Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Part Eighty, Chapter One - Smack Smack

We started this book with Part Seventy-One and will be ending it with Part Eighty-One, but the next book is slightly slimmer than Villainy Victorious, so while it'd be nice to think that this well-planned, carefully-crafted epic will end at Part One Hundred, barring a bunch of half-assed chapters and unusually short parts, we'll be lucky to end at an even Ninety parts. (editor's note from the future: Ninety-Two Parts, actually, but the last three are labeled Envois as well) Not that the Parts really mean anything.

All the poor, innocent Voltarians are still wondering exactly what a "dictator" is, including the film crew that helped Lombar become one - initially Madison's flunkies assume it means "one who spoke into a dictating machine," and a more careful translation of "forceful kind of spokesman" isn't much better. 

But the majority seemed to gather that Lombar had assumed much more embracive powers and, if the Grand Council order had not been showing up on their consoles, they would have had to assume that Lombar had authored some kind of a coup; they were not at all sure what. 

That is not a good sentence.  Still, it's a good thing Teenie's pages were on hand to forge that official document, otherwise people might be wondering whether the chief of a disreputable intelligence agency granting himself more power was legal or not.

A side effect of Lombar's speech about the "unimpeachable reputations" of Apparatus officers is that now all those scruffy spies are swaggering about, shoving people off sidewalks, and - horror of horrors! - patronizing upscale hotels and restaurants to bully the staff.  Just imagine some people trying to have a nice dinner only to find the Apparatus Stink in the air!  "Underpaid and unpaid, they began to find ways of being paid," the narration informs us, trusting us not to wonder why a bunch of unpaid thugs are willing to help a loonie take over an empire.  Typically a dictator secures the loyalty of his cronies through perks and loot.  But logic doesn't really belong in this story.

All these sweeping social and political changes aren't really important, though - Madison ignores them as he focuses on Heller by way of Gris.  See, he found a postcard in the "Gris dossier," a message from... the Widow Tayl.  This is gonna suck.



The baby came on schedule and he's beautiful.

It's a he.

As you implied, yes, thanks.

Now, I don't want to have to go to your superior officer and make a fuss.  It would be much nicer just to climb in bed with you.  So when are you going to turn up and do the right thing and marry me?                                                                                                         Pratia

PS: Any commanding officer: You can come out and see me about this any time you like.  I hope you're handsome.  I am very pretty again now that my belly is flat and we can talk it all over.  What do you like for breakfast?  I can be found at Minx Estates, Pausch Hills.

PPS: It has the softest beds and the loveliest swimming pool and a summerhouse with a bed in it.  Smack.  Smack.

I'm just going to assume that's her "kissing" the letter or something similarly innocuous.  And wait a minute, Pratia never said what her baby's name was.  Is that a custom on Voltar?  Don't name your baby until they make it to the age of three, so if the pox or dingos take it the loss won't be as painful?  Children have to earn their names through a deed?  Anything?

Madison's too smart to go in person, but sends a minion disguised as Gris' superior officer to retrieve the widow.  Then it's time for another of Dr. Crobe's presentations to the women of the psychiatry club.  Now, even though this book's been hammering us with how horrible drugs are, and how twisted and sex-crazed psychiatry is, apparently both are good for you.  While describing the audience, we're told "Although many were middle-aged, they looked in full bloom.  They had recaptured some of their lost youth and life, viewed through a marijuana haze and sex, and seemed remarkably attractive."  So, people: don't do drugs, avoid sexual promiscuity, or you too might find yourself revitalized and beautiful.

Crobe's sober this time, so there's only a few mildly amusing presentation failures such as "Now, as you know you know you know quit repeating."  He discusses how the brand new psychotherapy might be used to cure the Notorious G.R.I.S. so that it's safe to release him to the public, as opposed to unleashing him upon the public.  Crobe was initially against it, since Gris is "entirely off the Freudian scale," whatever that is, but Lombar ordered him to give it a shot.  Since All Psychology is Freudian, and Freud is all about sex, "If the true sexual basis of a criminal could be awakened, he would reform and become sane."

In other words, they need to get Gris laid.  It's a slim chance, and quite likely fatal to the unfortunate woman given this onerous duty, but Lombar insisted, and against all odds they have a volunteer.  Enter the Widow Tayl, dressed in virginal white, her downcast body language evoking "a maiden being brought before the altar in a primitive sacrifice."  Some of the audience start to cry.

"I am therefore," said Crobe, "appointing a committee under the chairwomanship of Lady Arthrite Stuffy to call upon Lord Turn and insist that he permit the marriage and nuptial night of Gris and this woman in the Royal prison."

The audience gasped.

Madison grinned.

I can only assume the author felt that Gris was being deprived, having gone almost two whole books without having voluntary or involuntary sexual relations with someone.  Madison has, we're told, full control of the media by now, so he could probably whip up a story about Gris being framed to get him on the witness stand accusing Heller like that.  But instead Hubbard decided to take the route that leads us to another sex scene with exploding furniture.  Thanks a bunch, Hubbard. 

Back to Part Seventy-Nine, Chapter Seven 

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