(urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe

Allan Anderson rubel at goosemoon.org
Tue Mar 17 08:58:38 PDT 2009

On Mar 17, 2009, at 3:36 AM, brunians at brunians.org wrote:

> A prominent feature of Wolfe's politics, which appears time and time  
> again
> in his stories is his strong approval of the 2nd Amendment of the  
> United
> States constitution, which recognizes the inherent right of the  
> people to
> keep and bear arms, and his strong disapproval of the disarmement of  
> the
> citizenry.

I'm surely not as familiar with Wolfe's work as some of the rest of  
you. But I'm having trouble coming up with examples from Wolfe's  
stories which relate directly or indirectly to the 2nd Amendment or to  
the inherent virtues of weapon ownership.

There are certainly many times when, in the course of the adventure  
story, that the hero wishes he had a weapon or is glad that she is  
armed. Certainly Severian would not be the same character without  
Terminus Est, nor Able without his skills as a warrior. But just as  
often I see weapons as negative or incomplete solutions, such as the  
welding tool in "The Death of Doctor Island", which gives only the  
illusion of dominance. The "useful tool" goes to people's heads and  
becomes a trap which distracts from a larger power (Severian's healing  
ability, Able's magic Valhalla powers, Dr. Island's ability to  
dominate minds.)

Perhaps there's a common thread of power and the honest assessment of  
what you can do when others have power over you. There's certainly a  
lot of weapon-based power differentials (Vodalus has the gun, the  
others have axes.) But when I see the strong contrast in the New Sun  
of some people having energy weapons and others having blades, I don't  
think Wolfe is saying, "See, what a better world it would be if  
everyone had energy weapons." I see interesting ideas about the  
inevitable imbalances of personal power, and how it takes more than  
superior firepower to find a solution. Where is Wolfe stressing the  
importance of personal weaponry as a necessary step to being able to  
address these larger problems? Where does he talk about disarmament?  
(Maybe this is a Long Sun thing I will see when I read those?)

Maybe you folks will be able to say, Allan, you've forgotten this bit,  
you've misinterpreted this bit, you haven't read this bit. For  
instance, I remember something (a bit fuzzily) from The Wizard Knight  
about Berthold and some villagers standing up to some bandits. I also  
remember something about armed peasants being hopelessly outclassed by  
professional armsmen. Sorry, I'd have to go search a bit to get  
something more concrete here.

What I see more of is just the conventions of adventure-story plot:  
the hero, to differentiate him from the rest, sometimes has to take  
bold steps!

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