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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Call 4 a FAQulty
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 00:05:33 

>Here's a thought--maybe a committee (a "FAQulty," if you will) could
>begin the process of whipping up a FAQ ("Frequently Asked Questions"
>and the Answers to Them) for a book by Gene Wolfe.  From time to time
>there is a call for them, or a single voice volunteering for some
>herculean task (e.g., "Let's do FAQs for =all= Wolfe books at
>once!").  Yet nothing is ever actually done.

I have been reading this list quite a while and have read all the archives
at one time or another and I think I know why "nothing is ever actually
done" and why nothing is likely to be done this time. It is very easy to
make a list of Questions (perhaps not all of them Frequently Asked) about
virtually *any* Wolfe work, even very short stories, (remember the lengthy
discussions about "A Solar Labyrinth" and "Cues"?) but it is very hard to
come up with any definite answers that everyone (or even a majority) will
agree on (remember the lengthy discussions about "A Solar Labyrinth" and

I assume that this lack of agreement is at least part of the reason that
mantis (m.driussi@genie.com) said "I doubt people will want to do work on
THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS": in a very lengthy discussion of that work on
this list there was very little agreement about the answers to the
questions it raised or even about whether those questions had answers.

Actually, if a committee decides to write a FAQ containing the answers to
questions they can all agree on the answers to, then the FAQ should be
quite short and easliy completed.

In other words I this the answer to Rostrum's (Michael Straight
<straight@email.unc.edu>) question:

>Do most frequently asked questions about Wolfe's books have a single,
>brief answer?

is "No."

I like Rostrum's idea:

>I've got another idea that might be less work and more useful.  How about
>someone volunteer to help Ranjit convert the Urth/Whorl archives into
>an easily searchable format?

I am not sure about the "less work" part; the archives are easily
searchable as plain text (I have downloaded all of them except the most
recent to my computer in this form) but because of inconsistencies in
references (different abbreviations, referring to a character by a nickname
or by a humorously altered form of the name, simple typos, etc.) as well as
the shear bulk of the material over several different files, it is
difficult to find specific information.

I suppose some sort of electronic index could be created, but I don't know
how to go about this. Editing the archives for consistancy (perhaps adding
tags for content) for plain text searching also seems a daunting prospect.

Does anyone one else have any ideas about this?

William Ansley

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

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