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From: <akt@attglobal.net>
Subject: (whorl) Alga bitches some more
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 08:13:56 

David DiGiacomo said:

> 1. Alga, why do you think it's worse than any other Wolfe book?
> Or are you just tired of his tricks?

No it's all the loose ends and carelessness, see below.
> 2. I wonder how completely David Hartwell feels he needs to understand
> Wolfe book before he can publish it.  It doesn't seem that he has the
> luxury of reading through 4 or 5 times and then thinking it over for a
> while.  If he hasn't worked out all the puzzles (or even just the
> how can he edit effectively?  Does he demand spoilers?

I think an editor who has spent as much time as Hartwell has with this
series has a responsibility to readers to tie it up satisfactorially
even if it means asking for revisions and a delay in publication. Of
course he should demand "spoilers!" And get them, too--it's his job to
look out for mistakes.  Obviously, some of you think the book is dandy
as is, which is why I have been staying out of the discussion lately.

> From: William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net>

> Why do I feel cheated? There were just too many loose ends. And the
> beginnings of most of the loose ends seemed to have no reason for
> being put in the trilogy in the first place.

Like the godling. No reason at all to introduce it/him, and a completely
irrational sort of creature to put in a closed environment. Also like
Merryn, whose appearence just seems bad-tempered on the author's part..

> I have enjoyed some of Wolfe's most "puzzling" works, both those in
> which many of the puzzles seem to have solutions even when I couldn't
> figure them out (such as _Peace_) and those in which many of the
> puzzles seem to have no solution or we are not given enough
> information to solve them (such as _The Fifth Head of Cerberus_).
> RttW however, just left me feeling frustrated.

Seconded. I'm not a Peacenik, especially, but I have more respect for it
that this.

> From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>

> Well, for starters, the Brother and Sister section at the end of OBW
is but
> one of many in the SHORT SUN trilogy where disparate individuals who
are not
> actually related by blood are still able to forge loving,
> bonds.
> Horn, for example, has a number of pseudo-children, from Brother and
> to Krait and Jahlee to Fava and Mora.
> HornSilk, meanwhile, has Hide and Hoof (and vice versa), while the
> has Seawrack and Maytara Marble has Mucor--even as Fava and Mora love
> other as much as sisters, just as Pig and Horn do brothers. Ditto for
> Greater Scylla and the Mother. And Brother, if he really is Fava's
> is adopted by a highborn lady of the Vanished People as a son.
> It's a very Christian theme, this notion of community--love thy
> (heh) as thy self--and it has repercusions all through the three books
> constitute SS, being a major leit motif.
> So, yeah, obviously I disagree about your assessment of the
> section, believing it to be important, vital, and integral to the

Except that it isn't. Those relationships were vital, this is thrown in
like a load of old rubbish.

> From: =?iso-8859-1?q?Nicholas=20Gevers?= <vermoulian@yahoo.com>
> Subject: To alga: Complaining too early

> 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...

Oh, honestly, what nonsense--this isn't the Torah! It's not my fault
that Wolfe abandoned Mucor, murdered Jahlee, sent Nettle and Seawrack
off on a Star Trek menage a trois with the saintly Silk, ditched Babbie,
gave us no word of Oreb and in general tossed his whole story out the
window--or off-planet as the case may be. Leaving both Blue and Green to
go to hell together, Neighbors, inhumi and whatnot. Tra-la, let's be

> 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.

That strikes me as more nonsense. Why in the world would he be offering
an "homage" to Robinson, a very diiferent kind of writer. Proust, maybe,
but Robinson? I don't think so.

> 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
> Neighbors.

Why does that make him like an inhumu? As this list has pointed out
repeatedly, Wolfe writing is full of such figures. And Clute was just
plain misreading. It happens. (To me too.

> 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.

I did not necessarily have a "utopian/feminist agenda," though I do
admit that I was somewhat seduced by Horn's treatment of Fava, Mora and
Jahlee in IGJ, especially in that beautiful ending, which, as I've said
before, struck me as Chaucerian. I do not even object to Jahlee's death
per se. I object to the hasty, melodramatic and far-fetched (would
Jahlee really have attacked Nettle so foolishly--allow me to doubt it)
B-movie manner in which it is fobbed off, just as I object to his
bundling his characters off-stage gracelessly and without motivation or
any clue as to what happens to some characters we have grown interested
in. Nasty realities of existence are one thing, but I do expect an
author to wind up his series with the same skill he has put into
constructing it. See all the above. And what's more, I'm not going to
continue this conversation endlessly.


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