(urth) time-travel, clones, and changlings

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Thu Oct 1 11:12:07 PDT 2009

> I would like for [the idea of a Woldercon imposters] to work, too.
> But the text doesn't give me enough to
> prove it, or even make a good case. I don't like to have to resort to 
> messy
> time travel to unravel the plot of AEG, but we may be stuck with it.

Well, I want there to be an element of time-travel, because I want the time 
differential between Earth and Woldercan to factor in. But, realistically, 
there is *barely* more discussion of that than there is of cloning.

On the other hand, there is the hard and fast presence of Fairyland in AEG 
(banshees, gray neighbors, little voices in Chase's car) and associations of 
Woldercon with it. Fairyland also operates on a shifted clock from the 
mortal world. Time moves more slowly there (as with Aelfrice) and sometimes 
faster, which again could wreak havoc with time-lines.

For those steeped in fairy lore (and Wolfe seems to be), the concept of 
fairies switching places with mortals is practically fundamental (eg the 
Mabinogion and stories of "changlings"). David Lebling declared as early as 
September of last year that Chase was surely a Woldercanese. He didn't seem 
to consider it debatable, and let's face it, the text refers to him as "a 
guest" in the first page. Ries is said to have been corrupted by his search 
for power. But Chase seems willing to be employed by **anyone to do 
anything** for money (gold). Like Phaedra, Sherry Gold, and Hyacinth, he's 
the consummate prostitute. He's surely the evil guest of the title (or one 
of them...it's hard to get around Wolfe's identification of Ries as a 
villain). Also, the text declares that Chase is known by other identities on 
the first page as well.

Secondly, I'm coming across analogies to "mirrors" and copies. Chase makes 
copies of photographs of Ries and then tears up the originals. Chase enters 
Cassie's apartment through an adjacent apartment that "mirrors" her own. 
And, then of course in the movie version of  "Dr. Lao", the residents are 
duplicated in Woldercon. Granted, this could be explained by clones, but it 
is hard to wedge Chase in as a clone. He's a figure of fairyland...a wizard 
(IIRC in the old story of the child Merlin confronting Vortigern, Merlin is 
half demon).

Even Pavlatos's coincidental appearance at the island could be explained by 
1) her association with Chase who would know where the Bat People would take 
Cassie if things went to hell
2) her being a Cassie-changeling and thus knowing where the Bat People took 
In fact, Chase might be the sole reason they are stalking her. After all, 
he's in the employ of both the government and Ries, so what are the chances 
he is not hand-in-glove with these weird alien-fairies?)

What I'm saying is, that there is IMO at least as much textual opening to 
changelings as there is to time-travel or clones. And (I admit I'm looking 
in the street instead of the alley since there's more light there) it does 
not open the narrative to infinite speculative theories (merely an 
uncomfortably large number) of unmentioned trips back-and-forth to get to 
the "right" number of iterations (three) despite the US government being 
mysteriously unaware of the potential.

I'm increasingly troubled by the degree to which AEG/The Tree Is My Hat are 
novels set within an extensive lightly-referenced and expurgated super-plot. 
This is was a significant problem regarding Typhon and Blue's Neighbors, but 
it is exponentially frustrating in this new world.


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