Monday, November 15, 2010

Part 29, Chapter 1 - The Worst Two Days

This section starts with the narration informing us that "The next two days were the most horrible in Jonnie's life--cage, drone and all!" Jonnie's stuck at Kariba with only Angus and Chief Chong-won for company, while everyone else is trying to dig out the survivors in Scotland and Russia. Jonnie can't even call up MacAdam the banker because the only person he can raise in Luxemborg speaks French.

What's weird is that the book insists that camping out in the operations center makes Jonnie "the only one defending the planet." If he were flying air support or holding a gun pointed at the sky, maybe. But I don't think listening to the radio counts as "defending."

Angus keeps busy by sending a camera to keep on eye on the moon Jonnie exploded, checking to see if there's any earthquakes on Tolnep. Conveniently, there isn't, even after Asart is reduced to a cloud of hydrogen by the ultimate bomb. It's confirmed that the Psychlos never used T.U.B. offensively because it doesn't leave behind any useful metals to mine.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The Psychlos had sixteen universes' worth of resources to collect, but they couldn't bear to deny themselves the opportunity to mine a single world, even if said planet was an enemy capital or hosted a military base. They were so greedy, so obsessed with digging up junk, that it overrode their (informed) bloodlust and mindless aggression. They could have held reality hostage by demonstrating their power to snuff out planets at a whim, but preferred to conquer the universes the hard way so they could potentially maximize the amount of minerals in their stockpiles.

I don't have a way to express my disdain for Hubbard's villains without resorting to a string of profanity. Just imagine the result of me smashing my face against the keyboard a few times and you'd get something close.

Come to think of it, the whole Psychlo economy doesn't make any sense. We've got multiple universes with hundreds of billions of galaxies in them, each containing hundreds of billions of stars, each of which could have formed planets. That's a lot of potential gold or tungsten or whatever you're selling, and given the number of species in Hubbard's setting there's a lot people digging stuff up. So how do you sell the Hockners gold if they've probably got in on their home planet, several neighboring systems, and several neighboring galaxies? Are the other races so lazy that they're willing to fund the eeeeevil Psychlos by purchasing gold from them, instead of doing their own prospecting and mining?

Well, I'm no economist. It's possible (but I'm quite cynical) that there's a good explanation for how this could work.

Oh, and Angus also informs Jonnie that asploding Asart hasn't screwed up all their coordinates by messing around with mass and gravity. Fortunately the super-light hydrogen cloud (with a liquid hydrogen center) hasn't dispersed or anything.

There's news from Scotland, in that Clanfearghus' nameless chief is found barely alive and rushed to a hospital, but nothing about Chrissie. The Russian base is still on fire from all the coal that the morons decided to store around the entrances. Meanwhile in Kariba, Small Gray Man Dries unexpectedly disappears, while there's nearly an incident when a gunner opens fire on a craft containing Capt. Snowl, called in as a witness for Schleim's ongoing trial. Jonnie is heroically rude to him and is just able to keep from letting the gunner "accidentally" shoot Snowl's ship down afterward. Oh, and Lord Voraz of the Galactic Bank offers Jonnie a job making teleportation consoles, which he turns down and again heroically restrains from violence.

So in conclusion, nothing much happens, which I guess it the point, so Jonnie gets to angst about inaction being harder to handle than battles and stuff.

Next chapter, the non-awaited courtroom scene.

Back to Part Twenty-Eight, Chapter Six

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