Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Part Ninety, Envoi I-ii and I-iii - Earth Update

Ugh, just look at that post title.  These are chapters, Hubbard, stop pretending this is something sophisticated that deserves lower-case Roman numerals.

Envoi I-ii is nothing but a letter to the Countess - excuse me, Duchess Krak of Manco - marked Confidential and relayed by a "Censorship Clerk."  The letter itself contains the translation of another letter addressed to "Mr. Jet," found on a "mountain cone" by a survey team sent by the Chairman of Intelligence.  Despite the ban on interaction with Earth and an order to destroy any evidence that the planet exists, Crown, His Lordship Heller is breaking his own rules so he can get news from his Terran buddies.

The letter-within-a-letter is a sloppy list of minor characters and what they've been up to since Heller left Earth ten years ago, something I'm tempted to summarize as a bulleted list.  And not to ruin the surprise, but the letter's by Izzy; I'm not going to play coy and call him "the letter writer" until the huge reveal at the end of the chapter or anything.  Excuse me, end of the envoi.

Anyway, cue up your favorite "Where are they now?" pre-credits montage music.  I have none to recommend 'cause I don't watch TV.

Heller's penthouse is still being kept ready for him, and the tailor checks in on occasion to see if Heller is back and needs anything.  Izzy mentions that Heller's clothes are still well-maintained but a decade out of style, indicating that they never humor the tailor and update the absent Heller's wardrobe, even though they're willing to keep paying rent and upkeep and staff expenses for the apartment.

Mr. Stampi from the Speedway invites Heller to the "new American Grand Prix."  (Bleep) Mr. Stampi and his speedway.  That was a bunch of pointless stupidity that took up a whole damned book for no good reason, and the only way you could say it impacted the plot was by delaying its resolution for another five hundred pages.

"Queen" Babe Corleone speaks of you often.  Just the other day, at the world board meeting, she said she missed "Prince Charming" and cried a little bit.  She said maybe Jerome had never forgiven her after all, because he didn't come back.  She is doing fine, though.  The American Rifle Association elected her Woman of the Year.  There are no other mobs now, only Corleone.
She is very popular and her name is up in lights over the UN since she ordered them to pass the Women's Thermonuclear Rights Bill.

In case you missed the "world board meeting" remark, Izzy will make it clear in a bit that he succeeded with his plan to replace governments with corporations, which "Queen" Corleone has mixed with organized crime and a monarchy.  So Earth is now controlled by an unelected business elite playing both sides of the law, organized into a feudal hierarchy based on loyalty to an all-powerful dynasty.  The author presents this as a good thing, and way different from what Rockecenter was pulling.  After all, Babe was able to ban nuclear war!  Something we've managed to avoid without any such "law," but anyway...

Vantagio keeps a portrait of Heller in the Gracious Palms brothel, and the girls there "keep votive candles going in front of it."  For my own sake, I'm going to assume they've stopped short of outright worshiping Heller as a god.  Bang-Bang misses Heller but has been made a five-star general "so he could show them how to drill."  I don't think that is something generals normally concern themselves with, which bodes ill for Earth's military.

Mr. Bury "showed his true colors" after disposing of Miss Peace and Miss Agnes, so that his wife, and the New York mayor's wife (after escaping her exile to Elba Island) were both last seen with Bury at the zoo reptile house.  Izzy does not mention firing Mr. Bury for feeding people to anacondas, so presumably he's still around working for the nominally good guys.  Also, we're expected to care about Babe Corleone's feud with the mayor's wife, and find all this funny or something?  'cause he's an utterly amoral lawyer, who likes reptiles and killing people?

Twoey spends most of his time on all the pig farms he's bought in New Jersey, and can barely be troubled to sign Rockecenter paperwork like a good little puppet.  He named an award-winning sow "The Beautiful Krackle," which Izzy suggests Heller not tell Krak about.  And all Izzy's willing to say about himself is that without Heller around, he ran off the stage when "Barvard"... seriously... tried to give him an honorary degree for replacing the last of Earth's governments with a corporation.

So anyway, Mr. Jet, when you're finished surveying the Moon in depth or whatever is keeping you away, your condo penthouse is still waiting.  The gardeners keep the garden up and there isn't even any dust around.  I go there now and then and pretend you'll soon come home.  It sort of calms me.  I hope you don't mind. 

Yours very truly, 

PS: 1 would ask you to give Miss Joy my best but she probably doesn't remember me. 

PPS: I do hope she is enjoying her life as Mrs. Jettero Heller and the wife of an officer of the Fleet.

Man is Izzy just pathetic.  Also, Code Break.

Monte is stunned by this shocking and wholly inconsequential revelation, and asks the Duchess Krak how a stupid, neurotic Earthling was able to discover Heller's badly-kept secret.  Krak explains that Heller's name was on a Fleet receipt "pasted inside the time-sight" Izzy regularly used to cheat the stock market.  And also that Heller kept an English-Voltarian dictionary around his office.  And I started to laugh at this, until I realized that a hypno-helmet might be able to teach you how to listen to or speak a foreign language, but not necessarily read it, and then I wondered at what point had Heller been taught English on paper, before realizing that I didn't actually give a lepertige's haunches.

But wait, there's more: Krak somehow knows that Colonel Gaylov of the KGB, aka Utanc, sent in a report to Rockecenter about finding an alien base in Turkey.  You can be forgiven for being surprised by this, since there's no indication that this happened anywhere else in the story.  At any rate, Krak goes on to know that the file made it to Izzy when he took over the Rockecenter cartel, who "put six and six together" and paid a visit to Afyon to leave behind a letter in case Heller or his associates returned.  So that's how the author is going to explain how Izzy was able to send mail to Heller from another planet - by widening the "and nobody cared there were aliens?!" plot hole introduced when the KGB showed no interest in an alien base beyond its drug supply.

Following this baffling plot twist, Monte asks about Snelz, who Krak tells him died twenty years ago as a Fleet brigadier general.  Did Monte even bother to look any of this up in public records?  That sounds like something easily found on Voltarpedia or something, and really an anticlimax after the previous revelation.

It's at this point that Krak realizes that all of Monte's questions have related to Earth.  Rather than being disturbed that someone is investigating that wretched planet, especially since it's supposed to be a state secret, Krak instead insists that Earth was only a small part of Heller's long and awesome career.  Worse yet, he's just so damned modest that he refuses to answer historians' questions, so Voltar's encyclopedias still list him as a racer rather than Crown, Your Lordship Duke Heller of Manco.   Because remember, Voltar's journalism is (bleep). 

"Good Heavens, even the Colipin invasion is more interesting than that.

So why did the author waste our time with ten books about Mission Earth?!

He gave the Emperor Mortiiy an absolute fit!  We lost five squadrons and Jettero got so upset he grabbed the creaky old Retribution and went right over there and won the war and had peace in a week. 

Why is Heller the only one who can accomplish anything?!  Why are we supposed to be delighted that Heller was able to help the Confederacy conquer another planet for no reason?!  Is it because it had five billion people on it but none were Heller's friends?! 

And Mortiiy, who'd gone touring to inspect Calabar, belatedly heard about it and came rushing home thinking he'd have to take over the government and he came storming into the Grand Council hall and Jettero was sitting right there and Mortiiy roared, 'What the blazes do you mean going out risking your life in that confounded war?' and Jettero just smiled and said, 'What war, Your Majesty?' and handed him the treaty of peace.  And even Mortiiy had to break out laughing, he looked so innocent. 

Why do you need an emperor if he doesn't do anything?!

But the papers never even MENTIONED it!  We gave you access to the logs and files so you could really tell people about him." 

So why didn't you write about the wonderful Jettero Heller if you want to read about him and have all the records?!

This book is a self-inflicted sinus migraine.

The stupid is interrupted when Mr. Calico X yowls and points out a window.  On second thought, the stupid continues when Mr. Calico X yowls and points out a window.  Heller's spaceship is coming in for a landing a day early, and Krak scampers out of the room, complaining that she's "a wreck" and hasn't told someone what to make for dinner.

Guess next time we'll see how the man himself is getting on.

Back to Envoi I-i


  1. What a long, strange book it's been. What are you going to do once you finish up?

  2. I've been meaning to learn how to build a proper website and spruce up these blogs or something. Beyond that... I know I really shouldn't, but I can't help but wonder whether Hubbard was always this crap, or if I'm just seeing him at his worst. And my local used bookstore has a whole Hubbard shelf.

  3. I must confess I rather like Ole Doc Methuselah. Hubbard is at his best when continuity is not an issue and where he doesn't try to worldbuild in any way whatsoever. He can spin a good yarn, and that's pretty much the only writing ability he has.