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From: "Kevin J. Maroney" <kmaroney@ungames.com>
Subject: Re: (whorl) It's Mostly the Ending
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 15:46:35 

Patera Nutria makes some good points, which I've snipped to get to the
point that I wish to disagree with: 

At 02:29 PM 4/11/01 -0500, you wrote:
[Alga Alice said: 
>>a) we get the huge buildup on the secret of the inhumi, and it turns out the
>>secret doesn't meet the expectations that the narrative builds up for it. We
>>were expecting something more than we guessed in the first volume, but that
>>was it.
>         Granted, that can be a problem for US. 

Well, yes. Alga was discussing *a real-world reader's reaction to the
novel*, not the reaction of someone on Blue to the book. The narrative
builds up a lot of emotional energy in "the secret"; Jahlee's revelation is
a crucial plot moment because of the effect it has on everyone around it...
and the secret goes off like a damp squib, because *we the reader already
know it*. 

(An aside: We knew the basics of the secret before Jahlee's revelation.
However, the particular detail that it is the children of the inhumi who
gain intelligence from the blood rather than the predators themselves is
something that had not been revealed in the earlier volumes, I believe. I
keep trying to figure out how this detail is of such significance that it
transforms our understanding of The Secret, and I keep failing to do so. I
suspect that Wolfe intended for that last piece to be a major revelation,
because of the way that the narrative is structured, but if it is, it
eludes me.)
>I continue to think 
>that the "great secret" that Jahlee tells at the end is not THE Secret, 
>just "a great secret." One option, discussed here, is that the Secret is 
>how the inhumi really get to Blue, which clearly is not by travelling 
>through outer space. But that would not seem to fit the "too heavy to bear" 
>aspect of the Secret. I suspect that the Secret is ... secreted away in the 
>text, and that we in this discussion have not yet ascertained it, or 
>ascertained it fully.

That doesn't hold up to examination. There's a long converation between
Horn and one of the twins in _Green_ in which Horn tries to get the twin to
understand the secret of the inhumi, and it's very much about how the
inhumi benefit from the blood of their prey. Also, Horn's reaction to
Jahlee telling Nettle the Secret is inappropriate for anything other than
*the* Secret--you know, the one which the Inhumi will kill to protect?

And even if there is a "greater secret" hidden in the book--if that's true,
that's Wolfe hiding the emotional core of the novel from his readers again,
and I've already expressed today some displeasure to the degree that
_Return_ is distanced from the reader. If the secret that we are shown
on-camera in a big climactic momement isn't *the* secret, then that's yet
another layer of distance, and it's unsatisfying. 

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

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