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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Dear Dorcas
Date: Fri, 01 Oct 1999 18:42:03 

Very interesting idea.  On the plus side, I think we can safely place the idea
of the vampire as one of Wolfe's major motifs, only subtly present in New Sun,
more overt (and by the end one of the major mysteries) in Long Sun, and now
becoming a central theme of Short Sun.

Clearly, there is something more than is evident going on with Dorcas--there
are enough hints and clues (especially in the strange scene(s) in Old Nessus)
to suggest that an important and (even for Wolfe) difficult to elucidate
mystery is at work.  I also think that it is likely it casts Dorcas in a less
innocent light than might be obvious--Severian's comment about bad metaphors
is apropos, indeed.

On the other hand, the vampire hypothesis seems to be very tenuous--and I think
some of the dream interpretation elements linked in are highly questionable.
The arguments based on Dorcas' dreams NOT being prescient are the root of the
problem--I think that in BOTNS this is an unsafe assumption.  Because of her
interaction with Severian/the Claw and her resurrection, Dorcas is quite
possibly on a little more "stuck" in time than Severian himself, who is a
fountain of prophetic dreams.  The dream of being"in a boat poled across a 
spectral lake" is most easily explained as a metaphor for Charon's search for
her--the fact that she is with him indicates that somehow she has been right
under his nose all along, and is a measure of the frustration of her watery
death (and Caron's frustration).  It is true that Dorcas should have no direct
knowledge of this, but to assume that her dreams are not capable of penetrating
things she has no normal way of knowing is, in the context of BOTNS, an unsafe

Speaking of ages, I think it would be interesting to try and gauge the best
estimate we can make of the ages of the various players in BOTNS.  Roy's
estimate for Dorcas is plausible, although I tend to suspect that she looks
younger than she is, and this has lowered Agia's estimate (she also has some
motive for (a) jealousy of someone younger and (b) trying to make her look
like a mere child and thus perhaps undesirable to Severian).  I think the other
easiest people to peg are Severian and the Ag- twins (and little Severian, of

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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

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