Monday, June 21, 2010

Part 17, Chapter 1 - Brown Limper's Very Own Chapter

And now for a refreshing change of viewpoint, as we get to see Brown Limper Staffor rise from a pathetic bit character to a pathetic villain. We join him leaving the "horrible, vulgar spectacle!" at the mining compound, seething with envy (which he labels "righteousness") at all the adoration going Jonnie's way, and vowing to do whatever it takes to show people the truth about Goodboy Tyler.

Staffor has always been compared to Jonnie and found wanting, you see, and sometimes lies awake obsessing over his rival to the point of coming down with fevers. When Brown Limper was little, his mother always told him how Jonnie's dad was in favor of having the club-footed little mutant killed, so the guy grew up knowing the Tylers were out to kill him. When Jimson (I'm assuming he's the old mayor, a quick glance through the early chapters doesn't bring him up) started expressing his support for Jonnie's idea to start a new village elsewhere, Brown Limper encouraged the man to take up locoweed until he was content to just lie down in a stupor.

It was quite simple logic. There was Tyler, prancing around on his horse, ogling the girls, the young men following his lead and getting into trouble, the council soft-headedly overlooking his criminal pursuits. And there was Brown Limper---wise, tolerant, understanding and brilliant---overlooked and even scorned and cast aside...

...So it was only sensible he should be upset and take measures to protect not only himself, but the whole village as well. It would be utterly irresponsible not to.

Jonnie's brush with death gave Limper hope, but here he is up and about and getting his fanny smooched by everyone and trying to steal the villagers' property by convincing them to relocate. He must be stopped! So Limper's been working on that.

As the mayor of the Village of the Idiots (the other council members were very interested in Staffor, since he came from the same place as the Jonnie), Brown Limper gets one parliamentary vote, like all chiefs. So he's been getting friendly with the other North American representatives. There aren't many - two populations in British Columbia, four groups in the Sierra Nevadas, and a few Indian tribes in the southern mountains somewhere - but Limper organized the rescue and subsequent admission of the former two areas' peoples into the world government, giving him three council votes beholden to him. He's working on the Indians, and has been taking care to bring up every bad rumor or misdeed that Jonnie the Window-Bitten Savage had ever done: graverobbing, fleeing from punishment, skipping church, etc. He even insinuates that there's a "village secret" that prevents him and Chrissie from getting married, though that isn't stopping Jonnie.

It isn't quite working though, because all good people everywhere love Jonnie even if they haven't met him yet, and a Siberian tribesman in particular argued with Staffor in Jonnie's favor. But then Brown Limper remembered that Jonnie had spent a lot of time with a Psychlo named Terl. He notices that cadet Lars Thorenson has also been hanging around Terl's cage, and...

It gets stupid.

So, using his influence, Brown Limper found in Academy records that Lars Thorenson had been a member of a Swedish tribe that emigrated, way back, to Scotland; that he had orginally been chosen as a coordinator trainee because he spoke Swedish and English and had a gift for tongues; that his father was a fascist minister and had urged the boy to use the Federation to spread the call of fascism, in view of the fact that it had been the state religion of Sweden, and had had some important military figure named Hitler as its head and was needed by the world...

I'm going to be charitable and assume that it's Lars' dad being stupid about history instead of Hubbard. But even so, man. I don't know what's a bigger stretch, that somehow a single fascist neo-Nazi has survived over a thousand years after the fall of the Third Reich, or that nobody else apparently remembers who Hitler was. You'd think the Russians at least would have him built into tribal mythology as a devil analogue, or something.

Almost done, almost done... Lars is in trouble after being injured in a crash landing during his training (way to go, Terl), and is being considered for deportation back to Scotland due to being not "all right in the head." If only someone, say, a council member, could convince these charges to be dropped and have a few words with the boy who is apparently so close to Terl...

Isn't it interesting? Jonnie the hero is flat as cardboard and inhuman. Terl is a cartoon villain. But Brown Limper, the petty, bitterly-jealous, manipulative little wretch, is probably the best-written character in the story. How does the saying go; "write who you know?"

Back to Part Sixteen, Chapter Five

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