(urth) urth Digest, Vol 26, Issue 12

Yves Meynard meynard at videotron.ca
Mon Oct 16 19:21:50 PDT 2006

> From: Kieran Mullen <kieran at ou.edu>
> I am not David, but I can write why I find the story disturbing:  an
> innocent young girl is brutally murdered in order to salvage one
> mentally disturbed adult male,  drive an innocent boy catatonic,  and
> manifest the more useful subdominant personality in the boy.   This
> is all based on some utilitarian calculus:  the low probability that
> the girl will be cured, the preference for the subdominant
> personality in the boy, the chance that the man will be cured.   It's
> the cold sacrifice of one life to improve another's life.

But aren't we meant to find this "therapy" profoundly abhorrent? The  
story is shocking, disturbing, because as SF readers we have a built- 
in expectation that wondrous future technology will embody progress  
and good. Wolfe gives us a situation where this is not at all true in  
final analysis (no pun intended). I would have to re-read the story,  
but I seem to remember Dr. Island mentions that Freudianism applies  
equally well to machines--which I think is in fact the author's  
condemnation of any school of psychology that treats people as if  
they were machines.

> I'm not sure I'd call that offensive, but it is disturbing to me.

It is indeed offensive, if you think Wolfe agrees with Dr Island; I  
personally doubt that he does.

Yves Meynard

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