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From: Damien Broderick <damien@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Subject: (urth) a dog's life for the stars
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 23:34:29 +0000

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

Greetings - 

I've recently subscribed to this list but have been lurking, struck with
awe by the richness of the group's exegetical laminations.  Guess I'll just
have to go thoughtfully through the archives when I have the time.  For
now, I just thought I'd throw in some (tardy and perhaps redundant)
comments on `Tracking Song'.

I liked the notion that Cutthroat might be a dog, if only allegorically,
cast among wolfes.  But reading the story, I was instantly set snuffling
after a different scent, ears pricked forward.  The ordering by days
enumerated suggested to this ex-Catholic that Wolfe might be rehearsing
(perhaps in mirrored or inverted form) the 14 Stations of the Cross.  I was
dashed to see that the tale goes on for 19 stanzas, but revived by this
curious comment: `This is the fourteenth day.  I do not know why that
number should seem significant to me, but it does.'

Other correspondences can be found, but fewer than I'd hoped.  E.g., on the
third day (Jesus falls the first time), it is Nashhwonk who falls, his
Achilles tendon hacked through by Cutthroat.   On the 7th day (Jesus falls
the second time), the narrator is himself pierced and falls at the hands of
the cyborgs, if that's what they are.  On the 11th day (Jesus is nailed to
the cross), `the sleeve - where the vampires slit it with their teeth...
let the cold into the whole suit.'  Nailed it! I thought.  But perhaps not.

David_Lebling@avid.com asked:

<* Does anyone else agree that the locale may not be Earth (or even
Urth)? It's a world with two moons and trees that are very non-earthlike
(unless I'm misreading Wolfe's description). The narrator thinks they
are odd, as well. If it isn't Mars it's a world with two moons orbiting
another star than the Sun, or perhaps a very far-future Earth, I

It seems to me obvious that the locale is a minor moon or asteroid which
can be circumnavigated by a wind-speed device in 19 or 20 days, with or
without stopping.  (Diameter 200 - 1000 km?  But on such a world, a `day'
might have any length.)  Of course, the sledge we see at the close might
not be the same one; perhaps it is in pursuit of the one from which our
hero has been ejected or escaped?

The silver `concave mirror' in the sky is actually a convex primary planet.
 The locale is in a locked resonant orbit.  Presumably it's also
terraformed and actively sustained far from equilibrium, to prevent loss of
air and water.  Cutthroat, as he speculates, is native to a more massive
world; hence his powerful leaps.  The other two moons might perhaps be
additional moons of the primary.

On the other hand, perhaps everyone is reduced in scale (despite the
explicit use of the metric system; the cyborgs are three meters tall).  As
an urban Australian, I have no great experience of snow or ice.  How small
would one need to be in order to leap across snow without breaking through
its crust?  (I assume these humans or hominids do not have ludicrous feet
like snowshoes.)

If they are quite small, might the underground buildings without walls be
no more than ancient, discarded storage racks inside an equipment store?
(I didn't think so.)

The beings on the sledge as big as a hill are not all angels; only the tall
man has wings.  Is his name E-telekeli?  (Surely not.)

Is it too late for me to revive this thread?

All best, Damien Broderick

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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