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Date: Fri, 6 Sep 2002 09:26:35 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) Was Jonas a Chem?

Andrew asked if Jonas was a chem.
>Something else that may or may not have come up in years past, but which
>I haven't noticed, is the question as to whether or not Jonas in not a
>chem who (like Marble) was repaired partially with human parts.  Indeed,
>there is a lot of weirdness going on with his personality that rather
>reminds me of what happened when Marble merged with Rose (not in the
>particulars, just that things are... odd).

I will add my voice with those saying that Jonas is not a chem.  Yes, he is
a robot, but of a different evolutionary line of descent: he is a "hollow
man" type, which developed from pressure suits and powered exoskeletons.
Because he is of smaller size than the "iron man" class represented by
Sidero (who is big enough that a man like Severian can climb inside him and
wear him like the hard suit that he is), Jonas is presumably of the silvery
command class seen in passing on the starship _Tzadkiel_.

From another angle: Jonas is a sailor, not a soldier.

Having writ that, still I agree (most others will too) that Jonas has been
repaired with biological parts.  And yes, this is a very Oz-like bit of
magic which is not like the Rose/Marble situation (where robotic hardware
is recycled from a dead bio to a living chem).

Half-facetiously Roy asks what Jonas would do with Jolenta if he could find
her; which relates to robotic love (rather than sexual congress--I believe
the text makes it clear Jonas has no external male reproductive organ), if
I read it right.  That is, Roy questions Jonas's love, because Jonas is a
robot (Roy does not question the love of a man who has no external male
reproductive organ; nor the possibility of Platonic Love).

My sense is that Jonas's prosthetics have actually made him part-human in
software (as mirror to how a cyborg is "part machine" in hardware), making
him capable of loving (if robot sailors cannot love) or loving a human (if
robots can love robots but not love humans).  And every man loves/desires
Jolenta!  (So in this sense I agree that the exchange of parts has had a
corresponding software effect as might happen in the Rose/Marble case, even
though the parts are of different categories.)

In addition, Jonas might well love Jolenta for the things they have in
common: both are part artificial (her cosmetic implants, his prosthetics);
both are part robot (she is Talos's hypnotic slave); and both have
pseudonyms (that begin with "Jo-," hinting at twinning or alike-ness) they
received after their traumatic reinventions.

Jonas steps into the mirrors after speaking of being repaired.  When next
we see him, he is fully biological.  I have often speculated that in Yesod
his biological prosthetics were expanded into a full biological body into
which the Jonas-software was integrated . . . along with the biological
software that was present-yet-dormant in the prosthetics, now full-blown in
the reconstructed bio body.

(A somewhat cleaner version is that the Jonas-spirit was drawn from Yesod
by the Claw to ride the body of the annonymous dead soldier.)

In any event, two personalities in one body.

So I agree as to possible software weirdness in both Marble and Jonas being
a result of their use of external hardware replacements; that the weirdness
involves a degree of personality transfer ranging from "dilute" to
"potentially overpowering."  OTOH Jonas is not a chem of the Whorl.

Side note: re chem power systems, iirc the talus had a fusion power plant,
not a chemical power plant.


Gene Wolfe at WorldCon report coming soon!


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