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From: "Robert Borski" 
Subject: (urth) Shadow Children in the Lupiverse?
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 13:46:59 -0500

Tony Ellis having written this about the Annese's lack of manual dexterity:

"I go for explanation 2: the Annese had the ability, but lost it, and cannot
recover it due to Dollo's Law. If that doesn't make evolutionary sense,
blame Wolfe, not me, because I don't think he would have slipped Dollo's Law
in there unless that was the connection he wanted us to make. Victor may be
self-taught, but we're given to understand that he is intelligent and a
quick study, so I think we're supposed to accept his theory."

It's not so much that this in itself doesn't make evolutionary sense, but
that no mechanism is posited for the loss. You yourself cite a number of
potential theories, but there is no more evidence for any of them than there
is for the alleged shapechanging abilities of the abos. In the latter at
least there's a widespread oral tradition; but we hear nothing from Victor
or Dr. Marsch about _how_ the native Annese arrived at this state. And when
Victor, writing in his prison diary as Marsch, cites Dollo's Law, he is not
doing so to expound his own personal theory about the matter--on the
contrary he absolutely does not want the authorities to know he is
Annese--he's trying to come up with what he hopes is a scientific-sounding
(and thus perhaps something a little more elevated than plain bullshit)
explanation for his own bad handwriting. I.e., "I am unable to hold my pen
correctly and therefore I hold it another way." The prison authorities are
less than likely to be familiar with Dollo's Law (I was exposed to it only
in an upper-level course on organic evolution), and Wolfe/Victor uses it, at
least in this case, invalidly: new handwriting stratagems may indeed be
_learned_, but this is a far cry from evolving new working appendages over
time  la the panda's sixth digit (which is actually a mutated bone in the
wrist complex, the radial sesamoid). So while you may be right about the
Dollo non-dexterity connection, it still remains speculative.

On to another recent post of yours, and then a question.

On one hand you seem to dismiss the shape-changing abilities of the Annese
as mythologization, but on the other hand you're willing to credit the
events that take place in "A Story" as real. I would argue the reverse. "A
Story," for example, cites the colonization of space by starfaring races
more likely to be found in the history of the world as posited by such
diverse luminaries as Edgar Cayce, Erich von Doniken, and the tabloid press.
The Annese have no written documents, so everything Victor describes has had
to come down to him originally as oral testimony. But while you discount
similar oral testimony of the Annese French colonists as tall tales, you're
willing to accept the abo record as genuine. More likely it's as suspect as
any body of such collected testimony, being part history, part myth, and
part self-aggrandizement. As a boy in the states, for example, I learned
about how George Washington chopped down the cherry tree and then admitted
his guilt; while the westerns I watched in the movie house depicted Indians
as bloodthirsty savages. Can you imagine the sort of history I would have
written were I in a situation like Victor's? Especially if all I had access
to was the oral testimony of my parents and grandparents? So I've always
seen "A Story" as being more akin to a fable than anything else, even if it
does incorporate actual, but probably somewhat distorted, historical events.

And lastly then, this bit of evidence for the shapeshifting-is-real
argument. In the back of beyond Victor becomes highly upset when Dr. Marsch
attempts to kill a following farmcat. Why? Is it because he simply loves
cats? If so, why does he himself later attempt to kill this same cat? I
contend it's because she's the shapeshifted abo girl Marsch later catches
Victor trysting with; and that he must kill her because she knows he's
killed Marsch. Your theory?

Robert Borski


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