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From: Alice Turner <al@ny.playboy.com>
Subject: (urth) On Track
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 1997 12:59:14 

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


How about a collaboration? Once we figure out the approach.

Re wound: well, yeah, I thought about that, even thought to twit Nutria
about it, but it's mostly described as in the chest (the Min, who seems to
know, says it may be a punctured lung), and only once in the side. But that
would go along with the Gnostic interpretation; a heavenly being sent down
to an imperfect earth to bring knowledge (gnosis) to the chosen.

Your readings are excellent. I'd reject the Changeling reading, however;
Occam's razor (here used to trim whiskers!) is against it, given the
behavior of the robots (who serve only true men), the clothing evidence,
his unfamiliarity with the language (taught rather than learned as a baby),
his discomfort with the food, his understanding of space food and many
other small things. Cim certainly is not trustworthy on anything.

Oh, re that. I read Joan Gordon on "Traveler's Song" (64-66) and while she
is almost comically wrong on the specifics of the story---she gets almost
every one of the animals wrong, a batting average of about .100---she does
include this quote from an interview with Wolfe:

"The protagonist gets his original orientation from a wolf tribe, then
lives in a world in which the roles of moose, lion, deer, mink and so on
are taken by semi-human beings. Wolves are winter symbols, of course, and
birds symbols of spring."

Thus Gordon sees the winged figure on the Great Sleigh as bird rather than
angel. She also, puzzlingly to me, does not seem to think of the Great
Sleigh-ers as off-worlders. Well, they are, so there. She does have a very
good paragraph which goes over some of your points about the theme of the
story being the nature of humanity (66)

But this indicates, pretty clearly to me, that Cim is a mink. Cuttroat
speaks of her beautiful furs and teeth, then the fish and lakes and rivers
are explained, also her inconstancy, and even her murdering her
mate---minks are known to be sort of crazy, and may well go in for spousal
abuse (Fishcatcher has apparently abused her). What I don't quite
understand, then, is her doglike aspects, her groveling to the Sleigh-ers,
her desire to be with them, her saying "I love you" to Cutthroat. I know
that ferrets, which are related, are often tamed. Are minks? I mean really
tamed, not just farmed for furs.

One little point I'd like to make from my glancing through Jack
London---one thing you've emphasized here is the violence, and you compare
that to Lindsay, not without reason. But science fiction as a branch of
fantasy/children's literature is usually both bloodless in any real sense
and sentimental (see Buffalo Gals as opposed to Traveler's Song). London,
on the other hand, is uncompromising and even brutal in his descriptions of
the harsh lives of his dogs and wolves, and if, as I suspect, Wolfe went
back to him for some research on this story, he may have decided to go
beyond Kipling and get tough. The reactions of readers (us anyway) suggest
that it worked. 


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