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Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 17:00:38 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: What happened to everybody else?

Jeff Veyera wrote:
>The recent thread on Mr Tilly and the discoveries made regarding oranges
>(especially his propensity for injecting oranges with drugs) have made me
>wonder again what real or perceived calamity befell humanity in Weer's
>present.  This is referred to consistently throughout, and buttressed
>perhaps by the Irish folktale at the very end of the novel.  What is Wolfe's
>game here?

In the AD 2274 timeframe, all the Americans have died out.  Throughout
PEACE there is a sense of "decline and fall," like that of the Roman
Empire, with Weer being something like a provincial big man who sees it
crumbling away.  One reason given for the fall of the Roman Empire is the
lead in the water -- the Romans were accidentally poisoning themselves by
using lead pipes.  This single point seems to be a compelling answer for
the soft-apocalypse that happens offstage in PEACE: the citizens have been
poisoned by the fake orange drink, turned into sterile workers or freakish
mutants (sideshow freaks who have to live nomadic lifestyles).  As per
Olivia and Weer's vision of the relatively near future, the continent is
likely peopled by new species of humankind, with tribal organization being
the highest level.  Weer wasn't alive past 1974, so he doesn't have the
details for the last two centuries, but it was all falling action from the
trends he could see.

Weer isn't the "last American," since he is dead, but he might well be
among the last American ghosts (delayed by that elm tree, in his case).
Very much like the goose sidhe in the story you mentioned, who have
survived past the death of their species.


>I was also struck by the comment that the plant opening caused a glut in the
>potato market in the area.  Aside from using potatoes to make vodka (a key
>component in the screwdrivers Weer favors) and the potential that the plant
>is also a distillery, why should this be?  Is a key juice ingredient
>extracted from potatoes?

Whole potatoes are used up to make the ersatz orange beverage, or so it
seems to me.



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