FIND in
<--prev V5 next-->

From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: (whorl) First Post-Many Thoughts
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 16:55:09 

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

I've known about this mailing list for months, but waited until I finally
got my hands on Exodus re-read the first three, and finished the fourth
before I took a look at the archives.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Long Sun
"quartet," and now that I've read through the archives, I'm deeply
grateful for many of your insights which have helped me appreciate this
series even more.  Since my first choice for a Whorl-name, "Thorax" has
already been bandied about, I think I'll let y'all call me "Rostrum."

Having read through the earlier discussions, I'd like to comment on a few
points that haven't been discussed.

1) I really like the idea of the Whorl having been in the Blue/Green
system for years as it explains several things including Q's presence, the
revolt of Pas's family, and the ship failing, but I think there's some

When Silk sees the outside of the Whorl for the first time in Lake, he
sees a flash of light and then the Whorl is shaken as if by the Outsider's
hand.  It seemed clear to me that the ship's engines were firing and it
was accelerating/decelerating.  The implication seemed to be that the ship
had at that moment started to arrive at its destination.  If it had been
in a (presumably) stable orbit of the Blue/Green system for years, why
would the engines be firing?  

2)  When Kypris offers Silk the chance to "be Pas" what exactly is she
really offering?  My first thought in the scene where Silk's face becomes
one of the heads of Pas was, "Which head?  The Typhon (controlling) head or
the other (servant) head?"  Wouldn't Typhon "riding" Silk be a very
similar sort of thing to the way he "rode" the slave whose body his head
was attached to?  Have Tartaros & Kypris assembled the "functional" parts
of Pas and now need a personality (Silk) to "control" the Pas program, or
is it the other way around?  

As others have pointed out, it seems likely that Silk is the body Pas was
intended to possess/ride when it came time for the Cargo to disembark and
colonize.  Is Kypris proposing an ironic reversal of things?  Did it
happen?  Is Silk's personality controlling the Pas program now?  Or is
Kypris really on Typhon's side and is she proposing a way of using Silk 
to restore Typhon?

3)  There are at least two sets of scenes that I can't think of a path for
Horn to know about them.  First are the scenes where Musk trains the hawk
and prepares the kite.  Second is the one where Q turns into a winged
serpent.  Does Lemur ever reveal to Silk how they brought down the flier?
If so, the Musk scenes could be fictional reconstructions.  Likewise, Q's
thoughts could be fictions Horn extrapolates from subsequent knowledge of
the inhumani.  Are those satisfying explanations?  Any other scenes that
seem like the must be fictional?

4) Re: the death of the bird named Hierax - I got the impression that
Mucor had possessed it and caused it to fall in order to save Silk.
Anyone else agree?

5) Re: the shape of Silk's voided cross - Everyone seems to assume that
it's made up of capital gammas whereas I'd been thinking of the
looping lower-case gammas.

6) Re: the mechanism of sacrifice - Since all sacrifices are done in front
of a Sacred Window, perhaps there's simply a low-level program (like a
monitor) that watches for sacrifices and passes the data along to the
appropriate god.  Since the digitized personalities seem to have some
limits on their attention spans, they may have set up some kind of
instructions like "when I'm doing a, don't interrupt me unless x number of
babies get sacrificed, when I'm doing b, don't interrupt me unless y
number of babies get sacrificed, unless it's Silk, in which case interrupt
me no matter what."

7) Re: the mechanism of augury - What does the augur do immediately before
a sacrifice?  He *looks at the Window* and begs for a theophany.  Perhaps
Mainframe gives augurs subliminal messages.  Or perhaps sacrifices are
normally no more accurate than horoscopes, but at the sacrifice at
Orpine's funeral, Kypris gave Silk a subliminal message before her
theophany. (Why?) 

8) vizcacha wrote in what seems to be a majority opinion:
>Wolfe in the person of Horn chides us for thinking a partial
>possession by Kypris could turn Mint into a great general.

I got the exact opposite impression from this passage.  My take was that,
just as Silk often misinterprets things, Horn is doing the same.  I think
Wolfe is chiding the misconception, articulated by Horn, that Love is a
warm, fuzzy, syrupy thing when, in fact, true Love, as exemplified by the
Outsider (whom Silk says Kypris will become more like, the more she
becomes like Love), is a powerful, forceful, even fearsome thing.

Also, it seems that, in general, possession by any god gives the posessee
amazing skills - look at what Kypris+Chenille can do with a knife.

Speaking of vizcacha, I can't tell you how cool I think it is to see Dave
Lebling on this list.  I'm a major Infocom fan and highly recommend their
games - even after 10-15 years, they're still some of the best computer
adventure games available (and you can get almost all of them on a CD from
Activision for about $20).  I haven't played Starcross yet, but it's
definitely on my list of games I want to spend some time with.  I loved
Spellbreaker, Dave!  I've always thought Gene Wolfe, with his incredible
gifts of subtlety would be a great interactive-fiction writer.

Well, I've got more thoughts, but thats way too many for one post already.


<--prev V5 next-->