Monday, November 18, 2013

Part Seventy-Four, Chapter Three - Wish Fulfillment

It's not that we're going to watch Madison go car shopping.  We're watching Madison watch somebody else go car shopping.  In space, if that makes things more interesting.

Flick's driving the airbus like crazy, so Madison's tumbling around with all the food like a load of laundry in the dryer.  He hasn't even given his driver any orders, but Flick knows where they're going: Commercial City and the Zippety-Zip Manufacturing Outlet.  Flick literally flies through the front doors to land in the showroom.

This is unusual enough to make the salesman noticeably grumpy, but not grumpy enough to actually call the cops or kick them out.  Mr. Chalber asks how he can help them, and Flick points up at the ceiling.

Up there, on a transparent sheet suspended by cables,

So Voltar has the space magic to make floating furniture for your bedroom, but they've still got display pieces dangling from wires.  Huh.

was a vehicle on display, visible from the air if one looked through the high windows or glass dome.  It was utterly huge: it had a flying angel in lifelike colors protruding forward from each of its four corners and it appeared to be solid gold.

Again with the frakking gold.  It'd be refreshing to read about an alien culture with an avaricious approach to mud - its rich earthy scent, its deep brown splendor, its heavy cool moistness, by the Space Gods they'd kill for the stuff!

Also, what colors are "lifelike" for angels?  Did the artists work from photographs?  Is there an angel preserve on Calabar, where hunters can occasionally get permits to bag a few in order to keep the numbers down?  Or are these Manco Angels?

"That, that, that!" said Flick.  "I've wanted it for years!"

"Oh, I am sorry," said Chalber, "that's the Model 99.  There were only six of them ever built and they were used for parades and vehicle shows.  It's sort of our symbol of excellence to show what Zippety-Zip can do.  It's not for sale."

"Oh, yes, by Gods, it's for sale.  Look at that sign on the window.  It says, 'We Sell Everything That Flies.'"

I can't help but feel like we've lost the plot.  We spent all those chapters watching a sex show, and just when it looks like our patience has been rewarded with a step towards our viewpoint character actually doing something that will affect the course of the story, here we are sitting in a showroom watching our viewpoint character's driver argue with a salesperson over a car.

"Well, that's just a figure of speech," said Chalber.

"You better start figuring," said Flick.  "I WANT THAT AIRBUS!"

And since the main character is really Heller, all the tension from the sections focused on Madison is supposed to come from how the publicist will make life difficult for Heller, or pollute Voltar with psychology and public relations.  We're like in a subplot's sideplot.  With some gear and a pair of binoculars, we might be able to see the main story after a hard climb.

It's not just that this gaudy angel-car is super rare and exclusive, the salesman is also reluctant to part with it because Flick isn't - you guessed it - noble.  Madison has to try and keep a brawl from starting, but Flick's pretty serious about this.

"Listen yourself!" said Flick.  "That 99 has a bar, a toilet, a washbasin with jewelled buttons.  It has a color organ and every known type of screen and viewer.  The back seats break down into beds that massage you.  The upholstery is real lepertige fur.  It flies at six hundred miles an hour and can reach any place on the planet non­stop.  It is fully automatic.  It is completely soundproof and it is pressurized for flights up to three hundred miles altitude.  When you land, a piece of the back end pulls out and becomes a ground car and you don't need to walk.  The Model 99 has tons of storage cabinets and you can even hide a girl under the seat."  He shook his fist at Chalber pugnaciously.  "I've had dreams of driving one around, snooting at all the other traffic and I'm NOT going to be stopped!"

It's all so damn tiresome.  Precious ink and paper wasted so the author can drool over luxurious items for his characters to enjoy.  Is this how Hubbard found wish fulfillment?  Or did he think his readers were so shallow as to sigh over imaginary people's imaginary cars?

The salesman explains that the Model 99 is worth approximately thirty thousand spacebux, Flick mentions Madison's "Pay Status UNLIMITED" identoplate, and that seems to be that.  "Baby, come to your Daddy Flick!"  End chapter.

I guess... yeah, this must be satire!  You know, like in James Bond movies there's always a spiffy car, and it gets its introduction in Q's lab, and there's a few shots of it zipping along to a dazzling location, and exactly one superfluous chase sequence where it gets to use its rockets or ejection seat, and other than that it's totally unimportant to the story.  This isn't a complete waste of time, it's satire, so there.

Tune in next time as Flick buys an apartment.  Just like James Bond always... dammit.

Back to Chapter Two 

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