Tolnep Half-Captain Rogodeter Snowl has returned from his homeworld with a fleet of five ships loaned by his uncle, the Quarter-Admiral Snowleter, which includes the carrier ship Capture. And a journalist.
Roof Arsebogger considered hims
Sorry, I need a minute.
Okay. Let's try this again.
Roof Arsebogger considered himself the ace reporter of the Tolnep Midnight Fang. Even among news media of other systems, the Fang was envied as the very epitome of inaccuracy, corruption, and biased news. It always printed exactly what the government wanted even while pretending to be antigovernment. And Roof Arsebogger enjoyed the reputation of being the most poisonous reporter on a staff that specialized in them.
"Arse" is, as many people know, British slang for the buttocks, a more vulgar variant of "bum." Similarly, "bugger" is a British colloquialism for sodomy. Now, Hubbard had a reputation as a globe-trotting adventurer, so it's highly unlikely that he was unaware of the connotations behind a name like "Arsebogger."
So why did he use it? There are a few possibilities:
- Roof Arsebogger is a strawman journalist, a corrupt government puppet, whose very name is supposed to elicit scorn and disgust.
- Hubbard was in a drug-addled fugue when it came time to name his alien characters, and threw together whatever sounds caught his fancy.
- Roof Arsebogger is a clue that Hubbard secretly thought Battlefield Earth was a colossal joke, a way to laugh at all the gullible dopes who treated his book as a serious work of fiction instead of a way for L. Ron to get more of his brainwashed sycophants' money.
I may have to explore the third option in a later essay.
Anyway, Buttswamper is having an interview with Snowl about that man on the "counterfeit one-credit bank note," that "defiler of established governments," Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. The other aliens, including The Grey Man, are idly listening in as they keep their scanners pointed at Earth.
"Would the description, 'He is a known pervert,' fit him?"
"Oh, worse," replied Snowl.
"Good, good," said Arsebogger. "We must keep this to a totally factual interview, you understand. How would 'He steals babies and drinks their blood,' do?"
Sounds like a certain author has a grudge against those lousy, snooping reporters. Also, the "pervert" and "babies" remarks bring up important questions about the commonalities of human and alien reproductive systems and societal norms concerning sexuality and child-rearing. The implication is that humanity's values are universal, but this is both lazy and unrealistic for a supposed work of "pure" science fiction, and should at least be explored in a little more detail. They won't be. This is just an off-hand statement to show how loathsome news reporters are.
The Grey Man is watching his viewscreen with distaste, due to his resentment of journalists in general and Fannymarsher in particular, what with his how his fangs are "stained nearly black, there were blotches of some disease on his face, and one could almost smell his unwashed condition over the viewscreen."
Hubbard hates journalists. Slimy bastards, telling stories about brainwashing or mass infiltration of the U.S. government or deaths under mysterious circumstances...
But the bigger development is that The Gray Man's courier ship arrived yesterday with news that the one has not yet been found, and the hundred million credit prize offered by the Hawvin Interrelated Confederation of Systems has been doubled by the Bolbod Equality Empire. Across the universes everyone is scrambling to find one particular planet, and The Grey Man's superiors are quietly pointing out that he's not doing a lot of good waiting over "a twelfth-rate rim star's only planet."
...So do I rage at the imaginary aliens or Hubbard for suggesting Earth is the only planet in the Solar System?
But then sensors suddenly pick up interference from the Denver area, cutting of the interview with the telltale signs of a teleportation trace. Then the viewscreens are overloaded by a massive explosion!
A fireball was climbing heavenward. Spreading, rolling masses of coiling smoke and flame were rising to incredible heights.
Daylight was dimmed by the flash.
It looked like the world had been torn apart!
If only we were so lucky. The Gray Man's just being deceptively over-dramatic.
Back to Chapter Four