Monday, February 15, 2010

Part 6, Chapter 11 - The Riddle of Numph: Majorly Dumb

You know, if these Scots are migratory, you have to wonder when they took time to track down the dyes to make their plaids. I guess they could stumble upon some natural sources during foraging expeditions, but that just begs the question of how they've managed to come up with different clan colors given the sparse resources available. It's not like-

Oh? Right, right, the chapter.

Jonnie, who showed up the night before, said a few awkward sentences about a plan of some sort, and then talked about his girlfriend, has amassed an army of over a thousand Scotsmen plus some English and Norse. A "panorama" of "colored kilts, ponies, shifting groups of men and smoke from fires, and over all lay the skirling whine and shriek of bagpipes."

I hate this book.

Terl lands and disembarks, while Jonnie gets on a horse for better visibility and begins talking to the crowd. "His job was made much easier by a high literacy level among these people. They had not lost the art of reading and writing and they knew a lot of history, mainly their own myths and legends."

How? How can a nomadic, primitive people have a high literacy rate? Any books that survived the alien invasion would have long sense disintegrated. Do they have paper mills somewhere? Someone carrying nothing but stacks of parchment? Did one of the lucky few people to survive the Psychlo gas attack just happen to know how to make medieval-era reading materials? I can buy legends and history getting passed down orally (though a thousand years is going to distort things, methinks), but literacy?

I'm not going to even ask where Fearghus' sword came from.

Jonnie explains that he needs volunteers for his "crusade to rid the world of the demon," smack-talks Terl, fills in the backstory, and gets his audience to pantomime being afraid some more. He promises that those who come will learn to use the Psychlos' own weapons against them, and asks for fifty men. The crowd goes wild, and naturally all of them try to enlist.

"Mon, MacTyler," cried the grizzled old man who had first captured Jonnie, "ye are a true Scot!"

Another Scot cries "I amma afeered of naething!" earlier. L. Ron sucks at accents; he can't even stay consistently awful.

So anyway, the act of asking for volunteers has made our hero Jonnie Goodboy MacTyler, who works until nightfall to select his crew. He ends up with eighty-three, which includes Robert the Fox as a representative, some pipers and drummers, old women to work in the camp, a schoolmaster, a parson, a dean of literature the hell?

A scholarly old fellow showed up who lamented the fact that no one would be writing the history that would become legend. It turned out he was the dean of literature of a sort of underground university that had been eking along for centuries, and on the argument that he had two capable replacements for himself in the school and--due to his age and poor health--was expendable anyway, he could not be left behind by the MacTyler. Robert the Fox thought that very necessary, so that made sixty-five.

The lesson here is simple: be very careful asking questions about Battlefield Earth's idiocy. You might just get an answer that's even worse than what you were wondering about. I'm not even going to speculate about an "underground university" in an area that's regressed to barbarism. If I don't think about it, it can't hurt me.

Almost done, almost done... the next morning Jonnie asks Terl is eighty-three is alright, and the Psychlo, who is not the least bit bothered by all the enthusiastic cheering from yesterday (perhaps due in part to getting wasted on kerbango the night before), decides that with the casualty rate he's expecting, it might be a good idea to overhire. Jonnie sends his men to pack their things, suggests to the chieftains (and that unexplained English lord) that they not provoke the nearby minesite for a while, and learns that the leaders are already planning a "recovery corps in charge of policing and reorganizing England, Scandinavia, Russia, Africa, and China, and they were already scheduling study, training and organizing to do that at the end of a year. And the non-chosens were wild with enthusiasm."

Jonnie showed up two days ago. And they're already working out a world government (based on a clan system, of course). This is...

...pretty much the end of Part 6. Jonnie falls "into a hopeful" sleep on the plane flying back to America, having single-handedly managed to unite the British Isles and sown the seeds for a new world order.

...Only 870 pages to go...

Back to Part Six, Chapter Ten

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