(urth) fifth head owlet- wolf

Lee Berman severiansola at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 10 08:37:17 PDT 2013

>Gwern Branwen: It sounds much more like a maggot or worm origin to me.

Sure, and that origin for Shadow Children has been suggested. But we are trying to work
within Marc's plant-origin theme, at least I am. To its credit, this theme does appear to be 
recurring across Wolfe's work; a thirty year arc from 5HoC to Short Sun.

>Marc Aramini: 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.

Hm. My impression was that all the serious negativity found in the Neighbors was a product of their 
encounter with the Inhumi (or whatever they initially were) on Green. Also, I'd say the Inhumi borrow from abos in being parasitic shapeshifters while the Neighbors borrow from shadow children in being plural and somewhat ethereal beings. However I don't think the Neighbors became plural and ethereal until after they went to Green and got infiltrated and corrupted and needed to find a (spiritual?)
means of escape.

On a general note, I think there is a basic dichotomy of nature which Wolfe may have a sense of- plants (and blue-green algae) are the only non-parasitic species on earth (if we exclude methanogens). All the other kingdoms, animals, fungi, protozoans and bacteria can be considered parasitic. feeding on plants
or members of the other kingdoms. I think most would agree that Gene Wolfe displays a general disgust with parasitic behavior in his writing. Thus I find a certain nobility in his non-parasitic trees and in the Neighbors who are thematically linked to these trees.

>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.

I have to agree. The Green Man is made deliberately disturbing. I'll add his laugh. Why would Wolfe make our best option for our future selves to be so disturbing?

I never studied botany much but the more I learn, the more I find striking examples of the physical, chemical and genetic warfare that plants engage in against each other as well as the other kingdoms. Perhaps the aggressive nature of the trees on Blue/Green is meant to reflect that.

I'm not sure what to make of all that ambiguity. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of the premise that there are no clear, unambiguous truths to be found, either in nature or in Gene Wolfe's work. 		 	   		  

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