Have I mentioned how much I hate the names in this book? I hate them. Passion and fire of ten thousand suns, I hate them. This is purely my own taste this time, as the names in Hitchhiker's Guide also made me want to pummel something. Lombar Hisst, Soltan Gris, Jettero Heller. It's like he named things by reaching into a bag of scrabble tiles.
Anyway...So far we've heard from the Author, a Censor, a translator that also censors, Soltan Gris is an unreliable narrator, his boss should be removed from office for the good of Voltan, a space ship was kidnapped, Jettero Heller is Space-Elvis, and there is a crisis involving Earth. Moving on...
Chapter Six opens with Lombar Hisst repeatedly shitting himself while he talks to a member of their council who is both old and gay.
Hubbard, being the upstanding paragon of virtue we all know him to be, does not say that Endow is both old and gay. No. Endow is short, fat, and so very very old he has drool running down his chin. As for the gay part...
Endow's appetite for pretty young men was notorious and he was generally regarded with disgust and contempt.
We aren't exactly being progressive here, is what I'm saying. And it's entirely possible that "young" here means "under the age of consent" but given that Endow is ancient, young to him would be about forty.
Lombar bullies Endow into taking them to the next council meeting, which is in the imaginatively named Palace City, which is constructed on top of a black hole.
Constructed. On top. Of a Black. Hole.
Apparently the time dilation effect of being so close to a black hole means that the city is thirteen minutes into the future, which I thought was cool until I remembered that time dilation probably doesn't work that way (Re: that Stargate episode where they gate in while a star is going supernova and wind up strapped up to a black hole and wind up several months out of synch with the rest of the world) Also, somehow this thing that is so dense light cannot escape, let alone anything else, provides the city with a ton of thermonuclear energy and will, someday, go "boom". Which is why the city is so far from any other city.
Dude? If I were on a planet with a black hole in it, I would want to be anywhere other than that planet.
Also, the black hole is small. Um...how do you measure something that will suck your tools in like an industrial vacuum's fantasy?
Moving on...Soltan almost dies in a car accident shifting through time, and we were almost spared the rest of this book (at least with this narrator) and then they get to the council.
And then Chapter Seven happens.
So the source of this crisis is, the Voltarian Empire has an invasion timetable. Not only are they invading and conquering other planets, they have to do it on schedule. As in their ancestors from time unimaginable drew up a list of planets to defeat and gave it to their kids with the warning, "Don't skip around." And this is damn near worshiped by the Voltarian Council because...it is a thing, I guess. And Earth is a few planets down the list, and nobody's been there for a few generations because Soltan Gris has been editing everything and making it look like somebody's been there. But like everything else, he's not very good at editing planet reports, and somebody's figured it out and sent Jettero Heller, Space Elvis, to investigate. And Jettero Heller made his observations without coming to any conclusions, because Space Elvis never jumps the gun and makes his own conclusions, thus allowing the Council itself to come to a decision reguarding that report, which is this:
Earth is wrecking its own ecosystem and will destroy its usefulness to the Voltarians, and so we puny humans must be Rescued From Ourselves.
Yes, boys and girls. This whole book series will be about us being Rescued From Ourselves by Space Elvis, as observed by his manager.
Also there is much bitching because we burn petrolium and also have thermonuclear weapons, which makes no sense to the people on the council. Because it much be established that We Are That Primitive and must be Rescued From Ourselves.
Now, it's being hinted at, heavily, that Lombar and Soltan have their own plans for Earth, therefore us being Rescued From Ourselves is a bad thing, for them, because it would upset their plans. So Lombar proposes via Endow that they infiltrate an agent into Earth society who will slowly and carefully tune us back to the One Right Path...thus making it safe for the aliens to invade us in another couple centuries. The council agrees, and Soltan spends a few minutes doing Hubbard's brand of Happy Happy, Joy Joy, before this happens:
I didn't at all anticipate, when we left that glittering hall, that within twenty four hours I would be in a pit of blackest dispair.
Yeah. And here's hoping Lombar manages to lose the key.