(urth) AEG: Mice and Cattle

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Thu Oct 8 16:51:08 PDT 2009

What I know. What I know I don't know. What I think I might know. Perhaps 
this seems like basic stuff to everyone else, but I've had to reconsider 
what I thought to be the plot twice already.

On [page 260 -261] we learn that The Storm King has been on Earth for a 
million years or more. We know this because he has been around before humans 
(although this is the humans' planet) not his. In the interim, many other 
aliens have come to Earth. But they don't reveal themselves to humans. In 
fact, they impersonate humans to keep it all on the down low. Apparently, 
they do this by order of the Storm King. We are not told exactly why he 
commands this. [SUPPOSITION is to prevent humanity from being able to rise 
against him.] These aliens are not Woldercanlings. Woldercan is the only 
planet Earthlings have found with intelligent life. But they are not the 
only intelligent beings that have found EARTH.

In addition, [page 262] there are humans --drawn from California pagans and 
Satanists-- who are directly allied to Storm King. Also, there are humans 
working with competing Federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Alcohol 
Tabacco and Firearms (ATF - Arthur Thomas Franklin).

It's not clear what the government knows or thinks it knows about Ries. The 
President think Ries is spying for Woldercan. John Ferguson (FBI Director) 
does not [p 18-19]. Presumably, he prefers to think Ries is spying for the 
Storm King.  Of course the President might be lying; he tends to be more 
inclined to hold information back than John does. Reis is a man whose 
identity is apparently being assumed by at least two men simultaneously, but 
John implies there are three [p 15].

Copies and mirrors:  Chase makes copies of Reis and tears up the original [p 
21]. Chase enters Cassie's apartment through a hole in her wall from an 
apartment that "mirrors" her own [p 76]. When Cassie boards Pavlatos's boat, 
she is surrounded by mirrors and paintings of Madame Pavlatos [p 289].

What is the deal with the Volcano God play? I have no idea what its tactical 
purpose was. Just for Cassie? I'm not buying that. Why not get her into the 
movies (tri-vid) instead? The ATF went out of its way to assassinate one of 
the actors. How many cast members are not human; hiding out as "actors" just 
as Gideon Chase did? When Cassie meets the *real* Volcano God, he looks just 
like Vince Palma: the actor who played the Volcano God. Possible hint: After 
Cassie psychically merges with the modified human woman, Cassie says she 
"played" her once.

There are werewolves in this story, but it is not clear to me whether they 
are Wolderconlings or one of the other aliens. Just because Woldercan has 
perfected the ability to change, does not mean others have not succeeded in 
the same technology (remember Pat Gomez).

In addition, we have Gideon Chase who works for anyone. He supposedly left 
Woldercon as a child, but he knows a lot of Woldercon tricks, leading me to 
believe he is a changeling. He was able to heal the child of a rich woman 
(probably Pavlatos) of some indeterminate disease.  Maybe he healed him, but 
maybe he just replaced him!

As the time-travel scenarios have become more and more nailed down, I like 
them less and less. I think clones are more likely but I don't think this is 
that sort of story. I think this is a spy novel where everyone is wearing a 
mask. But I'm not certain Wolfe has provided the clues to peer behind those 
masks. I once said that Wolfe would never be more than a "writer's writer" 
until he published a Silmarillion of the New Sun. Even more than those 
others, this novel feels only the first half of a novel. It's "Murder on the 
Orient Express" without the last chapters where Hercule Poirot puts the 
evidence together into the various possible scenarios. It's too bad, because 
I think this is a really cool world Wolfe has created and I'd like to know 
more about it.


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