(urth) An Evil Guest: tone, and clones

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 07:23:53 PST 2010

On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 10:04 AM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 2. if they are of her old starry self, she would take some more time
>> to recognize them but certainly not weeks
> I think I'm missing something.
> Cassie Casey takes 1 and a half steps into the stateroom and sees herself in
> a mirror (presumably) even before she sees the pictures of Pavlatos.
> Assuming Cassie = Pavlatos why would she need the portraits at all? She
> looks at Pavlatos and herself in the mirrored walls of the yacht and
> realizes instantly that they are the same person. And then she breaks down
> into tears.

Re-reading the passage, it mentions *photographs* of Pavlatos. Going
by the same logic, this is even more damning. Portraits are very
easily faked or altered, but photos take effort to modify.

And I don't think she would look at the mirrors and realize "I'm
seeing twins, so that means...", since she describes herself as 'a
wasted face, sunburned and deeply lined, surmounted by dirty, graying
hair. A bent and barefoot old woman dressed in rags, with arms and
legs like sticks."

The thin and old part match Pavlatos, the rags can be replaced, the
wasted face repaired by cosmetics, her fattened out to 'rake-thin'
(however that compares to her starved condition) - 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.

>> Pavlatos is really rich - far richer than Cassie's bracelet could have
>> made her.
> Well, maybe. Maybe not. Chase *did* promise to make Cassie wealthy out of
> their gambit. He didn't just promise her a major "score". He promised her
> wealth. Perhaps the bracelet is worth a great deal....ala the Hope diamond.

It is. Remember the passage about the 'awed' Barclays manager who
informs her she is now the wealthiest woman 'in the state'? And Reis
said it was expensive, even for him. But unless the state is
Washington or New York or Texas, wealthiest person in the state may
not place Cassie up at Pavalatos's level ('mistress of a thousand
millions'), and certainly not wealthiest woman. Women tend to be
underrepresented in the ranks of billionaires.

> For the sake of argument, lets assume it isn't. Now we're moving corners
> Wolfe (once again) did not delineate for whatever reason. Exactly how Chase
> could have promised her "wealth" is still unresolved.

I'm not sure there's a problem here. Chase promised her a cool 100k.
He delivered on 20k of that, leaving 80k (unless I missed some
payments). 80k is nowhere near enough, and even if she had asked for a
more reasonable payment like Chase's original demand of 50 million,
still not Pavlatos-level. Or are you thinking that since Chase was in
love with her as well, he would give her everything he had (which as a
Woldercon alchemist presumably would be a lot)?

> Perhaps it is simply that Cassie is wealthy because Pavlatos is wealthy.
> Palvatos has already become wealthy and knows how it is to be done. She
> stakes Cassie with a certain amount of money and sends her to Woldercon with
> instructions telling what to do to build their empire. Heck, it could be
> simpler than that. She could just send her with half the money or more into
> the past.
> Ergo, Chase can promise Cassie wealth because she will "inherit" it, after
> she pays a debt Pavlatos owes him by doing this little service.
> ----------
> As long as we are pointing out the endless plots that might be plugged into
> Wolfe's crazy-quilt story, I want to put another log on the fire. Why
> Cassie? Why did Chase pick her? Because he saw her on stage?

Aren't we told by him that's why? He's a local who likes theater (as a
wizard, no surprise), and he says he saw occasional flashes of
greatness buried in Cassie.
If we accept what he says about his starrifying process only working
with what is already in the person, it could be that Cassie was the
only poor person with star-potential he knew, and her position as
actress was perfect for exploiting her newfound starpower.

> The clone
> theories are based on a trivial reference to cloning at the end of the book.
> We assume this is referring to Ries because there seems to be more than one
> and then there's Rian. Fair enough. But the cloning reference was to Cassie
> herself. It is entirely possible that Cassie is a clone of Pavlatos. And
> more infuriating, there is nothing to prevent this from being combined with
> the Time travel theory I posted above (if Pavlatos is presumed old enough).
> Pavlatos could have created a clone (Cassie) who she sends back into the
> past to become herself.
> J.

A fun riff off of _Fifth Head_!


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