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From: "Tony Ellis" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Liev's Postpostulate
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 11:49:32 +0100

Adam Stephanides wrote:
>I never bought the theory that Dollo's Law is a coded reference to either
>the abo's shapeshifting or the prehistoric colonists' evolution. As Jerry
>Friedman suggested, he only means to say that having learned to write
>holding the pen the wrong way, he now cannot write holding it the right

Then why not say that, using just those simple words? Why instead cite, at
length, a specifically evolutionary process?

In any case, this is the answer which Victor has already dismissed as "an
explanation that does not explain," because it doesn't tell us why he was
unable to write by holding the pen the right way in the first place. Wolfe
goes out of his way to show us that Victor was beaten until he bled for
getting it wrong: that's a pretty powerful incentive for getting something
right if it is physically possible to do so.

I find it hard to believe that, in a story where tool-use is of crucial
significance, Wolfe has devoted a whole page to the phenomenon of Victor's
bad handwriting, and topped it off with a paragraph-long definition of Dollo
's Law, in italics yet, just to say "Victor's poor handwriting was a bad

>> How come all the people we think of as Annese seem to have the ability to
>> change how they appear? Cassilla seems to have it
>I vaguely recall something like this being discussed, but don't recall any
>of the arguments for it. The only thing I can find which could even be
>thought to suggest that she is either Annese or can change her appearance
>the statement "In the bright daylight he could see fine wrinkles near her
>eyes; the girl was aging" (267), and to me it seems far more likely that
>this means no more than what it says.

In a different story, perhaps. But in one where a key theme is
spot-the-alien, and where we've already been given the example of  Victor's
supposedly Annese mother making herself look older to avoid sleeping with
men she didn't like, it's a detail that assumes far greater significance.


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