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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) re: And Why Did They Appear?
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 13:54:09 +0100

Talarican wrote:

> I thought Tony Ellis' suggestion that House was itself a trap and danger, al
> la HAL 9000 or Harlan Ellison's AM, was intriguing but not a total
> explanation.

Actually, that wasn’t quite what I was trying to suggest. House as a
danger, yes, but as a ‘mad computer’, no.

I think that ‘…And When They Appear’ is, among other things, a
rite-of-passage story, as I’ve said before. I think that one of the
“other things” it also is, however, is an exploration of the relative
merits of the real versus the fantastic, the ‘spiritually true’ or
whatever you want to call it. We’re repeatedly shown that lonely little
Sherby wants real things, and surely he has a point, but House’s
illusions, as Talarican points out, embody truths just as important.

The two themes, rite-of-passage and reality-versus-fantasy, are
complementary. They're two sides of the same coin: to leave behind
childhood is to stop believing in Father Christmas. “When I was a child…
I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish

I think that the danger House embodies is metaphysical rather than
actual. It doesn’t lure Sherby down to the basement in the HAL-like
expectation that he will be trapped there, but to protect him.
Nevertheless we, as reader, are expected to pick up on the fact that
Sherby -would- have been trapped there, had he stayed, and to ponder the
suggestiveness of a freezer (containing one's dead parents) as the best
shelter House has to offer against brute reality. To live, Sherby has to
escape House.

> The insurrection, whatever its issues might be (class warfare, literally?),
> is total; not only riffraff and perverts like Corporal Charlie participate,
> but also the police and firemen.
Actually, these are House's holos, trying vainly to keep the attackers
at bay - that's why one of them has the face of the fox, and nobody
takes much notice of them. Yet another way of showing that fantasy and
make-believe can't protect you from reality.

> Is House trying to explain to
> Sherby that the insurrection is just a cusp in a civilization's cycle of
> decay and rebirth, and that all of life is composed of such?
I think that’s certainly part of what it is trying to do, yes. The
‘magic of Christmas’ can be described on all sorts of different levels,
though, and I think House really wants Sherby to learn all of them.

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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