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

Tony Ellis tonyellis69 at btopenworld.com
Fri Jul 28 11:08:41 PDT 2006

Ori wrote (of Daniel D Jones and I):
>Both of you object to the theory on the basis that the abos are known
>to be shapechangers.  

Not quite, but I'll get to that in a moment.

>This "knowledge" is based on hearsay.

And hearsay in a novel is a million times more significant than hearsay
you or I hear down the pub - because the author has deliberately chosen
to put it in. As with Chekhov's Gun, if a good author includes a
reference to an old legend or rumour in their story, we can be damn sure
it has a bearing. If the author piles on such references, the way Wolfe
does with shape-changing and mimicry in all three Fifth Head novellas,
then we know that something is definitely going on. 

>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.

And Wolfe just happens to include such a meaningless scrap of
descriptive prose in a book chock-full of references to shape-changing
aliens? After we've been fed the very idea of abo women changing their
apparent age to influence men? I don't think so.

>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? 

If you think VRT has to be a giant shape-changing worm in order to have
replaced Marsch, then I begin understand your reticence. :-) But who
said anything about that? 

I said in my post that the abos have "some sort of ability of mimicry",
and I meant just that. They're humans, or humanoids, with a very limited
ability to appear like other humans. There is some evidence to suggest
that a race of shape-changing beings also exist, or once existed, on St
Anne, but that's a separate issue. The abos are mimics. Perhaps it's
muscle control, perhaps it's telepathy, but it's certainly nothing than
can be dismissed by invoking the laws of physics. 

And until it can be dismissed, it remains our best explanation of what
happened to Marsch. 

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