Follow up Question!

Continued from last entry. An alert reader, noticing an oddity in my snippet of a scene, makes bold to ask:

"But the World Dictator agrees to hand cannons at dawn with the roustabout mercenary because…..?"

Excellent question!! A question worthy of double exclamations points!!!

Ah! I will have to finish writing the book, and sell it to my editor, and get it printed, and you will have to buy the book to find that out.

But I will give you a hint. One of the reasons given below is the not the real reason. See if you can spot it.

(1) The two men are friends from a previous era, preserved, one my biosuspension, the other by relativistic time dilation, into an era when no one understand their archaic customs and honor-code but each other. They are both in love with the same girl. Where anger and treason and loneliness and betrayal intersect, the reasonable thing to do (nuke the site from orbit) is not contemplated by either of the furious combatants.

(2) For political reasons, the murder has to be private, not an official act of the state, and the only way to invite a man to a murder is to call him out to a duel.

(3) They disagree about who is the "real" Green Lantern, Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. Over and issue haunted by such Odium Theologicum, only blasting the foe’s skull to gory, dripping, flaming bits while standing but ten paces away, close enough to smell the overcooked hamburger stench of directed-energy-pistol homicide will satisfy the desire for retribution such deeply-held personal beliefs provoke.

(4) My bad guy is more manly and has bigger and more virile scrotum than the wimpy shrill-screaming intellectuals produced in our wimpy shrill-screaming modern era, girly-men like Hitler and Stalin, who would hide in bunkers and order other hands, usually teen boys, to do their dark and bloody deeds. Mine is more like Richard the Lionheart, or Saladin, or even Doctor Doom.

(5) Even powerful world-leaders are bound by the assumptions of their time and culture, and have a public image to maintain, the almost magical spell by which the commons and the nobles are held in awe, and grant the leader that mystic, imponderable, illogical glamor called legitimacy. As a science fiction author, part of the mandate of science fiction is to explore the effect of technological change on imponderable social customs, including things as odd to us now, in the First Decade of the 21st Century as avoiding a duel would have been in the time of the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and then-sitting Vice President Aaron Burr in the First Decade of the Nineteenth Century.

Let us notice how the assumptions of one’s follower can influence even the mightiest of the supernal Tyrant-Lords of Hell:

"Then Fingolfin beheld (as it seemed to him) the utter ruin of the Noldor, and the defeat beyond redress of all their houses; and filled with wrath and despair he mounted upon Rochallor his great horse and rode forth alone, and none might restrain him. He passed over Dor-nu-Fauglith like a wind amid the dust, and all that beheld his onset fled in amaze, thinking that Oromë himself was come: for a great madness of rage was upon him, so that his eyes shone like the eyes of the Valar. Thus he came alone to Angband’s gates, and he sounded his horn, and smote once more upon the brazen doors, and challenged Morgoth to come forth to single combat. And Morgoth came.

"That was the last time in those wars that he passed the doors of his stronghold, and it is said that he took not the challenge willingly; for though his might was greatest of all things in this world, alone of the Valar he knew fear.

"But he could not now deny the challenge before the face of his captains (emphasis added) for the rocks rang with the shrill music of Fingolfin’s horn, and his voice came keen and clear down into the depths of Angband; and Fingolfin named Morgoth craven, and lord of slaves.

"Therefore Morgoth came, climbing slowly from his subterranean throne, and the rumour of his feet was like thunder underground. And he issued forth clad in black armour; and he stood before the King like a tower, iron-crowned, and his vast shield, sable on-blazoned, cast a shadow over him like a stormcloud. But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.

"Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder."

(6) I am writing a space opera, here, an E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith type yarn. If you want realistic science fiction, real Jules Verne or Arthur C. Clarke.

In space opera, Lord Vader stalks majestically off to confront and kill that crazy old wizard Ben Kenobi in person with his own energy-sword, in stead of, you know, pushing one button that seals and chocks down all the hatches, bloast-doors, and valves in that sector and deck of the base, and pumping in odorless and unscented and lethal carbon dioxide.