Friday, January 24, 2014

Not So Much a Throne Room as a Throne Porch

I was going to do a post-book wrap-up of Villainy Victorious, until I realized that it doesn't have any specific flaws so much as it has amplified examples of the problems plaguing Mission Earth.  So screw it.  Let's dive right into The Doomed Planet.

I like the cover art, oddly enough.  We've got some dressed-up red dude in a crown who happens to be chained to his throne, a look of either misguided triumph or mild constipation on his face.  A fleet of utterly generic and nondescript spacecraft fly in front of a crumbling stone statue of a hand grasping planet Earth, a call-back to the cover of The Invaders Plan.  Also, there looks to be a fiery explosion or splash of lava at its base, possibly as a reference to the cover of Dianetics.

Since my attempt to identify the person on the cover of the last book turned out to be inaccurate - guess it was Madison, not Gris - I'm not gonna bother with this guy.  Especially since I can't remember any characters appearing with red skin, despite all the "high yellows" and whatnot we've seen.  Judging from the symbolism, it's tempting to assume this is Lombar Hisst, who has either chained himself physically and metaphorically to the throne of Voltar, or has found himself imprisoned by his attempts to take over the empire.  But again, I don't think Lombar is red.

The quotes on the back cover all look like repeats, but at least the plot synopsis is new.

The Nerve-Shattering Climax
to the biggest
science fiction series ever written!

Man, when all you can say about your ten-book series is that "it's big," good grief.

As the mighty Voltarian Confederacy crumbles in flaming combat, riots and civil war, Jettero Heller and the beautiful Countess Krak struggle desperately to save it from ruin.

But if Voltar is to survive, then Earth must surely die.

Neither can live while the other survives, you see.

I guess this refers to Lombar's attempt to smash up the planet whose drugs he's dependent upon?  It's not like the two planets have anything else to do with each other.

And all Heller's friends there will perish.  

And seven billion other sentient beings, but they aren't Heller's friends, so who cares?  You might as well get all weepy about Russia.

The web of political intrigue draws ever tighter as Heller races against the clock to rescue both cultures from extinction.  Will he make it?  Find out in L. Ron Hubbard's grand finale of the Mission Earth series: The Doomed Planet!

At this point I'd settle for a "grand as in size" finale.  What's the Mike Nelson quote?  "At this point, any ending would make me happier than I've ever been."

The post-cover praise for this book is different: each quote is preceded by a bolded, enlarged, one-word compliments from the full line.  For example:

"GRIPPING"     "One of the most gripping storytellers in science fiction..."

Ever read the Riverworld books?  Fascinating premise, interesting stuff.  Made me want to design a custom map for Civilization.

The biggest news between the cover and the first proper chapter is the map section: there's only one, and it's of Voltar.  Could it be that our own humble homeworld doesn't appear at all in Mission Earth's grand finale?  Guess it really is a doomed planet.

In the Voltarian Censor's Disclaimer, Lord Invay introduces the last volume of "this overwrought, extravagant, hyperbolic work" as further proof that Earth doesn't exist.  I choose to interpret this as an editor apologizing to the reader in his own way.

54 Charlee Nine once again remarks that he's (she's?) never seen anything like this "Earth," introduces the book's final Key, and departs with "Good luck.  It's up to you now."  Bye, Charlee.  You had a few annoying moments, but for the most part you were a rare not-awful character, even if you aren't a proper part of the story and were invented as a framing device.  Said Key features Earth characters like Babe Corleone and Bang-Bang, so maybe it survives after all?  And we just don't need to know where anything is?

Part Eighty-Two opens with... a bit of an oversight, ha.  It's the "Monte Pennwell addresses potential publishers" framing device, where the amateur historian/investigative journalist/git with a typewriter talks about how shocked he was at this great cover-up, before recapping the previous book.  The problem is that his name isn't actually at the bottom of it, and he never introduces himself at any point.  Whoopsie!  With no author, I guess we can't publish this after all.  What a shame.

Let me remind you what happened so you can appreciate the rest of my book.

Lombar Hisst had addicted every Lord of the Grand Council to drugs.  The Emperor, Cling the Lofty, was close to death when Heller kidnapped him.  Lombar Hisst had installed himself as Dictator and millions of people were rioting in the streets.  Teenie Whopper was creating catamites out of the sons of all the Lords. 

Oh hey, Teenie got a mention.  She sort of disappeared towards the end of last book, didn't she?  But I can't help but feel like this plot summary is overlooking someone... someone involved in a trial, maybe?  Well, it can't have been important.

Madison's dream had come true!


Heller was an outlaw! 


The manhunt was on!

Though they have a good idea of where he's hiding out at.

And now, dear publisher, editor and reader, here is the final, true story of what REALLY happened!

As opposed to the official line that nothing happened.  No, all those billions of citizens freaking out about the arrest and near-execution of Hightee Heller didn't happen.  No, there wasn't a succession crisis a hundred years ago, involving a rebel prince on Calabar.  No, the Apparatus didn't do a terrible job of seizing power while the Fleet and Army stood around with their thumbs up their arses, despite all those newsheets and archived Homeview footage of "Dictator Hisst" waddling about.

How the hell did they "cover up" this garbage?  Is there a "Redflash" device that erases memories?  Or were there mass executions?  Or maybe everyone on Voltar was so embarrassed that Lombar Hisst and the Apparatus managed to plot their way into power that they all tacitly agreed never to mention it again.

Back to Part Eighty-One, Chapter Six

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