Ready to see the plot go off the rails?
Okay, my biggest problem with Mission Earth, other than it being L. Ron Hubbard at the wheel, were the one-sentence action paragraphs. Apparently this was a pulp thing, not a Hubbard thing. Otherwise LRH and Norman got together every saturday for drinkies, because DAMN:
I rose to my hands and knees on the rug and looked at myself in the mirror.
I was going mad!
I threw my hands to my head, and shook my head.
I locked my fingers in the band at my throat, trying to tear it from my neck. It had been placed on me while I was unconscious! About my throat, snugly, there was a graceful, gleaming band of steel.Reproduced exactly as written. As published, folks.
Also? If a dude sneaks into my bedroom while I am unconsious for the second time in twelve fucking hours, and locks a fucking collar around my neck? I am not thinking graceful. I am thinking blowtorch. I am thinking Barrett fifty cal.
Strawchick explores her collar for a moment, then realizes, DUH, the guy who branded her and locked a collar around her neck MIGHT STILL BE IN THE BUILDING! OH. EMM. GEE. We might want to do something about this!
To her credit, she tries. And to their credit, the space slavers have done everything they can short of tying her up to make sure she can't get help. Her phones are cut, her handgun is now a melted down lump, and when someone shows up claiming to be the cops, Strawchick wisely decides that getting the fuck out of her apartment might be smarter than answering the door, because she sure as fuck didn't call them. She ties a bunch of bedsheets together and goes out her bedroom window.
She climbs down, and it is almost exciting...right up until the slavers in the apartment below her (how did they get there?) catch her, drug her, and drag her back into her bedroom. They tie her to the bed, drug her and talk to her.
“You aren’t the cold, inert little thing you pretend to be, are you, bound slut,” he said. “I wonder what you will be like, when you are accommodated to your new condition.”Yeah. No. "Accommodated to your new condition"=SUFFERING FROM STOCKHOLM SYNDROME.
Guys, this kind of attitude is why this shit happened, and why it took the girl in question years to report the son of a bitch for kidnapping her and keeping her locked under his bed for seven years. THIS. IS. NOT. OKAY.
The drugs wear off after a couple hours, and Strawchick realizes...hey! She's alone! Still tied to the bed, but alone! The slavers have left her alone and unguarded with drugs that don't last.
And she remembers there is a knife under her pillow.
Did he know that there was a mark on my thigh? Did he sense that? Did that mark make me somehow subtly different than I had been? Did it, somehow, set me apart from other women on this world? Could I no longer drive men away? And if I could no longer drive them away, what did that mean? What had that small mark done to me?It's a functional, effective and accurate rape analogy. From John. fucking. Norman. Victims of sexual assault do feel marked. Many people don't talk about what happened to them because they don't want to go into the details. I remember reading There Will Be Dragons, by John Ringo, and in one of the more OH, JOHN RINGO, NO! passages, that I really appreciate now, a rape victim comments that the worst part of her flashback dreams is, sometimes she orgasms. I remember thinking that was weird at the time. Now I think how devistating that would be, to spend all your time thinking "Maybe I did really want it. Maybe I did deserve it." You spend all your time questioning yourself, over every little thing, while your brain is waiting behind you ready to mousetrap you with memory. This, right here, is actually pretty damn good.
Of course, you know he's going to fuck it up:
I felt suddenly helpless, and somehow, suddenly, for the first time in my life, vulnerably and radically female.Female=violated. Nice one, John.
See, the thing here? Is not that she has been hurt. It's that she's returning to her natural state. She's becoming what she was supposed to be all along. A rape victim. Kleenex for men.
Back to the book.
Let's imagine for a second that you are a space slaver. Do you:
1. Pull up beside your future captive in a van, drag her into it, drug her and take her to your space ship for holding?
2. Ask your prey out on a date, drug her drink, stuff her into your trunk and take her to your space ship for holding?
3. Sneak into your prey's bedroom at night, give her the best fucking painkillers in the history of things, brand her, draw on her mirror, leave, come back and discover her fainted on the ground, put a collar on her and leave, come back disguised as the police AND GO TO THE OTHER APARTMENT because you know she's climbing down a bedsheet ladder, tie her up, drug her again, leave, return to find her missing, FOLLOW HER THROUGH THE CITY, let her check into a random motel, sneak into her motel room so you can write on her mirror again, leave, come back and CHASE HER WITH A GODDAMNED SPACE SHIP until she reaches your landing strip, at which point you spend about thirty minutes talking with her before you FINALLY stick her in a stasis tube?
4. DO ANY FUCKING THING ON THE PLANET OTHER THAN NUMBER THREE???
Jesus. Jesus Jesus Jesus. This makes no sense. At all.
She gets in her Maserati (Fuck you, Strawchick) and goes driving off...only to realize that she is being followed. OH NOES! The slavers have found her again. And she drives away from the police station in our first offical moment of TSTL. Yes, the other guys were disguised as cops. They probably did not rent an entire fucking police station. She has a collar and drugs in her system and a burn on her thigh. There is ample evidence that Something Bad Has Happened To Her. She SHOULD go in and report it, proving that this is a girl with a BRAIN. If John wants his story to continue, the cops should tell her "tough shit, here's a form" and then go on with their lives. Because sometimes they do that. Not all the time, but sometimes.
But he doesn't.
She evades her perusers and goes to a backwoods motel for sleep and dinner. And we get more characterization fail:
In the bathroom I examined the mark on my thigh. It infuriated me. But, as I regarded it, in fury, I could not help but be taken by its cursive, graceful insolence. I clenched my fists. The arrogance, that it had been placed on my body! The arrogance, the arrogance! It marked me. But beautifully. I regarded myself in the mirror. I regarded the mark. There was no doubt about it. That mark, somehow, insolently, whether I wished it or not, incredibly enhanced my beauty. I was furious.
Also, incomprehensibly I found that I was curious about the touch of a man. I had never much cared for men. I put the thought angrily from me. I was Elinor Brinton!
Looking back on my notes for this passage, I wrote "Rape is beautiful, and the rape brand has incredible mind-control powers". I don't get this. I really don't comprehend the mindset that says "IF I SHOW THEM WHAT THEY DON'T WANT, THEY WILL WANT IT LATER." First, it shows HUGE lack of understanding re: victims of violent crime, and it shows an even bigger misunderstanding about what rape and crimes like it are all about. It's like somebody thinks they can control your mind by forcing their bullshit down your throat. That once you experiance it you'll actively want it, and because you're saying you don't want it now, you have to be forced to take it. I don't even feel offended by this shit, really. Just kind of sad and incomprehending, that anybody could be that utterly fucking stupid.
So after fantasizing about being raped (naturally) Strawchick Elinor discovers more lipstick on her mirror, in that oh-so-mysterious brand, and goes running out of the motel.
And the bad guys? Chase. her. with. their. space. ship. And catch her, so it's effective, but...They chase her. With a space ship.
After she went out of her way to tell you at the beginning, she ain't that hot folks. WOW.
And the best part? Can I spoil the best part for you? In chapter four? This truck pulls up? And they start unloading girls out of its trunk. So EVERYBODY ELSE got drugged unconsious before they were kidnapped, but not Elinor. Strawchick is speshul, boys and girls.
Jesus. Worst. Slavers. Ever.