Monday, March 22, 2010

Part 10, Chapter 5 - D-32: Never Forget!

Disaster struck in the form of an earthquake on Day 32 of the new year.

Nice of Hubbard to summarize the chapter for us. But unfortunately, he goes on to elaborate.

Jonnie gets woken up at his rooms in the hotel by the 'quake, but isn't terribly worried since such tremors are common in the Rockies (?). But then the Scot manning the "directional laser radio" (so in other words, not a radio at all) reports that the miners aren't responding. In a night as "black as coal" (how does Jonnie know what coal looks like?) Jonnie assembles a rescue party and flies to The Lode, bitterly reflecting that "He knew things had been going too well."

The next few paragraphs alternate between pointless and uninteresting descriptions of Jonnie flying and summaries of the events between this and the previous chapter. Jonnie's barbarians have somehow salvaged the ruined ammo from the bunker complex, figured out how to make blasting caps, and made special bullets by putting a grain of radioactive material from their nuclear stockpile into a lead sheath, allowing humans to carry the ammo without worry but creating a round that causes breathe-gas to violently explode.

Which is admittedly pretty clever, if a bit too clever for a bunch of former hunter-gatherers and a man who was bit by a window.

A full hundred of those assault rifles have been miraculously restored to perfect working condition, and an assembly line of Scotsmen have produced five hundred magazines of armor-piercing Psychlo-busting bullets. For an encore, they start converting the recovered bazookas to fire nuclear warheads... which is a much more realistic type of "clever" to expect from these people.

And then the chapter ends, as the plane lands and the relief force jumps out to check on the miners.

Now, you might think that it'd work better to move the "earthquake relief" parts of this chapter to the next one, letting this chapter focus on a quick summary of what's transpired since God answered our heroes' nuclear prayers. Instead of having a bunch of small and pointless scenes of Jonnie in transit in this chapter, you could have him wake up and fly to The Lode early next chapter, thus creating a smoother narrative and avoiding an arbitrary and artificial end-of-chapter cliffhanger here.

And you'd be right. L. Ron Hubbard is not a good writer. For example, this chapter contains the sentence "The assault rifles he had at first considered worthless were proving the very thing." It barely parses, begs the question "the very what?," and screams for a competent editor. And you have no idea how many times Jonnie's thoughts about converting the rifles was suddenly interrupted by him noticing a bush and pulling up on the controls of the plane (the answer: three).

Next chapter, the passing of a beloved character.

Back to Chapter Four

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