Especially the less intelligent, slightly impaired ones.
Excerpts from Ch. 43 of House Corrino...
"Revenge." Has language ever created a more delicious word? I repeat it to myself when I go to sleep at night, confident it will give me pleasant dreams.
—BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN
Even after three fucking books they still hadn't got the epigraph thing down. Was this bogus quote supposed to be from something the Baron wrote or something he said to someone. Who knows. Who cares? Either way, the McDune Baron is a miserable little fuck whom FH's Baron would have as a midday snack.
THE GOVERNMENT OF RICHESE NEEDED A LARGE, but unofficial, influx of Solaris in order to finance redeveloping Chobyn's invisibility field. And Premier Ein Calimar knew where to get all the funds he wanted.
He arrived on Giedi Prime, angry that he had to keep pressing for his long-overdue payment from House Harkonnen. Instead of being taken directly to the looming Keep where he had always met the Baron before, guard Captain Kryubi led Calimar deep into the oppressive heart of Harko City.
A thin man, fastidiously dressed, Calimar steeled himself, trying not to lose his nerve. The Baron always played psychological games. The Premier had to finish these negotiations and survive them. For some unknown reason, the Harkonnen lord had decided to inspect his waste-recycling plants this morning, and the Premier was informed that the meeting must be conducted there, or not at all. Calimar wrinkled his nose at the thought of it.
So the scene is set, a player introduced. Not for the first time do you wonder: Where the fuck do they get these names?! (Which prompts this criticism of FH as well: "Harko" as a city name was not exactly one of his most inspired decisions, seeing how it resulted in McDune nonsense like "Cala City" on Caladan.) OK, grab your nose, we're heading in...
Inside the huge industrial building the air was moist, warm, and redolent with odors that he would have preferred never to experience. Behind his gold-rimmed spectacles, his eyes stung. He could feel the stench permeating his synthetic fabric suit and knew that this outfit would have to be burned once he returned to his plush offices in Triad Center. But he would not return without the money the Baron owed House Richese.
"This way," Kryubi said, his firm lips adorned with a thin mustache. He led Calimar up an endless series of metal steps to a network of catwalks. These high walkways overlooked pungent sewage vats, like sinister aquariums for bottom-feeders. How did a man as fat as the Baron ever get up here himself?
I don't know about you, but I don't read "recycling plant" and think "pastoral" or "agricultural", so "industrial" is kinda unnecessary, no? And why not just say it's "humid". Are thing ever "redolent" with any sense but smell? Is the origin of his suit material significant here? (Ooh, synthetic fabric! This must be SCIENCE FICTION!!!)
Why is the firmness of Kryubi's lips relevant? Is Calimar considering kissing him? (No, that THIN moustache would get in the way!) And isn't "high" implied by the "endless" stairs? And I don't get the aquariums/bottom-feeders bit at all.
The first time fastidious Calimar had come to Giedi Prime, the Baron had calmly allowed him to sit in a room with an unseen dead body nearby. While the Premier had made his embarrassing request for quiet financial assistance, the odor of rot in the air presented an unspoken threat.
Ask yourself: Does that sound like something FH's Baron would do?
There's some nonsense about the Baron's "disease", re-emphasizing the McDune version of the reason for his obesity, mention of Yueh and Ix. Skipping...
Calimar noticed that the Baron wore specially designed nose plugs and filters against the reek of the sewage plants. Without similar protection, the Premier didn't want to know how many toxins he might be inhaling with each breath. He removed his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and wiped the lenses, but an oily, streaky film remained.
"Baron Harkonnen, this is an ... unorthodox place for our meeting."
The Baron looked at the swirling currents of lumpy sludge as if he were peering into a kaleidoscope. "I have business to attend to, Calimar. We will talk here, or nowhere."
Starting to get stinkier... Skipping some boring back-and-forth dialogue (Calimar wants the Baron to pay for Richese having Yueh diagnose his disease; the Baron is refusing, on the basis that Yueh did not cure him; Calimar threatens blackmail).
The Baron's face purpled with rage, but before he could explode, they were interrupted by the arrival of three guards. They escorted a rangy man who wore exquisite, well-tailored clothes and billowing pantaloons.
The Baron not being a baboon, I would not expect the emotional coloration to be affecting his buttocks. Could someone wear exquisite rags? And pantaloons aren't clothes? Anyway, here he is back again, folks! It's...
Mephistis Cru did his best to ignore the alarming odors around him and stepped forward. "You summoned me, my Lord Baron?" He looked from side to side and frowned, then with a disapproving gaze he looked down at the vat.
I can only assume that the choice of these two adjectives is meant to reflect the effete etiquette advisor's viewpoint. How masterful!
More blah-blah, then:
"Ever since the debacle of my gala banquet, I've been wondering. Would it be polite for me to throw you into this sewage death trap myself, or should I have a guard do it, so that I don't dirty my hands?"
Cru took an alarmed step away as Kryubi gestured for the guards to block off his retreat. "My ... I don't understand, my Lord. I gave you only the best—"
"No clear answer, eh? Very well, I think I'll have the guards do it." The Baron motioned with a pudgy hand. "That's probably the most polite alternative, anyway."
Suddenly the etiquette advisor could think of nothing civil to say. He screamed surprisingly foul words that even the Baron found offensive. Uniformed guards grabbed the rangy man by the arms and in a smooth, mechanical gesture, swung him over the catwalk. Cru's elegant garments fluttered as he fell. He managed to twist himself in the air before splashing into the deep vat of human waste.
As Cru struggled and kicked, trying to stroke his way through the quagmire of sewage, the Baron turned toward his shocked visitor. "Pardon me, Premier. I wish to watch this and enjoy every moment of it."
Is "pudgy" really necessary? We know he's fat already. And did anyone imagine the guards naked? He was described as "rangy" when they first brought him in. We got that his clothes are stylish. And "quagmire of" is simply superfluous.
Coughing, Mephistis Cru somehow made it to the slick, rounded edge of the vat, where he clutched the rim and vomited onto the clean floor, missing the sewage pond entirely. Guards wearing polymer gloves met him there and grasped his arms.
When they hauled Cru up over the rim, he wept with relief and terror. The advisor was sobbing, shaking, covered in brown slime and feces. He wailed up at the high catwalks, begging forgiveness.
The guards attached small weights to his ankles and tossed him back into the stinking muck.
Calimar watched these events with horror, but refused to be intimidated. "I've always found it enlightening to witness the depths of your cruelty, Baron Harkonnen." He forced firmness into his voice as the unfortunate victim continued to thrash below. "Perhaps we can continue with more important matters?"
"Oh, be silent a moment." The Baron pointed down at the flailing figure, surprised that Cru still had enough strength to keep his head out of the goo.
Who cares that it's "rounded"? Or that the floor was "clean"? (And doesn't his vomiting on the floor imply he missed the sewage pond? Huh?) Why is the material of the guards' gloves important? (Oh, right: POLYMER = SCIENCE FICTION!!!) He was "sobbing" and "shaking", in case you missed the implication of "wept with relief and terror". And "brown slime and feces" in case you still don't get exactly what VAT OF SHIT entails. And there has as yet been no mention of any "low" catwalks, has there? "Unfortunate" is just bizarre. But "goo" is a nice touch, no? ("WORK that thesaurus, my boys!" you can almost hear FH cheering from beyond.)
Here's some more gratuitous reinforcement of the McDune revisionist version of Duniverse history:
Calimar refused to be put off. "Many years ago, Emperor Elrood ousted my master Count Ilban Richese from Arrakis because he appeared weak. When your own half brother Abulurd appeared weak, you removed him and assumed control of spice operations before Elrood could take action himself. The Landsraad and the Emperor have no fondness for impotent leaders. Once they learn of your debilitating disease, and how it was inflicted upon you by a witch, you will become the laughingstock of the Imperium."
The Baron's spider-black eyes turned to sharp obsidian. Below, the etiquette advisor sank beneath the sewage, but somehow emerged again to gasp a breath. He spat and coughed and splashed.
Because all spiders are black. And does "obsidian" really add anything? Thank the Maker Cru didn't choose instead to "sing a song". Or "speak a speech". Or... whatever.
Skipping some more ho-hum blah-blah, but there's one sentence that deserves note:
Calimar had his rival by the testicles, and both men knew it.
Ignoring the silly bit rephrasing "got 'im by his balls", "rival" is weird here, no? Calimar and the Baron are opponents or adversaries here, but they're not really rivals in any sense. Odd. Wrong.
Blah blah blah...
Calimar shrugged. Mephistis Cru's head was now submerged, but his arms flopped again. Even with the weights on his ankles, he managed to keep himself afloat for a few more agonizing minutes.
Nice. More blah blah, they reach a deal, and Calimar leaves...
Calimar did his best to conceal his nervousness as he negotiated the catwalk and scampered down the stairs....
His insides roiling, the Baron resumed his concentration on Mephistis Cru. This foppish man, so concerned with formalities and fancy perfumes, had surprising strength. It was admirable, in a way. Even with the weights on his ankles, he still hadn't drowned.
Finally, tired of the show, the Baron ordered Captain Kryubi to turn on the vat's chopper blades. As the thick, lumpy liquid began to swirl, Mephistis Cru tried to swim even more frantically.
The Baron only wished he could have added Premier Calimar to the mix.
Yeah, nothing hides fear like scampering. And can a thin liquid be lumpy?
I enjoy a bit of scatological humor and/or gross-out just as much as anybody else, but I don't really want the poopy caca in books associated with Frank Herbert's masterwork. It's DUNE, not DUNG, after all. And the insertion of this kind of crap is even harder to take from a couple of assholes seemingly only capable of taking a shit on genius.