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Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 08:45:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: RE: (urth) 5HC a good introduction to wolfe? (was Washington  Post article)

--- Jason Voegele  wrote:
> >      If Wolfe is going to suggest that the main character of "5HC"
> > is himself, I think it's all right for me to continue the discussion
> of
> > his personality.  In his interviews he strikes me as rather
> > arrogant (of course he has a very big lot to be proud of), and
> >someone on rasfw called him "nasty", "rude", and "a prick" after
> >seeing him on a panel; that's consistent with arrogance.
> FWIW, when I met Wolfe he seemed a very kind and friendly man.  I was at
> a 
> convention and just happened to be standing near by when he signed in
> (he 
> was guest of honor).  He introduced himself to me and we talked for a
> few 
> moments, and when it became clear to him that I would not be able to
> make 
> the book signing that was being held later that day, he sat down with
> me, 
> signed my books, and we talked for maybe ten minutes.  David Brin was
> also 
> at the convention and I had a copy of STARTIDE RISING for him to sign.  
> Wolfe offered to sign that one as well, claiming that he "knew how to 
> spell 'Brin'".  He was very polite and had a richly subtle sense of
> humor.

Being nice to fans and having a richly subtle sense of humor (I do
like that offer) strike me as totally consistent with arrogance.

> That said, given an incident at that same convention when David Brin was
> speaking on a panel discussion, you might also make the claim that he is
> quite arrogant, although I'd say rather that he is firm in his
> convictions 
> and outspoken in his opinion.
 [snip story]

> Perhaps this was the same panel discussion that the r.a.sf.w poster 
> witnessed.

Different one--the panel mentioned by "Infozombie" in rasfw was
at a librarians' convention, and the other panelists were Joan Vinge
and Joan Slonczewski.

> I was surprised when Wolfe had interrupted Brin's speech,
> but I 
> can't say I disagreed with him.  Whether you'd call this arrogant, I
> don't 
> know, but maybe it shows the two sides of Wolfe's personality (Silkhorn
> may 
> be more real than we know).  I certainly can't agree that he's "nasty, 
> rude, and a prick."  I'd invite him to dinner any time.

He could certainly have been far more polite to Brin.  "I disagree
with you completely, because..."  Of course, no one's at his best on
hearing something that he violently dislikes.

> Anyway, I'm feeling guilty now about treading into Wolfe's personal
> life, 
> so I'll stop.

Well, as I said, if he creates a character with his name who's
totally consistent with being himself (as far as I can tell, anyway),
I think he's permitting speculation that the character is a
self-portrait of some kind or other, which leads to discussion of his
own character.

It's worth noting that we take Silk to be Wolfe's portrayal of a
good person, and Silk is given to being "merciless" (as Silkhorn
puts it) with himself.  Wolfe may have thought he was being a good
person in being so merciless with himself that he envisioned
himself as Number Five and his father.

To be fair, I should probably admit that what I'm speculating was
Wolfe's problem, at least at the time of writing 5HC, is something I
have a problem with myself--excessive pride and excessive self-
condemnation.  I may be seeing only what I'm familiar with, but on
the other hand, I am presenting reasons for seeing it.

Jerry Friedman

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