bat.  Fish.  Batfish.  Batfishman!  A dark, brooding superhero haunting Slum City, wearing the form of the terrifying batfish to strike fear in the superstitious, cowardly criminal mind...

Anyway, there you have it, lads: when a woman you aren't interested in is trying to jump you, all you gotta do is promise to film her having passionless, punch-clock intercourse with random men, and she'll be so pleased that she'll forget about having sex with you and run off to tell her girlfriends how lucky she is to be a porno star.  Just another life lesson from Mission Earth.

Having dodged that dangerous pair of X chromosomes, Madison reflects on how he's the master of PR and all that, fooling the reader into thinking we're about to finally start the book's main plot.

The movies he was going to make had nothing to do with Trotter.  They would have everything to do with creating a brand-new image for Heller, one that would be stamped forever on men's minds: an outlaw!  Hunted and chased by everyone!  Famous beyond belief!

He turned back to the window.  I wonder, he thought sadly, where Heller-Wister is right now.  Already wanted on a general warrant, he was probably alone and shivering in some dark cave, unknown and depriving posterity of his potential notoriety.  Well, he thought, with a confident smile, I can remedy that.  With this crew I can do anything!

Oh my, won't Mr. Bury be proud!  What a triumph for good, plain, old-time Earth PR!  What an opportunity to show what he could really do!

And now con-man Madison is gone, replaced by his more familiar characterization as a colossally deluded moron trying to make a man on another planet famous in all the worst ways so that his boss several light-years away will be happy.  I think I prefer the con-man characterization more, since I dislike stupid characters who accomplish everything by accident.

Tune in next time for a g-g-ghost story!

Back to Chapter One

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