Just a side note: this has nothing to do with Scientology, and so I will try to refrain from jokes about it. I'll try. I make no promises. I am but human.
“Man,” said Terl, “is an endangered species.”
What about woman?
The hairy paws of the Chamco brothers hung suspended above the broad keys of the laser-bash game.
Well, it's official. Even aliens love video games.
The cliffs of Char’s eyebones
... we're in the second paragraph. First page. And already my brain hurts.
Yeah, these are the villainous aliens, and according to my google research... they have bones for faces.
Which means their EYELIDS are made out of bone. Doesn't that sound hideously painful?
Well, this shocks everybody in the room, because apparently the aliens are very easily shocked. And apparently this guy Terl just... likes to make shocking statements in the middle of the rec room.
Terl could not have produced a more profound effect had he thrown a meat-girl naked into the middle of the room.
Meat-girl? You mean something like this?
I also can't help but wonder what that means exactly. The "naked girl" thing suggests potential rape, but the "meat" thing implies someone eating them. So... does that mean they would rape her and then eat her? Or is Hubbard just a terrible writer?
Char glowered at him. “What in the name of diseased crap are you reading?”
- Thank you for answering my question so quickly, Mr. Hubbard.
- ... what is "diseased crap"? Is it crap that has contracted a disease? Is it crap of a diseased person? Is it crap with disease-bearing microbes?
- Wait, why do I even care?
He was suddenly aware of the effect he had produced, and it amused him. Anything to relieve the humdrum monotony of a ten-year duty tour in this gods-abandoned mining camp, way out here on the edge of a minor galaxy.
... so basically Terl is a big ol' troll. If youtube existed in this story, he would spend all his time posting "Gay," "Fake!!!!" and accusations of animal/child abuse.
So because he's a troll, Terl repeats his statement just to piss people off.
“I didn’t read it. I thought it.”
Liar! No one in this book can think!
“You must’ve got it from somewhere,” growled Char. “What is that book?”
"I knew it! It's that crappy book about sparkling vampires!"
No, it's an outdated geological mining report, which makes Terl boring as well as an asshole.
Like all such books, it was huge but printed on material that made it almost weightless, particularly on a low-gravity planet such as Earth, a triumph of design and manufacture that did not cut heavily into the payloads of freighters.
Except that freighters in space would probably determine the cost of shipments by SIZE, not weight. Because things in space don't weigh anything, and in sci-fi you need actual systems to induce artificial gravity. So being "huge" would be more expensive than being heavy.
And don't bother even making up some magical sci-fi substance that is "almost weightless." Just be totally vague.
Char makes a noise like a Klingon vomiting, then offers Terl some NEW and UPDATED boring stuff to read. The Chamco brothers drool on themselves and continue playing... whatever the hell they're playing.
The Chamco brothers looked at each other and then at their game to see where they had gotten to in shooting down the live mayflies in the air box.
... wait, THAT is their game? Shooting BUGS?
You know, these big bony boobs are supposed to have effortlessly conquered the Earth and run a star empire, and so far all I know about them is that they are boring, easily amused and like to shoot bugs.
Terl continues talking, because he's a big attention-whore: “I got a sighting report from a recon drone that recorded only thirty-five men in that valley near that peak... There used to be hundreds in that valley. And furthermore,” continued Terl with his professorial ways coming back, “there used to be thousands and thousands of them on this planet.”
Thousands... billions... easy to mistake one of those for the other. Of course, we're in the first chapter, and I'm amazed these idiots can count past twenty (assuming they have ten fingers and toes).
“You can’t believe all you read,” said Char heavily. “On my last duty tour—it was Arcturus IV—”
Arcturus is a star name from EARTH. It's from ancient Greek. It means "Guardian of the Bear."
So while I could buy it being a common star/system/planetary name in a series where humans are a dominant force, like in Star Trek... here they're an endangered species of cavemen and slaves. WHY IN FUCK WOULD AN ALIEN BE USING THAT WORD?
Char then goes off on a mad tirade about how their cultural department was a waste of money because it gave a damn about what they're doing to planets and whatnot. He also thinks this is Terl's cunning scheme to get a vacation because... Char is apparently insane.
“I know what you said. But you got your appointment because you are clever. That’s right, clever. Not intelligent. Clever."
Behold, the Informed Attribute! Good writing has been gang-raped and is now weeping in a corner!
"And I can see right through an excuse to go on a hunting expedition. What Psychlo in his right skull would bother with the things?”
You know, Hubbard was really, really lucky that he got his start in the pulps (mostly crap) and that he had founded his own religion by this point. Because to be as nice as I possibly can... this book sucks.
And it's over a thousand pages long.
And I'm only in the first chapter.
One of the Chamcos... who for some reason are not given names... immediately chimes in that it might be fun to hunt humans. Char, who hates fun, starts ranting about how pathetic, weak and gross humans are.
“They only come up to here! They got hardly any hair on them except their heads. They’re a dirty white color like a slug."
Apparently in the year 3000, there are only white people left. Which seems unlikely, given that in any primitive group of people, there would be lots of tanning going on just through hunting and/or farming.
He snarled in disgust and picked up a saucepan of kerbango. “They’re so weak they couldn’t pick this up without straining their guts."
I might be impressed if I knew what a kerbango was.
He tossed off the kerbango and made an earthquake shudder.
"Made an earthquake shudder."
So he... caused a tectonic event to shudder? He made the action of the ground shaking... shake in displeasure/horror?
I just... did this see any kind of editor, or did Hubbard have photos of St. Martin's Press owners molesting farm animals? This was published by a REAL PUBLISHER. I barely can even read this cretinous drivel.
And of course, it turns out that Char HASN'T actually seen any humans, which might explain why he thinks they're all white. He's just seen a few bones, and goes on what other Psychlos have said. I know that Hubbard is trying to get across that he's a moron... but consider that this guy is only slightly less stupid than the three other Psychlos we've seen. What's more, HE IS IN CHARGE OF MANAGING THE MINERS. He's not just some random idiot, but a random idiot who has been given an important job telling other people what to do.
That kind of suggests that if he's stupid... then the lower-ranked aliens are even stupider. And they are supposed to have conquered the planet and driven humanity to the edge of extinction. I have difficulty believing these guys could find their butts with mirrors, a map and a guide.
Char belched. “Shouldn’t wonder they die off. They breathe this oxygen-nitrogen air. Deadly stuff.”
You know, humans don't talk about how water is "deadly" to fish. Because we're not as stupid as Char. You know, I'm going to start measuring stupidity in this book in Chars. That comment was six Chars.
One of the Chamcos talks about their homeworld, and how it has heavier gravity and everything is purple. Also, apparently he was assigned to Earth as a punishment. The other characters ignore him.
My papa used to tell me that if I wasn’t a good Psychlo and if I didn’t say sir-sir-sir to the right people, I’d wind up at a butt end of nowhere like this."
- So they don't have a term for children? They just use their species name?
- A butt end of nowhere.... what? Is there a noun missing?
Char is still obsessed with what Terl does in his spare time, and Terl is mostly ignoring him so he can nerd out about his historical theories... because apparently this advanced alien race has NO HISTORICAL RECORDS of what happened when they invaded, even though they have reports from a few centuries ago about random shit. It's kind of like talking about the mysterious mythical event of Beatlemania.
“There was something to these creatures. Before we came along, it says here, they had towns on every continent. They had flying machines and boats. They even appear to have fired off stuff into space.”
Which raises the interesting question: how did these incompetent morons actually manage to conquer our species? Hell, how did they get into space?!
Char of course insists that it must have been a lost Psychlo colony, because Char is the kind of person who claims that Jesus is white/black. Terl points out how stupid that is since the atmosphere is toxic to Psychlos, and the only reason they CAME to Earth was that they stumbled across a space probe that gave directions to where we lived. That backfired in a big way, didn't it?
Char, by the way, can't actually refute any of this. But that doesn't mean he'll admit anyone else is right.
“Fairy tales, fairy tales,” said Char. “Every planet I ever helped gut has some butt and crap story like that. Every one.” He yawned his face into a huge cavern. “All that was hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago. You ever notice that the public relations department always puts their fairy tales so far back nobody can ever check them?”
- Somehow I imagine Char being like the alien version of some nutter who rants about how there never was a [insert great civilization here], and it's all a racist/PC conspiracy to pretend that they built cities and roads and stuff, instead of the REAL and ONLY geniuses, who were __________.
- No, it wasn't thousands of years ago. This was written in the eighties. It takes place in the year 3000.
- "So far back nobody can ever check them?" It's been a thousand years. Psychlo lifespans are about two hundred, according to later in the book.
- Sure, you could fudge the details from a few centuries ago. But you can't fudge all knowledge of the technology people had back then, or the societies they had.
- So we can only assume that Char believes history is all lies meant to denigrate his proud and stupid race, because nobody who was alive then is alive now, and besides, you can't prove it CUZ U NO HAVE PROOF.
- Too bad Youtube doesn't exist in this book, or he'd make a great comments troll.
- And really, these boobs haven't bothered to check the archeological record? There are no ruins, no machines, no past signs or artifacts? Even after a thousand years, there should be some signs of past civilization.
- Hell, the reason that they even found the planet was A FUCKING SPACE PROBE. Exactly how does he explain that getting there if he claims it's all "fairy tales"?
- And again, I know he's supposed to be an illogical moron. Hubbard's not good enough to make that subtle.
- But having Terl not point out these things just makes it seem like there are no massive holes in his "logic," and consequently makes both Terl and the book look dumb as well.
Terl then declares that he's going to go catch a human, and the others either ignore him or bitch at him.
“You’re as crazy as a nebula of crap,” said Char.
That was at least eight Chars.
Char looked at the empty door. The security chief knew no Psychlo could go up into those mountains. Terl really was crazy. There was deadly uranium up there.
OMG, uranium! RUN!
Yeah, I don't know how commonly known it was at the time, but uranium is actually a pretty common element in nature. It's approximately as common as tin, and you can find it in most rocks and some seawater. If uranium is deadly to your species... then coming to Earth was a fucking stupid idea.
Not the stupidest.... but only because Signs exists.
But Terl, rumbling along a hallway to his room, did not consider himself crazy.
If you are are doing something crazy and don't consider yourself crazy... then you're probably crazy.
He was being very clever as always.
- Which is why he revealed that stuff to Char, who seems like the kind of vindictive asshole who would rat you out for the hell of it.
- It's revealed in a few chapters that the Psychlos consider Earth the butt-end of nowhere. If he's so clever, how come his job is a dead-end?
It turns out the uranium rumors were started by Terl, so that he could come up with some kind of devious plan that will make him rich and famous.
The man-things were the perfect answer. All he needed was just one and then he could get the others.
- I love to make fun of people's sheeplike tendencies as much as any libertarian smartass. I mean, that's what I think the current American political system is based on.
- But I don't think people are so sheeplike that if one of them is captured by a scary giant alien... they will follow him.
- See, the more likely scenario is that they'll run away so you won't get them the way you did that "one" human.
- Also, the Psychlos have been established to know VERY LITTLE about humans. I mean, most of the ones currently here have never seen one, they only have a vague idea of what we look like, and they know virtually nothing about them. And yet... Terl has based his Cunning Plan on creatures he hasn't found, doesn't know anything about and doesn't understand.
- That is at least twenty Chars.
- Or... did Hubbard screw up that line? He says that "all he needed was just one," and then it's revealed that he needs MORE THAN ONE.