Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part 29, Chapter 3 - What Is It Good For?

As he leaves the conference room, Jonnie gets mad and starts mentally ranting.

War! Any one of those lords in there, or their governments, merely had to say the word and their fleets pranced off to bash somebody's head in!

While all Jonnie has to do is say the word and entire planets die.

And when they'd bashed it in, they could just sail off tra-la,without a thought of what they'd done to people's homes and lives, and then maybe come back another day to bash some more!

When's the last time you mourned for the deaths of billions of Psychlos, Jonnie? Or all those Brigante women and children who were incinerated when Denver went up in flames?

Jonnie takes a walk outside, passing by children sitting in camouflaged "rifle pits" happily eating lunch. I really, really hope they aren't expected to be defending the base. And of course Jonnie thinks of the children and how they deserve a peaceful future.

War! What right did cold, impersonal nations have to murder and rampage, to smash and crush and gut their more helpless, fellow beings?

Only Jonnie and hot-blooded Scotsmen have the right to murder and rampage.

Call it "national policy," call it "necessities of state," call it what you will, it still amounted to an action of the insane.

The Scots' clan-based feuds are exempt from this criticism, I'm assuming.

Psychlo! What right did Psychlo have striking this planet down? Couldn't they have bought what they wanted? Couldn't they have come in and said "We need metal. We will exchange this or that technology for it." No, it suited them better to murder and steal it like a thief.

I'm tempted to call this an example of lampshade hanging, when an author acknowledges the ridiculousness of something that threatens to destroy the audience's suspension of disbelief, before moving on with the story. Here Hubbard is actually admitting how moronically aggressive his villains are. The Psychlos could indeed have gotten Earth to willingly hand over shiny rocks in exchange for something like blaster technology. Heck, the Psychlos could have made a show of force to coerce Earth into doing the mining for them. An invasion was pretty unnecessary (especially if you could just teleport chunks of ore from the comfort of your own home, but that's an old gripe of mine).

But, since this entire lousy story hinges on Jonnie saving the world from big, stupid aliens, they have to invade. I just have to ask: if your story depends on everyone being morons, is it really worth telling?

With one last glance at the children, Jonnie resolves that "Whatever happened, there would be no war. Not anywhere." Yes, it's not enough for Jonnie to liberate a planet and destroy a pan-dimensional empire, he's also going to solve the problem of war once and for all.

Chong-won manages to get Jonnie's attention and drags him into the command center, where there's some good news on the radio. Colonel Ivan and his men are in the process of being dug out, and the Russian says to "Tell Marshal Jonnie the valiant-Red-Army is still at his command!" At that very second, Tom Smiley Townsen comes in with the message that all Jonnie's old villagers are safe, which makes our noble hero sit down in a chair and weep with relief.

There's a few big paragraphs of infodumps about a hospital in Aberdeen and the alien prisoners being sent to Balmoral Castle (seriously, what the hell is with Hubbard's Scotland obsession?), before Jonnie is reminded that Sir Robert needs to come over and sign some paperwork. When he gets Foxy on the radio, the Scot is annoyed at the idea of abandoning his efforts to dig some two thousand people out from partially-collapsed bomb shelters, but eventually concedes ("with considerable blasphemy") and agrees to fly over.

The chapter ends on the ominous note that "The small gray man looked very pleased when Chong-won told him Sir Robert was coming."

Back to Chapter Two

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