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From: "ArchD'Ikon Zibethicus" 
Subject: (urth) Gray, Wolfe, Heinlein
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 02:12:34 +0000


>But the text does give the impression that
>an alternative was at least possible and that it
>depended largely on Lanarks actions.


But Nastler _intended_ Lanark to fail...you might recall that Nastler 
described the sort of success which Lanark fantasised about when he accepted 
the gig - people listen to him at the council, his speech sets profound 
reforms in place, he returns in triumph to a saved Unthank and is reunited 
with a chastened and finally appreciative Rima...and then says that he is 
not going to provide Lanark with anything of the sort, because "[i]f I give 
you an ending like that I will be like ten thousand other cheap 
illusionists!  I would be as bad as the late H. G. Wells!  I would be worse 
than Goethe.  Nobody who knows a thing about life or politics will believe 
me for a minute." (p. 492)

>All of these things echo with Severians story

That's right...and it clarifies one of the commonalities I would point out 
between the fictions of Mr. Gray and Mr. Wolfe; their 'heros' fail, blunder, 
are confused and fail to understand important things.  Perhaps this humanity 
is a part of their attraction...

>And you are _spot on_ about Sludden/Blair… *g*

...glad I'm not the only one who sees it that way...we just _call_ him 
Sludden in my family...


>I can think of few who are further from Gene Wolfe's view of the world 
> >than Alasdair Gray, brilliant though he is;

I wonder...is it actually possible to ascribe a world-view to either author 
when both have produced such diverse works?

If you mean politico-religious outlooks, well certainly they're different, 
but not necessarily as vastly as some might think.

>All of these writers produce intelligent complex fictions but if there >is 
>a difference between them and Wolfe, I would say that they all >write books 
>which are character driven, whereas Wolfe's books possibly >use the 
>characters to promote or act out his ideas.

Jonathan Carroll?  I wonder...I have the greatest admiration for Mr. 
Carroll's work, but if we are to draw a dichotomy between character and idea 
I'd have to say that I've always thought of him as a novelist of ideas 
rather than character.

>This could be why I have lost some of my admiration for Wolfe's recent 
> >work, and I would agree with Alga about his more recent short stories, 
> >some of which seem lacking in content and obscure for the
>sake of obscurity. I still have enormous admiration for the man, but 
> >sometimes it makes more sense if you just say what you mean.

I can't judge the recent short stories, but ever since reading someone's 
statement on this list that Mr. Wolfe is not at his best in the short story 
format, I've been winding up to take mild exception, mostly on the strength 
of 'Forlesen', which I personally think is one of the most memorable 'SF' 
short stories I've read...it's actually one of the few that I _do_ remember 
at all.

I don't think that Mr. Wolfe obfuscates for the mere love of mystery, or at 
least right up to the Short Sun series, which is the last I've read.  And I 
believe that some of the enjoyment of reading him comes from the mysteries 
and ambiguities...which are a decided incentive to re-reading...and 
speculation...and, as the discussions on this list show, the mysteries seem 
to have a purpose, and sometimes even admit of explanation...


>It's entirely possible, and I suspect even likely, that Isangoma, Robert, 
>and Marie are actually citizens of the Commonwealth who wandered in and 
>were caught in this way.

>Actually, I've suddenly entirely re-visioned the Botanic Gardens in my mind 
>... In other words, Father Inire has built (for whose amusement?) a theme 
>park, a sort of posthistorical Walt Disney World with living 

...precisely...caught and reprogrammed according to the best information 
available at the time, which _was_ the movies and/or the books of the 20th 
Century...of which perhaps a handful survived in the Library...they took the 
people from one source, and the fauna from another...millions of years have 
passed since then, even the continents have changed...how are they gonna 
know what went where?

>(The horror! The horror!)

Well...the autarchy plays pretty rough as it is...and one presumes that the 
exhibits have their meals supplied regularly...which doesn't always happen 
in Nessus proper...

>Like every SF/F writer from the 1950s on, Moorcock uses (consciously or 
>not) rhetorical techniques and moves invented or improved by Heinlein to 
>establish the nature of his discursive pseudo-realities.


_Every_ SF/F writer?





>    My wife still won't believe that anyone could call nipples "those twin 
>spiggots of desire" or claim that one woman's "nipples went spung").

>These are classic, aren't they ... Up there with "five minutes of 
>squelching noise."

..not to mention having one of his supposedly 'sexually liberated' 
characters declare, in 'Stranger in a Strange Land', "[n]ine times out of 
ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault." (p. 281, NEL pbk, 1976)

I was trying to read the book with all due sympathy after quarreling 
severely with my mother-in-law, who takes the work as gospel, but it fell 
from my hands at this point, never to rise again...

...presumably Mr. Heinlein has never been raped himself...I daresay he would 
feel quite differently about the matter if so...but at least I now 
understand why Charles Manson adapted the book as his bible...he even called 
his son Michael Valentine Manson...

(ducks to avoid return fire from water-brethren...)


>something that I find a little disturbing in Wolfe's novels- the >frequency 
>of rape committed by his protagonists or major characters.

...see above...perhaps it (sometimes) takes a female writer to present rape 
as a disgusting and humiliating experience with no symbolic or redemptive 
value...Le Guin does it rather well...


What a gloomy note to end on...how about this, instead: Happy Easter to 
those who believe!


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