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Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 09:34:24 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Tony's Ellis Island

Tony Ellis wrote:
>My reading is that at some era predating all known civilisations on Earth, a
>(now long-dead) civilisation arose on Earth that developed space travel,
>colonised St Anne, and became the 'abos'. Gondwanaland is one place, among
>others, where that civilisation may have arisen.
>And that's it. I don't think we're given enough information to draw any
>further conclusions, so I don't try. I don't think we're meant to read
>anything into the specific names given or into any dates that can be
>attached to them, they're just another way of saying "On Earth, a very long
>time ago."

Okay, so basically ala Howard's Hyperboria and/or the world of Moorcock's
Elric. That is, homo sapiens sapiens from between 125,000 to 5,000 years
ago.  I can grasp that.

"Mu" (sometimes also known as Lemuria) is a term that was originally
scientific (well, "Lemuria" was . . . putting the Roman May festival aside
. . .), then picked up by mystics, and then dropped by science.  It has to
do with Lemurs (the marsupials, not the ghosts), and the
distribution/isolation of marsupials from placential mammals (something
like 90 million years ago).  This "waves of colonization/isolation" and
evolutionary competition plays very well with a few of the themes in 5HC.
(For example, the struggle between the Annese and the recent people from
Earth might look like marsupials vs. placental mammals.)

Gondwanaland hasn't been "mysticized," to the best of my knowledge, and
represents a period so far in the past (circa 300 million years ago) that
it predates mammals.  And that is what makes it a different one in the
list--there is nothing fuzzy about it.

Because it is lumped together with places that are obviously myths and
legends, one might suspect that the students and/or Wolfe were casting the
supercontinent as a "myth" of the evolutionists.  Yet this is clearly not
the case, since the three novellas are almost fervently pro-evolution: the
mysteries of evolution provide a great depth to the drama.

So it is much better to see the use of the term Gondwanda as being childish
pretense for "on Earth, a very long time ago."

To take the term literally means to consider pseudo-science notions of
either homo sapiens sapiens evolving on Earth before mammals ("cavemen and
dinosaurs" material, with the humans subsequently dying off and
evolving/emerging again 300 million years later), or extra-solar homo
sapiens sapiens arriving on Earth before mammals (and then dying off,
rather like the Norse colonies in Greenland). Either one threatens
evolutionary theory: the first because there is no fossil record suggesting
it is even remotely possible; the second because it transplants the entire
"human evolution" model with an outside source, making human evolution as
we know it a lie, a picture from a jigsaw puzzle where the crucial pieces
are all in another box all together.  Again, because the novellas are so
pro-evolution, these options represent quite a twist.

I wouldn't want to argue "extra-terrestrial humans colonized Earth" as the
Official Strong Case, but I do think it amounts to an Official Weak Case.
The text seems to allow for it, but yes, it puts a further twist on things
far more tangential than, for example, the twist of having VRT write "A
Story," which is really quite central to my appreciation of the book as a
whole (because it unambiguously changes the entire framing context of "A
Story," turning a simple romance into a complex tangle of

>Except that the Old Wise One does say that "it may be that all are one
> stock" - in other words, as I understand it, that the Shadow Children may
>be humans too. This would require an even earlier wave of colonisation from
>Earth, or perhaps prion's theory that St Anne is where humanity originated.
>The trouble is, making the Shadow Children human contradicts the picture
>painstaklingly painted throughout the rest of the story of a non-sentient,
>indigenous, telepathic life-form that is awakened to sentience by man's
>arrival. "'We had no names before men came out of the sky,' the Old Wise One
>said dreamily. 'We were mostly long, and lived in holes between the roots of

This detail from the text reminds me of the weird Edenic world at the end
of Wolfe's online story "Copperhead," as well as Lotus Land, and Jack
Vance's alien race of Star Kings (from novel THE STAR KING) and their weird
Edenic world.



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