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From: =?iso-8859-1?q?Nicholas=20Gevers?= <vermoulian@yahoo.com>
Subject: (whorl) To alga: Complaining too early
Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2001 00:56:05 

I think part of the difficulty list members like alga
and William Ansley have had in accepting RTW stems
from the fact that they haven't had sufficient time to
digest the Short Sun series yet. The implications of a
Wolfe text take a while to emerge fully, if they ever
do; give TBSS time. Meanings will emerge. Just reread,
and ponder...

To a few specifics: 

William Ansley's querying of the "brother and sister"
section: TBSS is a political novel, with a strong but
qualified utopian subtext. Please note, generally,
that the final fivefold "Good fishing!" utterance at
the end of RTW is almost certainly an homage to the
ending of Kim Stanley Robinson's markedly utopian MARS
trilogy ("..on Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on
Mars"). The Secret of the Inhumi is a political
secret, an impetus to a juster social order; brother
and sister represent Natural Man, or the Noble Savage,
an essential component of general utopian discourse.

Horn's status as inhumu-suspect, and the ring in RTW:
Horn is not an inhumu, but he is inhumu-like, in that
he is one individual masquerading as another (either
Horn as Silk or Silk as Horn). Thus the repeated hints
of Horn being an inhumu, which misled John Clute among
others: the hints are thematic, pointers to Horn's
inner and outer ambiguity. The ring Oreb retrieves for
Horn in RTW changes form as a further pointer in the
direction of shifting or uncertain identity: it is
protean, like Horn, like the inhumi, like the

The death of Jahlee, and the massacre of the inhumi:
Alga, I think this took you aback because you were
anticipating Wolfe's intentions, a dangerous course as
you once warned me. You had a utopian/feminist agenda
in your reading; while repeating that TBSS is a
political and even utopian novel, I have to say that
its utopianism is cautious, indeed conservative, as is
only natural for GW. Silk/Horn is concerned to protect
humanity; the inhumi are predators upon humanity; the
political settlement required to defeat the inhumi is
universal human solidarity, this 1) to deny the inhumi
human blood and 2) to ensure that such human blood as
they do acquire is that of benign utopians. (Note that
Sinew's village late in IGJ is an emerging utopia
along these lines; but Silk/Horn is pessimistic about
general prospects on Blue.) In the immediate term,
cruder methods are needed to fend off the inhumi, such
as the killing of Jahlee; the inhumi need to be warned
to rein in their arrogance; and in any case, Jahlee
had ample warning of the possibility of the murder, as
in Horn's shooting of her "friend" on Green; and her
attempt to kill Nettle was hardly benign. Wolfe in
TBSS, as in all his major works, is being brutally
frank about the nasty realities of existence; Jahlee's
death fits perfectly into this scheme, like it or not.

Or so it seems to me.

--Nick Gevers.

--- William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net> wrote:
> What do I mean by "loose ends"? Well, if I had the
> time and energy 
> (which I currently do not and almost certainly will
> not) I believe I 
> could make up an impressively lengthy list. To take
> just one example, 
> the "brother and sister" section toward the end of
> OBW. Is there 
> anyone here who understands it? Is there anyone here
> who feels that 
> the book/trilogy is a better work because this
> passage is in it?

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