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From: StoneOx17@aol.com
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 21:28:31 EDT
Subject: (urth) Victor's parents, abos, Liev's postpostulate, and more

One of the interesting questions in 5HC is whether humans and abos are
two, or one peoples, and whether they can interbreed.

Jeff Wilson  speculates

> The diminutive Shadow Children and the full statured abos are two
> branches of descent from an original group that arrived at the twin
> planets. This group lost or cut contact with Earth, which proceeded to
> develop more distant colonies that were more reliable investments in
> that ships or at least information came back. The forgotten colonists
> largely descend into savagery while some imbibe the native vegetation
> and change themselves with it, like some kind of pseudo-evolutional
> catalyst, gaining small bodies that are easier to keep fed on the scarce
> game and forage, and possibly some kind of biofeedback control, that
> would account for the age-changing and shape-changing abilities. The
> telepathy might be a real ability granted by the plant, but might just
> as well be an artifact of the need to explain why the Frenchmen came
> when they did.  

I have another take on this question.  I think the above scenario was 
essentially manufactured by Victor (for reasons described later), and 
presented in "A Story" as a myth of the Free People.   As I remarked here a 
while ago, the main evidence that humans and abos can interbreed is the 
existence of Victor, who is apparently half-abo.  Marsch writes in his diary:

"This morning we even passed through a tiny settlement the boy called 
'Frogtown,' a name I suppose would not much recommend itself to the 
inhabitants. I asked if he weren't ashamed to use a name like that when he is 
of French descent, and he told me with great seriousness that, no, he was 
half of the blood of the Free People (his name for the Annese) and that it 
was with them that his loyalties lie.  He believes his father, in short, 
though he is perhaps the only person in the world who does.  Yet he
is a bright boy; such is the power of parental teaching."

Marsch is, of course, wrong about which of Victor's parents was of the blood 
of the Free People.  And the following passage casts doubt upon whether Roy 
is truly Victor's father in blood:

R. T: "... And you may forget what you have heard! My son is legitimate; we 
were married by the priest at the church of St. Madeleine."

I believe that Roy is misunderstanding the rumors; that these rumors doubt 
not whether Victor's parents were married, but whether Roy was really his 
father.  If abos and humans can't interbreed (and if Victor's mother is 
really abo) Roy can't be Victor's father.  But what are we to make of Dollo's 
law, Liev's postpostulate, and everything the Old Wise One says in "A Story" 
about a pre-French wave of human colonization originating in Atlantis, Mu, 
Gondwanaland or Africa?  One important thing to note is that these 
speculations are all due to Victor (either in his notes written in prison or 
in "A Story").  I think he is basing all his speculations on the (false) 
assumption that humans and the Free People can interbreed, and thus must 
originally be of one stock.  Victor may be aware of the problem (the 
following quote is somewhat ambiguous).  In describing a dream, he says 

"... I looked at my father, who seemed a red-bearded giant, and knew what 
would happen to his hands so that he could no longer follow his trade.  My 
mother--yes, I am sure it was she, though I have never understood how one of 
the Free People could bear a child to my father ..."

He may have thus invented Liev's Postpostulate in order to avoid facing the 
fact that his blood father is not Roy, but some abo.  As Marsch says (even 
though, ironically, he misunderstands everything), "such is the power of 
parental teaching."

Indeed, Marsch has a different explanation, namely convergent evolution, for 
the existence of two peoples almost identical (even to foreskins!) except for 
opposable thumbs.  He writes in his diary:

"Certainly some of the more fantastic [stories] must be pure myth, but there 
remain a great many reports of a native race so similar to human beings that 
they might almost have been the descendants of an earlier wave of 
colonization.  So similar, in fact, that old Trenchard can deceive the 
credulous with his claim to be Annese, and on a planet where we find plants, 
birds, and mammals so near the Terrestial types, a form strikingly like man 
is surely not impossible--the manlike form may be optimal for this biosphere."

I have a few more questions and observations about 5HC.
Has anybody noticed the number of times numbers are used instead of names in 
5HC? In VRT, Victor's school notebook is inscribed:

name: Rm E2S14 Seat 18
school: Armstrong School
city: Frenchman's Landing

From an interrogation of VRT, we have:
Q: Who are you?
A: I am the prisoner in cell 143.

From the interview with Mrs. Blount: "The ship we come on was the 
nine-eight-six, which was not the first one, but one of the more earlier of 
them.  I've heard that before they used to have names for them, which I think 
would be prettier.

And in the archetypical instance of this, the narrator of the first novella 
is called Number Five by his father.  This is an interesting theme, even if I 
don't entirely know what to make of it.

I was puzzling over the "sometimes like a man, sometimes like old wood," 
quote, and noticed that if you look at the previous conversation, it appears 
that M. Culot's grandfather said it in French (possibly "... parfois comme le 
bois vieux"?) Could it be a bilingual pun somehow?  I don't know enough 
French to answer this.

Finally, describing his communications with his fellow prisoner, Victor says

"I have filled in the punctuation myself.  Forty-seven does not use 
punctuation, and if I have misrepresented his intention, I hope he will 
forgive me."

This seemed like a clue to me, so I looked at all of Forty-seven's 
conversations.  It seems impossible to repunctuate any of them and obtain a 
different meaning.  Then I realized that the punctuation has been filled in 
not only in all of Forty-seven's conversations, but in all of the interviews 
Marsch conducted, as well as the prison interviews of Victor.  This is too 
much material for me to enjoy reading through, while looking for ways to 
repunctuate, but I would encourage anybody on this mailing list who enjoys 
this sort of thing to try it.  

-Stone Ox-


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