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Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 09:30:45 -0500
Subject: Re: (urth) Liev's Postpostulate
From: Adam Stephanides 

on 5/20/02 5:49 AM, Tony Ellis at LittleSense@necronomicon.co.uk wrote:

> 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.

A psychological inability to do something can be just as real, and just as
resistant to being overcome by force, as a physical inability.
> 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
> habit."

In fact Dollo's law refers not to organs that have lost their function, but
to organs that have physically shrunk or disappeared.  Presumably you aren't
going to argue that the prehistoric colonists went through a stage when they
had tiny or no hands.

I think you're right, though, that there must be a larger reason why Victor
cites Dollo's law.  I'd suggest that it's connected to his statements that
he is an animal and does not really speak: having raised (he thinks) as an
animal, he now cannot become a human, but can only imitate a human.  Or
perhaps at this point he still believes himself an aborigine.  But in any
case, I don't think he's referring to the evolution of the Annese' hands.

>> 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
> is
>> 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

It's a key theme on this list; I'm not convinced it's a key theme in the
book itself.  The only "alien" whom there's much evidence for is Victor; the
other alien candidates have been extrapolated based on one or two tiny

> 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.
But Cassilla looks worn after she's slept with two men, not before.  If she
were able to make herself look unattractive at will, like Victor's mother,
she presumably wouldn't be exploited as much as she is.

The theme of slavery and exploitation is far more prominent in 5HC than is
"spot-the-alien," and my reading of the quote fits this theme very well,
indicating that Cassilla is worn out by her abuse.



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