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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: (whorl) (Blue) Spoilers Abounding
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 12:38:55 

Well, I'm on page 170, having just finished the Chapter "Seawrack" before
going to bed and have some random comments:

(1)  I'm glad to see Wolfe returning to first-person narrative.  I love LONG
SUN, but I think Wolfe's strongest writing is almost always when he's giving
us a narrator's view (PEACE, first part of 5HC, BOTNS, "Seven American Nights")
of things.  It's interesting to note that once again, Wolfe has us reading not
a story, crafted by Gene Wolfe, but an artifact--"Horn's Book," edited by
Hoof and Hide (and presumably their wives).  Wolfe shares this habit with
Nabokov--he loves to explain how the work you're reading came about, even to
include in the narrative the (fictional) circumstances under which it was 
written--BOTNS, BOTLS (as a massive surprise at the end), "Seven American
Nights", the soldier books, PEACE, Urth (which gives us a good explanation for
how Severian's first narrative ended up in Wolfe's back yard), and so on.  The
number one question I have right now is, "Who IS the narrator?"  He says his
name is Horn, and in some sense this is clearly true.  On the other hand, he
says that Horn is dead, and refers to Horn a few jarring times in the third
person.  Something strange is going on here, but I haven't yet a clue what
exactly it is--also, people seem to think he's Silk, but that is easier to
explain.  This whole Rajan business is also reasonable, after all, Wolfe's
BOOK OF THE X SUN protagonists have a curious habit of becoming the proper
rulers of their states.

(2)  At first I thought that Seawrack's mother was an undine from BOTNS.  Now
that it appears she can change shape this seems less likely, but it leads to
an interesting (if almost certainly wrong) hypothesis.  What if the Whorl is
the Urth of the New Sun?  This would explain Wolfe's suggestion that Severian
may show up in these books.  Green, then, would be Luna with it's orbit
altered significantly.  I'm trying to piece together from the geographical
descriptions a map of the continents, but as the geography of Urth may have
changed drastically after the New Sun, I'm not sure this will help.  This
is almost certainly wrong--I don't see where the inhumi would come from (unless
they were always on Luna and now are free to "fly across" thanks to the orbit
change), and three-hundred years seems far too short a time between the end
of Typhon's age and the coming of the New Sun.  Of course, Seawrack's Mom 
could be an undine, but not on Urth--they are said to fly the stars, after all.
Perhaps "Mother" is something more like Erebus or Abaia, able to take the 
shapes of what the monsters on Urth take as brides.

(3)  Seawrack is another one of Wolfe's portraits of Love, the Goddess, woman,

(4)  This book has a very Vancean feel--even more so than most of Wolfe's work.
I'm not sure where it comes from, other than that Horn's quest seems more
picaresque than Severian's (Severian's move from gate to gate and back again
is, even before you know where it is going, a very determined seeming thing--
he has some presentiment of where it's going from the beginning)--and Silk
didn't really cover all that much geographical territory.  Perhaps it's the
sailing (as usual, Wolfe shows a striking interest in the details of sailing--
a very "Incarnational" interest in the hard edges of how things are done that
is also present in his interest (evidenced a lot so far in BLUE) in how to 
make things--paper, crops, a business).

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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