Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Part 23, Chapter 2 - Hitlerpoleon? Napler?

So Terl's working on this bomb of his, and the other aliens are continuing to make the Psychlo military look competent, which leaves us with one last villain to check on: Brown Limper Staffor. Our diabolical cripple is admiring the new bank notes, which feature his profile instead of Jonnie's.

And here it gets stupid.

After trying a lot of poses to little success, Lars suggested a makeover was in order, and convinced Brown Limper to shave his beard and mustache - save for a little tuft under the nose. It gets better: Staffor wanted a uniform, so some thousand-year-old gray cloth was cut into a "chauffer's uniform," adorned with colored glass "medals," and worn with Staffor's fingers tucked under the edge specifically to imitate the great leader of men, Napoleon. And that's what ended up on the new 100 American Credits note.

To recap: Hitler 'stache + knock-off Napoleon outfit and pose = Brown Limper Staffor.

The question is not whether this makes Brown Limper a pathetic and lame villain, the question is why. Is this a conscious effort on Hubbard's part to show how petty and hopeless Staffor is? Even compared to Terl, Staffor comes across as a joke antagonist. Is he supposed to be comic relief of sorts? A "breather" villain between the deviousness of Terl and the relentlessness of the alien invaders? A sad imitation of his Psychlo "mentor?" Or is Brown Limper supposed to symbolize everything wrong with human leaders, and the Hitler reference is simply Hubbard abandoning anything resembling subtlety?

I don't have the answers, but I do have a headache.

Elation over the new bank notes aside, Brown Limper is finding his job as planetary ruler a lonely one. Jonnie escaped the trap and ran off to places unknown. None of the tribal chiefs are talking to Staffor anymore. The world capital is steadily dwindling in population, and it's mainly him, Lars, Terl, and the Brigantes now. The Academy students are keeping to themselves, and all the office equipment is breaking down.

On a whim, Staffor has Lars fly him and General Snith to the Village of the Idiots to show his tribe the new currency, but all he finds are empty houses and a letter from Tom Smiley Townsen explaining that they all moved to Tashkent (and that he's marrying a Latin girl). Staffor pokes around the formerly-boobytrapped Tyler residence and finds a partially-exploded house and the wolf-eaten remains of two Brigantes. The general explains "Mus hab come oop here browling fer loot!" and that it's a "Waste of good meat!" Yes, the Briagantes, after setting the traps in the house, were stupid enough to try to rob it.

Lonely violins play as Brown Limper walks through the snow to the old graveyard.

Something had been nagging at him and now it hit him.

He was a tribal leader without a tribe.

Ye olde "it's lonely at the top" and "don't alienate people during your climb to power" moral. Y'know, in case you somehow missed being taught that lesson during your childhood.

He's immediately distracted by a new monument, dedicated to Timothy Brave Tyler by "His Loving Son J. G. T." Brown Limper flies into a rage, tries and fails to kick the tombstone over, and reaffirms his vow to kill Jonnie.

Random fact for this chapter: during the search to get Staffor a uniform they dug up a lot of coffins, but couldn't find anything. Days later, two Brigantes died of formaldehyde poisoning.


Back to Chapter One

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