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From: "Timothy Reilly" <treilly@ozemail.com.au>
Subject: (whorl) Re: Digest whorl.v012.n101
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 12:26:05 +1000

Kieran Cleary wrote of my querying the quote from "Father" re Typhon's
daughter Scylla at p 360 of RTTW ("the daughter who had pledged herself in
secret to one of the sea gods of the Short Sun Whorl that would in time
become our Red Sun Whorl"):
> 'Short Sun Whorl' is a generic term. The particular SS Whorl mentioned
> here is the one 'that would in time become our RS Whorl', i.e. Urth.
> Nothing more than that, I think.

"Short Sun Whorl" in the series is most often a reference to the Blue/Green
system, though I agree that it is occasionally used generically to indicate
planetary systems in general rather than the Long Sun.  But IIRC when used
generically it is (as you'd expect) not capitalised.  Nevertheless I agree
that the sentence can only be read as "Short Sun Whorl" being used
generically, despite the capitalization.  Another proofreading lapse?

> You'll find Clute's review at
> http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue197/excess.html


Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote of my description of astral travel as "nonsense":

> Modulo the idea that it was "nonsense," yes. Mr. Wolfe, who writes
> "science-fantasy" (more accurately: he writes science fiction that
> makes some different assumptions about the nature of physical
> reality than do most SF writers), is entitled to posit astral travel
> if he chooses; dislike it if you choose, but to call it nonsense wrt
> Wolfe's universe-of-discourse seems rather petty.

"Petty"...well it substantially decreased my enjoyment of the series, and
leads directly to the issue discussed previously as to whether Wolfe is
writing Science Fiction or Science Fantasy.  It is something of a
disappointment to find it's the latter after the earlier books in this
"universe of discourse" (TBNS and TBLS) suggested the former.  As I've asked
before, why doesn't the Narrator try to astral travel to Seawrack or Nettle
(the two places he repeatedly says he wants to be) once he's discovered this
useful ability?  The rules of astral travel don't seem sufficiently clear to
rule this out.  Instead he goes (involuntarily it seems) to Green, and (it
seems eventually voluntarily) to Urth.  The problem with giving characters
these magic abilities is that it's irritating when they don't use them (or
at least try to use them) in the way that would be rational given the
motivations they've described.

Plus, there's no plausible mechanism for astral travel even suggested,
unlike the mirrors in TBNS or the descriptions in LS of how the gods possess
people.  I wouldn't mind so much if SS was unconnected with these - but as
you point out, it's not.

> > RTTW lacked the lyricism of both OBW and (to a lesser extent)
> > IGJ and for me was too full of the juvenilia of the LS series.
> Juvenilia of the LS series? What on _earth_ are you talking about?
> LONG is quite possibly the most mature sf series I have ever read.

What on _urth_ I'm talking about is that TBLS is IMHO (and not only mine...)
clearly juvenilia by the standards Wolfe established in TBNS, especially in
terms of narrative style but also content.  I won't repeat discussions that
are in the archives.  Obviously such aesthetic judgments involve matters of
opinion.  That's mine.

And really, what _is_ all this stuff about the past, future or present "gods
of Blue"?  Some seem to be space aliens (the Mother), some Long Sun computer
scans of human beings (Pas et al) that in some unexplained way may or may
not in future take up residence on Blue, some are related to the Neighbours,
PLUS there's the "real" God the Outsider.  How many gods does a planet need?
Are the "minor" gods of the LS whorl all originally other friends etc of
Typhon (eg Kypris)?  Seems logical, but then who are the likely candidates
for eg Quadrifons?  What does "god"' mean in the LS and SS series?  It's one
thing to have a society ruled by computer scans of former people who are
treated as gods (LS); it's another to have a planet where "god" means all or
any of the above.


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