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Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2002 16:30:28 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) Free Live Free round table part 3

Rostrum wrote:
>The Four Thrones of Narnia, occupied
>by two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve who walk through a magical
>door which does something weird to time and changes them from children to
>adults and back again.

That is an interesting parallel, and I'll leave it to our Oz experts to say
how Narnia might be a British "Oz."  For the couples I was mentioning
before, well, the Narnia four are all siblings, iirc, and that would be

Adam Stephanides wrote:
>I always took it for granted that the four would become the quadrumvirate of
>the prediction who, having improved themselves by merging with their past
>selves, would take power and overthrow the forces of Big Government who had
>destroyed Free's house, killed Free and set out to crush the dreams of the
>four.  As you say, it can hardly be a coincidence that Madame Serpentina uses
>the same word both times; and the book as a whole seems to lead up to this

Well . . . maybe.  This "Libertarian" reading holds up well until it
becomes clear that Free is killed by his own daughter (the "anti-Electra,"
I guess); and that the "big rich powerful conspiracy group" is not Big
Government at all, but Whitten and his merry band, who are mostly acting in
the dark trying to find their own Whitten.  One begins to suspect that
Whitten/Free may have been acitvely responsible for getting the wrecking
ball to come in the first place, as opposed to just passively allowing the
taxes to go unpaid or whatever while he was jaunting about through time.

It also seems to me that if "frontier living" were the answer, the four
would simply escape into the past and happily live out their natural lives
in the 19th century.  But if this were the case, then Candy would be
wearing a calico dress or something like that in the epilogue.

On to the tricky business of having three Whittens in 1983:

My question centers around the Whitten they talk to in High Country.  At
first I thought that his presence would cause the second disappearance of
"the man in the duffle coat" (whose first disappearance when Free appeared
caused the time-patrol crisis), but Whitten says that isn't so, that
duffle-coat deserted. (But in the timeline Wolfe wrote, duffle-coat
disappears a second time about the time that the four interview Whitten at
High Country; duffle-coat doesn't desert until two days later.)  I've said
that there are, say, seven years of subjective time between duffle-coat
Whitten and High Country interview Whitten.  So, following the logic,
duffle-coat Whitten spent seven years optimizing the scenario and ended up
by arriving at High Country to do the interview.

But then High Country interview (HCI) Whitten says that he hopes that when
duffle-coat Whitten deserted (wouldn't that be "will desert"?) he went to
"a better time."

So who is HCI Whitten?  Is he a bubble-persona who is about to be loped off
in a time-loop implosion?  Or is he Free, fresh from the frontier for this
one job in 1983, then back to the 19th century frontier until he leaves it
for good in 1819?  But if he is fresh from the frontier, then why the
ambiguity over where duffle-coat went/will go?  (I start to wonder if HCI
Whitten is the Whitten who followed orders the orginial orders and stayed
at High Country as long as possible.)

I'm trying to track the gizmos.  When Whitten & co. came to 1982 from 1942,
they bought the Magic Carpet and kept their portable gizmo there.  When
duffle-coat deserts, he takes the portable from Magic Carpet and walks
through the gizmo at Free's house (according to the Wolfe timeline) . . .
which would do what for him, exactly?  Send him back to Summer 1983?  So
what.  He is trying to get to 1803, as far as I can tell.

Once he gets to 1803, then it is easy enough to see how he can go back and
forth from frontier to house, since the portable gizmo is in the 1800s and
the house gizmo is in the 1900s.

It gets a little tricky when the timeline says in 1819 Free leaves the
frontier and conceals the portable gizmo in the wall of the house.  What is
the timeframe of the house where the gizmo goes into the wall?  If it is
1819, then that makes sense, in that the portable gizmo and the house gizmo
are the same gizmo at different stages: but they are linked, so it is 1819
in the kitchen and 1983 on the back porch..

OTOH, if Free put it into the house as he was =leaving= the frontier, then
how was there a gizmo in place for him to jump to the house from the
frontier . . . oh, wait, because he was =going= to put it in the wall when
he left the frontier . . . so that it had a presence in 1980s even though
he had not actually done the deed until 1819 . . .

Okay, so the house is a time station with endpoints 1819 and 1983?  Well
how can that be, since Free seems to exit it at 1982 if not also some times
before then.  So the doorways, though linked, march forward through time
together (always maintaining a fixed separation of maybe 150 years: thus
19th century house 1819-1833 and 20th century house 1969-1983)?  Otherwise
every time Free goes through he would rewrite himself the last time he went
through.  And, very importantly, the system breaks down if the house is
demolished!  If the traveler walks his way forward by going from 1983 to
1833 and then re-enters 1834 to go to 1984, he will become stranded in 1984
if there is no house there.




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