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From: William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Finally finished RTW <SPOILERS>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 01:18:13 

I'm going to comment on one of your questions and try to answer 
another. I am not sure if some of the others can be answered in any 
definite way; it will be interesting to see what other responses you 

At 8:33 PM -0600 2/16/01, Endymion9 wrote:
>2. Revelations.  Call me dense but I never understood that Maytera Mint was
>not a chem.  I thought every Maytera was a chem.  So it was just coincidence
>that Maytera Rose and Maytera Marble were?  Also, thinking of Mint made me
>realize that Wolfe reused a similar pattern in the *good* men of the Whorl.

I won't call you dense, but you weren't paying as much attention as 
you might have been. Maytera Marble was the only sybil of the three 
who was a chem, and she may have been the only chem sybil in all of 

In the city of Viron, beings with the names of minerals or 
mineral-derived products are chems. Those with the names of plants or 
plant-derived products are bio women and those with the names of 
animals or animal-derived products are bio men. (There is no naming 
distinction between male and female chems, apparently. I'd call this 
Bio chauvinism on the part of Pas--or whoever came up with the naming 
conventions.) Maytera Rose was very old and sick and was only kept 
alive by means of the many prosthetic parts that had been surgically 
implanted in her body. When even these prostheses could no longer 
keep Rose alive, Maytera Marble claimed some of them as spare parts. 
In Wolfe's universe, robot and human parts are pretty much 
interchangeable. That robot parts could be used as prosthetic parts 
for humans and vice-versa is less silly than the idea that a robot 
(Jonas, in TNotNS) could be repaired with human flesh, but it still 
puts something of a strain on the reader's credulity (mine, at least).

>3.  Why did the corn farmer attack Horn, even after he said he was leaving?
>Why give him the corn just to kill him?  When Wolfe writes passages like
>these I feel so dense, like I'm the only one clueless as to what is going on

The farmer's motivation certainly isn't crystal clear to me either, 
but my opinion is that he wouldn't have attacked Horn if Horn had 
just left without confronting him when the farmer first told Horn to 

To put it bluntly, Horn pissed the farmer off. The farmer seems to 
have been a bully; perhaps he thought Horn would run or beg for 
mercy. But instead Horn showed the farmer that he was not afraid of 
him. Horn even told the farmer that he could beat him with a rotten 
stick and then chastised him for threatening a man who was (the 
farmer thought, at least) old and weak. The farmer was probably 
frightened when he saw Horn was not afraid of him and ashamed when 
Horn chastised him. Both these emotions tend to lead to anger and the 
farmer struck out at Horn in anger when he turned his back on him to 
leave. His anger won out over his fear when he could no longer see 
Horn's (Silk's) face, perhaps.

Another possibility that does not exclude the one above is that the 
farmer recognized that this person who said his name was Horn looked 
just like Silk or at least had suspicions along those lines. He may 
have wondered what Silk was up too and whether he was insane. When 
the farmer threatened Horn and Horn responded without the fear the 
farmer expected, this may have given the farmer more reason to think 
something was wrong with Horn's mind.

It is understandable that the farmer might want to drive off an 
unpredictable looney and might attack one that seemed dangerous.

That's my two cents, anyway.

William Ansley

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