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From: Joel Priddy <jpriddy@saturn.vcu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Hues Revisited
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 97 10:47:26 EDT

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

 My first impression of "Hues" was that it was a sci-fi Antichrist
story. When it was brought up on the list and I was thinking back
to it, pretty much all I could remember about was "baby space
Satan." But I couldn't figure out what the point of the story
was. I expected some moral point to be made, after all, if you're
gonna get saddled with raising the Antichrist you really ought to
have some sort of fatal flaw, right? An innocent getting stuck
with that sort of evil seems like the subject of a much longer
  When the pulp-magazine cover imagery was mentioned, I thought
that made perfect sense. I could immediately imagine Wolfe using
as his point of departure some lurid painting of a shocked man
and woman with their pet bird and robot staring into some energy
field from which a demon was emerging. I bet that if we looked,
we could find dozens of covers that depicted almost that exact

   Upon re-reading the story, I think if there is a fatal flaw or
sin shared by the characters, it's idolatry. Kyle states that he
worships life. From the last line of the story, it seems that
Marilyn does also, even if she might not say it as directly as
Kyle did. One might say that worship of life is worshipping the
visible face of the Divine. If you believe in a literal Hell, and
if through the lens of science fiction you propose a physical
existence to Hell, it is necessary to believe that some Life is
inherently evil. Not realizing this in time is what dooms the
Here's a thought: we often see Wolfe deal with the Divine in a
science fiction setting, but rarely with the Infernal. This is
sort of a turn-around from most entertainment, as alga can
attest, where the demonic is usually considered more interesting.
The unpleasantness in Wolfe's worlds comes from the Fallen state
of the world's inhabitants, not an outside metaphysical force.
Typhon is not the anti-Outsider. Even Erebus and Abia don't
strike me as being stand-ins for Satan (although I could be
wrong. I read them as just having very different goals from
humanity... being adversaries, not The Adversary).

 A word of the Antichrist/anti-Messiah distinction: Hasn't the
Catholic church declared people to be antichrists over the years?
Really out-of-line popes, and people like that? I think the term
pretty much applies to anyone whose goals are the opposite of
Christ's. Thanks to the whole sub-genre of horror movies that
followed Rosemary, I think it's well-established to think of a
demonically possessed unborn baby as the/a antichrist.

My favorite line from this story is Kyle's response to Skips
question "Do you have a soul?":

"...I've seen a printout, though of course I didn't read it all;
it was very long."

cephalothorax, the dandruff shampoo

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