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Subject: RE: (urth) New Wolfe online
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 10:26:18 -0700
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 

Okay, I was hoping people would wait a day or two and let
one-and-all get read "Castaway" before the spoilage should
begin ... but since it has, some thinks from the blattidaean

1. I think that, yes, there is a thematic link (but not "in=20
the same universe" or even "in an alternate version of the=20
same universe," except in the very broad sence that all
distant-future skiffy consitutes "alternate versions" of
_our_ universe) to the Lupiverse, the Briah cycle, etc.

Specifically: I perceive a resonance between the "woman"=20
and the Mother ... not necessarily that they are the same=20
kind or order of being, but the Mother's people (Scylla,=20
etc.) seem to be a kind of mockery (as in "trolls are a=20
mockery of the Ents") of the "woman" and her kind (if she=20
has one).

Thematically, then, it seems that this is about the=20
_right_ relationship to the Earth-goddess.

2. I have the distinct impression that the narrator's=20
people live (almost?) entirely on their ships, that one
of the things that puzzles or amazes him about the castaway=20
is that he actually _lived_ "dirtside" for twenty-seven=20
years or so. Consider, for example, the first two sentences:

     We picked him up on some dead world nobody ever=20
     goes to. We did it because we had a field problem=20
     that required a lot of tests, and that stuff is=20
     easier if you can just dodge in and out of the=20
     ship without worrying about the airlocks and how=20
     much air you're dumping every time you go outside.

This sounds to me like a ship that doesn't land very often;
and, of course, the narrator doesn't know what trees or
birds are. And common metaphors have been transmogrified
to speak of life on ships rather than worlds:

     I said was it as good for you as it was for her,=20
     and did you feel the ship jump?=20

3. Yes, the Earth (I'm reasonably certain she/it is the=20
Earth) is badly poisoned.=20

     "...There's still a few plants. They're not good,=20
     but you can eat them if you boil them long enough=20
     and keep changing the water."=20

So polluted, in fact, that evolution can't keep up:

     "She's old," he said. "Old and ugly, and she can't=20
     think any more. She tries to think of new things,=20
     but nothing comes. Nothing works now..."

So, yes, at one level at least it's an eco-fable.=20

     "We could have saved her..."

     "We never wanted to help her. We never wanted to=20
     save her, and now we couldn't if we wanted to..."

4. The big question in my mind is: to whom is the=20
castaway speaking when he says "I love you" again and=20
again? The woman (who is not present, and is dead in
any case)? The narrator? The entire human race? And ...
is it him speaking, or is it the woman, who put "part=20
of herself into [the castaway's] brain?=20

(Then, too, a "part" of her surviving in the castaway
would explain why the whiteness of the ship "never
sucked the color out of him.")

5. As to the "things inside her, eating the corpse"=20
that were "part of her..." notice that the castaway
_smiles_ as he talks about it. A very strange smile

     I never had seen a smile like that before,=20
     and I don't ever want to see another one.

Now, what kind of smile is that? Superior? No; the
narrator probably sees superior smiles a dozen times
a day from the officers. I think it's a smile of
radical love ... and if, as I suspect, a "part" of=20
the "woman" still lives in the castaway, then his(?)=20
"I love you" seems to me to represent a signal of an
extraordinary forgiveness, the mother forgiving the
child who has been the cause of her death.

Just my tuppence worth ...



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