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From: "Ron Crown, St. Louis University" <crownrw@SLU.EDU>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v002.n020
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 14:02:55 

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

> FWIW, "All the Hues of Hell" (1987) reminds me a great deal of three
> other Wolfe starship tales: "Alien Stones" (1972), "Silhouette" (1975),
> and "The Other Dead Man" (1988).

Mantis, would you mind expanding on this a little bit?  "Alien Stones"
strikes me as more genuinely hard sf than is usual for Wolfe (and would
fit more appropriately, IMHO, in _The Ascent of Wonder" than either
"Hues" or "Procreation."  As I see it, "Stones" is Wolfe's version of a
Big Dumb Object story, some of the secrets of which are discovered by
the grizzled space captain by the application of observation and logic
(ironically contrasted with the inability of the young "empath" to figure
out what is going on).  There is a typical Wolfe riff on human/machine
identity (is Daw or Wad the computer simulation?) but the fact that I
wasn't sure which was which didn't interfere with my ability to enjoy the

"Dead Man" is the Wolfe identity conundrum, ghost-story-in-outer-space
version and "Silhouette" I confess not to fully understand.  (are the
silhouettes aliens or imaginary?  How does the protagonist figure out
that the captain is the leader of the mutiny, or is he?  Why do all the 
characters have Germanic names?, etc. etc. etc)  Any thoughts?

>  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. 

What you say is absolutely true and underscores the distinction I want to
make between "antichrist" and some type of demonic or supernatural being.
Most, if not all "antichrists" in history from the king of Babylon to
Saddam Hussein (hey, how's that for closing the circle!) have been human
beings.  True, they were seen as "demonic" (but note the use of
quotations).  In "Hues," we're clearly dealing with some type of
otherworldly being and _that's_ why I was opposed to the antichrist
motif.  Just call me pedantic :).

Here's something interesting (and even somewhat relevant to the topic).
The name "Lucifer" first appears in the Bible as a translation of the
Greek "phosphoros" (they both mean "bearer of light"), which was in turn
a translation of the Hebrew helel meaning "bright shiner."  It's used in
the book of Isaiah re the king of Babylon (not the devil).  The passage
uses an
astronomically-based myth of the (failed) attempt of Venus in its morning
star version to usurp the throne, as it were, of the sun.  As Venus is to
the sun, so the king of Babylon is to Yahweh.  

Now, do you know what the Aztecs called Venus?  Quetzalcoatl!  And now
back to WHORL....

Ron Crown

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