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Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 20:12:35 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) "Hour of Trust" series 2

>mantis wrote:
>>So Roy, I can see you position on this, but what do you make of the ending?
>>Does it seem "foreshadowed but still somewhat off" (in my first sense of
>>"Why would a mole go kablooie on they guy like that?") or does it make
>>perfect sense?
>It doesn't make sense to me either; as you have pointed out, if Clio is a
>rebel with the cause, she is more valuable to the cause alive than Peters
>is, dead or alive. The reactions of Donovan and Burglund to Peters'
>overtures make clear that the corporations' elite have no intentions of
>getting their hands dirty doing whatever was needed to insure survival of
>the corporate state. The corporations are therefore an evolutionary dead
>end. Contrast them with the bureaucratic state (the Library of Congress),
>the first law of which is survival, which continues to function while the
>world goes to hell around it, and does so without pay.

Good point, to bring in the Library as another group/mode.  But eek, we're
lost on that ending again!

>>Part of the problem in answering these questions is we don't see any of the
>>rebels: we see the ken-kins, who seem like something worse than
>>cannon-fodder, and we see masked Clio (and probably Tredgold) who are
>>higher up, but of nebulous category/rank. So we don't have a sense of what
>>the mass of rebels is like, what they want, what they are willing to do.
>I suspect that the apparent lack of focus on the rebels'  objectives is
>deliberate on Wolfe's part.

Definitely--I tried to make clear that it was our questions that were
causing problems; that if we tried different questions, the solution might

Because the story seems to be about History (he asks for the tape on the
last 30 years, meaning what--1965 to 1995?), it is perhaps too easy to see
it as analogous to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, as I've done in
earlier messages.  So the corporations are the decadent Imperialists (who
took over from the Republic), the hairies are the barbarian tribes, the
immolators are like . . . well, like the Nihilists in Czarist Russia.  The
immolators are kind of like early Christian martyrs, except that, as we
keep saying, they have no unifying beliefs, and rather than martyrdom they
are killing others . . . which, hmmm, makes them anti-martyrs.  Or Fifth
Column: yes, they are rather like a Fifth Column-style (mole/deep agent)
suicide/psych ops corps. But again, no belief system beyond "take as many
with you as possible when you suicide."

>As you say, Clio perceives that the corporations will lose the war, so there
>is no good reason for her to kill Peters, if she is a mole. But is she?
>There is really no good evidence to suppose she is. To make sense of the
>ending, I think we have to look to the earlier examples of the ken-kins. As
>I said before, they have no unifying creed. Their reasons for 'sharing'
>their suicides vary from idealistic to religious to nutty to who-knows-what.
>The only thing each may have in common is trust violated in some way. What
>trust did Peters violate? That he hoped to rock the boat with change? Both
>she and he knew it wouldn't work. That wasn't it; her reasons were more
>personal. Could it be that Peters' actions belied his words, that history
>was being repeated? Clio had recently stopped being Lewis's lover; now she
>found herself in bed with his heir-apparent, and couldn't "figure out why".
>Exit stage center.

So wow, your reading of the ending is: a pure form of nihilism.  That is,
you are saying that Clio is not a mole (agent of the rebels), she really is
a loyal  worker like the rest, but she got the mental infection a little
while ago (days, weeks--maybe when she stopped sleeping with Lewis), mixed
up the firebomb ingredients on her own, put them on her person (or in the
bedroom?), and then killed herself and Peters for no reason any better than
that of the ken-kins in the earlier part.  It is the internal chaos and
spiritual-vacuum of the individual, not any political or moral or
historical (even "millennial") sense.

>Adam is right; Clio exploded *after* having sex with Peters. The lights and,
>presumably, the vid screen were turned off.
>"He took her hand in the dark." (last paragraph)

I thought the room was dark because the room was dark: it wasn't that he
turned out the lights to tryst, but that he had never turned the lights on
when he came into the dark room: "The bedroom was empty and dark. The
vidlink screen was flashing the identity of some caller" (p. 167 of my
first edition paperback).

It is while he is sitting there, in the dark room, and the librarian has
faded like Cheshire Cat over that Wolfean helmeted astronaut, and Peters
wants to know if this is the beginning or the end of the tape, that Clio
enters the room.


booklets on Gene Wolfe, John Crowley
57 Lexicons left until OP!


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