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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) The Secret: Equine Overkill
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 11:51:09 

On Tue, 24 Apr 2001, Adam Stephanides wrote:

> Because although Horn doesn't think it can be used, the inhumi do.  Kind of
> like Reagan and Star Wars; in a sense it was a weapon, although most
> scientists believe that it couldn't work, because the Soviet leadership
> believed that it could work and altered their behavior accordingly.  (If you
> disagree with this example, substitute something else.)

So you're imagining Krait dying in Horn's arms and whispering, "The one
thing we fear, the one weapon that would destroy us, is if humans ever
develop skins so think we cannot suck their blood[1].  Then we would
return to mindless beasts."  And Horn rolling his eyes, and thinking,
"Well, it won't be hard to keep that 'weapon' a secret, why would I even
be tempted to tell anyone something so practically useless?"

I find that hard to reconcile with the way Horn frets about the secret.  
His conversation with his Gaonese concubine sounds like he really thinks
there's a possibility the inhumi could be harmed by what he knows.

[1] Sort of an exaggeration here, although I think it's much more likely
the colonists could genetically engineer thick skin for themselves than it
is that they could all live by the Golden Rule.

> This is a possible reading of the passage on p. 125 of IGJ--that when Horn
> says the colonists can't wield it, he means they shouldn't, and when he says
> the Neighbors couldn't, he means they wouldn't--but imo an unnatural one.
> In particular, the sentence "If they [the Neighbors] could not wield it,
> there is little hope that we human beings can." is very strained if read in
> this sense.

Horn seems to respect and look up to the Neighbors.  I took the sentence
you quote to mean that Horn had higher regard for the goodness of the
Neighbors than for his fellow humans, and thus if the secret was too
morally dangerous for the Neighbors to use, then it's definitely too
dangerous for humans.


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