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Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 19:25:10 -0400
From: Thomas Bitterman 
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Digest from urth@urth.net

On 21/04/2003 15:06:37 jismulkstis wrote:

 >I recommend Excession or Look to Windward for an intro to Banks.
 >Use of Weapons is also very solid, but I thought the ending
 >came somewhat out of the blue.

An interesting comparison could be made between Severian and
Zakalwe.  They're both men who've done terrible things in their
past and are journeying toward some form of redemption.  The
major difference, and this goes to a major difference between
the authors, is the agency of the characters.  Spoilers ahead.

Severian is constantly buffeted by events: he's kicked out of
the guildhouse, Agia pushes him around, he gets caught up in
the war, backs into being the Autarch, and so on.  His main
decisions are moral: how to react, what to fight for and
against.  He's neither a pilgrim nor a penitent - personal
action is ineffective as a moral instrument.

Zakalwe is a man of action.  Action, in the form of what he
understands as good works, meant for self-atonement and to earn
the forgiveness of others.  The Culture is a world where human
action is efficacious - although Zakalwe is not forgiven (at
the time the novel depicts) his attempt to earn forgiveness
is not portrayed negatively, nor is it implied that he is
laboring in vain.



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