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From: "Kevin J. Maroney" <kmaroney@crossover.com>
Subject: Re: (whorl) IGJ, impressions, riddles, many spoilers! (of
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000 14:05:04 

At 12:04 PM 7/29/00 -0400, vizcacha wrote:
>Second, and more importantly (and here we are getting close to the true
>secret), there are actually no inhumi.  There is only, poignantly, "a girl
>trapped in the body of a blood-drinking reptile."  The inhumi only have
>"spirits" because their victims have spirits, only have intelligence because
>their victims have intelligence, and so on. 

I don't think this point has been made here: The inhumi seem specifically
to be telepathic reptiles tht developed their telepathy to enhance their
predation. It seems likely that the assumption of human characteristics is
a side-effect of this telepathic ability. I can't tell if they are capable
of true shape-shifting; their ability to pose as humans is certainly
enhanced by, and may be completely, telepathic projection. Note that this
does *not* seem to be part of what Krait told Horn on Green, since Horn
doesn't realize this until he sees the camouflaged hunters in Goan. 

It seems that Incanto's travel between worlds is a combination of the
inhumi telepathic projection and the Vanished People's indeterminate reality. 

>Jahlee describes the
>pursuit of Horn at the end of OBW, and how the inhumi all felt they should
>kill him, but each hoped that another would do it first.  They feel this way
>out of gratitude and also, I think, because the people whose blood they have
>absorbed would not be quick to kill either. Few are eager to cast the first
>stone, sinful or not.  Result, Horn escapes.

Well, also, the inhumi are strongly biologically conditioned not to kill
their prey. In "nature", they will feed on a victim repeatedly over the
course of years rather than kill. If the inhumi surrounding the Rajan at
the end of _Blue_ have not fed from killers, they will not have "learned"
how to kill, themselves. 

>Perhaps the secret is that if the inhumi are treated justly, treated as we
>would like to treat other human beings, they will gradually become less of a
>threat.  ... Horn sees that as a possible future for humanity as well, and
>on Green it is coming true; the villages capture other humans to sell to the
>inhumi as slaves.

I'd go a step further: If all the inhumi are treated as human by all
humans, they will *become* human. But I think there's one more twist to the
secret coming, and I don't know what it is. So far, Wolfe has overdelivered
on every promise of the narrative; I'd like to think he's capable of
overdelivering on the promise of the secret of the inhumi as well. 

(The telepathic predator reminds me of a minor humorous Larry Niven short
story, "The Nonesuch". Spoiler: The Nonesuch is so powerfully telepathic
that when its human prey sees it and thinks, "The Nonesuch isn't real! It's
a fairy-tale", the beast disappears.)

>Horn pushes all the clues out, and lets Hide [figure it out] himself.
>(There's a lot of this in the book.  It happens with Mora, too.  I wonder if
>Wolfe does this a lot in his real life?  Must have been very frustrating for
>his children.)

I don't know Wolfe well enough in person to judge that at all, but note how
thoroughly he does it to his readers. :-) 

Wombat, a.k.a. Kevin Maroney kmaroney@crossover.com
Kitchen Staff Supervisor, New York Review of Science Fiction

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