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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Marsch as spy?
Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 10:34:09 

On Mon, 22 Jun 1998 Sgt. Rock wrote:

> I've been wondering: why does everyone buy into the notion that Marsch
> was killed by V.R.T.? It seems to me that in 5th Head, _everything_ is
> possible, and here one obvious possibility has been overlooked: Marsch
> is, precisely as his Kafkaesque captors insist, a spy and assassin.
> (Consider Wolfe's fascination with spies in, e.g. the Long Sun books.
> There is a positive abundance of spies in the Whorl.) The clues that he
> is an abo have been deliberately planted by Marsch to mislead his
> interrogators. In particular, his writings are full of disinformation
> designed to create doubt about his identity and intentions.
> In fact, Marsch has a double cover story: first, that he is an
> anthropologist from earth. This primary cover is the one he used when
> moving about Port-Mimizon. He activated his secondary cover when he was
> arrested: hoping to take advantage of the Sainte Croix natives'
> ignorance of "abos", he began to pretend that he was an abo trying to
> pass as an anthropologist from Earth. 

My main objection to this theory is that it makes for a worse book, IMO.
But apart from that, I see two major problems:

1) Pretending to be an abo impersonating an Earthman would hardly free him
from suspicion of being a spy.  There's no reason why such an impersonator
couldn't also be carrying out a mission from the Annese government.  In
fact, given the Ste.Croix regime's paranoia, Marsch's being an Annese
visiting Ste. Croix in the guise of an Earthman would probably be regarded
as tantamount in itself to being a spy.

2) How do you account for the three years Marsch spends in the wilderness
(or at any rate on St. Anne) after he has supposedly established his
secondary cover story of being an abo?  His mission on Ste. Croix must not
have been very urgent.

The first problem can be gotten round if we assume that Marsch is a spy
*from Earth*, and that his concern is not to avoid being arrested, but to
avoid having it realized that he is acting for Earth.  Then the pretense
of being an Annese would be a red herring designed to pander to the Ste.
Croix authorities' preconceptions and lead them down a false trail.  This
might also explain his three years on St. Anne: he's spying for Earth
there.  I still don't like this theory, but I think it works better than
your original proposal.  And I have to admit that I can't quite dismiss it
out of hand, because of the little mysteries surrounding Marsch that
mantis and Robert Borski have pointed out mean
that I 
> What happened in that "short time"? I think either Marsch or Number 5
> killed Maitre. Perhaps there was a pre-arrangement whereby the two would
> act together when Number 5 voiced his accusation. In either case, they
> parted in agreement: Number 5 would take "credit" for the crime, do his
> time, and inherit.

This theory can be disposed of more easily, on two grounds:

1)  Why would Number Five agree to take "credit" for the crime?  It won't
help him inherit.  On the contrary, "A criminal may not profit by his
crime" and that Number Five does wind up with the house couldn't have been
foreseen at the time (76, Ace edition).  In any case, there's no
pre-arrangement, because Number Five only develops his plan to kill Maitre
on the night of the murder, and he is surprised to see Marsch with his
father. (68-69).  Of course, it could be that Number Five is lying about
this, and that he accepts blame for the murder because he himself is a
partisan or agent of Earth, but this is going far afield from the text,
with no reason.

2)  For somebody with as much foresight as you posit Marsch as having, his
postulated plan to kill Maitre is remarkably bad: be seen publicly
entering the house, kill Maitre or be there when the murder is committed,
and then return to his apartment where he can easily be arrested.


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

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