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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) To alga: Complaining too early
Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2001 20:35:48 

on 4/8/01 2:56 AM, Nicholas Gevers at vermoulian@yahoo.com wrote:

> 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.

My immediate reaction is that I don't believe Wolfe is a utopian, even a
"conservative" one; I don't believe Wolfe advocates "Natural Man" or the
"Noble Savage"; and while the parallel with the ending of the MARS trilogy
is interesting, I doubt that it means Wolfe is borrowing Robinson's politics
(unless, reversing the usual course of events, he's become radical in his
old age).
> 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.

The more I think about it, the less I understand how the inhumi's secret, or
"loving one another," is supposed to render the inumi harmless.  I don't see
what the colonists could do if they all loved each other that they can't do
now, which would keep the inhumi from getting any human blood.  As for 2),
for the inhumi to voluntarily stop preying on humans, they'd have to be not
just benign.  They'd have to be self-sacrificing enough to give up their
intelligence rather than attack humans (which, in moderation, apparently
does humans no long-term harm).  But if the colonists became so altruistic
that the inhumi would absorb that much altruism, then they would be
altruistic enough to allow the inhumi to prey on them rather than lose their
intelligence.  In any case, as someone once pointed out, can the inhumi
really believe the colonists as a group capable of such altruism?

> 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

But Horn doesn't kill Jahlee as a deterrent to other inhumi; he kicks her to
death in anger, and is deeply ashamed of it afterwards.  (And if it had been
a deterrent, then it didn't work, since it was followed shortly afterwards
by the mass attack.)

I agree, though, that Jahlee's death is a plausible development, though not
inevitable.  My complaint was not at the failure of the inhumi subplot to
resolve in a utopian fashion, but at its failure to resolve at all (except
as far as Jahlee is concerned).  The Secret was a big letdown (I don't buy
the theory that Horn has concealed the real secret from us, for reasons I've
stated before, and if I did it wouldn't make me happier), and the victory
over the massed inhumi at the wedding solves nothing.

The more I think about that wedding attack, though, the fishier it sounds.
Such a mass attack (at least six hundred inhumi) seems to be unprecedented.
It must be very rare, at least, or Blue would have to be far more
militarized and regimented than it is.  Would Juganu really be able to get
hundreds of inhumi deviate from their usual habits and join him in his
private revenge?  And would these inhumi continue the attack once they saw
that the wedding party was armed, contrary to expectations?


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