FIND in
<--prev V11 next-->

From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (whorl) Between worlds: inhumi-powered flight
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 14:44:50 

This will probably put me at odds with the usual bunch, but I'd like now to
suggest that the entire notion about how the inhumi are able to fly back and
forth between Green and Blue is folklore concocted by the
scientifically-illiterate colonists.

Consider the following two passages from BLUE:

"The inhumi can fly...They can even fly through the airless vastness of the
abyss, passing from Green to Blue, and back to Green, when they are at or
near conjunction. I have never understood how that was possible." (180)

This does not stop Horn, however, from speculating thusly:

"By an extreme effort, they could 'jump' out of the great sea of air
surrounding the whorl they wished to leave, taking aim at the whorl to which
they wished to go. Their aim would not have to be precise, since they would
begin to fall toward the whorl they were trying to reach as soon as they
neared it. Landers, as I knew even then, must be built so that they will not
overheat when they arrive at a new whorl. But landers are much larger than
the largest boats, and being constructed almost entirely of metals, they
must be much heavier. The inhumi are not bigger than small men, although
they appear so large when their wings are spread; and even though they are
strong, they are no means heavy. Light objects fall much more slowly than
heavy ones, something that anyone may see by dropping a feather as I have
just dropped Oreb's here at my desk. The heat that troubles the landers must
present no great problems to the inhumi."

Apparently, basic science has never been taught at Horn's schola, and if an
equivalent speech were someday made in a George Lukas movie, we'd all be
howling our sides off. But by showing us how scientifically na´ve Horn is, I
believe Wolfe is attempting to suggest that Horn and his fellow colonists do
not have the necessary background to see how wildly implausible
winged-flight between the two worlds is. "Jumping" so mightily they escape
Green's gravitational pull; "falling" toward their new destination; failing
to burn up when they hit the new whorl's atmosphere because they're lighter
than landers; these are the sorts of speculations an ignorant (if innocent)
person makes, but they are definitely not congruent to reality. (Horn does
not attempt to explain why an inhumu's blood gases don't boil off in the
vacuum of space, but his biology is also suspect; thus his failure to
explain correctly the facts of life to Mora, where nutrition and body fat
percentage are the primary determinants of menarche.) As for the observation
that the inhumi seem more plentiful during a conjunction, I'd like to
suggest that this is because the inhumi are simply seeking to exploit a
niche created by the giant storms and tidal havoc, and where there may be
quite a few displaced persons and ruined, vulnerable buildings; and that the
niche is why they migrate, not because the worlds are closer for a crossing.

But if the inhumi don't wing their way across the void, how do they
accomplish the transit? mantis has mentioned the landers already, but surely
there are not many of these. But what about the oneiric transport Incanto
uses, always undergone, at least so far, with an inhuma at his side? As
Krait at one time tells Horn,  "Our race is older than yours, and has
learned things that you can't even dream of." Could this then be the method
by which they access Blue--perhaps appropriated from the Neighbors as a
blood secret?

Because no matter which way the feather falls, I'm not buying the
wings-across-space theory.

Robert Borski

*This is WHORL, for discussion of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun.
*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.moonmilk.com/whorl/
*To leave the list, send "unsubscribe" to whorl-request@lists.best.com
*If it's Wolfe but not Long Sun, please use the URTH list: urth@lists.best.com

<--prev V11 next-->