(urth) 17 megatherians
bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Thu May 18 18:30:11 PDT 2006
There are theories on why the number 17 might be important as a significant
and/or evil number to Gene Wolfe in BotNS. Because Noah's flood happened on
'February' 17? Because Gene Wolf was in the 17th company (or some other
military division) in Korea? These aren't compelling to me.
Since the Ascians, the slaves of Erebus, have often been compared to
communist/socialist societies (Group of 17, Gang Of Four?), the possibility
of a 17 member Politburo as inspiration is appealing. I think there is
circumstantial evidence to suggest Wolfe is no fan of communism. But my
research suggests the typical politburo membership was 12-15 in the USSR
and 7 for the equivalent in China. Why pick 17 to be important?
Now, Abaia and Erebus are clearly the primary megatherians. To me, Abaia
with his vast bulk and network of agents might invoke the USSR while Erebus
with billions of slaves who all look alike and quote from a book of stock
phrases might invoke China. Of course these two nations were the major
communist powers in the 70's. Perhaps the other megatherians represent the
other established communist nations existing in some degree of collaboration
or servitude to the major two at the time of BotNS's writing.
My list of those nations would be Cuba, E. Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Mongolia, N. Korea, Viet
Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. 15. + 2.
I know this list is an easy target for the sarcohamphi but, well...the 17
had to come from somewhere and this might be it. Without the New Sun would
we have had to add the People's Republic of Baldanders? ugh.
Interesting that Wolfe chose to have the Ascians originate from what is
probably the current USA.
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