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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Ziggurat as Delusion or SF
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 23:56:45 

Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu> wrote:

>Dennis G. Berdanis asked some questions, I think I can answer a few:
>>1.  Why did Emery keep saying the coyote was killed with a cyanide gun.
>>What is a cyanide gun exactly?  How would he know it was killed with this
>>type of gun unless he did it?]
>I finally looked this up on the web.  I'd heard the term before and knew it
>was some kind of animal trap, but couldn't remember the specifics:
>"Also introduced in the 1940s was a revolutionary, deadly new predator weapon.
>The "coyote getter" is a pistol cartridge-powered cyanide gun that shoots a
>puff of deadly sodium cyanide dust into the mouth of any carnivore, omnivore,
>or carrion-eater that tugs on its scented wick. On contact with the
>moisture in
>the animal's mouth (or eyes, or wherever it hits) gas is released and the
>animal is gassed to death (or blinded). A highly effective killer, the coyote
>getter quickly gained widespread use. Eventually it was usurped by a newer
>model, the spring loaded "M-44" coyote getter, which is still used today.
>Over the years coyote getters have killed countless thousands of predators,
>non-target animals, and even a few humans."
>Emory can tell because presumably the coyote is still beside the trap.  THIS
>is, as far as I can tell, all that's involved in Emory's "killing" the coyote.
>He taught it not to fear human smell and so it took the bait.

This supports my opinion that Emery's claim that he killed the coyote is
completely absurd, for at least two reasons.

1. Coyotes have become, in most places, quite adept at living with humans.
They eat livestock and garbage and have even been reported to attack small
dogs. There is no reason to suppose that a coyote today would fear human

2. Even if we ignore point one, coyote getters have been used very
successfully for decades. Either the people who set them know how to
disguise their scent effectively or coyotes take the bait, despite the
human scent.

Emery, for whatever reason, wants to feel responsible for the coyote's
death, even though such a feeling is completely unreasonable.

Or, if we accept the "Maximum Delusion" hypothesis, Emery says he killed
the coyote because he actually did kill it directly (with gun or axe,
perhaps) and he is hallucinating the cyanide gun sequence to assuage his
guilt, but he can't escape it completely.

I have to say, however, that if Wolfe really intended the "Maximum
Delusion" reading of the story to be an "equally valid" one, then I wish he
hadn't written it in the first place.

William Ansley

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

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