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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: RE: (whorl) My reaction to IN GREEN'S JUNGLES
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 08:50:18 

> -- I'm glad I went ahead and purchased the hardcover instead of waiting
for the TPB.
> Notwithstanding my junkie-like desperation for the next SHORT SUN
installment, the
> fact that I could leave the dust jacket at home averted many
> situations. I know it's been discussed before on this list, but it bears
> that cover is an abomination.  I mean, just look at it.  Does it grab you
and demand
> your attention, saying: "This book is superbly erudite, marvelously witty,
and worthy
> of the closest scrutiny.  It is the best its genre has to offer and you
owe it to
> yourself to read it"?  I'm afraid not.  Instead, it shouts to unsuspecting
> "The person reading this is a socially-maladapted head case and is best
given a wide
> berth!"  Ehhh, I could go on for hours about SF's image problem, but I'll
just stop
> here.

While I agree with you in the general case, about SF's "image problem," I
have to ask...
Am I the _only_ person here who likes the covers on OBW and IGJ? I find this
frankly hard 
to believe; the marketing department at TOR can't be utter ninnies. (Though
I do recall
Deb Notkin once defining publishers as "companies whose job is to prevent
the sale of
as many books as possible.") The illustrations clearly represent important
moments in
the course of the book, without "giving away the plot;" additionally, they
are competent
(to say the least) in layout and execution. What, beyond this, anyone wants
from a cover
illo is beyond me.

The overall cover designs also impressed me: the white strip at the top with
author's name just, I dunno, looks classy -- says in a clearly coded way,
"this is a
Major Writer."

> -- My only major complaint with the book was the repetitious Horn vs. the
> Conquerors stuff.  Now, obviously Wolfe wouldn't keep putting his
characters in these
> situations if he wasn't trying to make a major point.  And I'll grant
that, like the
> Gaonese war, the Blanko fiasco allowed Wolfe to put Horn into a series of
> that would have been harder to contrive sans a background conflict.  But
why couldn't
> this have been allowed to *remain* in the background, like in OBW? 

War is one of Wolfe's major recurring themes; wars take a major part in
BotNS, BotLS, 
and now BotSS, not to mention a goodish selection of his shorter works. In
all these
he explores war from a surprisingly neutral standpoint -- that is, he
doesn't seem to
be taking either the Heinlein (STARSHIP TROOPERS) or the Haldeman (FOREVER
WAR) position,
but reporting neutrally: people do fight, these are some reasons why people
fight, this
is what it is like when people fight. War is not glorified but portrayed as
but neither is it shown as always unnecessary and stupid. This is yet
another of Wolfe's
many remarkable accomplishments as a writer.

> The "climactic"
> battle suffered from a major case of deus ex machina.  Wolfe spends large
chunks of
> dialogue describing the relative might of Soldo's forces to ratchet up the
tension and
> get us wondering what clever tactics will be used...but neglects to tell
the reader
> that, oh yeah, Blanko had a bunch of heavy artillery just lying around.
Handy, that.

It's been a couple of months since I read IGJ (already!), and I devoured it
with unseemly 
speed, but... I seem to recall that the heavy artillery was too heavy to
move very far or 
with any great speed; thus it had not been particularly relevant to the war
until Soldo's 
forces came close. One of the basic tactical facts of war: the defender has
a natural 
advantage, because he can sit in the safest places and pick at the attacker,
who must leave 
his safe places and advance to accomplish anything. This is doubly true when
the territory 
being defended is the defender's home; both for obvious emotional reasons,
but also because
the defender has additional resources at that point. (This is one reason why
a siege with
a seemingly-overwhelming attacking force can drag on for so long.)

> -- I liked the way OBW dealt, to some extent, with the rearing of sons,
and now IGJ
> has done much the same with daughters...as one would expect, given the
> Does anyone know if Horn's adventures in parenting bear any resemblance to
GW's own?

I seem to recall hearing that his eldest was bitten by a shape-changing
vampire as an
infant... 8*)

> -- I massively enjoyed almost every other aspect of the book.  I probably
gave a
> girlish squeal of glee when everyone turned up in Nessus.  Unfortunately,
thanks to my
> utter lack of discipline, I now have a very long wait for RTTW, and am
going to have
> to spend the morning turning my bookshelves inside out in search of a
> substitute...the methadone to GW's heroin, as it were.  I'm open to

Okay, here's a couple. They are not at all Lupine, I think, but all should
appeal to
Wolfe fans as literate SF/F with content more complex than a big adventure.

1. Run, do not walk, to your local bookseller and demand that they sell you
a copy
of Peter Hamilton's THE REALITY DYSFUNCTION, which is the first volume of a
massive space-opera. All three volumes are now out in massmarket p/b
(actually all
six volumes, because each volume had to be splilt for the p/b). This alone
might well
keep you busy until RttW hits. (Look, where else can you find a space opera
plausibly features Al Capone as a major character?) Fair warning though: if
you can't
handle horror of the Clive Barker style, avoid this; it contains some, uh,
that will turn your stomach. 

2. On a completely different note, I can also recommend Kirsten Bakis's
MONSTER DOGS. This is probably the closest to Wolfeishness of the
recommendations I 
am offering here -- secrets, secret history, strange relationships, mad
the works. I won't say anything more about it, just go look it up on Amazon.

3. If you haven't done so already, catch up with Gene Wolfe's favorite
detective (and 
mine): Nero Wolfe, as chronicled by his assistant, Archie Goodwin, and his
agent, the late Rex Stout (do not bother with the pathetic imitations by
Goldsborough). The ideal would be to read them in chronological order, but
if you lack 
the will, the money, or the ability (that is, motive, means, and
opportunity) to dig 
up all the books, some of the best are: TOO MANY COOKS; BLACK ORCHIDS;
MY DEAD BODY; and THE DOORBELL RANG. Three books deserver special mention,
and should 
be read in the correct order, as they involve Wolfe's equivalent to Holmes's
These build to a definite climax; they are collected in the omnibus TRIPLE
ZECK (groan),
which may be available in your local public library. (At any rate, most of
them are
fairly easy to find in cheap used paperback editions.)

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