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From: William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 00:36:52 

Rostrum (Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>) wrote:

>I finally got a copy of this book and will probably be posting about some
>of the stories over the next few days.

Good, I will be interested to hear what you have to say. This is one 
of my favorite Wolfe anthologies, in part because it contains "The 
Eyeflash Miracles," about which I wrote a long series of posts which 
are the closest thing I have to a claim to fame in this list (aside 
from a tendency to be cranky).

>Are the quotations in this story from an existing Sci-Fi Pulp, or did
>Wolfe invent them?  They seem exactly like what I know of H.G. Wells's
>"Island of Doctor Moreau" is about, although I've never read it.  I wonder
>if naming the hero Ransom was a nod to Lewis's Space Trilogy.

I am sure that Wolfe made them up. The similarity to _The Island of 
Doctor Moreau_ is (IMO) deliberate and serves to indicate that this 
is derivative "hack" sf. (I have read _Moreau_ and the similarity is 
not as great as you may think; certainly there is no ancient Lemurian 
civilization in Wells' book.)

>I gather that Dr. Black was giving her drugs, not really trying to help
>the boy's mother, but gave that story when the police arrived.  He says
>she was on amphetamines, which are pills, not injections, but she had all
>those needle tracks and he was giving her another injection when the boy
>found them.

My impression is that Dr. Black *was* trying to help Tackman's 
mother. I think she got her drugs from other sources, sources which 
included Jason (her toy boy lover). She passed out at the party, 
probably because of mixing alcohol with some other drug and Dr. Black 
was trying to revive her. I don't know why Doctor Death wanted to 
show Tackman his mother getting an injection. I also don't know if he 
meant it to result in benefit or harm for Tackman.

>But what does Dr. Death mean when he says, "But if you start the book
>again we'll all be back...You're too young to realize it yet, but it's the
>same with you"?
>It seems like it could be some kind of religious reference to the
>resurrection or something, but that doesn't seem to be the kind of insight
>Wolfe would believe comes with age.  Or maybe he's saying that we keep
>fighting the same battles over and over again as we age?
>I don't get it.  Anyone have better ideas?

I don't get it either. My only though is that Tackman Babcock is a 
character in a book, just like Doctor Death (well, not "Just like"; 
Doctor Death is a character in a book in a book). But why getting 
older will make him realize that he is in a book, I have no idea.

William Ansley

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

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