Quote of the Day: Puppets and Puppet-Masters

 

“Is the King still alive?”

The grin slid off the commodore’s face, starting with his eyes.

“We don’t know. At first, Makann had him speaking by screen—you know what it was like—urging everybody to obey and co-operate with ‘our trusted Chancellor.’ Makann always appeared on the screen with him.”

Bentrik nodded. “I remember.”

“Before you left, Makann kept quiet, and let the King make the speech. After a while, the King wasn’t able to speak coherently; he’d stammer, and repeat. So then Makann did all the talking; they couldn’t even depend on him to parrot what they were giving him with an earplug phone. Then he stopped appearing entirely. I suppose there were physical symptoms they couldn’t allow to be seen.”

This comes from H. Beam Piper’s novel Space Viking. The king is the King of Marduk a constitutional monarchy with an elective legislature, modeled roughly on that of Great Britain. In the novel, the republic has been subverted by Zaspar Makann, a Hitler-like figure. He is now running the show (Or thinks he is – there is another puppet-master running this puppet-master.) Once he took control he used the reigning monarch’s respect for institutional norms (and perhaps chemical assistance) to serve as Makann’s parrot.  Until he was no longer capable of parroting.

Remind you of anyone?  A chief executive stammering his way through public appearances? Yeah, me too.

I suspect when he took office he believed he was Zasper Makann. It’s becoming more clear that he was really the king, having his strings pulled by others. It would not surprise me if soon, he dropped all public appearances in order to hide physical symptoms the public cannot be allowed to be seen. But that he will not resign and not be subject to 25th Amendment removal from office.  Some claim will be made about his not feeling it appropriate to be campaigning and holding public appearances when there was business in the White House to be done.

And the puppet masters will still be pulling the strings.

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    indeed.

     

    • #1
  2. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    They barely pretended Biden was the candidate, much less President.

    • #2
  3. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    I still insist Biden is the same Biden he’s been for 50 years. Only more so. He is a “man of the system”. He is the apotheosis of the Peter Principle.

    Oddly, I just finished reading the Piper Collection.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    As long as Biden gets his ice cream when they declare a lid, the Republic is safe.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Poor Goodman Mikyl. But as for Not-so-good-man Joe, he chose his bed and his bedfellows.

    • #5
  6. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    He is the apotheosis of the Peter Principle.

    I’m pretty sure that’s Kamala, even if only for the double entendre.

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    As long as Biden gets his ice cream when they declare a lid, the Republic is safe.

    So you’re saying they’d better not put a lid on Biden’s ice cream?

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    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I’d never heard of Piper, but did a bit of research after the last post in which he featured.  What a sad life story.

    • #8
  9. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    She (View Comment):

    I’d never heard of Piper, but did a bit of research after the last post in which he featured. What a sad life story.

    True, but almost all of his stories are now in the public domain and available online. A happy ending in one sense.

    • #9
  10. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    He is the apotheosis of the Peter Principle.

    I’m pretty sure that’s Kamala, even if only for the double entendre.

    I needed a “One Thousand Like” button for this one! Bravo!

    • #10
  11. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    He is the apotheosis of the Peter Principle.

    I’m pretty sure that’s Kamala, even if only for the double entendre.

    I needed a “One Thousand Like” button for this one! Bravo!

    Come for the content. Stay for the locker room humor. 

    • #11
  12. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Interesting that in 1951 a book by Heinlein was published, it was made into a movie that really didn’t do the book justice:  The Puppet Masters. (Your title brought it immediately to mind.)

    Were Piper and Heinlein good friends?  I don’t know.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Interesting that in 1951 a book by Heinlein was published, it was made into a movie that really didn’t do the book justice: The Puppet Masters. (Your title brought it immediately to mind.)

    Were Piper and Heinlein good friends? I don’t know.

    I suspect they knew each other. Both wrote for John Campbell of Analog. But Piper rarely strayed from Pennsylvania in the 50s and 60s while Heinlein lived in Colorado and California. 

    They may have encountered each other during WWII when Heinlein was at a the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

    • #13