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Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 20:14:41 -0500
Subject: Re: (urth) Liev's Postpostulate
From: Adam Stephanides 

on 5/10/02 3:31 PM, Tony Ellis at LittleSense@necronomicon.co.uk wrote:

> If Victor thinks he is descended from French settlers gone native, why, when
> he thinks no one is reading what he writes any more, does he cite Dollo's
> Law as the reason for his bad penmanship?

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 way.

> We can't be expected to believe
> that the French all unevolved the ability to use tools in a few generations.
> 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 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.

> Victor's mother had it,
> and Victor writes that he has "the same ability, though not to the extent
> she did."

That leaves only two people with the ability, and from the way Victor and
his father describe it, it doesn't seem beyond human capacities.

> And why the green eyes
> thing?

I don't know, but recall that Marsch had them too.  I don't know if we can
be sure whether the Free People really all had green eyes, or whether that
was Victor's extrapolation from himself and his mother; but if they did, it
could have arisen from genetic drift (far more plausibly than descendants of
human colonists losing the ability to lose tools).

>> I admit I don't know how Mrs. Blount's
>> interview fits into this.
> Mrs Blount doesn't just talk about the Annese or Shadow Children her father
> shot. She also says:
> "When I was growing up those little French girls that had been too small to
> fight was growing up too, and weren't they the cutest things? They got most
> of the handsome boys, you know, and all of the rich ones. You could go to a
> dance in your prettiest dress, and one of those Frenchies would come in,
> just in rags, you know, but with a ribbon and a flower in her hair, and
> every boy's head would turn."
> That has always sounded to me like another example of the Annese ability to
> look more attractive at will.

I don't think so.

> When I read it and then flip back to the
> passage that sent me there -- "I have read the interview with Mrs Blount - a
> hundred times when I was in the hills - and I know who I believe the Free
> People to be," -- the implication seems pretty strong that he means the Free
> People are, or are now, human-Annese half-breeds like himself. The 'French'
> girls were either Annese or, which seems more likely to me, themselves the
> children of Annese-settler interbreeding.

Even if we're supposed to take the "French" girls to be Annese, I don't see
how it would follow that the Free People are human-Annese hybrids.  It would
be the descendents of the English colonists and "French" girls--i. e.
today's "civilized" settlers--who would be hybrids, not the Free People.

A more plausible guess at the interview's significance for Victor is that
the difference between the settlers and the Free People is one of behavior,
not appearance or genetics.  Mrs. Blount was in no position to know whether
the "abos" were really human or not; nor, presumably, was her father (unless
he had dissected one of them).  The "abos" looked just like the French, and
the French were also poor and landless, but because they behaved like
animals (from the settlers' perspective), they were considered to be animals
and treated as such.

If this is correct, it could explain something that had been bothering me:
why Victor tells Number Five that the abos are all dead, but later in his
cell states that he is an animal and doesn't really speak: it is his
"animal" behavior, not his genes, that makes him an animal in his own eyes.



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