Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Part Eighty-Three, Chapters One and Two - Opportunity Knocks

The first chapter of Part Eighty-Three is little more than the big reveal of Madison's next scheme to make Heller a superstar.  Lombar's lording it up in Palace City, described as the safest place to be in the Confederacy because it's fortified with bunkers and such (which makes sense), is thirteen minutes into the future (which doesn't make any damn sense), and surrounded by impassable desert (which makes sense unless the angry mobs hire some airbuses).

His generals are giving reports, and they all have names like Tur and Gas and Muk.  The Army has finally landed a million men on Calabar, which frees up Apparatus forces for the invasion of Earth.  Unfortunately the Apparatus has already lost two hundred "town headquarters" and fifty thousand men to angry mobs, so a general suggests that they delay the invasion and use the two and a half million soldiers from Calabar - weary soldiers low on supplies - to try and keep order at home.  Lombar instead commands them to empty some prisons and put a bunch of convicts in uniform, and go on with the invasion as planned with the less-than-fresh forces from Calabar.

Basically more evidence that the Apparatus really should not have been able to make it this far in its bid to take over the Confederacy, and poses little threat to Earth.  Just imagine a bunch of Flicks being dropped on a planet and told to seize objectives, only to run off to realize their dream of purchasing and then robbing a museum. 

And then someone rushes in with newspapers declaring "HELLER KIDNAPS EMPEROR," and turns on the Homeview which is similarly screaming "IN THE MOST DARING RAID IN VOLTAR HISTORY, THE OUTLAW JETTERO HELLER HAS KIDNAPPED CLING THE LOFTY, EMPEROR OF VOLTAR!"  The generals can only stand "like scarlet ice statues, eyes filled with the headlines, ears pounded by the din."  End chapter on this shocking revelation that instead of going through such trouble to manufacture an outlaw persona to make Heller famous, Madison could've gotten actual results simply by telling the truth.

Madison himself bursts onto the scene immediately afterward, film crew in tow.

"Oh, heavens!" cried Madison.  "I am so glad I found you, Chief!"  It was no accident that he knew Hisst was there: he had been having him tailed.  Madison came to a halt before the stunned Hisst.  He pointed at the headlines on the desk.  He pretended he was short of breath.  "I tried to get them to hold the announcement until I consulted you but the traitors wouldn't wait!"  What an awful lie that was!  He had had his reporters, armed with copies of Heller's letter, leak the news to every paper.  He had only been waiting outside the antechamber until he had seen the papers brought in. 

In case you were confused whether this big headline was the media comeback Madison had been hinting at for the past several chapters.  And in case you can't tell that when Madison's statements don't jive with is actions, he's lying.

Madison flies into action to "disprove this rumor," and Lombar is still too shocked and useless to resist.  The publicist kicks down the doors into the king's bedroom to find, to no big surprise, that


The cameras played all around the Royal bedchamber.  Madison saw very clearly that the room had not been occupied for months: food in the pans was decayed, excreta on the bed covers was dry.  Swinging up the covers to pretend to look under the bed, he hid the evidence.

Madison, leaping up, cried, "It must have been just last night!  Oh, heavens, I'm afraid for the Emperor's life!" 

Look, the emperor was only living in filth because of the Apparatus' influence, okay?  Normally he's very hygienic and therefore good and righteous.

Then Madison turns to Lombar and takes that baton Heller left behind, which Lombar was trying to hide behind his back, as evidence that Heller indeed committed grand theft monarch.  At this point Hisst finally snaps out of it and commands all Fleet and Army units to pursue that notorious outlaw. 

When the cameras leave, Madison has to try and convince Lombar that this isn't a disaster, but an opportunity - see, there's civil disorder, the emperor is gone, and the Fleet and Army are busy, so now's the time for Lombar to take the throne.  Which means that even though at the end of the last Part, Madison revealed that PR's purpose was to make things worse for the sake of making things worse, here he's trying to convince someone that making things worse really presents a way for him to make things better, unless he's actually being manipulative and cunning in which case why would ha;lk

Lombar's still all mopey, insisting that without the magical regalia or a convened assembly of magical Lords, he's still doomed to be a nobody dictator.  Madison gives him some scotch dosed with LSD as a pick-me-up, and prepares to create an emperor live on TV.

Yes, it'll be just as garish and trashy as you would expect by now.  But there's no singing, oddly enough.  Guess the author's songwriting skills are limited to "SEXY" tunes or death threats.

Back to Part Eighty-Two, Chapter Six

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