(urth) GUT's and so on

Gerry Quinn gerryq at indigo.ie
Mon Sep 6 11:14:51 PDT 2010

From: "Lee Berman" <severiansola at hotmail.com>
To: <urth at lists.urth.net>>Gerry Quinn- As I read it, the Shadow Children are 
the degenerate remnants of the
>>original human discoverers of St. Croix. The hillmen and marshmen are the
>>St. Croix aborigines who took on the discoverers' original form.  They 
>>already of human appearance when the psychic shield surrounding the twin
>>planets was removed and the French colonists came.
> I think it is Ste. Anne. But anyway, the text is deliberately confusing, 
> everywhere,
> in relationship to identity. I almost despair of being able to provide the 
> quotes which
> lead me to believe Shadow Children are a version of the original 
> inhabitants of Ste. Anne
> but I'll try.
> I can see where the interpretation of Shadow Children as degenerate humans 
> comes from.
> It is presented first, but then (I think) called into question.
> As Old Wise One speaks to Sandwalker in the pit:
> "When we came, we looked as you do now--...You come from a race of 
> shape-changers--
> like those we called werewolves in our old home. When we came, some of you 
> looked like
> every beast and some were of fantastic forms inspired by the clouds--or by 
> lava flows
> or water.  But we walked among you in power and majesty and might, hissing 
> like a thousand
> serpents as we splashed down into your sea..."
> There is the suggestion that the chewing of an addictive plant is what 
> caused the
> crash-landed humans to become Shadow Children. Okay, fine, so there it is, 
> the two races
> explained.
> But then there are doubts. The abos are all of human form and behavior. It 
> is the Shadow
> Children who are weird looking and seem indeterminate in their number and 
> solidity. You
> never know how many of them there are or or whether they will be tangible 
> or ethereal.

Nevertheless, they exist.  Something is known of Earth.  Contact must have 
bren made.

> The Old Wise One says:
>>"It is possible that our home was named Atlantis or Mu--or Gondwanaland, 
>>Poictesme or the Country of Friends.
> Not sure about Country of Friends unless it refers to Quakers. But 
> Atlantis is a legendary
> continent of the Atlantic Ocean. Mu the same for the Pacific. Gondwanaland 
> is the name of
> a pre-cursor to Pangaea (existing long before humanity). Poictesme is a 
> fictional province
> of France in the work of a somewhat obscure fantasy writer, James Branch 
> Cabell.
> Africa is okay but the other possible homelands leave me very suspicious 
> about the true
> Earthly origins of Shadow Children.

>From a literary viewpoint, they are reflections of the suggestions of Daviod 
and the narrator in _5HoC_.

> Then there is this passage as Sandwalker and the Old Wise One discuss 
> names of Shadow Children:
>>OWO: "We had no names before men came out of the sky. We were mostly long, 
>>and lived in holes
>>between the roots of trees."
>>SW: "I thought we were the ones."
>>OWO admits: "I am confused".  There are so many of you now and so few of 
> I interpret this to mean that the Old Wise One has started to have 
> glimmers of what Shadow
> Children's true origin is- vague shape changers. Most of his race has 
> became fully human abos
> and fully think they are human and have developed human abilities such as 
> tool use. Shadow
> Children are those who made only a partial transformation to human form 
> and have appearance,
> abilities and memories which are part human, part local shape-changer.

My interpretation is that the degenerate human discoverers have become 
outnumbered, and have for that reason become confused as to their own 
nature.. Their telepathy was always based on the reflections from the abos.

> There is some talk about how Shadow Children have the ability to sing 
> across the stars and lure
> human beings to to them and again the Old Wise One claims confusion on 
> which one of the races
> they are. And we know it is the Shadow Children who sing.
> In the last discussion of such things another Shadow Child says:
>>"Men cross the stars, bending the sky to make the way short.  Since first 
>>we came here----"
>>"Since first THEY came here," the Old Wise One corrected him gently. "Now 
>>I am half a man and
>>know that we were always here, listening to thought that did not come; 
>>listening without thought
>>of our own to be men. Or it may be that all are one stock, 
>>half-remembering and dwindling, half-
>>forgetting and flourishing.

There is only one Shadow Child left from the group - and then there is also 
Sandwalker, the Shadowfriend. The Old Wise One is now half a man, meaning 
that he is also half an abo. He is constructed equally from both.  It is 
explained how that works.

Previously, there were multiple Shadow Children, and only one Shadowfriend.

> So, as so often from Gene Wolfe, we are given one explanation. Then 
> another which contradicts it.
> Then a final sentence which completely muddies up and merges the whole 
> thing. But for me I have
> to think Shadow Children are mostly versions of the local residents. The 
> stuff about them being
> purely humans stunted by chewing a drug plant seems on a par with Inhumi 
> flying through space. A
> lie told so bald-facedly that we can't help but believe it, at first.

I do believe it - I think it is the straightforward interpretation.

- Gerry Quinn

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