Harper Torch, 2001, 493 pages, C$10.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-06-103066-X
Faithful readers of these reviews already know how little I think of Patrick Robinson’s so-called military thrillers. Bad plotting, lousy characters, awful prose: Frankly, I just keep reading them because they make me laugh and point. And so it struck me, a third into The Shark Mutiny, how much better the whole series would be as a sitcom. One thing led to another, and pretty soon I was writing an episode for…
Episode 4: The Guppy Mutiny
We open on ADMIRAL MORGAN, the lovable old coot who’s the hero of this series. MORGAN is snappily dressed in a red, white and blue suit made out of American Flag fabric, an outfit that blends seamlessly with the decoration of his office. His white beard is cut in a fashion halfway between Uncle Sam’s and Colonel Sanders. Reading the newspaper, he sees something that makes him look up abruptly.
From the cheers and clapping from the audience, we know it’s already a series catchphrase.
Kathy enters the office. She is a “spectacular redhead who, for three years, have refused to marry him.” [P.58]
Kathy: Oh Admiral! Have you called me to ask me in marriage?
Morgan: Yes, damnit!
Kathy: I told you before, darling; not before you’re retired!
Morgan: Grrr! This flirting is making me want to nuke someone!
Kathy: And how is that different from your usual sunny disposition, darling?
Morgan: Good point, but I still want to nuke someone. Who’s our enemy today?
Jimmy Ramshawe enters the room. He is a young earnest intelligence Lieutenant with a slight Australian accent.
Jimmy: Sir! I have uncovered evidence that the Iranians and Chinese are planning to mine the strait of Hormuz and block the worldwide transport of oil!
Morgan: Hot diggity dawg! What’s your evidence, lieutenant?
Jimmy shows a stack of invoices.
Jimmy: Receipts for Russian underwater mines, sir! It stands to reason that if they bought it, they’ll use ’em!
Morgan: What an enlightening insight in contemporary tactics! But wait- you speak like a foreigner!
Jimmy: I’m from Australia, sir! But I’m good enough to be privy to American secrets! My father is a kick-ass Admiral! I’m dating the ambassador’s daughter!
Morgan: Do you want to nuke someone too?
Jimmy: Er… what normal boy wouldn’t, sir?
Morgan: Good stuff! You’re all right! Kaaathy! Get me a secret camera in the Chinese navy briefing room!
Behind him, the wall reveals a video screen. It lights up to a meeting of Iranian and Chinese officials.
Chine Official: Death to America! Bwa-hah-ha!
Iranian Official: Whee! Death to America!
The screen is replaced by a view of the globe between China and Iran.
Morgan: Damn! I’m “always completely mistrustful of the men from the Orient!” [P.138] What fiendish plot are they planning? Where will they strike next?
A courier brings a message to Jimmy, who reads it before shouting out.
Jimmy: Sir! A tanker just exploded in the strait of Hormuz!
Morgan: (shrugging) Eh, that happens.
Jimmy: Sir! Another tanker just exploded in the strait of Hormuz!
Morgan: (shrugging) Well, what can you do?
A third courier.
Jimmy: Sir! Another tanker blew up!
Morgan: It’s war! Yay! Send the entire American fleet to the Persian Gulf! We’ll teach them to mess with our imperialistic stranglehold on the world supply of oil! Kaaathy!
Kathy: All done, darling. Anyone can now walk from the UAE to Iran on top of our carriers!
Morgan: But I still haven’t nuked anyone today. Why can’t I get any satisfaction? We’ve gone too long without nuking someone! Let’s hit that oil refinery! Get me the bestest of the best SEALs!
Kathy: How about just a good one?
Morgan: No! The bestest of the best!
Kathy: How about any one of the US Navy’s superbly trained SEALs?
Morgan: NO! I SAID I WANT THE BESTEST OF THE BEST!
Kathy: All right.
A tall blond Aryan man is delivered in the room with a forklift. He remains ramrod-straight throughout.
SEAL #1: US NAVY SEAL! SIR YES SIR!
Morgan: Soldier, “these guys are not just stepping lightly on our toes! They’re running us over with a fleet of [flippin’] rickshaws, and I’m not having it!” [P.158] So go ahead and nuke’em.
SEAL #1: SIR YES SIR!
The forklift retreats along with Navy Seal #1.
Morgan: Good thing done.
A moment passes, and then: Another courier.
Jimmy: Sir! The raid is a complete success! Parts of the refinery are headed for orbit, and the other parts are going straight to the center of the earth! We’ve created a new volcano and killed thousands of civilians!
Mrogan: “Consider the sound made by a cupful of gasoline on a bonfire just before you toss a lighted match into it –and then multiply that sound by around 40 million. That’s loud.” [P.54]
Jimmy: But two of our SEALs died! Including the bestest of the best!
Tears fill Admiral Morgan’s eyes.
Morgan: That devastates me. I loved that man like no others, at the possible exception of Ted Kennedy. In a strictly heterosexual way, of course.
Jimmy: Of course, sir.
Morgan: This makes me so angry, I just WANT TO NUKE SOMEONE!
Jimmy: Sir! China has invaded Taiwan!
Morgan: Yes! Nuke’em!
Kathy: But darling! All of our forc
es are near the Persian Gulf!
Morgan: Curses! The mines were a trap! Foiled again by these devious foreigners!
Jimmy: Um, sir? What about our forces in Japan, the Philipines, Diego Garcia-
Morgan: Shut up, Jimmy! I’m trying to figure out why China would invade Taiwan.
Jimmy: Because this ends what they see as forty years of internal rebellion from a rebellious splinter group they never formally acknowledged because it also claimed to be China’s official government?
Morgan: That’s poppycock, son! It’s obvious to everyone that they invaded Taiwan for the precious treasures in their national museum
Jimmy: What- what? Treasures? Where did that come from?
Morgan: Hush, little boy! Look at the screen!
Another view of the Chinese and Iranian officials.
Chinese admiral: “WANT TREASURE BACK! WANT TREASURE BACK!” [P.278]
Jimmy: I humbly stand corrected.
Morgan: You better be. Kathy, anyone else to nuke?
Kathy: Well, the Chinese are still in Taiwan.
Morgan: Right! Let’s nuke Taiwan! Kathy, get me the red button!
Jimmy: Sir? Wouldn’t it be better to sent a SEAL team?
Morgan: You’re right son! I loves them SEALs! Get me the bestest of the best SEALs!
Kathy: Dead, darling. Don’t you mean the second-best of the-
Morgan: BESTEST OF THE BESTEST MEANS STILL ALIVE, KATHY!
Kathy: Working on it.
Another SEAL is hauled in the office.
SEAL #2: SIR YES SIR!
Morgan: Go destroy stuff. Try not to get killed.
SEAL #2: SIR YES SIR!
Morgan whistles, waiting for a big boom. Finally, a communication comes onto his screen.
SEAL #2: Admiral Morgan! We’ve got a problem, sir!
Morgan: Have you destroyed stuff?
SEAL #2: SIR YES SIR!
Morgan: Then what’s the problem?
SEAL #2: The commander of our submarine had gone nuts! He thinks he’s the reincarnation of some French loser!
Morgan: Wow, that’s crazy.
SEAL #2: What should we do, sir?
Morgan: Ask him if he can nuke part of China for me.
SEAL #2: He says no.
Morgan: Crazy! Shoot him!
A gunshot is heard.
Morgan: Outstanding work, sailor! You just saved us eighty pages of a stupid last act that has nothing to do with the rest of this story.
He closes the screen and wipes his hand.
Morgan: And that’s another triumphant day for American hegemony.
He puts his hands on his hips and strikes a triumphant pose.
Jimmy: But Admiral! Taiwan is still held by the Chinese!
Morgan: Who cares? It’ll all be forgotten in time for the next episode.
A final courier.
Jimmy: But sir! 9/11! Afghanistan! Iraq! Terrorists are the new enemy! Our imagined world of 2008 as seen from early 2001 doesn’t even make sense any more!
A pause as Morgan thinks it through.
Morgan: Yay, a new enemy to nuke! Come on, Jimmy and Kathy, let’s bellow our favourite song!
They lock arms and begin high-stepping, singing the series’ signature FUN-DAMENTALIST ANTAGONISTS! musical number.