(urth) An Evil Guest: tone, and clones

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 12:52:11 PST 2010

On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 11:24 AM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:
> Gwern:
>> - but the hair
>> doesn't match at all, unless we're going to dismiss the
>> photos, mirrors, fortune, and also postulate hair dye or a wig.
> I don't see how these are impediments at all.
> Well, assuming she's a good deal older than Cassie, the hair is dyed.
> Cassie's hair is auburn, right? That's technically a brunette. The text
> doesn't say "dark brown hair" or "black hair". Auburn is between brunette
> and red hair as strawberry-blonde is between blonde and red hair. If a
> strawberry blonde were referred to as "blonde", would you say "that's
> totally different"?

Ah, but why should we assume that she's much older? If we can accept
Cassie's musing that Cassie is much older, despite her chronological
age, then why couldn't we think Pavlatos is really young despite
appearing old? If we can accept a premature aging (of hair), is a
delayed aging (of hair) any stranger?

It is as much a staple of Wolfe characters to be badly deluded as to
someone's real status as it is for them to have deep insights, after

> And of course we aren't told of Cassie's reaction to the photos, only her
> reaction to seeing herself in the mirror before she had an opportunity to
> look at the photos. The photos might well include ones of her in a
> restaurant with Gideon Chase and actor headshots. If Cassie is one of a
> series of clones then they might be photos of lots of scenes she knows
> nothing about, however contemporaneous with her time.
> Coming off the island, Cassie is haggard. Looking years older. So the mirror
> is all the confirmation she needs. I think the mirrors are intended as a
> metaphor as much as a plot element.

> I'm not saying there anything *proven* here. I'm just befuddled that you
> think the idea of Pavlatos = Cassie can be dispensed with. And, personally,
> based on the Sharon Bench conversation and the mirrors in the stateroom, I'd
> be surprised if P==C or C=P (that is, "eventually becomes") is not part of
> this stew.

P==C or C=P require us to make a number of assumptions and
workarounds, and there has yet to be any good hint that we should
think it. Margaret=Cassie is much more compelling.

> Gwern:
>> It is. Remember the passage about the 'awed' Barclays manager who
>> informs her she is now the wealthiest woman 'in the state'?
> Well, then, that's a pretty sweet stake to build a fortune on. Anyway, we
> know she's wealthy but we really don't know *how* wealthy. She's got a
> yacht. That hardly requires that she be Warren Buffet.

Are we disbelieving Cassie now when she describes Pavlatos as
'mistress of a thousand millions'? And Cassie blew the bracelet on the
hopper as well. (Used vehicles usually fetch far less than their
original price.)

> I don't *know* how he intended to make her wealthy. $100K is not what he
> promised her. It's the minimum payment she demanded. He had something else
> in mind or else, I think, he would have stated a precise amount in the first
> place. Assuming he knows that Pavlatos is Cassie, then he could certainly
> promise that she would become wealthy due to their gambit. Otherwise, I
> don't know.

That might just be Chase's personality. He wants 50 million from the
pigs, no less, no more. He has a reputation for satisfying his
customers. And his doppelganger (Reis) says again and again that Reis
always keeps his word and delivers on his contracts.

It's not necessarily his problem if Cassie doesn't know how to value
her services and the danger premium. It's just business, ma'am.

> Yes. This is a Wolfe novel. Doesn't the fact that he lays it all out in the
> 1st or 2nd chapter make you a teensy suspicious? He promised to make her a
> star, which he does although she never becomes famous (so far as we know).
> So the one point (we think) we understand, he means something categorically
> different from what Cassie thinks he means. He promises to make her wealthy
> although he never explains how his plan will accomplish that unless having
> her marry Reis was his plot from the beginning. There's more going on here.
> J.

Sometimes a mountain is just a mountain!


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