From: "Roy C. Lackey"
Subject: Re: (urth) "Hour of Trust" series 2 Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 02:32:18 -0600 mantis wrote: >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. Yes, nihilism. There seems to be consensus that, if Clio is an agent of the rebels, her suicide, with or without taking Peters with her, makes no sense. We see very little of the organization of the rebels, but what we do see of the war seems to indicate that there *isn't* much organization. They are winning the war, not because they are good at it, but because the government/corporations are so inept, and the masses seem indifferent. The self-immolation-with-prejudice tactic is too small-scale and haphazard to be effective as a weapon of war. The ken-kins may sympathize with the rebels, but they seem to have individual agendas only peripherally related to the rebellion. The bearded young man specifically denies that he is doing it for any larger cause. The young girl is doing it because she isn't happy with the world as it is. The bald guy does it because the Dodgers left Brooklyn, or the designated-hitter rule, or something equally worthwhile. I doubt that Clio's motives would make any more sense to me or you or, more importantly, to Wolfe--which is why he doesn't give them. (Where *do* those people hide the explosive? The bearded man at least, and possibly Clio, were naked. The explosive acts like napalm but . . .) As for the light in the room: yes, it was dark when he entered, but that doesn't mean it stayed that way; in fact, it couldn't have. He opened the drapes (though it was night outside), used the bathroom, had enough light to use the keyboard, be seen by viewers on the vidlink, could discern who entered the room, read facial expressions, etc. Clio could see him shake his head and see his hand between her thighs. "And later . . ." in the last paragraph implies that some amount of time has passed since he touched her. How much time is problematic, but it must have been quite a while, because the tepid water that was poured on him came from the melted ice in the ice buckets. I wouldn't belabor the point about whether or not they engaged in sex but for how it influences my view of the ending. I infer that the lights (and vidlink) were turned off prior to sexual activity, which is a common enough practice. After sex, something set Clio off. Of course, this brings up the problem of how they could have engaged in such intimate activity without Peters being aware that she was primed to explode; but then a similar objection could be raised with another story in the same collection, "Seven American Nights", where the female had reason to want the lights kept off and the male was equally oblivious. In an earlier post I brought up the subject of violated trust and its relation to the title and the self-immolators. Maybe I'm looking at the ending the wrong way. Maybe the trust that was violated was not Clio's trust of Peters, but his of her. He had absolutely no reason to expect such a reaction from her. It wasn't the sex she objected to, or she would have blown herself up before it happened. Whatever her reasons, she had no moral authority to kill Peters in the process. If you can't trust the woman you've just made love to not to kill you, who can you trust at any hour? -Roy --