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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: The ending (was Re: (whorl) Not the Torah, but Torah-like)
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 11:41:33 

on 4/11/01 3:08 AM, Nicholas Gevers at vermoulian@yahoo.com wrote:

> As for this repeated criticism about TBSS's "hurried
> ending": it's not hurried at all. It's simply that GW
> has spent seven volumes building up characters and
> scenarios, and he rightly assumes that readers who
> have stuck with him this far know those characters and
> situations well enough by now to infer their final
> motivations and destinies. To invoke Kim Stanley
> Robinson again: GW is the king of the slingshot
> ending; his texts move on and work on beyond the page;
> read in the spirit of the enterprise.

But the ending voyage doesn't "work on beyond the page."  We've never seen
Silk qua Silk with any of the other passengers (except Oreb), and the others
are all strangers to each other, so we have no idea what will become of this
ill-assorted bunch.  And, to be frank, I don't particularly care.

To compare it with ENGINE SUMMER, a comparison mantis made (though
apparently he didn't mean by it what I took him to): in ES also, the
protagonist's story is not resolved in the sense we had expected it to be;
instead, a sudden twist of events abruptly "closes off" the protagonist's
story.  But in ES the resolution worked, and I didn't feel cheated, because
it was emotionally moving and thematically resonant.  Neither of these
things are true of the ending voyage in RttW.

> Thus, to repeat
> what I and others have pointed out: Mucor is now old
> enough to look after herself; just in case, Babbie
> remains on Blue to keep many eyes on her; Jahlee is a
> predator and jealously in love with Horn to boot, and
> is fully capable of a crime of passion on Lizard
> Island, just as is Horn himself, a mere human when all
> is said and done; Oreb accompanies Silk to the Whorl
> again, as you would expect; Nettle ditto, because the
> only remnant of her husband is in Silk, Old Viron is
> her old home anyway, and her children are all grown up
> on Blue and Green; Seawrack ditto, because she and
> Silk form an archetypal couple once Hyacinth is out of
> the way, and Horn (again) is still in Silk; and Blue
> and Green are left to their own devices because that
> is how God governs the Earth and its humans, giving
> them free will.

In your list of motives, you don't explain why Silk wants to leave, or why
he has to leave so quickly.  Aside from this, I think alga's basic complaint
is not that the characters aren't motivated, it's that the hasty departure
fails to resolve any of the narrative threads that have been left dangling.

A couple of minor points on the ending, while we're at it:

1) If, as you've argued, the inhumi mobbed the wedding to kill "Horn" and
anyone whom he might have told the secret to, then Silk and Nettle's plan to
use Pajarocu as their point of departure might not be that great an idea.

2) To put Nettle on a small boat for weeks with a woman who, in Daisy's
words, "trusted only 'Father,' and would have put her long knife into any
other person as readily as I would gut a fish" (411) seems to be asking for
trouble.  Isn't being nearly murdered by a rival once enough for Nettle?


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