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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@siriusfiction.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) "Copperhead": What went wrong
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 18:16:17 

Roy wrote:
>How do I know this? Mantis told me so. A few weeks ago he e-mailed me to let
>me know that he had written to Gene Wolfe a few months earlier about
>"Copperhead", in the course of which he mentioned my squabbles about the
>timeframe, to which Wolfe replied as outlined above; he didn't see any
>problem with the timeline of the story.

It's like a game of "whisper down the alley."

In a letter to Gene Wolfe I said I liked "Copperhead" and I'd been
echatting about it with Roy; how we were both thrown by that "new
president" thing, but in different ways; and all my sense of civil war
menace in the story; and then I alluded to Roy's timeline and how it didn't
add up.  (I also wrote that Roy got into the timeline habit through trying
to talk sense to me about PEACE.)

That's why it is like a game of "whisper": if I had given him the timeline
verbatim, we could have skipped a step or two.

Anywho, Gene Wolfe wrote back.  I didn't pass the note on to Roy for weeks
or months, I can't remember how long it was.  Bad.  By that point I had new
ideas of how I had misinterpreted things in "Copperhead," for example,
taking the presidential "campaign" as being something that goes on for a
year before the election (which is how I tend to think of it), rather than
something that starts only after the party convention nominates a candidate
(which is how Wolfe meant it).  Roy cut right through all that fuzzy
thinking with the text, of all things!

> I reminded mantis of the reference
>to "the spring night" toward the end of the story, which had been my reason
>for going off on that tangent in the first place. There I left the matter
>until, to shorten this up, I received a note from Gene Wolfe today
>acknowledging that the "spring" reference in the story was an error and
>apologizing--of all things--for it. Sheesh. All that for a simple, one-word
>mistake that he was hardly accountable to me for. What can I say? They don't
>make 'em like that anymore.

While we're on the topic, let me back up to the top of the loop.  A funny
thing is, I didn't consciously think of Jane Doe as Lilith even when I
wrote that the end place reminded me of the weird place in LILITH.  (Hard
to believe, but there you have it: duh?)  Which, in turn, leads to another
tidbit: years ago I started reading LILITH and then put it down as starting
too slow, but then a couple years later I picked it up from where I left
off and read it through (it got a lot better until close to the end where
it faltered again).  Having finished LILITH, I mentioned this to Gene Wolfe
and he congratulated me, saying he had never been able to finish it himself
-- so, unless he did so in the intervening span of vague time, I know he
hasn't read LILITH itself.

Which is neither here nor there, really.  The end place reminds me of a
place in LILITH; Jane Doe definitely has a Lilith aspect to her; Gene Wolfe
has not read LILITH.

That's all for now -- I have to read some Grimm's Fairy Tales to the locals
immediately.  When we left off last night, Snow White had just been killed
for the first time by the wicked stepmother . . .


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

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