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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) War With The Ascians as a Proxy War?
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 11:42:28 -0700

Andrew responded to Crush...

> Even Agia could see that submitting to the Ascian way of life would
> be a very Bad Thing. Indeed, given that the whole nature of the
> Ascians seems so deeply wrong, it is actually rather doubtful as to
> how the giants sold their ancestors on the whole deal anyway.  

Well, an important point, which should not be glossed over, is 
Severian's experience with Loyal to the Group of Seventeen. It's
clear that, despite the breeding for docility and superior mind 
control techniques available to the rulers of Ascians, the human
spirit, so to speak, perseveres. The Ascians are not utterly-lost
minions of Hell; they are citizens of a system/state that appears
to us to be worse than that of the Commonwealth -- but its
appearance to us is based on information filtered through the 
perceptions of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

I think, in fact, it's safe to say that Mr Wolfe would regard 
the system of the Commonwealth as "better" than that of Ascia;
but we have to be careful not to take that to mean that the
system of the Commonwealth is "good" or the system of Ascia
"evil" -- just that the Commonwealth is less evil than Ascia.

(Nonetheless, the relationship between the Autarchs and the
Hieros does seem to suggest that there is a literalizing of
the "divine right of kings" theory going on here.)

> I think Vodalus provides us an answer, though. The giants offer
> all kinds of shiny techno-toys and a stable system that is free
> of strife.  By the time it's been implemented, though, it's too
> late to go back and your the brainwashed slave of an aquatic giant.

Well, they also offer power for the few. Not an inducement to
be despised.

Then he responded to me:

> > Welcom, Andrew Reeves. Hiss, click click.
> Is the above sound effect to indicate the airlock closing 
> behind me?  :)

No, just a traditional blattidaean greeting.

> That brings up another thought.  The Ascians are definitely baddies. 
> But if Erebus is, say Kim Il Song, 

Okay, whoa, hee-haw, stop right there. The analogy I was drawing
there almost certainly does _not_ apply at the level of equating 
fictional character X to historical character X'. I was suggesting
rather that Mr Wolfe's actual experience in such a proxy-war might 
make him more likely to portray such a war in his fiction, and 
pointing out some specific features that make me think that the
war between the Commonwealth and Ascia is such a portrayal, and is
colored by Mr Wolfe's experiences. But to try to draw character-level
allegorical correspondences seems to me on about the level that tries
to draw such correspondences from _The Lord of the Rings_ to World
War II.



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