(urth) Like a good Neighbor

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Sun Nov 20 07:00:32 PST 2011

From: David Stockhoff 
On 11/20/2011 9:36 AM, Gerry Quinn wrote:
> > Having read as far as the chapter ‘Krait’, the idea that he was 
> > replaced by a Neighbour in the pit seems bizarre to me. Just consider 
> > the most obvious point: he needs the help of an inhumu to get out! And 
> > to get it he betrays his wife and family. Unless you think this 
> > Neighbour is a spy for his race and a rather nasty piece of work, or a 
> > very impulsive and impulsive creature with no conscience, how do you 
> > explain this?  [that was supposed to read “impulsive and irrational”]

> So what? You'll have to outline your objection a little better. When 
> does a Wolfe character ever take complete moral responsibility for 
> everything? What do the Neighbors owe him after unkilling him?
You’re missing the point.  If they were trying to help him, they didn’t do a very good job of it, but that’s consistent with them doing as much as they could (the astral projection device).  But if they were sending one of their own to replace him, they did a really terrible job insofar as after the replacement he was still stuck in the pit – that requires an astounding degree of impulsiveness and irrationality!  And finally if they intended to replace him and offer Krait his family to get him out, that makes them downright non-benevolent, and doesn’t work with the whole storyline.
Only the first option is really tenable.

> > The ‘glittering eyes’ he sees while lying semi-conscious, and the 
> > ‘long nosed man or spider’ that he apparently sees with his eyes 
> > closed are presumably Neighbours. [Are we supposed to think of 
> > Severian? Doesn’t make much sense for him to be there though.] The 
> > long-nosed man seemingly uses a device on him that sends him on a 
> > short astral excursion. I think it is likely that this device 
> > *changed* him in some way by granting him or causing him to develop 
> > certain psychic abilities (they probably developed as a consequence of 
> > his temporary exposure as well as subsequent experimentation and other 
> > events). But he is still Horn.
> > Assuming the Neighbours were present and are essentially benevolent, 
> > it seems they could not help him in the obvious way, i.e. by getting 
> > him out of the pit, as Krait did. But this ties in very well with the 
> > notion that they are half-in, half-out of our dimension, and are 
> > limited in their physical abilities (see also the corpses in the sewer 
> > on Green).

> As fairies always are.

Sure.  Like I said, I agree with James that they have some things in common with fairies.  But they have characteristics that are quite untypical of fairies, too.

- Gerry Quinn

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