(urth) Slow Children at Play

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Thu Sep 13 16:45:03 PDT 2007

John Barach wrote:
>But if Mark is an angel and Gene is a man, what exactly is Joe (Mark  says
>c-came from the sky ... J-Joe out of the ground").  Is he in some  sense an

I don't think so. I believe Joe is a man, which is why he looked to Gene for
confirmation that they would both eventually die. Joe came "out of the
ground" only in the sense that Adam did. That's the why of the "Dust to
dust" comment made by Gene.

Keep in mind that Wolfe *never* retells a story the same way he first heard
it. The Eden story seems to be mixed up here with the Christmas story. Mark
may well be a fallen angel, but he is a lesser angel than Lucifer.

>It seems to me, then, that the creature Gene sees is a cherub.  (He's  also
>remarkably like a sphinx in some ways, but then sphinxes seem to me to
>the same sorts of animals that cherubim do.)  Now factor in that  the
>"still stood like a sentry before its fire, which appeared to revolve
>majestically now, grown even larger and more brilliant."

I don't pretend to understand what point Wolfe intended to make with this
story. Like you, I can see the creature before the fire as an angel somehow
concerned with the imminent anniversary of the birth of Christ; and Mark,
Gene and Joe as latter-day Magi. But the red flames and the comparison of
the horned figure to a Viking or a devil say something else. Or so I see it.


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