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From: "Josh Levitan" <josh_levitan@hotmail.com>
Subject: (whorl) Re: Digest whorl.v011.n032
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 13:25:27 PDT

>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 
>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 
>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 
>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 
>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, 
>believe Wolfe is attempting to suggest that Horn and his fellow colonists 
>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 
>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 
>niche is why they migrate, not because the worlds are closer for a 
>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 
>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

Then Peter Westlake wrote:
>I suggested this a while ago, but alga had some evidence that they
>really could:
> >
> >Yes, they really can (see LS3, the end). They shut down their breathing.
> >But they can't do it for very long distances, only when the two worlds 
> >at their closest conjunction. They come to Blue to feed (assuming that 
> >Green colonists are not enough for them), but they need to return to 
> >to breed. Landers are not part of the scenario, as they are not good with
> >tools (Krait pretty much tells us this).
>Of course, they do have human slaves, now. I can't look up the passage
>alga cites until I get home; anyone recall the details?
>As for the science, I might believe they could survive re-entry,
>being able to spread their wings like a parachute, but then how
>would it be possible to kill them by burning? Horn reports seeing
>this during his visit to (?)Skano.

I'm gonna have to agree with Borski on this one.  They can fly, and survive 
buried/in a vaccuum.  But how the hell can they reach escape velocity and 
survive re-entry.  Horn's explanation is very poor medieval-level science 
indeed, and it never even occurred to me until Borski pointed it out.

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