(urth) Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Eric Bourland)

Marc Aramini marcaramini at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 09:26:58 PDT 2018

He also says that attempting to explore the symbols creates more textual
insecurity (something I wholeheartedly disagree with - sometimes the only
closure is symbolic, and wolfe’s use of symbols is surprisingly precise
even in late work -see Julius smart, his orange association (Naranjo) and
the Marid naranj, for example - 1 to 1 symbolic representation) and that
comparisons to Proust are erroneous - wolfe rips off so many lines from
Proust in New Sun it isn’t even funny. Is an intentional science fictional
treatment of involuntary memory triggered through scrumptious chatelaine
flesh rather than a madeline  not enough?

many are not equipped to deal with Wolfe’s symbols, I suppose (like that
memory palace of Latro where the symbolic manifestations of the gospel
writers just happen to appear, mixing so well with the pagan, with three
camels approaching from the south. That’s not truly ambiguous symbolism- it
is very precise in its implications).

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, Marc Aramini <marcaramini at gmail.com> wrote:

> I just ordered the Kindle version of the Palgrave History of SF and am
> glad that Wolfe takes up so much space. I love what he has done with Wolfe
> because it creates a rich discourse (contra me, of course, though Roberts
> might never know it) ...  I only had time to skim it, though at first
> glance I have a completely and utterly opposite take on Wolfe compared to
> Roberts (and all academics poisoned by post-Northrop Frye developments,
> confused by the nature of the very words they use).
> He states that to try to solve the puzzles and fill the spaces in Wolfe
> risks missing the major stakes, and that as Long and Short Sun develop, the
> ambiguity of New Sun is overturned by the enlightenment of The Outsider and
> the undeniable existence of Ah Lah (Silk's enlightenment is artificial and
> has a physical cause - though the will of God is done regardless - in many
> ways higher powers are far more prevalent in Severian's abilities and
> autonomous resurrections, given the red herring of the claw, powerful only
> for its association with him, though the soul is of course a real thing in
> all of the series).
> These are my absolute statements about Wolfe, which don't tend to agree
> very well with what Roberts is saying, though I am glad he says them in a
> public resource that will be read:
> There is nothing of the postmodernist about Wolfe save a mask. He mocks
> and undercuts postmodern subjectivity by creating objectively solvable
> puzzles at every turn - we do not have to be caught up in the character's
> false impressions because we are external to the system. These objective
> details include history and creed. Sometimes the only way to understand
> certain events involves symbolism, however.
> Those who do not solve the puzzles as the text directs cannot often fully
> understand what Wolfe is getting at and risk following their own agenda.
> (See Peter Wright's championing of Marsch and the abos in "Confounding the
> Skin and the Mask" on Ultan's Library as one example where a colonial
> agenda is pushed at the expense of the text's connotations, blaming humans
> for the violence between abo tribes before they ever arrive on Ste. Anne.)
> If we all knew everything, then we would see how profoundly connected to
> tradition and objective reality Wolfe's works actually are. When all
> information is available to us, the strangeness is no longer strange at
> all, just an extension of patterns existing in our reality. (The caveat
> here is who knows everything? Well, when you want a job done right ... who
> can straighten what Wolfe has writ crooked?)
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