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From: "Talarican" <exultnttalarican@mindspring.com>
Subject: (whorl) Keeping Up With the Neighbors
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 22:43:15 

Some thoughts on these Vanished People / Neighbors.

First of all, they seem to be tall, eight-legged arthropods, i.e.
spider-people. When the Neighbor "Horn" offered Horn his hand, it was hard
and bristly, as one might expect an insect or spider's paw to be. The
impression of the "dark cloak" could perhaps have been intended to suggest
an abdomen? When Horn first saw one, from the pit, he did in fact believe it
could have been a huge spider.

It would appear they probably aren't dead, but have stepped into some sort
of extradimensional netherworld (the Corridors of Time? The Brook Madregot?
Some dimension beyond the specula?) from which they might occasionally
appear dimly, wraithlike, able to interact with their former homes and
inhabitants, but safe from the inhumi. Horn was told "you cannot go where we
are", but surely the humans could follow the Neighbors into Death, if that's
what happened. While they seem to have certain similarities with some other
Good Beings in Wolfe, particularly the Hierodules, they seem unlike anything
ever mentioned in the New Sun cycle.

One of their powers seems to be an ability to project feelings and emotions
telepathically, to make others feel comfortable or uncomfortable in their
presence or former dwellings. They obviously approved strongly of Horn, who
felt so good and welcome in their presence he thought he would gladly clean
their sewers for the rest of his life. Poor Barsat, OTOH, was not liked by
them, for whatever reason, and felt repellent fear and menace in their
presence. In that respect, I am rather reminded of the Mule from Asimov's
_Foundation Trilogy_, or the Celtic-deity-aliens from Julian May's
Pleistocene Exile cycle.

One would think that this ability would give them instant recognition and
rapport with one another. The inhumi can deceive humans with their
shape-changing and color camouflage because humans are so daylight
sight-oriented, whereas animals which are more smell/sound or night vision
oriented, such as horses and night choughs, are not fooled by inhumi
masquerading as humans. I must wonder whether the inhumi could in fact
convincingly masquerade as the Neighbors' kind, if they presumably lacked
this telepathic emotion projection ability, and if so, how. Could the inhumi
acquire this ability by drinking a Neighbor's blood?

They also remind me in some ways of the Shadow Children and Old Wise One of
5HC: They are spectral, difficult to see and count, and seem to love
philosophical speculation. Also, they used the term "starcrosser" at the end
of _Green's_, the first use of that term I've seen outside 5HC.

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