FIND in
<--prev V1 next-->

From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (whorl) Black Mechanics
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 97 10:05:06 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

> From: Peter Cash <cash@convex.convex.com>
> In this connection, I thought it odd that while the talus factory can
> fix the hydraulics, the optical fibers that control Marble's hand can
> only be repaired by a "black mechanic" like Incus. Who were these
> mechanics"? Where did they get their skills? What were they all about?

I got the impression that the taluses did not use optical fibers.  There
are many references to the decline in the chem population over time, and
it may be that the skills and materials to build/conceive chem children
are nearly lost.  (There's also a comment at some point about how few
chem females are left.)

I thought the interlude at the talus factory was excellent; a sort of
essay on the morality of _constructing_ intelligent beings.  The factory
puts a lot of money and effort into building a talus, so it's generally
an indentured servant until that debt is paid off.  Parents put a lot of
money and effort into raising children, so...  The whole set piece can
be read as an ironic commentary on the economics of parenting and child

Taluses, though intelligent, seem to be a lower order of being than a
chem like Marble.  That may be because we never really get to know one,
of course.

The "black mechanics" seem to be a melding of voodoo priests and
hackers.  They are researching the programming of chems, but the one
specific thing we are told they use that knowledge for is subverting the
chems' will (recall the reference to one of them making his butler(?)
more obedient).  I assumed from the start that the reason the chem
soldier (sorry, name escapes me) in the tunnels was so loyal to Incus is
that while fixing him, Incus had reprogrammed him for loyalty and
obedience. Incus is an interesting character; he develops from a sort of
nasty, smarmy underling to a pretty good person by the end of the

     Dave Lebling

Questions or problems to whorl-owner@lists.best.com

<--prev V1 next-->