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From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (urth) Hues of Hell
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 1997 08:12:41 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]


Good summary, Ron. My own reaction to this story (and, I'm afraid, to many
of Wolfe's shorter stories) is one of irritation. To me, the conclusion
we're meant to draw---that the alien has somehow invaded the womb of
Marilyn, the female crew member--and the emotion we're meant to infer,
apprehension of catastrophe, have not been earned. Hartwell is mistaken in
comparing the ending to that of 2001; it is quite the opposite, a cosmic
Rosemary's Baby situation. How do I know? Birds don't lie! I'm not being
flippant; it seems clear to me that the bird (I thought it was a parrot,
not a macaw) is meant to be the only crew figure not subject to illusion,
and therefore reliable.

But to me all the mumbo-jumbo about the Egg and the yolk and the sperm and
placental imagery (it's all there right out front) juxtaposed with the
(possibly psychotic) male crew member's babble of hell and demons and
shadows (the mother ship is, all too tellingly, the Shadow Show) seemed
superficial and contrived. The story needed more room; it seems merely
sketchy, an obvious sort of metaphor for the not very fresh observation
that every pregnant woman harbors an alien within her.


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