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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Mud for AEther
Date: Wed,  6 Aug 97 16:49:00 GMT

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


Back to the story "Tracking Song."  Re: what is humanity; as you
glancingly noted, there are clues that the Great Sleighers are not
mere humans such as ourselves at all, rather they are idealized humans,
or "angels" or hierodules of TBOTNS.  People of aether.  If this is
true, then Mantru really is the last of the old humans (people of
clay), taking on the role of the Autarch in the play "Eschatology and
Genesis," trying to hold back the arrival of the new day or, failing
that, to subvert it for his own goals, not the least of which is the
difficult-to-condemn survival of his (our) species.  And Cutthroat is
an avatar of the Green Man, pointing towards a New Jerusalem where
sustenance will not require bloodshed.

(Whoops, I botched the punning in the last message.  White ration
cubes as both "bouillon," treasure of the cupboard, and "bullion,"
treasures of the underworld.  And communion, too.)

The terraforming of the ice age world is a nice and simple analogy for
the whole white fountain/new sun process.  Since Wolfe is so fond of
starships with reflective sails and starships that sail on water as
well (FIFTH HEAD, etc.), I'd guess that the mirror in geostationary
orbit is made up of sails from the ship now crawling across the ice.

Still, circumnavigation of a sphere in twenty days at a rate of
walking speed?  Hmmm.  Well, let's say 5 mph, 24 hours a day . . .
that's only 120 miles/day.  Try 10 mph.  That only doubles it to 240
miles per day, times 20 days is only 4,800 miles circumference, which
implies a world with a diameter of 1,529 miles . . . smaller than
Luna.  Oh, I don't know . . . maybe they go really fast at night?

(Hey, speaking of miles vs. kilometers, Peter Wright and I have this
difference of interpretation for the next story, "The Toy Theater,"
which largely boils down to the unanswerable question of which
measuring system is being used!  Since I favor the "metric" answer,
I'm happy to note the other stories in the collection that use the
metric system.)

(Aside from TBOTNS this is looking more and more like John Crowley's
THE DEEP crossed with ENGINE SUMMER with sprinkles of BEASTS; springing
from a similar river, I suppose, since I don't know that Wolfe has
read any John Crowley aside from LITTLE, BIG, which he heartily

So it might really be the funeral of humankind (especially with death
of Mantru) and the dawn of a new day wherein one or more of the beastman
groups will fill the vacuum and assume the role of "humankind."


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