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From: Alice Turner <al@ny.playboy.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v003.n009
Date: Thu, 07 Aug 1997 12:56:07 

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

My second try with this one:

Whoa, mantis, you're going too fast, especially since one of my posts
didn't get there in sequence. You can't get that mantic that fast, without
even discussing the cave.

First, we don't know that all the Great Sleighers are "angels" or
hierodules. Cutthroat sees only one with wings---and he is in a possibly
hallucinatory state. He himself seems human enough, and you'd think that
members of the three tribes that saw the Sleighers would have mentioned
feathery types. Second, although it's true that Wolfe would have drafted
the whole of TBOTNS (according to the Hartwell scenario) at the time that
he wrote this, I think it's wrong to interpret one in the light of the
other.  Cutthroat is no Green Man, he's delirious from pain, exertion *and*
lack of food, having shared his last cubes with Whiteapple and Crookedleg.

What is more, bloodshed really is not sinful in an aminal world. And these
are animals, to themselves, and even to Cutthroat, unless he is lying to
the Min (he might be). They seem human to him, so he cannot eat them
(eventually, anyway), but one tribe does not seem human to another. (Of
course this is true of the Tutsi and the Hutu apparently, too.) 

This terraforming doesn't really compare with the coming of the New Sun
either. That destroyed everything, to make a new beginning, a terrible act.
This brings spring to a wintry planet. And Mantru certainly isn't analagous
to the Autarch. That whole scene is quite wonderfully out of one of the
pre-Golden Age pulps, oh, I don't know, Merrit or someone. Or Rider
Haggard. One of those ones where the males are always dwarfs or some such
and the females look like She, and there are deformed slaves and strange
weapons, and the hero has a native sidekick and a beautiful native princess
that he is rescuing.....whoops, did I just do a summary?

Okay, I'll be serious. On the night of the sixth day, Cim is kidnapped by
four of the Min, on the chance that she might be a human woman. Cutthroat
is injured with a weapon he doesn't see, and that remains in his body. He
destroys his sail to bind his wound. With Cim's wand, he sets out after
them. camping out overnight again. 

He enters the Min cave on the eighth day and walks a long way, having an
irrational feeling of getting nearer the Great Sleigh, and another that his
wound is not so serious. At last he sees light, but when he gets to it, he
encounters a warren of vicious humanoid vampires who attack him. He beats
them off with the wand, then watches them from a elevated crevice where he

Two or three kilometers further, on the ninth day, he comes to what we
later learn is an ancient underground warehouse. Machines stand around, and
one speaks to him, then shows him food,  carrying him on its head.

On the morning of the tenth day, a Min attacks him, but he uses the wand on
its flesh part and disables it. He then notices that the street is
damp--has it been washed? (Other streets are not damp.) Jeweled kluy
flowers lead toward the center of the city, so thickly that they force him
to the center of the road. A Min places a horned pole (covered with
unreadable script) upright before him, and he grasps it. If he had dropped
it, he thinks he would have been killed---but Min appear from everywhere
and prostrate themselves before him. (Query: I take it this staff can be
held only by a real human [the Min presumably held it in a non-felsh hand]
but it certainly seems to be evil; what does that mean?) They lead him to a
monstrous ramshackle palace---to "the place of judgment," "the abode of
purity," because he is perfect, as they are not.

In a cushioned room is the fat dwarf Mantru (True Man) with a naked Cim
Glowing chained to his chair (why do I think of Jabba the Hutt?) The dwarf
says he will die. The Min want to repair his damaged lung, but he does not
want to "be like you"---i.e. patched with machine parts. The Min, amused,
says that is not what they are (Query: does this mean that, like Jonas,
they are machines patched with human parts? Where did they get the parts
from?) Cim thinks that they were flesh but multiplied their number by
dividing their bodies and adding machinery, but the Min says no. The dwarf
makes an analogy to a child who had entered a theater "half a minute before
the final curtain" and understands nothing of what he sees. (Hey, me too,

Next there is the Ishi dialogue with the Min, which concludes, "Now you are
happy because you see no difference between the beasts and yourself. But we
will make you whole again." Cutthroat indicates where his choice lies by
giving the wand to Cim. The Min speaks of "moral force," then of "various
types of healing...Physical, mental, moral." Then he locks them into the
room under the throneroom and lets Ketin in.

I'm going to skip a bit, since I noted before that Cutthroat is obviously
making some moral choices here wrt Cim and Ketin. He is also, for the first
time, acting like a real leader (could this---horrid thought---have
something to do with the staff?) He says, pretty firmly that the dwarf did
not order the Ketin scenario. Why did the vizier, then? And why don't the
Min pursue them?

(Oh, here's something that belonged in the Cim post: when he asks her if
Mantru was cruel, she says, "Not like Fishcatcher would have been," and
Ketin says, "I think you deceive me--or are deceived yourself." What the
hell does that mean?)

They escape, the machines begin to dismantle the palace. (The machines obey
only real men, Cutthroat and the dwarf.) The Min pour out; one lays his
weapon at Cutthroat's feet, they bargain, dwarf comes out.  The dwarf
speaks of his hunt for a human woman, and that as the beasts become more
manlike his servants make mistakes that they would not "had they the
radiations of my own mind for comparison." Cutthroat  indicated that he is
lying (or being evasive). (Query: What did Mantru really mean to say?)

Then Mantru has his line  about human beings returning to "crush the beasts
as we did of old and raise new cities to the stars." And C. says, "I
understand, but we are leaving." And pulls on his tunic, prompting the
dwarf to attack him with the staff.

Staff battle, which Cim and Ketin cannot see, "taking place outside the
ordinary world." These are nasty staffs of human manufacture. I think that
the reason C. wins is that he is more human than the dwarf, and the reason
he gets rid of it later is that he doesn't want to be that kind of human.
He'd rather die...and maybe he does die.

And they leave and close the cave, sealing off the Min for a time at least. 

So what does it mean? True Man has degenerated into a dwarf surrounded by
cyborg servants, and holding a horrid staff of power? Is that what In the
Wake of Man conjures up for Wolfe. (It seems increadingly neat that he has
an animal name!) What's all that Min moral force stuff?  What about the
vampires, if not just for scenery? 

I'm beat---hop to it, mantis. And where is Nutria? It's no fun bashing him
if he's not around to snap back.



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