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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Free Live Free
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 17:31:10 +0000

At 11:09 2000-01-26 -0500, Michael wrote:
>On Wed, 26 Jan 2000, Peter Westlake wrote:
>> >I was wondering if the Quadrumvirate's temptations can be mapped to the
>> >seven deadly sins.
>> Nice idea, but there are only four of them, and most temptations
>> are covered by the seven.
>What I meant was, can we choose one of the seven that names each of the
>four's "main" temptation?  I think Stubb is pride, but you could make a
>case for anger.   I'm not sure about the witch.

Me either, and because of that and Stubb I don't think there's
much in this, despite Candy and Ozzie being so clear-cut.

>> >The timeline at the end in my edition was a big help, 
>Would it be "fair use" for me to post it to the mailing list? 

I hope so :-)

>> >Aug 1942 Whitten goes to High Country and goes to the future 1952
>> > (preumably the 1952 Whitten disappears when this happens? Is this
>> > ever mentioned?)
>> No, but he makes several trips into the future, so it would
>> be easy for him to be away over that period.
>I don't understand what you mean.  I'm saying that when the 1940s Whitten
>goes to the future, 1952, then the 10-years-older 1952 Whitten ought to
>disappear (forever? until the 1940s Whitten goes back to his own time?)

In your list you have:

    Whitten returns to May 42, waits til Aug to make his report
==> Whitten makes a few more trips into the future
    [is it at this point he goes back to 1803?]
    1982 Whitten buys the Magic Carpet

I'm suggesting that in 1952, Whitten makes one of those trips
into the future, leaving before the arrival of his younger
self and returning after his younger self has gone back to
the 1940s. His younger self is the only one present in those
particular days of 1952.

>> >1983 Whitten disappears when Free appears, and reappears after Kip 
>> > kills Free.
>> Now this is the bit I didn't understand. How does he reappear?
>> He would have to, really, in order to do all the stuff below.
>> But I thought Wolfean time travel involved a kind of "short
>> circuit", a folding back, with the combined traveller being
>> the only one left. You go back in time, "absorb" your former
>> self, and carry on from there. It never occurred to me that
>> reappearing was allowed. 
>I agree that this seems to be how Whitten explains it, but Kip's motive
>for shooting Free was that "she must have known she would never get her
>father back as long as I--Free--refused to go back" (from Chapter
>59).  So she must have expected her father to reappear.
>But this would imply that if someone goes back in time, absorbs his former
>self, then dies, then the former self would reappear.  X lives? (where X
>is the number of times you've re-doubled yourself?)

(!) The whole theory is rather unsatisfactory, I've always thought.
You only need this kind of time travel, where you can only be in
one place at a time, if you believe in the soul. Duplication of
souls is a theologically tricky area. Is it Malrubius who explains
to Severian near the end of BotNS, about aquastors and writing?
The bit where Severian comes to understand why the witches ran
away and Hildegrin got caught in the metaphysical blast, or whatever.

>Also, as I mentioned above, what happens when you go forward in time?  Do
>you "absorb" your future self?  Maybe there's only an absorption when an
>older self goes back to the time of a younger self.

We never actually see this, do we? And it's easily avoidable.
Good question, though. Why does the composite appear in the
location of the time traveller? Has to appear somewhere, I suppose.

>> >1983 Whitten kidnaps the quadrumvirate
>> >Whitten briefly disappears while the quad are talking to Free
>> > in the cockpit of High Country
>> >Whitten reappears and uses Ben Free's device to "desert" 
>> > (is this where he goes to 1803?)
>> Isn't it *after* he talks to them?
>I messed that part up (but not the way you think) here's excerpts from the
>Friday, Jan 14, 1983 - Free comes back to his house, Whitten disappears.
>Thu, Jan 20, 1983 - Kip kidnaps Free (he didn't escape the demolition via 
>the time machine, Kip nabbed him)
>Fri, Jan 21, 1983 - Kip and Free search the basement, Kip kills Free, 
>Whitten reappears in his office
>Sat, Jan 22, 1983 - The man in the duffle coat (Whitten as Kip knows
>him) vanishes and the quad talk to Whitten ("Free") in High Country.
>Mon, Jan 24, 1983 - the man in the duffle coat deserts, using Free's
>hidden device 
>So the younger Whitten, Kip's dad "deserts", not the older version we meet
>in High Country.  But does Kip's dad go to 1803?  The older version in
>High Country says of his still older, future self, "I think he must have
>gone to some other time, although I have no idea what that time might
>be.  To the Lewis and Clark expedition, I hope." (end of ch. 59).  So
>where/when does Kip's dad go?

I see what you mean. And I see why I didn't remember 1803, which
presumably is the date of Lewis and Clark.

>> And another question: at the end, Ozzie and Little Ozzie arrive
>> at the house (from where? did Ozzie land, go and find Little Ozzie,
>> and come back? It sounded as though he had been away for longer
>> when the witch greeted him, though I could be wrong) and go in
>> through the back door. This is the other gizmo, of course, and
>> evidently it is still working, just as it was when Free swept a
>> load of rubbish into an un-wintry garden; the house is ruined
>> and empty, but they go in to find everyone there and the kitchen
>> usable. So, to what time do they travel, and with what effect?
>[s/Stubb/Barnes to avoid confusion]
>My take on this scene is that, after they talk to Free in the cockpit,
>Stubb, Candy, and Serpentina immediately go back in time via the High
>Country's device.  [Barnes] decides to go back down in the shuttle airplane,
>gets his son, then takes him to Free's house to use that device to go back
>in time to whatever point the other three have gone back to.  Evidence:
>the other three all immediately say yes to Free's offer, but [Barnes] says
>"Swee'pea--" (Popeye's little kid).

Interesting idea. So Barnes goes back in the present to find Little Ozzie,
who was last seen in the care of Sandy Duck. Why are they "ragged" when
they get back to the house? I've been assuming that the jet they all see
was another shuttle, marking the point to which they travel back. Then
the raggedness is accounted for, because both Ozzies are in something
of a mess at that stage. Hmm... thinking about it, if he really was on
that jet, Barnes would have to get to the club from the airport. He would
arrive too late.

So I'm still confused. Why is the big jet in the story at all?
It serves to synchronize the separate story threads, but that
hardly seems necessary. This is Wolfe, so there *must* be a
reason for it.

>So presumably, they go back and fold in to their earlier selves, and the
>original lives they lived (everything we read) are gone except in their
>own memories.

That's what I always assumed. The reappearing business doesn't really
affect this, since their original lives only run up to late Jan 1983.
If the older and improved versions live through that date, the originals
never get a chance to pop up again.

How far back do you think they do go, anyway? Is the absorption process
sufficiently magical to take two fat adult Candys and combine them into
a slim one, and likewise to make two short Stubbs into a tall one? Or
would they have to go back far enough to grow up slimmer (Candy) or grow
taller (Stubb)? I think that would be too literal (Stubb's height in
particular; he would have to have a different genetic makeup!), so they
don't necessarily have to go far. As I say, I always assumed the folding
back point was when the jet appears in the sky, but you've cast that into
doubt and me into confusion!


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

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