Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Part 26, Chapter 3 - Dam

And now for eleven pages of Jonnie and the others repairing the Kariba dam in under two hours.
Why? Why can't we just get to the intergalactic conference? What does this chapter full of contruction work add to the plot and story? Why does every action the characters take have to be faced with an arbitrary obstacle to overcome?  First there was Terl trying to convince Numph to authorize training humans for mining, then there was the sabotage of Terl's demo, then there was Terl having to come up with a way to blackmail Numph, and then there was that earthquake affecting The Lode, and so on.

You know what the Battlefield Earth movie did? Terl gets Jonnie, blackmails Numph, the humans acquire Terl's gold while preparing for the uprising, and that's that. None of this padding. The craziest part is that the things that should require lots of effort, like Jonnie walking into a Scottish village and convincing them all to fight for him, happen in a heartbeat with no difficulty.

I'm getting sidetracked because this is an incredibly boring chapter. Maybe I'm just jaded, but after those heart-pounding sections involving mining The Lode, it's hard to get excited about silt and erosion.

The short version is that the charred hulk of the Capture (containing fifteen hundred dead Tolneps and the remains of one suicidal Scotsman) is blocking the river, so Jonnie has some new channels blasted around it. "Blowie! Blowie! The sharp cracks of blast cord exploding." Then he has to get in a plane and blow up a pile of explosives to destroy the impact crater and get the river flowing back to normal. There's constant talk about how dangerous and impossible the task is, and how nobody's done x before, but in the end, with 33 seconds before the deadline, the teleportation platform has enough power to fire. Yaaaay.

Note that the levers and wheels of the dam controls haven't been moved for a thousand years, but don't crumble away to rusty powder when someone tries to move them. Also note that the power requirements of rearranging the very fabric of the universe sixty times in an afternoon can be met by one hydroelectric plant on the Zambezi River.

Back to Chapter Two

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