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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Heavy Hyacinth
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 16:18:24 -0500

Nutria declares
We can always fall back on thematic rather than literal associations. If the
name Hyacinth is also a pointer to Apollo, this relationship stands without
her having to be a male. (Look, Silk is NOT going to be a homosexual, or
engage in homosexual acts. Not in anything by Gene Wolfe.)

Crush responds:
Excellent point that Hy does not HAVE to be male to be thematically
connected to Hyacinthus. Of course, there are myriads of heterosexual love
affairs of Apollo's that Wolfe could have chosen. As for whether Wolfe would
*never* have a good-guy protagonist engage in a homosexual act - one might
axiomatically assert that he wouldn't have such a character wander from
woman to woman having casual sex (ala Severian). But I agree that *Silk* is
not homosexual. Incidentally, I do "rescue" a priest from closet
homosexuality by identifying Incus as female - and since closet
homosexuality is a malicious stereo-type of priests, I doubt Wolfe would
coddle it.

But the homosexual argument is moot in this case because a chem is not
human. Their "sexuality" is not mammalian; it is only modeled on human
roles. "Male" or "Female" roles for chems is no more applicable for humans
than male and female electrical connections. When Jonas becomes human he
choose to be a human male due to his love for Jolenta not due to a sexual
preference in a mammalian sense. The machismo aspect of Typhon's culture
(exemplified in the requirement of a physically hale male heir) caused all
the chem soldiers to needlessly be "male"- and this causes the plight of the

I reiterate that if Hy is a male chem, it does not make her relationship
with Silk homosexual. That is not the "taint" in their love-making.
Personally, I consider very impressive plotting that IMO Wolfe wove the
homosexual undertone of the Apollo/Hyacinthus story into the Silk's love
affair without making Silk homosexual (in ANY sense).

Nutria elaborates:
Similarly, the fact that her name can also be that
of a rock can point to the need for human beings to "reach down" and rescue
"lesser" humans, in this case chems, without Hy's actually being a chem. We
get the same theme in Short Sun, where the humans must live in such a way
as to redeem the inhumi.

Crush responds:
Excellent point again, that Hy can be "associated" with chems without having
to be chem - for example she is associated with Marble in the parallel
Crone-Nymph-Maiden triads (Marble-Rose-Mint = Hy-Chenille-Nettle). She could
play the crone as does Marble without being a chem like Marble.

Still, (perhaps this comes up in the Short Sun books) I didn't note the
theme where the chems need special rescuing. They aren't slave labor in
Viron, they have full legal rights as persons. I was actually surprised to
see so few of the chem army (or any chems except Marble) following Remora to

I agree with you that chems are persons. The discussion about taluses with
the brown mechanic directly rubs out all significant distinction between the
psyches of chems and bios. As for Oreb and Tick, I'm not sure. Both of them
were purchased at different times for a sacrifice - one by Silk and the
other by Hy. I don't recall any move to free the animals in the market.
There is the loyalty of Oreb in his hostility to Tick (for being a
Trivigaunte spy who eventually betrays Silk's meeting with the
Ayuntamiento), but quite often the motives seem limited to the basics (food,
survival, etc.).

As for Silk's despondency being due to Hy's unfaithfulness, I have been
assuming that occurred *after* Silk's discussion with Horn - on the trip
back. The Mantis' additional explanation of the being the "lie" being due to
help from Kypris - that's a good rationalization but, gosh, I like mine
better -- it seems to pull Silk's entire explanation together.

On that point, I never imagined Hy was a chem until I read that conversation
on the airship - up until that time, I was merely perplexed by their
relationship. Sure I knew her name could be read as ambivalent - just as
Chenille's and Villus' can -- but what did it mean?. Like you I had lots of
theories about how she was connected thematically to chems - particularly
Marble. But after Silk's despondency, the chem theory seemed to answer all
my questions (while adding the problem of explaining the flags to the
contrary). It answered for me why their relationship, Hy's behavior, and
everyone's reaction to the relationship seemed "off". If it never seemed
that way to you, then I doubt you'll be compelled by anything I say on this
subject - I myself came to this explanation begrudgingly.

Nutria gushes ;-):
I say you've advanced the discussion, but thematically, not as regards the
"literal" "facts" of the narrative.

Crush responds:
Well I'll happily take what I can get. Thanks. :-D



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