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From: "Kieran Cleary" <kierannwn@tinet.ie>
Subject: (whorl) Re: (blue) Notes from a 2nd reading [SPOILERS]
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 15:25:20 

The following are some scribbles from a second reading of OBW. A mixture of
points and questions in no particular order.

Kieran Cleary


1. "Even Hoof and Horn [sic].....Horn and Hide [sic]" [p.129]
2. "Horn made several [Molpe's dulcimers] for his younger siblings.."
3. "I snatched the ball and won the game." [p.381]
4. "...reminding me forecefully of a man named Horn I used to know." [p.309]


1. "Silk may be here on Blue already, after all.....So I am searching here,
although I am the only person in Gaon who could not tell you where to find
him. Searching does not necessarily imply movement. Thinking it does, or
rather assuming it without thought, may have been my first and worst
mistake." [p.18]
2. "They had been told that Silk was here, 'ruling Gaon,' and wished to
invite me to rule Skany as well" [p. 147]
3. "Up there I nearly wrote: 'when I was in the schola'. So accustomed have
I become to talking in that fashion, as I must." [p.172]
4. "...I told her about you, Nettle, calling you Hyacinth." [p.222]


1. "Marrow is...balder even than I was then." [p.21]
2. "At thirty-five, only a little taller, thick bodied and nearly bald.."
3. "My own height...was three cubits and two hands at that time - a good
deal less than it is now." [p.196]
4. "..explaining that I...was half blind." [p.225]
5.  "Yet they cheered for the one-eyed man with white hair." [p.289]
6. "Saw my own reflection...wild white hair and empty socket, lined and
worried old face." [p.281]


1. Sinew was bitten by an inhuma, therefore not by Krait.

"I thought of Sinew, livid and scarcely breathing in the little bed.."

"'One of you nearly killed my son.'
His head wagged. 'That wasn't me." [p.205]

"..the inhuma that bit Sinew." [p.241]

2. What is the issue with the inhumi and tools/technology?

Referring to a boat, "The inhumi do not understand such things, even when
they make use of them." [p.350]

Krait cannot use a slug gun:
"I can't use it and you can.." [p. 201]

Krait can, however, sail:
"I stared at...the inhumu at the tiller...'You told me that you
couldn't'....'Because I don't know how. I can pull a rope though...'"

Is their use of tools purely mimetic also? They do not appear to have high
technology of their own and Pajarocu reminds Krait of an inhumi town.

"'What sort of town is [Pajarocu]?'....'It's more like one of ours, Father
dear'" [p. 305]

3. Given that the inhumi were once "mindless, hideous, blood drinking
animals" [p.372], and assuming that the source of their intelligence is
somehow the blood of humans, then was Quetzal originally an 'animal' when he
came to the Whorl? I assume that there were no humans in the Blue/Green
system before the arrival of the Whorl.

4. Many inhumi will die in "In Green's Jungles"?

"Three dead so far, Jahlee says, but she cannot know of all of those whose
lives have been lost."

5. Horn says "I can threaten the inhumi as well as save them."[p.311]  Does
'saving' the inhumi refer to anything beyond releasing those buried alive in

6. For imhumi, the sky is always black: "The sky I see is always black" [p.
220]. Krait can see the sun: "If you look carefully, you can see the sun on
it..." [p.257] Also "The whorl to him is the airless starlit plain..."

Their eyes are (only) sensitive to light outside the human visual spectrum?
UV, IR? Intruiging possibility of connection with blue glass in the Vanished
People ruin on the Island: "I've been trying to figure out how this blue
glass works. it's as if it sees more light from the Short Sun than we do and
shows it to us." [p. 192]

7. Horn speculates that the inhumi may have skeletons of  "cartilage, as
those of some sea-creatures" [p.109] while Wijzer says of the inhumi, "Them
you cannot drown" [p. 109]. Connection with the sea or red-herring? We know
that the inhumi can survive without air (travel through space, survive being
buried alive).


1. Remora sugegsts that the VP have disappeared underwater: "You came by
sea...most of this...foreign whorl....Concealed. You conceive that its
former...population dead, eh?" [p.58]

2. Horn's meeting with the VP on Shadelow suggests they moved off-world?
"..face lifted to the western stars. 'Some of you call the place where we
are the Neighbor Whorl." Or is the VP referring to Blue?

3. What is the issue with the VP and names? "My name is Horn also" [p. 272]
Reminiscent of the inhumi who do not appear to have names amongst

4. There is emnity between inhumi and VP. Krait avoids VP: "If you'd like my
guess, I think he knew who or what they were and avoided them" [p.259] while
the VP kill inhumi: "'Neighbour kill you?' I suggested. He shook his head.
'Kill inhumu.'" [p.263]

5. What happens to Horn after his encounter with the VP on Shadelow?

Reflexes heightened, kills breakbull [p.273]
Trees 'part' for him: "My face and arms...were never scratched again"
[p.275]. Also in Gaon "the Neighbours' gift came back to me." [p.300]
His strength is increased: "I surprised myself and them by lifting the huge
[breakbull's head]" [p.282]

6. Is Seawrack ex-human or VP? "Were those gills the gift of the goddess, or
the badge of the original owners of this whorl?" [p. 166] Also "..her legs,
which were very long...seemed almost to coil about her. 'She's going back to
what she was,' the inhumu told me" [p. 230] Also, on the island with the VP
ruin, Seawrack says: "..we'd mend our boats and the walls we'd built for a
while..." [p.193]


1. Why didn't Pas put pure seed strains on the landers?
2. How did Mucor swim to the island given that it takes a day to sail
there:"It'll take you all day, even with a good wind" [p. 77]
3. Why did the Mother send Seawrack to Horn?
4. What climbed aboard the boat: "Something climbed into our sloop that
night.." [p. 161]
5.  Why did Krait tell Horn to ask Seawrack to sing for him?
6. For those who lean towards the Green=Lune hypothesis, some tantalising
pointers? Of the trees on the island with the ruin, "Mighty trees clung to
rocks.." [p.188] Then, "On Green one finds trees...ten times the height of
the tallest trees I saw on the island" [p.189] Also, "..Green's monstrous
beasts would never be credited....I will have to represent them
as...smaller, than they actually are" [p. 324] Does this point to lower
gravity on Green?
7. Who or what did Horn see looking into the pit? "Once...it seemed to me
that a man with a long nose (a tall man or an immense spider) stood over
me....He touched my forehead with something?" [p. 203] Is this just an
hallucinated Babbie?
8. Does Horn die in the pit?
9. Krait claims that Seawrack is unreliable: "Most of you lie constantly, as
Seawrack does". [p. 307]
Also "she talked about her life beneath the sea, of people she had
known...(not all or even most of them actual, I believe)" [p.326] So what
has Seawrack lied about?
10. Are, as it seems to Horn, the inhumi waiting for him to arrive in
Pajarocu before leaving in the lander?
11. Why does Krait need Horn to get to Pajarocu anyway?
12. Why did Krait want Seawrack aboard the lander?
13. Who was in the trees calling for Babbie? "Someone on the shore called
again for Babbie" [p.377] And who did Horn find in the forest? "I found him
in the forest, sitting in the dark under the trees" [p.378]

HORN'S FAMILY (informed from OBW only)

Father: Smoothbone [p.79]
Siblings: Calf [p.74], various sisters [p.158]
Sister-in-Law: Hop

Well, for sheer chuckle value, it's got to be when Seawrack starts to call
the hus "our Babbie".

North West Labs
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Republic of Ireland

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