(urth) Bloodsport

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Thu Feb 10 12:28:09 PST 2011

I'm not sure I would call it "bizarre". Perhaps I'm missing something. I 
didn't find it in the least inscrutable.

I think thematically it's a Liberation story. The characters are forced 
to play a game based on chess but the rules are not the same. For 
example, there are "bowmen" (perhaps they are equivalent to a rook). The 
Queening process of the pawn is a chess allegory as you say but it is 
motivationally justified on two levels:

1) On a literary level, when Lurn, as a pawn, queened herself she 
restarted the game. In doing so, the Valorius' (the Knight's) 
obligations were set in stone. He had to take her out. This is not 
determinism. This was a course of action that she consciously chose for 
the purpose of gaining power.

2) Valorius' actual motivations were not game-related. They were related 
to notions of liberty--he did not want the tyrannical governmental 
system resurrected after the good fortune of it being destroyed. She 
took power based on the legality of the destroyed tyranny and declared 
her intention to restart it along with the games that just previously 
had the two of them trying to kill each other for no good reason. It 
seems that Valorius thought it quite credible that she would succeed.

You say power corrupting absolutely is not a common Wolfe theme. That's 
true. But opposing Power for its Own Sake (that is, tyranny) is a common 
Wolfe theme. Silk is a revolutionary. The Rajan is a revolutionary. Able 
meets and defeats (or reforms) several tyrants.

On a side note:
The name Hunas is an phonetic spelling of Hunus, that is, Latin for "Huns".
Valorius' name also suggests a Roman culture.
However, I can't find any reference, foreign or domestic, for "Lurn".
Where did he pull that from? I just can't believe it's merely a bad 
reference to "lune". Wolfe does better than that.

When I read the part about Lurn's "moon" people, I could have sworn I 
recalled one of the sides of chess being the "moon" side or something. I 
couldn't remember what the other side was. But I don't find any source 
for that recollection.

It's difficult to determine whether Lurn's side is White or Black. It 
could be either with her black hair or her albino white skin. Presumably 
this was intentional, and cleverly done.


On 2/10/2011 1:33 PM, Marc Aramini wrote:
> Yeah.  I don't know that I have much insightful to say, I need to re-read it.  On one level I think it speaks of how any combat is just an accident of allegiances, but that's a weird message coming from Wolfe.  Chess, Allegory, I don't know.  I feel like it begs for explication.  Maybe I'll look at it again, but the queening process and the subsequent shift towards "overthrowing tyrants" is bizarre.
> --- On Thu, 2/10/11, James Wynn<crushtv at gmail.com>  wrote:
>> From: James Wynn<crushtv at gmail.com>
>> Subject: (urth) Bloodsport
>> To: "The Urth Mailing List"<urth at lists.urth.net>
>> Date: Thursday, February 10, 2011, 11:02 AM
>> Did anyone here read 'Bloodsport' in
>> the Sword&  Dark Magic anthology?
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