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

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Thu Jul 27 14:47:33 PDT 2006

On Thursday 27 July 2006 14:24, Ori Kowarsky wrote:
> 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.

I think, if one considers the entire book and not just V.R.T, that there is a 
great deal of evidence that the abos did exist and were actual shape 

> Please remember as well that Wolfe tries not to play fast and loose
> with the basic laws of physics.  

Really?  I guess I've been out of school too long.  I had no idea that time 
travel and certain peculiar types of black holes and white fountains and 
resurrections and all sorts of other things were now established as part of 
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?

Is it necessary that they immediately take on the aspect of humans?

> 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".

An interesting point that I'd not considered.  

> 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.

It seems to me much more reasonable, if that's your criteria, to assume that 
there were in fact abos who simulated human beings.

> Given that 5HC is a study in ambiguity it may be impossible to clearly
> prove from the text that Marsch is "Victor".  

I'd say that it's impossible to clearly prove much of anything from the text.  

> 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.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that one should not explore various 
viewpoints.  I wouldn't be a member of this list if I thought that way. 

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