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In the third book in the How to Succeed in Evil series, Hostile Takeover, a villain (of sorts) breaks into Fort Knox to steal the gold stored there. However, when they break in, there's no gold there. The primary mover of events in the book uses this to redirect said villain to his doom, but the question of where the gold went seems unanswered. I'll include the names in the following spoiler:

Specifically, the former Excelsior (now just Billy), a supermanalogue Flying Brick who's attempting to be a villain in the most naive manner possible, smashes through the ceiling of Fort Knox to steal the gold on the recommendation of Topper, the depraved dwarf lawyer. Within the building, there is nothing. Topper suggests that Edwin, the main villain and protagonist of the series, actually has the gold in his hidden bunker. Topper is trying to get rid of both Billy and Edwin, and he figures they'll annihilate each other, which they seem to do.

So, the question remains, where did the gold go? Was it all part of the plan that it had already been stolen? Was the implication that the villain was unaware that the gold isn't actually kept on public display and therefore didn't search far enough? Is this part of the broad hints that the US Government and industry are the real villains of the series and looted the gold long ago as part of a scheme involving abolishing the gold standard?

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I contacted the author and received a response, which seems to sort of be an "all of the above":

My Email:

I recently finished reading Hostile Takeover, and a question remained, what really happened to the hold in Fort Knox? Was it removed by a supervillain? Did the government already sell it off? Was Excelsior just not bright enough to look in the right spot?

His response:

Well, thematically it's a government con one way or another. The idea is that Excelsior has put his faith in authority and the authority wasn't worthy of his faith.

Although looking in the wrong spot is a pretty funny idea.

In real life I wouldn't be surprised if Fort Knox was empty. I mean the only reason to advertise the location of something valuable is to keep it somewhere else.

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I don't know the book, so this is purely conjecture, but my reading of this would be as follows:

Fort Knox is:

  • The main Federal Gold Reserve
  • Very heavily fortified to withstand break-ins

You could draw from this that the gold isn't actually held there, but it has been set up as an obvious target to distract from where the gold really is.

In a SciFi context, it's like Zaphod Beeblebrox being Galactic President, swanning around in the Heart of Gold with Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters to distract from the real ruler (the man in the shed with the cat).

The implication could also be that the US has already spent all the gold, as there is no way for anyone to gain access to verify what is there.

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