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From: Kieran Mullen <kieran@phyast.nhn.ou.edu>
Subject: (whorl) Re:  Digest whorl.v001.n024
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 12:33:08 

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

>I can't draw one in ascii, but interestingly enough, it is one of a
>family of symbols made from (running or flexed) human legs. The other
>well-known one is the triskele, a three footed figure. Severian's dog
>was named Triskele, of course.
>     Dave
>     (david_lebling@avid.com)

    A bit of a red herring, I suspect.  My Greek friends tell me that
Triskele is a common name for a dog in Greek.  (Sort of like "Fido" in
English, which actually comes from "faithful".)  

    I am a bit surprised at the number of people who see Silk as a
Christ-figure.  It was "obvious" to me that he is more similar to Moses or
perhaps Abraham.  He is called by the Outsider to lead the people to a
promised land, a promised land which he never sees.  But Wolfe is not
writing a heavy-handed allegory;  there is no one-to-one correspondence.

    I think Wolfe succeeds in The Long Sun books and Old Sun because 
even when one does not get all the allusions and subtleties, the story 
remains interesting.  Sometimes I think he goes over the edge into
puzzle-making;  for my tastes it is possible to overdue these things
(This was my experience with The Fifth Head of Cerberus, which I still
don't understand).

    Wolfe's brand of theological sf is interesting in that all events can
be interpreted in a strictly atheistic sense (such as Crane's explanation
of Silk's revelation).  It is up to the reader to decide if there is any
truth to the religious claims.  James Blish writes the same way in some of
his works (i.e. _A Case of Conscience_). 

                 Kieran Mullen

 Kieran Mullen                         email: kieran@phyast.nhn.ou.edu
 Dept. of Physics and Astronomy        phone: (405) 325-3961
 The University of Oklahoma            FAX: (405) 325-7557
 Norman, OK 73019, USA                 http://www.nhn.uoknor.edu/~kieran/

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