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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: (urth) Tracquing Song
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 10:52:35 

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

	Okay, Okay! This is Nutria, at last. My server has been broken, and only
today have I read all of Alga's challenges to me!

	Now I have all these posts to respond to! I'll try to enumerate my
comments in some rational way.

	1. Cordo Smith. Yeah, I read Smith, and wrote a long analytical essay on
him, years ago, and then I read "Fifth Head" and "Island Etc." as my first
two Lupine reads. (Yep, I have a beatup copy of the original "Island Etc."
Anybody want to offer me $500.00 for it? <humr>) Looking at Wolfe's themes,
perspectives, etc., I saw him as a new Smith, and assumed a strong
Linebargerianesque influence; but he has always denied such. So, I think we
have a case of two men with very similar beliefs and interests writing on
very similar things. 

	2. Mantis, I think you have to pay attention to the dates of writing and
publication. "Tracking Song" fits nicely with the themes of "Fifth Head."
Trying to relate it to the Severian Quintet may be quixotic; at least in
the wrong order. Like "Fifth Head," "Tracking Song" is about the question
What Is Man?, a very Linebargerianesque concern. To be sure, TS (Tracking
Song) does anticipate lots of stuff in Severian, but the latter does not, I
submit, interpret the former.

	3. Let's see. Oh, Christian themes. I'm not sure that this story has such
a concern/structure. Maybe I've missed something, but it does not appear
so, even in a "vague" way, as in Pandora.

	4. The Min: Well, as Holmes used to say, "When you have eliminated the
probable, go with the improbable" (or words to that effect). The Min are
Jonases, except that Jonas despised the flesh, while the Min covet it. That
is, they are robots trying to be men. They are perverted versions of the
older robots that Cutthroat finds, who exist to serve man.

	5. The Vamps and the Winged Man: Here does seem to be a parallel. We
encounter the Vampires on the way to the dead city and the evil palace of
an evil man. We encounter the Winged Man on the way to the benevolent Great
Sleigh that is seeking to help the underpeople. (See 13 below; so much for
keeping these in decent order.)

	6. Cim's love for Cutthroat. I can see that this might be doglike, but the
mink is better. Read carefully, and see that ALL the underpeople "love"
Cutthroat. The wolves love him and send him away so they won't lose control
and eat him. The pigs love him from the start. Etc. 

	7. Giants: I assume they are all big because over time the lesser gravity
of this place has caused them to get bigger. That is, ALL the underpeople
seem to be big, except for the little bear (baby) at the end.

	8. Mars? This world seems too small for Mars. Yet it has more gravity than
an asteriod would have. Somehow we have not yet determined how the Great
Sleigh has circumnavigated the globe, if it be Mars (and there are good
indications that it is). I think we have to assume that once the thaw
began, the Sleigh stopped travelling and interviewing underpeople, and just
booked it around the globe to pick up Cutthroat.

	9. The scar on Cutthroat's neck seems important. I suggest we look and see
what race might have cut his throat, say in an initial encounter. His
associates on the Great Sleigh have healed him, but have decided to leave
him behind to record impressions for them. OR, they left him behind for
this purpose, and after a while he was attacked and his throat was cut and
he lost his memory. Being a future man with future resources in his body,
his throat healed and he did not die. We pick up the story at this point.
Whaddaya think?

	10. Cim's rod. Electric? Future science? My guess is not. Cutthroat calls
it poison, and we know that his memory does work when it comes to
identifying artifacts. This does not explain how they can eat poisoned
fish, but it seems the best explanation to me anyway, at this point. I
assume Cim and her people just make these things out of the plants in their
area. If it were electric it would have short-circuited the robot parts of
the Min.

	11. The horned staff. Well, the horns might be a Satanic allusion. Only
true men can hold it? Well, Cim holds it. What does that mean? Perhaps that
the underpeople have become true men, or in essence are true men. As Alga
said, they are humanity if not descendents of Adam.

	12. Let me see if I can tease out a bit more. Originally, Mars was ruled
by men, served by robots, who raised up animals to be underpeople. At some
point, the men fell into evil and began to exploit and harm the
underpeople. Such depraved men killed themselves off eventually, so that
only an appropriately dwarfed and twisted representative of their race
remains. (But is he really a man? See 16 below.) As a result of human
self-destruction, the terraforming machines have worn out, so now good,
kindly humans come from space to set things back up again.

	13. If we want to know about the Great Sleigh (and who doesn't), I suggest
we simply invert what we see in the underground city. Cutthroat has the
feeling that he is approaching the Great Sleigh as he approaches the city.
To wit:

Underground city // Sleigh on Ground
Underground machines // New "sun" in sky
Caricature palace with turrets // Sleigh as "building with buildings on it"	
Vampires at entrance // Winged man at front
Evil dwarf // Kindly men
Evil rod to kill underpeople // Good healing for Fishcatcher

	14. Cim's suggestion that Cutthroat is not a human. Alga has proved that
he is. I suggest she raises the question because of the similarity to
"Fifth Head," where it is initially unclear whether VRT is human or not.
Cutthroat is; VRT is not. The proof is not necessarily the word and actions
of the Min, but the fact that Cutthroat recalls all kinds of details that
indicate he comes from a technological society.

	15. The days. I cannot help but think of creation week, but it only fits
in a few places. On the sixth day, God brought Eve to Adam, and on the
sixth day, Cutthroat picks up Cim Glowing. The 14th day is "significant."
Howso? It is a second sabbath. It is also the day of Passover. Probably
not. Rather, it is the day the solar mirror is to be set up, which
Cutthroat knows in the back of his darkened mind.

	16. Is Mantru really a man? I suggest this may be the explanation for his
fury when Cutthroat says that his statement is false. I note that
Cutthroat's staff kills him. Mantru seems to me perhaps to be an
underperson passing himself off as a man. As we know from Cim's holding the
staff, underpeople can indeed hold it.


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