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Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 13:49:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) living dolls

--- Andy Robertson  wrote:
> IMHO the real root is the nursery/toy/steadfast tin solder  vibe seen
> well
> in "The War Beneath The Tree".
> As I reflect, it seems to me that all Wolfe's artificial people- from
> the
> chems of the Long Sun, through the adult-sized puppets of   name
> I forget>, through Mr Million and the Horars (note name of tank), are,
> more
> than anything else, to be understood as walking *toys*.
> Gods' toys, maybe.  But essentially toys.
> Hence their sexual impotence.
> Toys have nothing between their legs, and neither do robots, however
> "superior" they may be in other ways.
> In the Long Sun books this is hypostatised into the difficulty the Chems
> have in reproducing, by their non-sexual, but plausible, means.
> There is no reason why they should have this difficulty - it could be
> arranged otherwise - but they must have it, because they are toys, and
> toys
> do not have babies.
> And also this is the key to their personal characteristics and the odd
> limitations of the way Wolfe uses them.
> Stop thinking of them as robots.
> They are dolls!   Big grown-up dolls!,
> Nurse and housemaid dolls for the female chems, soldier dolls for the
> male ones.

I think you're right that this is how their creators think of them.
I don't think Severian and Silk think of them as toys at all.

As for how we should think of them, I think you're right that in some
artistic sense they're connected with various fictional toys you and
others have mentioned.  But I think we're supposed to see them as
equivalent to humans (and Neighbors), just as we're supposed to see
the human characters as humans and not, though Severian remarks people
often do, see them as clients.

You can certainly add Dr. Talos to your list, by the way.  What about
the homunculus in _Citadel_?  Or the aquastors and Hierodules?

Jerry Friedman

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