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

Robert Pirkola rpirkola at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 19 08:55:45 PDT 2018

Eric:  Point taken on Wolfe putting himself into the characters.  I certainly don't dispute that he does so and it can be quite fun and interesting (see, e.g., "Houston, 1943").  My tendency is to think GW is having a  laugh at one level, but providing something deeper for the novel as well, doing double duty.  Certainly, not everything he writes needs such depth, however much I'd like it to be so.  I have done a good deal of looking on that Jack Pot thing and have not uncovered  anything, and I've tried to visit all the old watering holes.  I did ask a few of those questions of you to see if you had come up with any good explanations that may have eluded others as it seemed you have given AEG a good bit of time and thought, and praise  you for that.  I think that CC is eating so darn much because she's pregnant and despite everyone's protestations to the contrary, objectively she's not as slender as most everyone insists.  Margaret seems to know her true proportions.  A portion of my write-up might help explain where I am coming from:

The Biblical story told in the Book of Revelation 12 about the woman and the dragon shares much with the latter narrative of An Evil Guest.  James B. Jordan, a Gene Wolfe scholar steeped in a deep knowledge of Christianity, has discussed the details from a theological perspective.  See Urth List, “AEG: More Theology”, James B. Jordan, October 28, 2008.  The text of Revelation 12 practically speaks for itself when read in combination with Chapter 24 of An Evil Guest, but it also provides several subtle confirmations of things only hinted at.  For one, Revelation 12:2 reveals that the woman clothed with the sun “being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”  Cassie is fat throughout the book and getting fatter.  Is she being fattened up for sacrifice?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  While she has the glamour, she doesn’t realize (and since everyone is affected, no one else can either [India Dempster thinks that CC weighs just over 100 lbs., pg. 135.]) that she is steadily putting on weight.  She eats terribly fattening foods.  Even when she vows to change her eating habits and stop drinking, she very quickly reverts.  She also talks about fattening up on hotel food and she continues eating decadently in Takanga.  She is described as having a tiny little waist, pg. 106.  This appears to be part of her transformation, pg. 106.  However, she is measured by Margaret and has a 37 3/8” waist, pg. 107.  This is XL/XXL in Women’s sizing charts.  http://www.tactics.com/info/womens-sizing-charts.  Margaret tells CC that her skirt is too big, but CC puts it on without allowing Margaret to adjust its size as she offered to do, pg. 108.  CC thinks herself fat, pg. 108.  “If I get any fatter that grass skirt’s going to slide down to my knees.”, pg. 135.  This is an odd statement.  What does it mean?  If you have an extremely large belly then you might have to wear a really large grass skirt.  If it were to slip past the large belly, nothing would hinder its sliding to your knees after.  She “struggled into her wool coat”, pg. 216.  She says “I’m too fat” for a bikini, pg. 220.  She admits that she likes to eat “much too much”, pg. 225.  On Takanga, she is eating and eating, chugging piña coladas, pg. 228.  She thinks she will be too fat when she gets back from Takanga to fit into her costumes, pg. 228.  She has been “fattening on hotel food”, pg. 244.  She is said to be fatter than she is beautiful and kind, pg. 244.  Diana Diamond calls her plump, pg. 279.  Before her island ordeal, women thought she was fat, pg. 300.

She is, of course, pregnant.  But pregnant with whose baby?  And what happens to the child?  One can hardly talk about the idea that CC may be pregnant without bringing up her mysterious statement:  “The devil’s son is born tonight.”  (pg. 281).  Note that when CC says it, it is not night, nor is it night when the sacrifice occurs.  So what is she talking about?  The “Midnite Movies” DVD cover for the film of The Dunwich Horror (1970) bears the words “the devil’s spawn”.  See also, “The Dunwich Horror”, The Thing On the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, pp. 211, 245.  “some day yew folks’ll hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill!”  After having watched the movie, however, no similar line is spoken.   Even so, I don’t think it is just a coincidence that these connections can be made.  There are resonances between “The Dunwich Horror” and Revelation 12 as well.

Revelation 12:5 “she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.”  Wilbur Whateley is himself a man child, growing at faster than normal rates after being born, eventually reaching nearly 9 feet tall at the age of fifteen.  [The Thing on the Doorstep, “The Dunwich Horror”, pg. 223].  The man child of An Evil Guest could be a reference to Gideon himself or to Rian Reis.  Both seem to age too quickly for the timeline information we are given.  

Marc:  I have finished the Latro books.  Nearly a year ago now.  I guess I can join the chorus of pining for further installments.       

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