(urth) shapeshifter hearsay

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Mon Jul 31 11:09:32 PDT 2006

> Tony Ellis writes:

> >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.

and b responds:
> Does the same principle apply to the circumstantial evidence for
> shapeshifters in BotNS? Do they exist on Urth?
> (no I will NOT mention the Piteous Gate ;-) )

Yes, the same principle applies. However, I think Tony may be
overstating the power of the principle; or perhaps I'm misreading
him. As he says, "...something is definitely going on." However,
it is too much to say, simply from this principle, that
"shape-changing and mimicry" "is definitely going on." (Though
I do believe that there's enogh evidence in 5HC that, indeed,
there are shapechangers.) Rather, _something_ is going on
that makes shape-changing and mimicry deeply important in
that book.

Do shapechangers exist on Urth, then?

Howinole should I know?

But mimicry -- especially memory-based mimicry -- is going on
all over the place, and disguises of various sorts are rampant
throughout the Book of the New Sun and its various sequelae.

In my never sufficiently humble opinion, it's clear to me that
identity is one of Wolfe's major themes, not only here but in all
his major work since 5HC, and that memory, mimicry,
shape-changing, disguises, cloning, and many other things that
go on in those major works are all aspects, or subthemes if
you will, of this supertheme.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
"Shovels are essential to the fantasy genre.
However, they are primarily used by the authors rather than the
characters." -- Stephen R. Donaldson

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