Friday, November 6, 2020

How It’s Done

     You know the old saying:

If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance,
Baffle ‘em with bullshit!

     ...and it is so. But from time to time, the brilliance and the bullshit make a matched set. Indeed, they complement one another so well that they raise the effect to a new height. Here’s an example:

     As the dessert forks were being licked clean, a breathless Earnest Redding burst into the room and raced to the captain’s side.
     “We…I…You’ll…” he gasped.
     “Easy Earnest, catch your breath, what’s wrong?”
     “Nothing’s wrong, Captain,” he managed after taking a gulp of air. “It’s what’s right! We’ve had a breakthrough.”
     “Really?” Sera asked. “Something beyond the information I provided?”
     “Oh yes, very much so, and no. Though we wouldn’t have been able to manage it without your graviton systems and all those research studies you provided, as well.”
     “So, what is it, then?” Terrance asked, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.
     “We’ve discovered how to use the graviton emission systems that Captain Sera provided us with—emissions that work in matter repulsion and photon redirection in directional and focused beams and waves—to create a generalized and consistent suspension wave in the form of a massive halo upon which we were able to successfully place a McPherson generality focus layer tuned to a specific area of space, while altering the gravitational waves supporting it to form a hard shell of non-focused space underneath it.” He said without taking a single breath.
     “OK, I’m no slouch when it comes to physics, but you’ve gone levels beyond what I knew existed,” Tanis said.
     “It’s a stasis shield,” Sera said, feeling as though the breath had been sucked from her. “He figured out how to make a gods damned stasis shield.”

     [From Malorie Cooper’s Destiny Lost, the first volume of her Orion War series.]

     In a way, the above is about characterization. Earnest Redding, the out-of-breath figure who delivered that ultra-technical soliloquy – and don’t bother yourself about the details; it’s all the sort of ersatz physics you’ll encounter in any science fiction novel – is supposed to be a genius’s genius; say, about as smart as your humble Curmudgeon (:-). To have him rush pell-mell into a formal dinner and deliver such a statement, in an obviously high state of triumphant emotion, is absolutely characteristic of such a man / mind. It’s a beautiful example of how to use a character’s behavior to depict him as what he’s supposed to be.

     Cooper’s Orion War series is rendered in such vivid tones that one who appreciates complex plotting and good characterization can only applaud. Yes, there are legions of larger-than-life / too-good-or-bad-to-be-true characters, but the opus requires exactly such figures to navigate its vermiculations and achieve its conclusion. It’s replete with dazzling bullshit of the highest quality. Recommended!

1 comment:

SWVAguy said...

It might be fighting windmills, but try this. If nothing else, we'll be heard.