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Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 14:10:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: What abos?  [Was Re: (urth) 5HC: Shadow Children in the Lupiverse?]

How come you guys are all so convinced the abos exist?  It seems
ambiguous at best.  The alternate theory would be that, inspired
by his father's con and escaping his squalid life, young Victor
Trenchard has developed an elaborate fantasy about the fabulous
abos, which he may even think is true.  John Marsch shows up with
a will to believe and falls for Victor's imaginary friends in a sort
of folie a deux.

Pro-abo:  Many people in the Sainte-Sainte system believe in them.

Reply:  Many people on Earth believe in the yeti, Bigfoot (ObWolfe:
Adorable Woods Woman), the Loch Ness monster, alien abductors, and
fairies (see below).  We seem to like populating the wilderness.
Also, some people--Dr. Hagsmith, at least--don't believe in them.

Pro-abo:  John V. Marsch looks unusual to Number Five.

Reply:  A hint, but I don't find it that convincing.  Maybe he's
just unusual-looking.

Pro-abo:  Mrs. Blount says she's seen them.

Reply:  This is the strongest textual evidence I've found, but as a
child she could have been mistaken or lied to (to justify her
father's shooting thieving human children!), or she could be
remembering wrong.  Or Marsch could conceivably have made up that
part of the conversation.  (The transition is a bit abrupt.)

Is there *any* other textual evidence except from Victor?  Assuming
he's John V. Marsch.

Pro-abo:  Wolfe is usually on the side of credu^H^H^H^H^H belief.

Reply:  Another strong argument, though extra-textual, and there's a
first time for everything.

Anti-abo:  There is no skeletal evidence, although Earthly
explorers went to considerable effort to bring back specimens of
animals (dead or alive) and humans (alive).

Reply:  I'll let the people who believe in them reply.  I will point
out, however, that the (apparently) original Marsch tells us that
the "Good People" were proven to exist, so maybe we're supposed to
believe that a sentient race could populate a region and leave almost
no trace.

Anti-abo:  There's no trace of the abos' language.

Reply:  Did they learn English telepathically?  Did they ever have a
language of their own?

Anti-abo:  You apparently have to believe either 1) Prehistoric
Earth humans had space flight, for which there's a compelling lack
of evidence.

2) Parallel evolution reached the point where humans and abos are
(nearly?) indistinguishable and, in many of your versions, can

3) Humanity originated somewhere other than Earth.  These last two
have a serious conflict with evolutionary thought, as Dan'l pointed

Reply:  Maybe implausible, but all traditional sf assumptions.

--- Tony Ellis  wrote:

> Personally, I have never felt that Victor had any sort of hidden agenda
> for
> writing 'A Story'. Making him the author always seemed to me to be
> simply a
> framing device, of which Wolfe is inordinately fond. Like Latro's
> scrolls,
> or Cutthroat's recording gadget, or making Horn the author of the Book
> of the Long Sun.

How about his motive being enjoying and spreading his fantasy?

> Looking more or less haggard is not, by my definition, shapeshifting.
> Trenchard, who has witnessed this ability firsthand, does not even
> believe
> it is in any way superhuman: "A matter of the voice, you understand, and
> the
> muscles of the face." There's a hint that there may be more to it than
> that
> in the way Victor interjects "Everything!" at this point, and I've
> suggested
> before now that it could be partially telepathic. But it's not the
> transformation of a human being into a "household utensil" as Dr
> Hagsmith puts it.

Again, Victor is eager to provide evidence for the abos' existence.

To sum up: I see more and better evidence against the abos' existence
than for it.

Jerry Friedman

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