Drones with a really weird defensive measure:
Each one had a big eye painted on its nose. But those big, staring eyes were not a Chatovarian fixation on decoration: a pilot would instinctively shoot into the center of them, and if a pilot did, the drone used the shot as a return carrier wave to send a surge back that blew up the attacker's own ammunition and thereby his ship. Don't shoot at one of the eyes!
This is just one of those little details that becomes completely stupid with a bit of thought. So all alien races instinctively attack the eyes of their opponents? Every navy in the universes uses a sustained "beam" of energy to attack with that can be reversed somehow, rather than distinct "bolts" of energy or, God forbid, missiles or bullets? All of the myriad alien air forces will wait until they're close enough to see the markings on an enemy's plane before engaging, instead of firing missiles at extreme range using instruments only?
Well, points for creativity, at least. This is stupid in a way I haven't seen before.
Then there's talk about an orbital probes' "lens" that acts as a "light magnet" to create magnifications "into the tens of trillions," narration about how wildly popular the "peace or I'll kill you" treaty is, blah blah blah... Pattie is ten now, and still mopey and crushed from Bittie's death - oh, this will get worse, folks. Mr. Tsung's brother is starting a college of diplomacy, while Tsung himself is hiring Russian and Chinese girls to work as clerks and "vocotyper" operators - L. Ron Hubbard, feminist. Lord Voraz wants to come up with a formula for the validity of commercial loans...
I should just make a bullet point list of character updates. Nothing's really happening except we're being told how a bunch of third-tier characters are discovering commerce and industry.
Well, there is a bastardization of a Christmas carol. Dries gave Jonnie a Galactic Bank button that uses magical science to play music based on "old records of American ballads" once you hum a note. Jonnie clears his throat and the trinket plays, to the tune of "Jingle Bells:"
My friend so tried and true.
Oh, what fun it is to have
A neighbor such as you!
I guess this is some of the "humor" promised on the back of the book jacket. When Jonnie laughs the button switches to "Home on the Range," right around the time they spot Lake Victoria. Maybe next chapter we'll learn what revelation Jonnie had that sparked this excursion.
Back to Chapter Two