From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) War With The Ascians as a Proxy War? Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 08:49:48 -0700 Welcom, Andrew Reeves. Hiss, click click. You wrote: > The more I look at it, it seems to me that the war between the > Commonwealth and the Ascians in TBOTNS is something of a "proxy war" > between the giants and the angels (or whatever Tzadkiel is). While I'd not thought of it in those terms, I guess you could in fact describe it that way. But then, from the Catholic point of view (which is, as you point out, Wolfe's as well as mine own), the whole world is a "proxy war" between God/the angels and Satan/the devils. This is one of the primary roles in the Roman Catholic Church's (RCC's) self-description: we are the Church Militant. This "proxy war" is generally held to take place primarily on the "battleground" of the individual human soul, and in this form is referred to as "spiritual warfare;" but on occasion, it is clearly externalized. Not only in obvious ways, like the proper Crusades, but activities such as the late Mother Teresa's Calcutta mission would also be considered an external manifestation of the activity of the Church Militant. > After all, Urth being fairly technically backwards, both sides > need to import their weapons. Since Erebus, Abaia, and company > are arming the Ascians, and the "good" aliens are arming the > armies of the Autarch, I can't see it as anything more than the > two sides duking it out with human soldiers. I mean, they talk > a good game, telling the autarch that he's the rightful ruler > of urth, but it still makes the autarch look like more of a > pawn than any kind of rightful ruler should be. Well, now, here we have an additional aspect: I would suggest strongly that Wolfe is drawing upon his own experiences in one of the proxy wars that (in my opinion) constituted WWIII: he was a soldier in the Korean "police action," which was, of course, just such a proxy war between the US and the CCCP. Much of what you say applies, or has been claimed to apply, to the proxy wars in which Ivan met G.I. Joe (two points for the reference). For example, critics claimed that the rulers of the proxy nations were puppets of the principals -- of course, each of the principals claimed that their ally was the "legitimate government" and the other's ally was a puppet and a stalking horse for the other principal's aggression. And, of course, each principal provided its ally/puppet with munitions and "military advisors." But we can also apply this at the level of the angels/devils proxy war. Analogically speaking, the RCC point of view says that each human person begins as a state with a legitimate and independent government ("soul" and "free will") which is, however, suborned almost from its inception by the side the RCC ("original sin") would consider the Evil Empire. The Good Guys provide assistance in the form of arms ("grace") and advice (scripture, dogma, etc.). The individual state is expected to do as much of his/her own fighting as s/he can, but the RCC recognizes that at certain critical times, direct intervention by the principal may be required. A mechanism for communication with the principal, including requests for aid, has been provided ("prayer"); further, each individual state is both enabled and expected to help other embattled states ("the communion of saints") who are joined in a grand alliance ("the Church Militant") against the Enemy. The continued presence of enemy agents in the government causes the state to perform some acts against its best interest; with allied aid, the state is to seek continually to root out and expel these agents ("self- examination," "confession," "penitence"). Goodness, that was a bit more long-winded than I intended... my apologies. Onward: > Does Wolfe want us to assume that the angelic beings have our best > interests at heart, or is there more to it? I do not have a clear answer to that, but can answer a variation on the question: I think Wolfe clearly wants us to assume that, whatever the motives of the angelic beings may be, humanity's best interests are best served by allying with the hieros. > While on the subject of the Commonwealth's alien allies, I found > something else peculiar. Wolfe is a Catholic, and from _Long_ and > _Short Sun_ we can glean that the Increate/Outsider/Pancreator is the > Holy Trinity (see especially Silk's enlightenment and its inclusion of > Jesus being taken off the cross). So why on earth do we have an angel > riding around as the captain of spaceships? It seems like a > pretty cool ship and all, but why bother with the spaceship at all? ...because: (1) this is a science fiction story, after all, and Wolfe goes out of his way to provide stfnal explanations for the miraculous. (2) the ship isn't for Tzadkiel's benefit (in fact, if I recall correctly, the ship is a manifestaton of Tzadkiel), but for the benefit of the passengers and crew. --Blattid --