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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Hues, HORARS: II
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 17:15:54 

On Tue, 14 Jul 1998, Robert Borski wrote:

> HORARS is an updated Golem story (which basically Mary Shelley's
> FRANKENSTEIN also is). As God has done with us, so have we humans done with
> the Homolog ORganisms (Army Replacement Simulations). But whereas God has
> created us in His image out of love, we create the HORARS for less noble
> reasons. We certainly don't love them; in fact there's evidence most
> ordinary humans revile them. But if it's a choice between us dying in
> combat with the Enemy or the HORARS, hey, we'll gladly let them be our our
> corporal stand-ins, i.e., the HORARS are bodies only (whores), fit only for
> acting out our vile needs. (We're their puppeteers, as we are Pinocchios,
> the robot tank.)  
> In fact, both stories seem to be cautionary tales about the ill-advisedness
> of tampering with nature, especially in regards to eugenics and attempting
> to improve on God's greatest creation, you, me and all the rest of our
> fellow Homo sapiens--hardly surprising caveats from a writer of Gene
> Wolfe's Catholicity.  

HORARS seems to me to be more fundamentally yet another example of one of
Wolfe's favorite themes, the narrator who doesn't know who or what he is,
and who is ignorant of his true role in the world.  I suppose this is also
a pretty Christian theme--that fallen humans don't know who they are,
don't know the story the are a part of.

I think the irony of the narrator's pretending to be something he already
is (does the text leave open the possibility that he really is human after
all?) is more central to the story than a warning about not tampering with
nature.  The moral seems not so much that the HORARS shouldn't have been
created in the first place (lest they rise up against us), but that we
shouldn't treat as sub-human creatures that seems so human ("For all you
know, you might be one too!").

Hues is one of the few Wolfe stories I neither like nor get (probably some
relation there), so I'm not going to try discussing it. 

Anyone up for making a list of Wolfe stories where the narrator is
mistaken about his own identity?  Off the top of my head: 

"The Other Dead Man"
"Checking Out"
"The Changeling"
"Tracking Song"

Both Severian and Silk to some extent
Maybe Weer in PEACE


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

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