(urth) "V.R.T." - April 24

Ori Kowarsky orikowarsky at gmail.com
Thu Jul 27 11:24:56 PDT 2006

Tony and Daniel,

Thank you for your comments.

Both of you object to the theory on the basis that the abos are known
to be shapechangers.  This "knowledge" is based on hearsay.  None of
the characters directly observes any instance of shapechanging.  The
ability of Victor's mother to change is something we hear about via a
man who has internalized an enormous amount of Annese folklore -- he
may be personalizing and regurgitating other people's stories.
Cassilla's "aparent ability to look older at will" is not something
that we know she is actually doing.    We are supposing it because we,
as readers, are filling in the blanks after reading something similar
from Marsch's notes.  It is actually more likely that she is being
seen in an unflattering light after a long night.

Please remember as well that Wolfe tries not to play fast and loose
with the basic laws of physics.  How long would the supposed abo
"worms" have to be to contain the same amount of mass as the grown
humans they allegedly become?

There is similar confusion within the text about abos and tools.
Weaving nets and using them to catch fish obviously requires greater
manual dexterity than using a shovel, and about as much manual
dexterity as using a pen.  (I would point out that here on Earth we
know certain primates use twigs to "shovel" out a spoonful of ants but
zoologists would flip if a chimpanzee started drift-fishing with
self-braided nets).  The idea that there is some kind of Voight-Kampff
test to separate the abos from the humans on the basis of tool use
makes no sense in the context of what people tell us about the abos --
it's like they say "x" and then in the same paragraph say "not x".
It, again, seems more reasonable to assume that this is a weird
bigoted meme that has developed, either to dehumanize the abos for
political, economic and legal reasons, or else to justify some kind of
human-vs.-human massacre at the ford at Running Blood.

Given that 5HC is a study in ambiguity it may be impossible to clearly
prove from the text that Marsch is "Victor".  I would say, though,
that on the basis of that same ambiguity that we should be similarly
wary of being too certain that Victor is "Marsch".  Exploring
alternate theories and viewpoints may lead to a greater appreciation
of the work.  I believe that if we recognize that there is no concrete
foundation for knowing who the prisoner in cell 143 is at all we gain
a more robust idea of what Wolfe seems to be saying about the nature
of identity.


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