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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) Wolfe's Carrollean Drabble
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 21:38:34 

While digging through some of my old, packed-away books, I came upon an
anthology entitled THE DRABBLE PROJECT (ed. Rob Meades and David B. Wake).
This is a collection of one hundred Drabbles: i.e., short stories (or
occasionally poems) precisely one hundred words long.  One of the sf
luminaries and non-luminaries contributing is Gene Wolfe.

Despite its brevity, Wolfe's Drabble, entitled "Read Me," is
characteristically Wolfean: it is a pastiche of the Alice books, complete
with wordplay, and thoroughly enigmatic.  What happens (while it would be
easy to post the whole thing, I'm reluctant to violate copyright so
blatantly on this list) is that Alice meets a pack of Tarot cards, one of
whom--the Fool--tells her that because they are curious, they have troubled
(i.e. disturbed) the Future, and now they tell the Future they're sorry.
When Alice protests that they foretell the future, the Fool replies:
"'No,'...'We four tell it.'  And he indicated the Falling Tower, the Devil,
the Magician and himself."  And that's the end of the story.

The story's title, "Read Me," may provide a clue.  I take the Tarot pack to
represent science fiction writers, who once "troubled" the future and now
tell it they're sorry.  I'm tempted to go further and say that the writers
who "troubled" the future are the Campbell-era writers with their
technological optimism, and the ones who apologize to it are present-day,
less optimistic writers.  But I wouldn't stake the ranch on this reading.

If this reading is correct (or if it isn't) why are those particular four
cards mentioned?  That they are inventoried at the end of the story suggests
that they are somehow key to the story's meaning, but I'm at a loss to see
how.  Devil, Magician, and Fool could plausibly be intended to signify types
of sf writers, but this is as far as I get.


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

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