Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were a reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
This is an interesting scene we’re about to see because it isn’t in the movie. In the movie, when Quato peers into the mind of Douglas Quaid he sees Douglas Hauser’s memory of him, Cohaagen, and some other guy coming across a machine that can create air on Mars, obviously of alien origin, and shuts down the Pyramid Mine to keep it from being discovered. I don’t know what was in the original script Piers Anthony was working from, but we something completely different here.
Chapter 21: Revelation
This time we start with more “revelations” that appears to be Anthony’s attempt to make Cohaagen’s “master plan” seem less stupid. For one thing we learn that Hauser was indeed supposed to be infiltrating the rebels but ended up falling for Melina, a revelation (I’ll try not to overuse that word this review) he made after falling into the pit. After looking around he finds paths that would be better suited to flies..or as we learn later, ants.
Hauser came across a machine that you could describe as a telepathic projector, but one smart enough to alter terms for the user…and that’s where things get a bit confusing. At some points the program appears to be playing for Doug Hauser in the past and sometimes for Doug Quaid in the present, but the narrator calls him Hauser both times. Could it be an implant that Quato is accessing? If so, how many implants are in this guy?
Anyway, here’s where things are a bit…weird. Try and follow.
At the center of the universe is a huge black hole slowly drawing in the entire universe. I’m pretty sure that’s not how black holes work, even in other science fiction, but we’ll run with it. Alien races become “traders”, and seed planets further out when they’ve reached a certain stage in the hope they will become traders and keep civilization going..at least until their home planet gets sucked in and they get all disheartened. Then the next species continues on. That’s certainly…different, but I don’t know if that was Anthony’s idea, the screenwriters (Ronald Shusette, Dan D’Bannon, and Gary Goldman), Paul Verhoeven’s, or Anthony’s.
The race on Mars is the ant-like No’ui (naturally we got one of the best), and they have a multi-step process to determine if a race is worthy of seeding without becoming space Nazis.
- learn space travel and come to Mars
- find the machinery and learn what it does
I’m not just making an overused joke. The third step is “unspecified” and by “profit” I mean that the humans may become traders. The machine in question is a terraforming machine. It doesn’t just make air but also seeds the planet and a test run is used to explain all those supposed aqueducts scientists claim to see on Mars but have yet to be proven and in fact is in question. i think I liked to a Cracked article about that once, but I don’t know if it was here or just on Twitter.
Finally we get a bit of No’ui culture as we see one of the builders and his mate seeing if they’re genetically compatible. Q’ad and M’La (the computer chose the names based on familiarity to Hauser but grabbed L’ri from Quaid, which is that confusion I mentioned earlier…plus L’ri is a queen and not a b@#%#) watch their child being examined because knowledge is hereditary for the No’ui. Because why not? The questions asked the kid are just a bit of explanation for Hauser/Quaid really.
Again, I’m not sure if Anthony changed the scene on purpose or if this was in the original script, but while it adds only answers that weren’t important to the intent of the story it’s a welcome addition and I remember when I finally saw the movie wondering where this moment was. In our next installment we’ll return to the movie as the villains gain an upper hand.
Next Time: Betrayal