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From: "Nicholas Gevers" <potto@webmail.co.za>
Subject: (urth) Inhumi, and Wolfean authors
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 08:42:23 +0200

Regarding rostrum's point about Horn as a perhaps biased narrator,
this influencing his perceptions of the inhumi: yes, this makes
excellent sense, especially as the Horn who writes The Book of Silk
evidently doesn't have much first hand knowledge of the inhumi, having
to compare them with the "hus" via the testimony of others. Horn is
very much the observer, Patera Silk's Boswell; he reports what others
say and do, and is limited to the prejudices of his fellow colonists.
I thought I'd add some notes of my own to what others have said in the
past about authors whose works would appeal to the Wolfe audience. One
obvious candidate is Paul J. McAuley; there has been comment on his
series CONFLUENCE being a homage to TBotNS, but all his later work is
Wolfean, especially RED DUST, and even his neo-cyberpunk novel
FAIRYLAND has many conscious Wolfean echoes. Also worthy of mention is
the British Horror/Fantasy novelist Tom Holland; people may have been
discouraged from reading his work by comparisons of him with Anne Rice
(yecch!) and the absurd retitling of his first two vampire novels by
his US publishers as LORD OF THE DEAD and SLAVE OF MY THIRST (original
titles THE VAMPYRE and SUPPING WITH PANTHERS). In reality, Holland is
a very literate and ambitious writer, who plays elaborate games of
allusion and literary disguise; his most recent novel, THE SLEEPER IN
THE SANDS, is a masterpiece along the narrative lines of THE ARABIAN
NIGHTS and PEACE, with stories within unreliable narratives within
stories. All his work is highly recommended.
One other Wolfean parallel, which strikes me as particularly close:
what about Brian Aldiss' THE MALACIA TAPESTRY, which was published in
the mid-1970s? It could easily have helped inspire TBotNS, in
particular THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER; it is set in an ancient
shirt-of-Nessus city, which is under a curse of changelessness; it's
hero, whose name is Perian (!), is, like Severian, a member of a
disreputable profession, and is thus peripatetic; Aldiss's uses a
baroque style not unlike Wolfe's and also invokes a lot of archaic and
gnostic terminology. I also find suggestive a curious literary
coincidence: shortly before Wolfe began publishing TBotNS, Aldiss told
Charles Platt (in THE DREAM MAKERS) that he was planning a Malacia
sequel; then Wolfe's Book appeared, and Aldiss did THE HELLICONIA
TRILOGY instead, as if TBotNS had pre-empted his Malacia scheme,
covering overly similar territory; finally, in his 1986 critical study
TRILLION YEAR SPREE, Aldiss damned TBotNS with incongruously faint
praise. Am I on to a hidden literary rivalry here, or is this a
phantom? Any comments?
Nicholas Gevers
 http://www.webmail.co.za the South-African free email service

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

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