Thursday, February 6, 2014

Part Eighty-Three, Chapter Five - Royal Marriages are Different

So, last time we saw Madison's crew make a mess of an imperial coronation, and Lombar Hisst make a mess in the imperial robes.  But with the Confederacy already in flames, it's not like things could get any-

If the Confederacy had thought it had riots, these were nothing compared to the riots they were having now, the day following the coronation.

-never mind.  Yeah, everyone watching at first thought it was a circus performance, or "a parody in bad taste."  Mmm, irony.

Voltar takes its Royalty seriously

No (bleep), Bleeplock.

and tampering with it had never been taken lightly.  It had prospered and been stable for ages in the old galaxy and for 125,000 years in this one under the political system of a benign monarchy.

Stupid American founding fathers.  If only they'd taken the long view, been patient enough for the royal family to perfect itself through blueblooded breeding, then we could've had the ideal form of government: a distant, pampered ruler who knows nothing about our lives and situation, but is wise enough to rule us better than we could rule ourselves.

There had been upsets in the past but these infrequent disruptions in Royal rule, even when occasioned by excessive repression,

I'm having trouble reconciling "excessive repression" with "benign monarchy."

had been resolved by a conclave of the Lords of the land--of which there were thousands, existing not only on the central planet of Voltar but on the other 109 planets. 

While we, the people, play no role in the decision-making of our government.

A system existed, in other words, for handling the cessation of a Royal line.

So why the hell has there been a succession crisis going on for ten books?  Why didn't those Lords demand the Emperor appoint an heir immediately after his last remaining son went rebel?

But the Voltarian people's objection to Lombar's coronation isn't so much a legal matter as it is an issue of style.  They know that a proper coronation "wouldn't be over in ten minutes, most of which was being performed without even saying what it was about."  No, there'd be days of festivals, and parades, and loads of Lords, and formal dress!  But instead they got a shabby dope with a doped-up grin sitting on a throne.  Plus, the dope was from the Apparatus they were already angry with, and so "People who had been on the sidelines before burst into the streets with screams of fury," and the whole empire descends into "the anarchy of rage."

Meanwhile, the instigators of all this are sleeping off their "success." Lombar was dumped on the emperor's still-stained bed to sleep off all the various drugs he's taken, Madison's slumped over his desk, and the rest of his film crew is shooting dice or napping, but have decided to stay in their Homeview uniforms rather than Apparatus clothes, given the latter's declining popularity.  The Domestic Police have collapsed, government buildings are on fire everywhere, hundreds of thousands are dead, and all Madison's concerned with is whether the Fleet or Army are chasing Heller.

I think I've figured out why Madison is so blas√© about Earth's imminent crumping - in his brand of PR, it doesn't matter if there's an audience alive to see your work. 

Fifteen hours after Lombar soiled himself live on interplanetary television, Madison is shaken awake by Flip, who tenderly mentions that she raided the old bedchambers for the Emperor's mistresses...

Really.

So you want to satirize the concept of bigamy, fine.  You do so by exaggerating the hell out of it, writing up a society that's willing to execute anyone who tries to get out of a marriage, or gods forbid marry more than one person at once, fine.  You never explain why this society feels this way, which is pretty lazy of you, but whatever.  And then you give the emperor mistresses?  Plural?  With their own chambers accessible from the imperial antechamber?

This book.  Anyway, Flip's all sweet and supportive, and has some hot jolt, a space toothbrush, and an offer for Madison to "rip off a little piece of (bleep)" before his morning shower, but Madison is able to escape the horror of heterosexual intercourse with someone other than his mother.  She vows that she'll get him yet as he runs off to wash up.  The narration follows her as she brushes off yet another general trying to meet with the still slumbering Hisst, leading Flip to wonder if she should be selling tickets - and "(bleeps) on the side," of course.  And then next chapter the narration will follow that general into Hisst's bedroom.  Guess I'm not the only one feeling bored and restless.

Wait, if Madison's not around, how will we end a chapter on an ominous note?

The crew lolled on, oblivious of the fate that was about to overtake them.

Oh, that works.


Back to Chapters Three and Four 

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