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Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 22:58:48 -0600
Subject: (urth) Blue Mouse, Night Chough, uncollected stories
From: Adam Stephanides 

I finally got around to (re)reading "The Blue Mouse," and I'm kind of sorry
I did: it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.  The story oozes contempt
for the Techs, "soldiers" psychologically unable to fight, who believe
themselves morally superior to the Marksmen who do the actual fighting, but
are really just cowardly, and treacherous to boot.  Since the story was
published during the Vietnam War, and the war in the story, as in "Hour of
Trust," is modelled after the Vietnam war, I suspect that the Techs are
intended to represent conscientous objectors or draft evaders.  (I'm not
objecting to Wolfe's disapproval of COs or draft evaders, if that's what it
is, but to the lack of subtlety with which it's expressed.)

I have a hard time seeing the political background as anything more than
window-dressing for the story's main point, though Wolfe would undoubtedly
be opposed to the UN superseding nations, or (probably) to American soldiers
serving in a UN-controlled force.

On interesting point is that in both this story and "Hour of Trust," the
word "peace" is used as part of a dishonest euphemism.  The occupying force
here is known as the "Peace Force," and in "Hour of Trust" the rebel who
first mentions the suicide bombers refers to them as "donat[ing] their
bodies to Peace." (154, Orb ed.)  I wonder if this has any significance for
PEACE, which was published two years after "Hour of Trust."

I also finally got around to reading "The Night Chough," since I found the
CROW anthology at my local public library.  It's a very good story, much
better than I'd expected it to be, and may be one of his best stories of
recent years.  It's connected to BOTLS and BOTSS, but can be read
independently of both of them (and of the Crow mythos, whatever that is),
and is well worth seeking out.

Speaking of seeking things out, I was in a used bookstore and glanced at the
Wolfe books, and to my amazement they had a copy of CASTLE OF THE OTTER for
only $3.  (A book club edition, but still.)  Even though I own CASTLE OF
DAYS, I bought it, just to have it.  It also has a bibliography in the back,
though only going up to 1980.  Anyway, looking at the bibliography I saw
seven stories by Wolfe which I'd never read: Mountains Like Mice, Screen
Test, Volksweapon, The Green Wall Said, It's Very Clean, Thou Spark of
Blood, and King under the Mountain.  The first four of these are collected
in YOUNG WOLFE, which I don't have; It's Very Clean was in an anthology
called GENERATION, which I don't recall ever seeing; but the last two,
according to the ISFDB, only appeared in magazines.  Has anybody read any of
these?  What are they like?  Are any of them unsung gems, or at least worth
hunting down?



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