(urth) An Evil Guest: gold hunting

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 18:46:02 PST 2010

>Fortunately for me, there's a copy of [The Tree Is My Hat] online in 2 
>Books and 
>Having read it and a bit of the list discussion, even assuming that it
>is the same exact universe and not an early draft as it were or a
>relation like BOTNS and "A Solar Labyrinth", I'm not sure we can infer

When I spoke with Gene about it in Atlanta, he confirmed that it is the same 

Incidentally, I strongly recommend "Innocents Aboard" (in which TTIMH is 
collected) . It is probably my favorite collection of short stories by 
Wolfe.  What is interesting about it, is that the stories aren't really SF 
per se. Or they just barely are. IA and Strange Travellers are companion 
volumes in my mind ("Counting Cats in Zanzibar" is a story I routinely offer 
as an introduction to Wolfe) . Also, IA has the short story The Night Chough 
so that's two extra extra-textual references to Wolfe novels in one 

>Baden is the member of an agency, but aside from calling it 'the
>Agency', we aren't given any reason to identify it with the
>intelligence community. Baden has no particular fighting or computer
>or jungle expertise, or evinces any kind of special skills one might
>expect of an overseas operative. Further, his previous assignment was
>Uganda, which back then was a humanitarian interest - not a national
>security concern in the least. And note his equipment:[snip]
>If he were CIA, would he just have a crappy radio? If he were using
>milspec government equipment, why can he talk all around the world? If
>the military-industrial establishment were probing the islands, why
>zero mention of reports back? Why a female boss, and one so concerned
>she'll squeeze his hand? It all makes sense if it were a government
>charity thingy, though.

Baden's whole assignment is screwy for all the reasons you give and more. 
But it no more works as a charity operation than anything else. He is given 
no mission to speak of at all. He's given no funds to disburse nor people to 
manage. And no information beforehand about what he will experience there. 
All he is told is that he must go there alone. We find out why that is 
within hours of his family arriving. But we don't know *why* anyone who 
comes with Baden is automatically an offering to the aliens (and --it is 
clear-- that is Hanga's understanding). The only thing that seems likely is 
that Baden is sent there because he is considered expendable: a broken tool. 
That, and he's in no position to turn down the assignment. And not all CIA 
agents have 007 skills many of them are merely bureaucrats with a knack for 
languages and some prior experience abroad. It makes sense that The Agency 
is the CIA, but it is not necessary.

I didn't say he was a *spy* for the government. He's sent there as a 
government's representative of some sort at a post that is hardly a plum 
offering for anyone who understands its purpose. The government is posting 
him there for reasons unstated but evidently important. The only official 
role I know of that doesn't require the assignee to know anything or do 
anything is hostage or sacrifice. And he wasn't sacrificed.

> (Also note the utter lack of Squiddies in "The Tree is my Hat".
> Cthulhu should be perfectly active at this point;

Well, the only reason Cassie encounters Squiddies is because of her 
association with Reis (or Chase or the bat-people or because she's a 'star', 
who knows?). Hanga is the only alien we know of who seeks human company for 

> Note also that Chase supposedly worked for Reis once, which is a
> relationship one would expect to obviate the need for photos to a
> degree much more than merely being in the same cult.

Do you mean about healing Rian? Isn't that assuming a bit? (We think) we 
know that Chase worked for Pavlatos. But we don't know Ries had any 
involvement at all.
>> I believe that *somehow* King Kanoa is one of the Rieses. I can't prove 
>> it
>> though.
>> There is an extra Reis running around and it is fixating that he goes by 
>> two
>> identities and Cassie treats those identities almost separately.
>> This reminds me of Garsegc/Setr in The Wizard Knight.

> Mm. How do you explain the mass discrepancy? We're told King Kanoa is
> absolutely massive; Reis is big & powerful, but not that much.

Maybe he's just fatter than Wally. Maybe it's a disguise combined with a 
glamour. Maybe he's pulling a Baldanders/Jolenta with plans to live in the 
Storm King's palace. Whether you explain it via cloning or temporal plotting 
or whatever, they are the same person (in a sense) but different people 
inhabiting different space...one whom Cassie loves and aids and the other 
whom she loathes and undermines. The Garsegc/Setr parallel is key to 
understanding what I mean.

That cave scene is a classic Wolfean climax dutifully repeated in Peace, 
BoTNS, Long Sun, Soldier of the Mist, There Are Doors, and The Knight (I 
haven't read Pirate Freedom yet). As such, the protagonist has to take up a 
hidden weapon in an enclosed space and kill or overthrow the antagonist with 
it in the cave. Wolfe has identified the antagonist as Ries. That is the 
whole foundation of my belief that Kanoa is Ries. If you don't see the 
parallel, I don't expect you to see the necessity of Kanoa being Ries. Take 
it for what it is. Ignore it if you don't see the parallel. I certainly 
can't prove it otherwise.


More information about the Urth mailing list