(urth) An Evil Guest: gold hunting

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Thu Jan 7 17:25:11 PST 2010

>> He's told that he is to be on the island alone, and within a couple hours 
>> of
>> his family arriving on the island, Hanga singles out Baden's wife as a
>> future meal. It's hard to ignore the coincidence.
> Hold on. This is the second you've said he is ordered to be alone.
> What is this based on?
> His boss says 'you will be on your own', but this is a prediction
> about other agency people, not white people or people in general
> obviously Rob and the islanders are already there.

It did *look* like merely a prediction, until his family arrived and they 
were immediately treated as an offering.
I didn't say there would be no other white people, but there seems to be 
some limitations on who can safely come and go there. And family members 
seems to be part of the limitation.

>Nor does he ever
> think 'The agency won't like Mary coming here, but I sure hope she
> does anyway!'

No, he doesn't say that. Obviously Baden doesn't know the rules about being 
there anymore than we do. When he shouted at Hanga to stop killing his 
family, the Shark alien just looked at him without comprehension. Clearly 
Hanga has an understanding of the rules than Baden doesn't.

>> That's the million dollar question.
> They seem to get nothing out of it beyond shuffling off a burden.

Once again, I don’t see that they have escaped a burden. They still have to 
pay him. If they had fired him...okay, lets pretend he has some kind of 
union rule that says they have to pay him 6 months or even a year after they 
fire him. Big deal. He's clearly just as useless to them on the island as he 
would be in a Chicago living room.  Except that they have extended the time 
they have to pay a totally unproductive employee. I just don't see it. If 
there is a job like this for anyone except the children of royalty, I'd 
really like to apply for it.

>What is he hostage against? If Hanga saw Baden as a hostage against the USG
> attacking Hanga, or something, then *why on earth* would he make a
> blood oath with Baden? That defeats the entire point! What is a
> hostage you have sworn to never hurt or kill? Not a very useful one.
> Similar for a sacrifice.

He wasn’t sacrificed, so that's not it. I don't *know* what he's doing 
there. Neither does he. That's the point, right? That's what's so 
frustrating about this story. But I assume the Agency sent him there for 
*some* reason. Contacting Hanga is the only thing he does there. When he 
comes, Hanga approaches him. He doesn't approach everyone. Why him? When 
Baden's wife comes, he approaches her -- immediately. Then he attacks her. 
That's the story. It's clear the plot is developing according to some logic. 
But it is a logic that is as invisible to me as Hanga is invisible to 
everyone but Baden and his wife.

> On the other hand, Baden going there for non-Hanga reasons and Hanga
> taking a shine to this naive foreigner who is pasty-shark-white makes
> perfect sense with the blood oath.

I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. Way too random.

> Reis is probably lying about the extortion part, I agree. That's
> calculated for sympathy, and we have no evidence that Chase actually
> tried to extort Reis, do we? But Wolfe's lies usually contain truth.

I agree. Reis is shading the truth. Chase is not telling the whole story, 
and the whole story about Chase never made it into this novel. That's 

> But again, in Peace and TBOTNS it's a duel. Severian against
> Baldanders, Weer against Lois. There is no third sacrificed party. If
> a major piece of the analogy is missing, you can't make any
> inferences.

Well, there actually *is* a sacrifice occurring in The Knight, when Able 
draws the sword (hidden under the water in the cave) and slays Grengarm. In 
There Are Doors, Green kills North (in the boxing ring with North's hidden 
handgun) to protect Lora. In The Book of the Long Sun, Silk kills Blood (in 
the sitting room with the hidden cane sword) to protect Marble/Rose. Cassie 
kills Kanoa because he is trying to kill Reis (we suppose). And we can't 
really know if the sacrifice went off as planned, can we? It doesn't have to 
be a duel every time. There doesn't have to be a sacrifice every time. Wolfe 
is not writing the same novel over and over again. I didn't mean to imply 
that he was. But, based on every previous time this little play has been 
carried out, the antagonist killed is more than a bit player.


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