FIND in
<--prev V209 next-->
From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Those chems
Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2002 14:36:34 -0500

Matthew wrote:
>The suggestion that Marble's behaviour is an affectation is an interesting
>An affectation. A show, pretense, or display. Behavior that is assumed
>rather than natural; artificiality. A particular habit, as of speech or
>dress, adopted to give a false impression.

That definition fits Marble perfectly!

>Programmed behaviour - in the literal sense of being codes and
>instructions - is as "natural" to the chems as any learend behaviour is to
>humans.  Marble's modesty is exactly the opposite of an affectation.  It
>is likely as deep seated in her as any instinct in us, perhaps more so,
>and for a very specific reason: to make her (and her kind) not only fit in
>with the human society in which she exists but also to make her a model
>for that society.  Yes, it is an artifice to give a false impression -
>that she is human.  But it is not assumed or adopted: it and other such
>manerisms are fundamental to her creation.

I don't think so. Marble was not programmed on Urth to be a sibyl. I don't
know how/why she became a sibyl, but several decades back she was a maid.

>So too with gender.  Gender-less chems would not, could not have performed
>so well in the role assigned them. A difference so fundamental between
>gendered humans and non-gendered chems would have been a significant
>barrier to the chems function.  Just look at where Marble is; in a
>religious establishment and a teacher of the young. Church and school, two
>central institutions for society and thus most effectively placed.  She
>should be an examplar for the children and adults who come into contact
>with her.

After entering the religious order she "assumed" and "adopted" the
conventions of the order. Marble is the only example I am aware of of a chem
entering the order. That being so, her programmers on Urth assuredly did
_not_ waste her storage space by giving her unneeded (and from her
programmers' perspective, pointless) "manerisms" "fundamental to her
creation". I mentioned that chems have a certain ability to learn from
experience. That is what she did. She adopted the mannerisms of the bio
sibyls, acquiring her modesty from their nun-like example.

Marble and Olivine are the only female chems I can recall from the LS/SS
books. Olivine does not share Marble's sense of modesty. She spied on Silk's
nakedness. Olivine clothes herself like a human, not from innate modesty,
but because male chems she encounters want to mate with her. She doesn't
want to mate, apparently because she is "ashamed" of her imperfections.
(RTTW, 240)


>What should our view of chems be?  The mainframe view of a small, useful
>tool?  Or the passenger view of personality and fellow?

Wolfe clearly intended the latter, as I think I indicated. Olivine is a
pathetic figure, like some street urchin out of Dickens. But, hell's bells,
somebody smear some grease on her sticking relays and get rid of that
annoying stammer and lurch!



<--prev V209 next-->