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From: Jeff Meyers <jeffmeyers@earthlink.net>
Subject: (whorl) Re: Digest whorl.v001.n021
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 97 19:04:28 

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

Just a few measly comments about Quetzal.

First, his disappearing does not seem to be due to any extraodinary 
powers.  He's a shape changer, to be sure.  But shape changing and 
disappearing are two different matters.  Remember how he demonstrated his 
ability to Horne in the tunnels.  He simply pulled his black (fuligin?) 
robe over his head and "disappeared."  Now, of course, this may have been 
a trick, but Quetzal tells Horne that it was how he escaped from Spider 
at Blood's.  

Second, Quetzal does seem to be battling with his own nature.  At least 
that's how Horne seems to see it.  In the tunnel as he is supporting 
Quetzal during their flight, Horne offers to fall back and protect the 
rear from whatever danger there might be.  Horne says he "offered to go 
ahead if he [Quetzal] would tell me what to look for."  The narrative 
continues with Quetzal's reply: "'I want you to sleep, my son.'  He 
seemed to suck his gums and reconsidered.  'No, to keep watch.  Can you 
stay awake.'" (p. 374).  Quetzal appears to be torn between his own need 
for blood and his desire to see the little company to safety?  Maybe I'm 
missing something here, but this is not a large group of people that 
escape.  What?  At the most maybe a hundred (including the Sleepers)? Why 
would Quetzal have an interest in taking such a small number of people to 
his own planet?  Does it really make sense that he waited all these years 
just to see to it that such a small group of humans are transported to 
his home world?  To herd as a source of food?

Third,  are we ever really told that Quetzal attacked anyone?  Teasal may 
have been attacked by an inhumi, but it doesn't follow that it was 
Quetzal.  The other "victim" (if I remember correctly) was already dead.  
Other than his appearance at the end, which frightens the bejesus out of 
everyone who sees him, and the notoriously black behavior of his species 
(as Horne tells it) what exactly does he ever do to indicate that he 
himself has a sinister plan?  The very fact that Quetzal is categorized 
as an inhumi would seem to indicate that there are more of them.  More on 
the LSW or just more?  I don't know.  But if there are more lurking 
around on the LSW then that would explain the attack on Teasal.  Does 
anyone else in the story qualify as an evil inhumi?  Everything that 
Quetzal does and says suggests benevolent purposes.   Is this plausible 
or am I missing something?

On to another issue. . . 

Jordan writes:

>On the other hand, he advises
>that the settlers go to the wrong planet -- or so it seems (never try to
>guess where Wolfe will go -- maybe Quetzal's advice was right!)

I have a question: how is it that the departing landers displayed only 
two options to the crew: Blue and Green?  Did Pas program the landers?  
Quetzal?  If the Green planet was the horror that Horne believed it to 
be, why would it even be listed as an option by Pas?  If the Blue planet 
was relatively safe, why would Quetzal program it as an option?  If both 
planets were dangerous (as appears to be the case) why would anyone 
except Quetzal program these two options.  But if Quetzal programed the 
options, what difference would it make which one was chosen?  Why give 
them a choice?   And, then, when Quetzal and Remora chose the Green, why 
would the moniter overrule the decision and take them to the blue?  
There's a mystery here.  I doubt if Wolfe has given us the information 
that we need penetrate it yet.

Jeff Meyers

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

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