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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: Re:(urth) Forlesen -- Thoughts?
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 10:21:39 +0000

Jack Redelfs wrote:
>  1. Is Forlesen a computer program?
>  2. Is he a ghost?
>  3. Are the other people computer programs?

The computer theory was raised a while ago, but I could argue any one of
a dozen different explanations just as convincingly. I don't believe
there is supposed to be any one "real" explanation of where Forlesen is
or what is going on, and that's much to Gene Wolfe's credit. The story
is a satire on working life, and to tie it down to any one pat
explanation ("Surprise! It was a computer simulation all along!") is
greatly to reduce its power. 

>  4. What about the hitchhiker?
He's (amongst other things) emblematic of an earlier, disenfranchised
generation, who did real work rather than the meaningless paperchasing
of Forlesen's colleagues.

>  5. What about the red book?
It's the Bible, or any religious book, or for that matter any text which
purports to tell us how to live and what life is really all about.
Notice how it loses something in translation?

>  6. And the sudden deaths?
They're not sudden. 240 ours is a working lifetime in this world.

>  7. Why does every surname start with an F...
Uh-uh. The surnames of Forlesen's generation begin with F, just as the
first names begin with an E, but the initials of the generation they are
replacing were all C.D. And the generation before that, Adam Beale's
generation, were all A.B.'s. For the purposes of satire, it's a nice way
of delineating the generations while at the same time robbing people of
their individuality.

>  8. What about those shifting columns that he saw, just before the cop 
> came...does that mean it was all an illusion?
Dammed if I know. It may just be a way of suggesting the general
unreality of this world (ie: nothing holds it up), but I've always felt
there's a more concrete explanation that I'm just missing.

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

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