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Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 11:24:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Straight 
Subject: Re: (urth) TIDDAOSAOS

On Tue, 11 Feb 2003, Fernando Q. Gouvea wrote:

> In the first session, we'll probably be looking at the first three stories,
> "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories", "Alien Stones", and "La
> Befana". Luckily, these are not as difficult as some of the stories that
> come later in the book.

I may have mentioned this in the archives, but I only got the meaning of
the quote from scripture at the end of "Alien Stones" when I re-read the
story following the Clinton scandals.

The woman asks "Where is my husband?"  The alien replies, "What is meant
by 'is'? By 'husband'?"  I didn't properly attend to these statements the
first time, but the "What do you mean by 'is'?" made me laugh the second

So I remembered it when at the end Daw ponders the quote, "Whose wife will
she be in the resurrection."  Which explicates the alien's problem:
Where is your husband if he's dead?  If he's dead, is he still your
husband?  (And it's probably also Daw starting to wonder if/when it's OK
to start putting the moves on her.)

Also, one of my favorite lines in the story: "His religious beliefs
permitted any degree of self-condemnation, though they caviled at the
application of the same terms to any soul except his own," strikes me, now
that I type it, as the sort of thing Chesterton would have said to
criticize "Calvinists" (I use the quotes because Chesterton was prone to
unfairly tarring Calvinists (or his ideosyncratic conception of them) with
a pretty wide brush).

I still don't quite understand who Wad is.  A computer simulation designed
to elicit responses from Daw which are taped to be used later in the
training of a real cadet?  But there seems to be some closer connection.
Is Wad somehow a digitized version of Daw when he was young?  That seems
beyond the technology in the story.  And if the humans have AI that good,
you'd think the idea of a ship run by computerized beings would have been
less foreign.

The best explanation I can think of for the starcharts (and it's not very
good) is that the Alien's "simulation" of the woman's husband might mean
they are in the habit of incarnating themselves in some sort of bodies
which would use the charts.  You have a similar problem with the existence
of hatches and passageways in the ship.

-- Rostrum


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