Thursday, October 14, 2010

Part 26, Chapter 4 - Enter: Blan Jetso!

After all that intense repairwork from last chapter, this three page section seems like an anticlimax.

Someone (probably The Gray Man) has found a record - not a CD, or tape, or MP3, but an actual vinyl record - of The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra to play in the background for the arriving alien diplomats. TGM has also worked with Dr. Allen to set up a mesh screen around the platform for "disease control," thus negating any questions about the health risks of linking drastically different worlds through the miracle of teleportation with a single wave of the hand. All the Chinese workers have cleaned up the base, a multinational uniformed honor guard is in place, and Edinburgh is on fire.

In light of the Psychlo-made defensive weapons making a mockery of their attempts at bombing, the attacking aliens have switched to munitions that sometimes aren't exploded in mid-air. The news is enough to make Jonnie feel a "contraction of his heart" and think of Chrissie. The Scottish officers are understandably distracted, and leave the handling of the xeno diplomats to Jonnie.

Cue the Hockner representative arriving on the platform. Despite the muddled explanation in Chapter 1 of this Part, you can retrieve objects, even life forms, using a teleporter. Those invitations Jonnie sent out included instructions for their representatives to stand around in the spot the note appeared in, as preparation for being yanked to Earth a few hours later. And I'm not exaggerating when I say the Hockner's greeting takes up close to an eighth of this chapter.

In a supercilious tone of voice, the Hockner emissary said in Psychlo, "I am Blan Jetso, Extraordinary Minister Plenipotentiary of the Emperor of the Hockners, long may he reign! I am empowered to negotiate and arrange final and binding amendments to agreements or treaties in all things political or military. My person is inviolate and any molestation cancels any agreements. Any effort to hold me hostage shall be in vain, for I shall not be redeemed by my government. At the threat of any torture or extortion, you are warned that I shall commit suicide instantly in ways unknown to you. I am not the carrier of any disease nor weapon. Long live the Hockner Empire! And how are you today?"

The chapter ends shortly after, with Jonnie suspecting that the 29 other aliens are going to be pretty much the same, and worrying about how he's going to deal with them. But let's talk more about how that Hockner got here.

There's two possibilities. The first is that nobody's ever done something like this before, sending an invitation promising future pickup for a distant conference. And that despite this being unheard of, all thirty alien races went along with it and sent their diplomats to wait around in front of their centers of government. This implies incredible trust or incredible naivety, and gives me some ideas of how to prank the Tolneps.

The other possibility is that this is routine, and that the Psychlos regularly brought alien dignitaries over for conferences. And that these talks were civil and polite enough for the aliens to consider them both legally-binding and worth repeating. Which is a bit unexpected for a backstabbing, bloodthirsty race that drips with self-indulgent eeeeeevil, isn't it?

I can't remember which is correct, or if it's even commented upon later. My memory of these upcoming chapters is a blur because they're that dull. And stupid, but that'll be later.

Waaaaay back at the start of the book, I complained that drone miners would make the whole "humans mine gold" plot unnecessary, and then I learned that the Psychlo had drones, they just didn't use them on Earth. And recently I whined that teleporting things to you would make mining in general unnecessary, and now I've learned that you can grab things with a teleportation platform, but the Psychlos apparently didn't think to apply that to resource acquisition.

It's mind-breaking. It's not just convenient natural laws preventing an action from happening, in the case of the "samespace" garbage. This is a supposedly intelligent species not making logical, beneficial actions they are fully capable of, just so that the plot can unfold a certain way. The universe of Battlefield Earth, from the evolution of alien races to the physical laws of reality, exists so that Jonnie can take a specific series of steps to become everybody's hero.

Back to Chapter Three

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