Monday, December 7, 2009

Part 3, Chapter 1 - The Plot... Continues

I kept skimming ahead, trying to see when the action begins. The short answer is: not this Part. A longer answer is: not for hundreds of pages. All we've got to look forward to in the immediate future are scenes that would last only a second or two of a standard Training Montage, and a plot point or two that are new to Jonnie but not to us.

So buckle up! We're about to "blast off" with another thrilling chapter of Battlefield Earth!

We're with Terl and Zzt in the garage, and the latter is "throwing down tools, discarding parts, and generally making an agitated din." I'm imagining a monkey having a tantrum with a toolbox. Our vowel-less Psychlo is grumpy about the pay cuts that have arrived as prophesied, but Terl mentions that he has a plan that could solve this problem for everyone. All he needs is a little truck.

Zzt isn't buying it. He's suspicious because Terl was talking with the Planet Head before the pay cuts went into effect, and since the other guy doesn't have an official requisition form, Zzt gets back to tossing tools around and beating up on wrecked vehicles.

Lacking that holy grail, Leverage, Terl retreats and schedules his demonstration with His Planetship, then goes to check on his chimp.

Jonnie's apparently made hide tents to protect himself and the learning machine, since it's started to snow. He thinks Terl's taking him to pick up firewood, since the Psychlo promised that Jonnie could build a fire.

Wasn't that easy? I'm sure if you asked nicely, you could have stopped eating raw meat weeks ago.

Instead, Terl's getting his pet ready for a trip inside, which will require a breathing mask for the man-thing. Jonnie is confused until Terl reluctantly explains that the two of them have different breathing requirements, which you'd think a schmott guy like Jonnie could have pieced together by now. He gets a leftover piece of Chinko gear, and Terl has to explain (thanks to his "streak of sadism") that you use the past tense when referring to those guys, since they were dumb enough to try a strike.

"Ah," said Jonnie. It came together for him. One more piece of evidence that added up to the smoke on the belt buckle design. The Chinkos had been another race; they had worked long and hard for the Psychlos, and their reward had been extermination. It bore out his estimate of the Psychlo character.

The belt buckle he's referring to is Terl's. Back in Part 2, Chapter 6, there was a brief paragraph in which Jonnie connects clouds on this fashion accessory to legends of the end of his species. You can see a similar incredible leap of intuition in this paragraph, when Jonnie is able to determine how and why the Chinkos died from Terl's simple statement about them refusing to work when told. To most people, Terl's wording would suggest laziness or noncooperation on the Chinkos' part, but not Jonnie, no. He instantly deduces that the Chinko were steadfast and loyal, but betrayed by their masters - even though there's no indication that the Psychlo would have ever bothered to kill them off had the idiot Chinkos not tried a strike.

Also, keep in mind that all Jonnie knows about the Psychlos comes from his encounters with Terl, and those learning discs. In other words, he has decided that the species is a bunch of murderous, sadistic monsters because of personal experience with one representative. Terl + the fact that some Psychlos gas-bombed his planet in the past = all Psychlos everywhere are irredeemably evil. By this logic, Osama Bin Laden + 9/11 hijackers = every human is a terrorist.

For all he knows, Terl could be a bad apple, and the Psychlo race as a whole subjugated by a brutal, evil regime. For all he knows, the Psychlos could consist of the same mixture of good and bad that makes up humanity, and that some bad Psychlos conquered Earth without the support of the good Psychlos.

It's not like that at all, of course, but Jonnie's still being a bit judgmental and illogical. L. Ron is going to try to justify this xenophobic attitude later, in a way that... well, you'll see.

Terl explains how his mask works, and there's a bit when Jonnie makes him look bad by pointing out that Terl's not using them quite right since he hadn't bothered to actually read the directions - which again reminds us how staggeringly idiotic and incompetent this "villain" is. Terl threatens to pull Jonnie's mask and make him go into convulsions if he misbehaves. I'm generally in favor of Jonnie going into painful convulsions, but no luck this time. End chapter, at the bottom of page 93.

Next, by popular demand, more Numph! Also a house-training joke, which is on its way whether you want it or not.

Back to Part Two, Chapter Ten

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