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From: Scott Dalrymple <ScottD@wycol.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Westwind (Spoilers)
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 15:44:27 

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

>The story is wonderfully ambiguous about whether the ruler (I forget what
>he's called in the story) is a benevolent God-like figure who loves and
>secretly carries on a personal relationship with all his subjects (or at
>least all of the "good" ones), or a dictator using computer technology and
>trickery as a form of social control (convincing subjects who live in
>poverty - in contrast to the beauty seen when he addresses them all on the
>big screen - that they have an exclusive, secret relationship with the
>ruler so that they won't want to oppose him).
>I've wondered if the story isn't something of a Rorschach test revealing
>the readers own predispositions, whether people who do not believe in a
>benevolent God are more likely to interpret the story as sinister (or
>maybe most sf readers would interpret it as sinister since the "benevolent
>ruler turns out to be nasty dictator" is such a common idea in sf). 

I haven't re-read "Westwind" in awhile, but I remember it well.  I don't
recall feeling anything sinister.  I actually see the story as quite
poignant and spiritual.  The main character thinks he is the only eyes of
his god, and it makes him feel special; when he overhears another "special"
messenger at the end of the story, he/we realize that it isn't quite so,
and that perhaps everyone has such a personal relationship with god/God.  I
don't see this as sinister, but poignant.  I think it a lovely story, one
of Wolfe's best.  It didn't surprise me at all when I read somewhere that
Wolfe himself thinks it one of his best, along with "A Solar Labrynth."

Speaking of that story, does anyone else have copies of the audiotapes of
Wolfe reading it and "Dr. Death & Other Stories"?  There's also a tape of
an interview.  They're both quite fun; Wolfe reads his stories as no one
else could.

Scott Dalrymple

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