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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?


(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.



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