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From: "Andrew Bollen" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Shadowy reflections on an amazing article
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 00:09:13 +0800

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
> More plausible than you might think. The famous Civil War ironclad
> battle was not, as often reported between the Monitor and the
> Merrimac, but between the USS Monitor and a scuttled Federal ship
> whose name had been Merrimack -- with a K -- that had been converted
> into the CSS Virginia.
> Virginia. Land of virgins. And who were the Young Man trying to
> rescue? H'mmmm...

Here's a half-baked reading of this story. I take it as very pertinent to
Jonas, and perhaps Serverian reading it to him is the final straw in Jonas'
desperation to escape.

Maybe Jonas is the "son", constructed of dream-stuff - a poetic description
of a robot (the abrupt manner in which the son appears is suggestive perhaps
of a robot activating). The fairytale is a dim remembrance of an expedition
against some alien power oppressing earth in the early space-faring days of
a previous civilization, perhaps not too far distant from our own time. The
alien power one assumes is the origin of Abaia. The watery labyrinth
corresponds perhaps to some hyperspatial analog, in which space-farers
easily lose themselves. It is said somewhere that ships often became lost in
the depths of space over long periods.

Perhaps the "dream son" is generic - robots as commanders of the vessels,
more likely to remain reliable & operative over long missions.

Certainly Jonas' ship must have become lost - it cannot be that they
intentionally delayed their return for aeons, because of course there would
be no reason to suppose the existence of a port to welcome their return, or
indeed the existence of anything in particular on Earth so far in the

 I have an even more half-baked theory that American elements in the Brown
Book tales are intended (by Wolfe) as chronological markers - so this story,
with Civil War resonances, occurs later than the story of Frog, which is
kind of colonial. The "classical" motifs tell us the type of story - Romulus
& Remus in "Frog" marks the founding of an empire; Theseus & the Minotaur in
"Student" for the rise of a new power against the established order (Athens
against the Minoan empire).


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