FIND in
<--prev V30 next-->

From: "Talarican" <exultnttalarican@mindspring.com>
Subject: (urth) Re:  Someday They'll Want Us : Who are "they"? Who are "us"?
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 06:19:21 

<quote Tony Ellis>
..."disturbing"...Number 5 has become his own father... he has become the
thing he hates. Loss of the Self is, perhaps, the ultimate horror.

That certainly fits nicely with the theme of Identity, and its discovery and
loss, which underlies all of 5HC. Clearly, this is correct. When exactly did
Number Five become Maitre, though? I am again crippled by not having a copy
of the book with me to consult. I know Number Five plotted to kill and
supplant Maitre, but was it motivated from the start by a conscious desire
to supplant his 'father', or by self-preservation,
kill-him-before-he-kills-me, followed by masquerading as Maitre out of

<quote Robert Borski>
... the ends justifies the means. ...Think of Number Five as Josef Mengele
here...someday he'll be lauded for the sacrifices he's made in the name of
science, medicine and personal growth.

the Mengelesque mad scientist certainly seems to be a favorite character for
Wolfe! As much as the "mad scientist" turns up in science fiction and
horror, Wolfe is one of the few who undertake to examine the scientist and
the madness, rather than only the products.

Speaking of "personal growth", let's go intertextual with Maitre's New Sun
counterpart, Baldanders. (in fact, now that I bring it up, could Baldanders
be Wolfe's walking pun-parody of that somewhat cliched phrase?)
Dr. Talos, in his audience with Autarch Severian (Citadel XXXVI), expounds
quite frankly on his then-lost master's means and motives: "...Baldanders
was more monster ... he had built himself. It's a law of nature, and what is
higher than nature, that each creature must have a creator. But Baldanders
was his own creation; he stood behind himself, and cut himself off from the
line linking the rest of us with the Increate."
This maxim certainly seems to aptly characterize the Cave Canem clan, as
well. They have separated themselves from their creator, and thereby have
damned themselves.

<quote Nutria>
The tyrants, oppressive slavers, of No. 5's planet are intent on conquering
and wiping out the abos, instead of joining with them in a new community.
...Meanwhile, to survive, the abos have to give up their own ways and try to
pass as human. All of this is culturally stifling and destructive.

Nutria's point is well taken. And were the precolonial abos, real or not, as
perceived by the interested humans, truly free? They had no slave drivers,
no secret police, no armies, no attorneys or courts. Yet they were at the
mercy of Nature, feast or famine, and were obliged to take ruthless
advantage of any opportunity merely to eat which came their way, including
abos of other nations and tribes. The impersonal forces of nature become the
harshest tyranny of all, and people who never invented the spear nonetheless
established theocracies and ecclesiastical law in the service of those
powers which deign to allow them to barely survive. Recall David's statement
about their hypothetical attachment to their culture and religion.The
folklore holds that abos, in spite of genocidal persecution, found life
"passing" in the human cities and villages much easier than hunting and
gathering in back of beyond, especially in winter. The issue of "cultural
genocide" is a bit more complex than it appears at first blush.

My pedestrian alter ego, a year and a half ago, as well as myself, have
always held that Wolfe never intended to objectively answer whether the
Annese abos in fact actually "exist" within their story context/subcreation
(as opposed to the inhumi or the Beautiful Ones, which unquestionably do),
ever, or as of the time in which "Fifth Head" and "V.R.T." are set. (attn
those urthlings who have been in touch with Mr. Wolfe or keep close track of
his published interviews: has he ever commented upon this issue?) My
impression has always been that the governments and the influential, on both
worlds, do not officially believe in the reality of Annese "abos", not that
that is conclusive, of course! And, if we accept Victor Trenchard as an
authority, the abos, real or not, even had their own elusive dubious faery
neighbors, the Shadow Children. 5HC turns the Area 51 / UFO conspiracy
legends on their head: WE are the invaders, but were aliens already there,
and if so, what happened to them? And is the government covering it up?
Wolfe may tease us with sly clues and red herrings, but I don't believe
there actually is an answer there to find.

In my view, given my theory, the most valid interpretations of 5HC are those
which stand independent of any one or another particular answer to the "abo
question".  Accordingly, we need to look at the cases where the abos are
extinct, or, better yet, never existed. In that case, we may well ask what
was in the culture and collective psychology of the human colonists that
such folklore would become so widely told and believed, to the point some
individuals not only impersonate "abos" with some degree of perceived
authenticity, but some, such as Victor Trenchard, actually believe
themselves to be such? What does it say about people to believe in such
scenarios as that of Veil's Hypothesis?

One obvious answer presents itself immediately: the bulk of the human
population of both planets are descendants of the conquerors and/or the
conquered in a terrible war fought by previous generations. The social/legal
structures and classes of both worlds were determined, albeit in divergent
ways, by that war and its outcome. The Trenchards may or may not be abo, but
they certainly identify themselves as being of the defeated French
underclass. An oppressed underclass will generally cling to and seek comfort
in its folklore and religion, just as do the primitives.

The questions of Self and Identity certainly are at least partly functions
of  culture and class, and of the status of being victor or conquered,
slave, master, or free. (Or, ultimately, real or legendary!) That, I
believe, is why all these ingredients appear somewhere in 5HC for due


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

<--prev V30 next-->