Thursday, August 19, 2010

Part 21, Chapter 4 - Xenos

Not one, not two, but three new alien races to not give a rat-animal's posterior about!

The Grey Man, who I am tempted to refer to as the G-Man but will not, is now dealing with four faces on his viewscreens, and his indigestion is acting up from these military men's infighting. The Tolnep half-captain and the Hawvin are bickering over whether or not their races are at war, and ask His Excellency the Grey Man if he knows if they are (he doesn't).

While the Hawvin is interested in if the exchange really dented the Tolnep ship's plating, the Hockner super-lieutenant is more concerned about the ship that just flew up and then fled from them. Gang Leader Poundon, the Bolbod commander, thinks it was just a Psychlo scout, but the Hockner's copy of Known Types of Psychlo War Craft has nothing that matches the ship's profile.

The military captains all confer and decide that the Psychlo ship was hoping to mop up the survivors of the battle, and all boast about how they could've "eaten that one with one bite" (the Hawvin) or "knocked it out with one punch" (the Bolbod). Concluding that if the Psychlos had a larger force they would've used it by now, the Bolbod floats the idea of combining their arms and stomping their Earth-based enemies - even though individually they haven't had much luck against the Psychlos, the ones here seem weak and vulnerable.

But then the Grey Man asks: what if this world is the one? That gives them pause, enough so that they decide to stay their hand until The Grey Man's courier ship returns. If the world isn't the one, it gets flattened and looted. If it is, they'll do something else.

So there you have it, another "suspenseful" deadline hanging over everyone, in addition to Terl's doomsday weapon and the nonexistent threat of Psychlo retaliation. Man, it's just one heart-pounding development after another in Battlefield Earth.

Now about these aliens: the captains' teleconference has brief descriptions of the participants, which I'll break down in bullet points instead of scattering over my summary.

  • Tolnep - Wears glasses. From Chapter 1 we also know he has a "hard face" and a "shield helmet." That's it. Basically a human, since Jonnie was mistaken for one earlier. How creative.
  • Hawvin - Square helmet on oval head, "ear antennae" that are squashed by said helmet, making it an impractical and stupid design ill-suited for the race that presumably made it. Face turns light violet when provoked. Mouth is "untoothed but blade-gummed," and I have no idea what that means. It's as incomprehensible as "sharp-jellied." Perhaps it has a beak?
  • Bolbod - "Just plain plug-ugly," a "sort of shapeless" form larger than Psychlos whose hands are permanently clenched into fists. Viewed by other aliens as stupid brutes, and view other aliens as "effete degenerates." Military uniform is a sweater that nearly meets their oversized caps, but eschews rank insignia.
  • Hockner - A "long, noseless face" that looks with disdain on anyone not from the Duraleb System. Wears excessive gold braid and, I kid you not, a monocle. Calls the Bolbod "old fellow" and presumably speaks with an English accent.

I'd just like to remind everybody that Star Wars came out in 1977, five years before this book was published. Just compare your mental pictures of Hubbard's aliens with the background characters in the cantina scene. Maybe these are intentionally low-budget alien designs that are supposed to evoke the old, crappy aliens from Ye Olde Sci-Fie Flickse?

Fun fact #1: everyone's speaking Psychlo as sort of a lingua franca. I guess that's more plausible than the old Universal Translator.

Fun fact #2: the Grey Man's indigestion pills are called Mello-gest.

Back to Chapter Three

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