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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) The Ziggurat again. Sorry.
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 17:13:46 +0100

Once again, apologies for resurrecting another topic everyone else go
bored of five months ago.

Skimming hastily past any reviews or posts on Strange Travelers, I
quickly got the impression that The Ziggurat was the most controversial
story in the collection. Now that I’ve finally read it, I almost feel
let down. Relieved, certainly. My feelings on the key issues:

1. Misogyny. Emery’s assertion that men love unconditionally, women
conditionally, is at best simplistic and at worst patronising, but if
we’re going to start calling this misogynistic we’re going to have to
invent a whole new word to describe all the other, far worse, things
that misogeny used to mean.

The same applies to Wolfe’s portrayal of Jan: it’s an unsympathetic
depiction of an unsympathetic woman. That’s not misogyny.

2. Emery the child abuser. Nothing in the way Emery thinks or behaves,
throughout the story, backs up Jan’s accusation.

The clincher for me is the scene where Emery makes the girls turn around
while he undresses. Wolfe has one of the twins, scolded for peeking, say
“but I’ve seen Daddy in his underwear before” or words to that effect.
If she’d said “but I’ve seen Daddy with no clothes on before” that would
be pretty ominous, obviously. But she doesn’t. Y-fronts good, no
y-fronts bad. That is the law. Are we not men?

3. Emery killed everyone, imagined the aliens and the ziggurat. Eh? What
clues does Wolfe *ever* give us that this might be the case?

More to the point, why on earth go to the trouble of writing such a long
story about aliens, space ships, and encounters in snowy woods if we’re
supposed to assume, at the end of it, that everything that happened was
just empty fabrication? There’s a length for stories that end up by
saying “haha, for you see, it was all a dream!” and that length is
short. Super short.

4. Emery’s attraction to Tamar is incestuous, or implicitly incestuous,
or in some other way disturbing. I suspect that people’s feelings here
are shaped by how they already feel about Emery. If you feel that there
is something unhealthy about his attitude to either women or children,
surprise surprise, you feel uneasy about the story ending with him
having a childlike woman in his power.

I felt that Emery was an embittered, probably quite hard to live with,
guy, but a good man and certainly a good family man, so for me this
scene wasn’t disturbing.

I would really like to know what the significance of the Lion Inn biro
and “God Save The Queen” is. The idea that it’s the Lion of Judah seems
a bit of a leap for a woman from 500 years in the future to make. It
doesn’t help that I was rather under the impression that in America the
tune we Brits know as God Save the Queen was known as “My Country Tis Of

Why doesn’t Emery think that is what she was humming?

Why does the lion emblem make her hum it?
Tony Ellis
On-line Editor, PC Format magazine
01225 442244 x2349

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

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