Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Bitch: Mission Earth 1

Guys! GUYS! GUYS! This is a thing! Look at it. LOOK AT IT! PEGASUS VS. CHIMERA. HOW CAN THIS BE A THING? This is simultaneously the most terrible and WONDERFUL thing I have ever seen! And the suck part is, I will be working the night that it shows (is a saturday. I will always be working) BUT I WILL FIND A WAY TO WATCH IT ANYWAY. OH. MY. GOD. This is going to be blogged. This is SO totally going to be blogged. OH MY GOD.

Right. Where were we?

...oh. Right. Mission Earth. 

So as I said earlier, I've read the second Mission Earth book, and two things became IMMEDIATELY apparent:

1. Hubbard did not edit as carefully in '85 as he did in 84.


I have been cutting Hubbard a lot of slack, both for being a dying lonely old man (read one of his unofficial biographies. Is sad) for being a product of the pulp era of sci fi and for being a product of the fifties. I am not cutting that slack for him any more. I still haven't figured out what the FUCK is up with the gay guys (unless it's just blatant homophobia) but women? His attitude towards women goes WAY past virgin/whore complex. WAY past. As in there is not one, NOT ONE female name that doesn't make me want to hurt something. THERE IS A WHORE IN THE SECOND BOOK NAMED HARLOTTA. HARLOTTA.


But we're doing the first book. What happens?

Soltan Gris (Who is L. Ron Hubbard. OH MY GOD is he totally LRH. IN EVERY POSSIBLE VIABLE WAY) having gone three days without eating or drinking (DO THEY NOT HAVE PUBLIC WATER FOUNTAINS HERE?) halucinates:

1. Satan, who interrogates him on the things he does not know he does not know, and no, I did not just fucking repeat myself.

2. the crew of the space shuttle they dissappeared way back in the first chapter, and

3. Jet-boy's tug boat.

I would elaborate, but the plot thread this event kicks off goes fucking nowhere. Jet, being Space Elvis, figures out that Soltan hasn't eaten in three days and sends up a case of Perrier and cinnimon rolls. Oh, sorry. "Sparklewater". Soltan eats. The reason why Soltan has not eaten is Soltan has no money. The reason why Soltan has no money is Soltan tried to cheat Jet out of his cash and lost all of his paychecks for the next year, because somehow this is a thing.

Soltan decides to apply evil evil psychology to his problem and does the kind of bullshit connect the dots reasoning that makes dream analysis give me a headache. The devil is a father figure and the space shuttle crew are phallic symbols, and HELLO STRAWMAN, I guess you're hanging around for a while. For the record, I do think that Jungian dream analysis has SOME merit because our brains are smarter than we are, but it's more "the tornado represents your fear of loss of control because tornado" and less "THIS IS THE UNIVERSAL SYMBOL OF A PENIS."

Also, given the number of gay guys and Perfectly Platonic Man Love (TM!) there is in this series, I think that Hubbard was really religious that Freud got there first.

Anyway, Soltan decides that the meaning of his halucination is not his stomach saying FEED ME SEYMORE STUPID, but rather his subconsious telling him to go interrogate Jet's last crew, because they know what Soltan doesn't know he doesn't know.

Next Chapter: Soltan decides to go blackmail somebody into helping him. See, he watched a man murder a woman and took many many pictures on the off chance he could use that info.

By the rules of narration, this guy is the protagonist of the book. WHY? PLEASE GOD, WHY. Realize that at this very moment we could be following Jet around Voltan. We could be listening to his lady love tell him not to trust that dasterdly evil Soltan, we could see the plot through his eyes, THERE WOULD BE SO MUCH LESS TELLING.

Sigh. Blackmail murder guy gives Soltan what he asks for: counterfit money and poisoned food, so that Soltan can bribe Jet's old buddies into telling him what he needs to know that he doesn't know that he doesn't know (Thank you Ron, for making me type like an invalid).

He also picks up a girl. The way you'd pick up a squash from the grocery store. Poisoned food, counterfit cash, and a prison camp whore. And this sequence of events contains these wonderful gems:

A lot of riffraff will do anything for a female.

 "There are a lot of men involved. She could get pretty used up."

It dawned on me that I had been swindled. This was one of those non-compliant, won't types the customers reject.

In the roster office, the half naked yellow man clerk (emphasis mine--CW) spent a long time going over the records. 

Let me un-Ron that language up there: He went to pick up a whore for a gang-bang and got a rape victim instead. Also? That bolded part? Yo, Ron?


Why am I harping on this stuff? Because it's not part of the plot. It's not something the plot needs. It's little side stuff Hubbard threw in there because he needed to pad the book. Most authors reach for fight scenes, intrigue, romance, humor, Hunger Games usually reached for food, Sunshine, my favorite book in the whole world, reached for Stuff That Goes On In Restaurants That Also Involve Baking.

Hubbard reaches for racism, sexism and homophobia.

Could it be a portrayal of how nasty those behaviors are? No. First, because there is not one. single. positive. female character. in this book. Or in the next book. There isn't one positive portrayal of someone who isn't blatantly white. IN A NOVEL WHERE THE PROTAGONIST AND THE ANTAGONIST ARE BOTH ALIENS, THE HERO IS A WHITE CAUCASIAN SUPERMAN. And so far none of the gay guys have been anything other than pitiful victims, or just plain gross. And lesbians haven't existed yet, but I hear that changes much later in the series and it's not a change for the better.

It's the same garbage that makes Twilight so repellant. It's not the god awful plot, the sparkling (in Twilight's case) the adjenda of either book. It's the casual dismissal of real issues of substance. And it's fucking damning in Mission Earth, not because it's written by the founder of a major religion, but because of the nature of sci-fi.

Science Fiction is written in the spirit of "This is where we are going". That's why technology figures so predominantly. We're taking where we are, right now, and projecting it into the unknown future as far as we can see, and in doing so we're placing our hopes and fears for the future there, too. That's why IMHO sci-fi right now is very dismal. We've lost hope in our future, lost the optimism we had in the seventies and eighties.

There's nothing forward-looking about this book. It's a stagnant, drippy, self-fulfilling fantasy dressed up in a space helmet just because. The deeper you go, the worse it gets. It's the ugly parts of humanity shown bare, with no hope or solution offered beyond a half-hearted attempt at Space Jesus that Hubbard wished he could have been. The message of this book is not "Solve humanity's problems". It's "Gather at the feet of the redeemer."

Which is probably what Hubbard intended all along. Too bad he couldn't pull it off worth a damn.

So what happens when Soltan bribes Jet's best buddies?

"When Heller gets word of what has happened to us, he will kill you with his bare hands. Run like mad and maybe it will save your life!"

Do they show up again? Given that they have poisoned food and haven't appeared in book two? Probably not.

Next three chapters: Soltan gets lost on his way back to Jet's tug boat! For three weeks! AND NOBODY NOTICES! AND IT TAKES UP THREE CHAPTERS. You know what?


TOMORROW: We get our vicarious revenge. Sort of. It's complicated.


  1. So to show us all that psychiatry is evil and useless, Hubbard presents us with an ineffectual spy who can't figure out how to hire a prostitute, transfer a prisoner without gambling away his paycheque, or even write an expense claim for food? And then he indulges in pointless casual racism, misogyny, and homophobia?

    All of this OBVIOUSLY proves that Kal-L. Ron Hubbard TOTALLY did not need to see a shrink and YOU STUPID STUPID PEOPLE SHOULD JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY.

  2. Yep.

    So far the saddest moment is in the second book, when Super-Moron Spy here realizes that OH NOES Jet-boy has a special code by which he can send coded messages back home. And Soltan can't crack the code, which is one of those thingies that you lay over a letter that shows only specific words.

    Because, like, an actual code is too hard to figure out. So the second (and it looks like the third too) are driven by Soltan needing to find a piece of paper.

    And also Jet-boy beating up the police and murdering people with his feet. No one wins in this series. NO. ONE.