FIND in
<--prev V25 next-->

From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) re: ...Abos are the Natives
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 14:52:59 +0100

Mitchell A. Bailey wrote:

> Tony, we might just have to agree to disagree here,
Yup, we're getting beyond textual analysis and into personal
interpretation now, alas. But see my final point in this post, which I
really should have remembered earlier.

> ...but thanks for your interest and thought-provoking debate.
Likewise! Glad to meet someone who's worried this little matter over as
much as I have. I can't quite resist quibbling a couple of your
quibbles, but I freely admit I'm not really solving anything:

> First, could the OWO be mixed up again? He concluded that little
> soliloquy with "Once, I was sure I knew who the first were, and the
> second; now I am no longer sure." That statement could be construed to
> mean the SC can't even be sure whether the natives first heard the
> spacefarers or vice versa, as well as which ones the SC were.
Well, he is saying he doesn't know "who" the two races were, which is an
issue of identity, rather than, say, "Once, I was sure which was the
race that heard the songs of the other". But even if we say, for the
sake of argument, that the spacefarers -were- the ones with the
telepathic ability, then by process of elimination the indigenous,
shapechanging creatures were the ones that as a result felt their -own-
songs "more strongly in all their bones". And that doesn't sound like
the recipe for suddenly wanting to become something different. If you're
long and live between the roots of trees, you'll want to stay that way.

> Second, notice Sandwalker "hears" the song of Many Mouths and All Full
> after the Shadow Children band capture his tick-deer. Now maybe they
> also sing in the conventional sense, but based on what the OWO, at that
> time serene and sure, explains to him regarding the nature of their
> singing, they almost certainly did not. Sandwalker at least must be
> telepathic also [perhaps that is what makes him special], and many of
> the other abos are said to be able to detect Shadow Child singing in
> their dreams. So the question of "who was which" doesn't seem to have
> been conclusively answered.
You don't have to -be- telepathic to "hear" the telepathy of others.
Don't forget that the SC have been hiding St Anne from Earth ships all
this time by their mental powers, and the crew of those ships are just
dull old non-telepathic Earth people.

> Bottom line:
> We agree that OWO is so flakey, at least after the capture by the
> wetlanders, that we can't draw a reliable conclusion based on his
> statements.
Well, almost. I would argue that OWO is also flaky -before- the capture,
because then he is made up from the minds of the Shadow Children, who
are all as mad as a box of monkeys. After the capture, when he is half
made up from Sandwalker's mind, I think he has returned to his senses.

> I based my conclusion on other evidence as well, particularly my
> reasoning that the race which exhibits even residual shape-changing
> ability is the better candidate for native pleiomorph. Otherwise, we end
> up making the further stretch that the _"atlantean" humans_ somehow
> acquired this shape changing ability or an approximation of it. Not
> utterly impossible, I'll admit, but in my view less likely.
It depends how seriously you take the famed Annese shape-changing
ability. We are never, not ever, not once, shown anyone actually
changing shape or admitting to such an ability. VRT and his mum seem to
have great skill as mimics, but it's sufficiently minor that both
Trenchard and Marsch - rightly or wrongly -  see it as a human skill,
rather than superhuman. I freely admit that it seems obvious to regard
this ability as vestigial of an old, now lost, shape-changing ability,
but for me it feels -too- obvious. A red herring. A recurring them in
the book is the way the colonials have never really understood the
aborigines: either ascribing them fabulous, fairy-tale powers, or seeing
them as animals. Wolfe loves a bad joke, and the joke that the human
colonists are unknowingly displacing their own kind is the worse joke of

Final Point: I've only just remembered that, years ago, the thing that
actually made me start to think that the Free People must be human was
the fact that Victor himself is only half-Annese. If humans can breed
with Free People, they -must- be human.

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

<--prev V25 next-->