Thursday, February 25, 2010

Part 7, Chapter 7 - Pretty Rocks and Teleportation Trouble

The last chapter's final sentence told us that Jonnie spotted The Lode at one o'clock. So I guess he has a watch? Or there's one in whatever they're flying it? So that means the Psychlos adopted Earth time. Quite practical of them. I wonder what their normal day-night cycle is? No one's complained about the weirdness of Earth time...

Oh right, they're at The Lode now.

It was a startling sight. The grandeur of the scene in this thin, cold air made one feel small.

Out of a river, a thin silver thread in the depths far below, reared a reddish massive wall of rock rising sheer and raw. Narrowly across from it was its echoing face. Down through the eons, the river, finding a softer strata between the two faces, had gnawed its turbulent way to make at last this gigantic knife slice in the all but impregnable stone. A thousand feet deep, a hundred yards wide, the enormous wound gaped.

All around it rose majestic peaks, hiding it from the world.

The sparkling white line of quartz, many feet thick, marked it with a brief, diagonal line. And in that quartz, imbedded and pure, gold shone and beckoned.

Yes, he spells it "imbedded."

It's like after pages and pages of blandness and the bare minimum of description, Hubbard suddenly realized what he'd left out, but instead of improving his earlier work he threw several chapters' worth of adjectives into this one scene. A good word for this is "overwrought," though I'd accept "pain" too.

My favorite part is how the dimensions of the canyon are described in nice round numbers, while the size of the quartz is given as "many." And then in the next paragraph he ruins everything by describing the sight "like a jewel band set upon the wrinkled skin of a hag."

So Jonnie brings their ship down for a closer look, and hey, it's windy. After "leaping" the plane to a safer altitude, Jonnie ponders the situation and hits us with a deluge of technobabble. I regret quoting another huge paragraph, but it really has to be seen to believe, and I can't summarize it.

In these teleportation drives, there were a number of corrections that had to be constantly watched. Some were built in to the computers; some were preprogrammed for any flight. Space itself was absolute and motionless, having no time, energy, or mass of its own. But to stay in one place relative to the mass around one, it was neccesary to parallel the track of such mass. The world turned daily, and that was a near thousand-mile-an-hour correction. The solar system was precessing, and even if the correction was minute, it had to be compensated for. The whole solar system was en route to somewhere else at a blinding speed. The universe itself was twisting in relation to other universes. These factors and others made control of the ship a dicey business in normal times. Down there in the canyon it was a nightmare.

The irregular external buffetings of the wind upset the inertia of the motor housing and made instant shifts of coordination continual.

So the Psychlos use teleportation-based engines, which I developed a headache over earlier. Apparently the effort of keeping the vehicles in position relative to the rest of existence is a huge strain, making them unstable to fly, much less to hover.

So why use them? They can't come up with a fusion drive or something? Or hey, it's not like they care about this planet's environment, why not use some fossil fuels and helicopters? Everything about Psychlo aircraft is absolutely idiotic, from the way they travel, an extended series of micro-teleportations instead of just popping to the destination, to the fact that doing so is much, much more trouble than it's worth. They're tearing physics a new one just to fly in a straight line. Why?! And they can calculate the position of everything relative to everything, but can't just teleport the gold right out of the cliff?!

I don't even know where to start with the "motionless space" idea or the concept of universes twisting against each other.


Jonnie hands the helm over to Dunneldeen MacSwanson, who I think is important later, and the craft goes down again so Jonnie and his crew can take some samples by shooting core guns - tools that fire bores to extract rock samples - at the cliff. Oh, and they take plenty of pictures with their "picto-recorders."

Despite the turbulence, Jonnie's borer shot is dead-on the first try, of course.

So they get a sample, Dunneldeen sweats that "Ooo, mon! 'Tis like danc'n' wi' the devil's wife!" but takes them out safely, even as the motor casings of the engine start to overheat from the strain of holding still. Jonnie notes that not only if the cliff leaning over the river, but there's a crack in it that would make its face collapse in case of another earthquake. And there's someone nicknamed Thor because he's part Swede. And then they go home, and the chapter ends, and I have a headache now.

Tune in next time as Ker is again helpful.

Back to Chapter Six

1 comment:

  1. To be fair, LRH is using "one o'clock" as a relative angle and not as a time, as in "bogeys, six o'clock!" Jonnie spotted the Lode almost straight ahead, but slightly to the right. Of course, that doesn't explain why Jonnie would be thinking in such terms if he's never seen a (human) clock before, except perhaps in one of the books he recently learned how to read. So it's still bad writing.