Friday, April 18, 2014

Low-Budget Galadriel

Hiero's Journey, Chapter 10 (Continued):

(For the previous entry in this series, go here.)

It doesn't actually take Aldo and Hiero long to catch up with the readers and discover there is a Disturbance in the Force, and after a Mind-Mojo scan of the forest Hiero reports that he has seen from afar the ghostly form of a green-eyed and greenish-skinned woman. This future mutant dryad-thing appears to be watching the party, and possibly reading its thoughts. Luchare immediately gets mad and says she is jealous of the green woman, and Hiero and Aldo paternalistically dismiss her “female anger” (250) so they can get on with more important guy things. I would give Lanier a hard time about this, but A) it's not entirely out of character for Luchare, who is very young and from an overly privileged background, and B) it's not entirely out of character for two priests to act like douchebags toward women. Anyway, none of these three characters are particularly important to the reader at the moment: what interests us, or what should interest us, is the identity of the Mysterious Vilah-ree, and to what stereotype she conforms. I'm putting my money on "Low-Budget Galadriel."

As Hiero and company debate turning around and getting the hell out of Dodge, Gorm informs Hiero and Aldo that the return path has been blocked by some large, ominous mutant beast, or so his Spidey-bear senses tell him. The travelers reluctantly continue onward, until they reach a large clearing in the woods, festooned with moss and lit by an unsettling light. These magical clearings have a way of appearing in the strangest places, don't they? This one contains three tables loaded down with food and wine, which, after some consulting with his mojo - actually, with the same mysterious green woman Hiero has seen - Gorm confirms are safe to eat. The party tucks in, and most of them go to sleep shortly thereafter. Hiero tries to stay awake and stay on watch, but either the food was drugged, or the wine was very powerful, or his mysterious host is just too psychically powerful, because he too passes out.


Hiero then has a dream vision of the green woman, who is nekkid and kind of purty. "The manhood in him rose to the sexual challenge of her shape" (254), which I'm sure is just a figure of speech. (Ahem.) He is also oddly repelled, because the woman appears to be a construct run by some sort of plant intelligence. Reading this, I could not help but think of Bela Lugosi's line about women and vampire movies in Ed Wood: "It both ATTRACTS and REPELS them." Presumably men are the same way with beautiful plant women. I must therefore conclude that Luchare was right to be jealous of this 76th-century dryad. You're welcome.

Mlle. Green identifies herself with a string of syllable sounding like "Vilah-ree," which Hiero decides to use as her name. After showing Hiero that his companions are still asleep and unharmed, she leads Dream-Hiero out of the virtual audience chamber where she had met him, and up to the top of one of the taller trees in the forest, from which they can get a good view of the radioactive wasteland nearby. It is clearly a very dangerous and threatening place, even more so than the usual radioactive wasteland. Between the desert and the forest is the front line of a biological attack: “sickly,” “diseased” fungi cling to dying trees, and a giant slime creature, with a body of “dark, rotted velvet” and pseudopods tipped with “putrid orange fire” (257) roams the land. Lanier's description of the fungi forest includes this line: “Even as he watched, a bloated bag of some monster puffball sort exploded, and the view was momentarily darkened by the billions of tiny spores [it] scattered” (ibid). I wonder if Hayao Miyazaki read this novel before directing Nausicaa, as this image is very reminiscent of his post-apocalyptic toxic jungle.

Vilah-ree says that the slime monster, and presumably the fungi, are creatures of The House, an alien intelligence that, presumably, Hiero must now help Mlle. Dryad defeat. Good luck with that, Per Desteen.

Coming next: Come and play with us, Hiero, forever and ever and ever...

(The illustration above is of a Public Domain Dryad. Like many of my readers, I prefer my Public Domain Dryads clothed, and not necessarily green. YMMV.)

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