(urth) fifth head owlet- wolf

Marc Aramini marcaramini at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 10 07:11:26 PDT 2013

Yes, the context of the first novella, written first, would of course not have the shadow child interpretation available in that last line - it would have to be a retrofit, though through months rather than years.  Definitely he wrote 5HOC first and shared it with some individuals who convinced him to write more, I am just not sure if it was published before that expansion or if he was writing the others contiguously.
I agree, the name Many Pink Butterflies indicates there are a whole lot of pink "transformed" individual, and a street name like rue d'asticot (street of maggots/larva) would be consistent with that (no new houses have been built in Port Mimizon for 140 years, and their birth rate is down.  Number 4 (or so I assume) has cloned over 50 failed versions of himself.
Despite the aborigine/vanished person arboreal overlap, I think the mechanism of imitation is somewhat different.  The shadow children invade and replicate, the aborigines mimic or metamorphose, but the inhumi drink blood and they and more particularly their offspring are created - I think the vanished people too create things from blood they have tasted, and that the parasite species gained that ability from "leeching" it off those trees that eat trees to become inhumi.

The problem with the Green Man is his sharp little teeth, and the problem with the Trees is that they eat each other, and probably more ... disturbing.

--- On Wed, 4/10/13, Lee Berman <severiansola at hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Lee Berman <severiansola at hotmail.com>
Subject: (urth) fifth head owlet- wolf
To: "urth at urth.net" <urth at urth.net>
Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 6:42 AM

>Marc Aramini: Just had a little thought if Marsch was a shadow child.  The ending lines of the first >novella.  " she had the child with her.  Someday they'll want us." If this is the shadow child, perhaps >they are getting ready to take or be everyone on st. Anne.    Just a thought on a weird pronoun shift >there- from the child to they- and shadow children say things like " I, for five"...

I've found that line to be among the most haunting in SF since I first read it as a teen, in the novella.

However I take the opposite interpretation. I find the pronoun "us" to mean Number Five, being cloned over and over, as a plural being. As he matured and became his father he started to think of himself in the plural that way. Perhaps that is the more obvious interpretation?

I hold to it because of what I think is the deeper theme of 5HoC which is about adaptation and evolution and competition. I've always understood Number Five's dream about the ship which cannot set sail until it is untied from the dock as a cloning metaphor. With the novella 5HoC, Wolfe is saying cloning is a dead end because it doesn't provide a mechanism for adaptation and evolution.

So in the full novel, what better way to contrast this theme by pitting cloning against a species which is superhuman in its ability to adapt and evolve. I suspect Number Five and his collective cloned family may be the only true humans left on both planets. Earthman Dr Marsch was human on his first visit to the mansion but not on his return. I see Number Five (plural) as the last gasp of a species on the verge of extinction.                           
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