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Azram Legion
Jan 23, 2005

Drunken Poet Glory

HamsterPolice posted:

I mean, isn't Severian like 15 years old? And yeah he lives in some kind of medieval environment. He lost his virginity to clone prostitutes iirc.

Something like 15-16 when he starts his (physical) journey, yeah, and more than a decade older when he pens the Book of the New Sun that we read. After that, I'm not sure talking about age as a function of linear time makes sense.

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hell astro course
Dec 10, 2009

pizza sucks



Azram Legion posted:

It is easy to forget how utterly ruined both Severian and Thecla are by their life circumstances. For the first half of Severian's life, the only interaction he has with women is taking care of "clients" - and of course seeing someone who may be his mother be decapitated at the yearly feast-day ceremony. Thecla, meanwhile, was raised to be kept as a hostage who was expected to leverage her position as hostage into influence.

Speaking of Thecla, I've been listening to the ReReading Wolfe podcast, and one of the things they mentioned was how she is basically named The Claw. It is such a stupid, obvious thing, but I never noticed it before, and it has a lot of implications that I can't really make sense of. It is hard to imagine that it isn't intentional on Wolfe's part, but accepting it as intentional opens up quite a can of worms. Was Thecla's life as guided and planned as Severian's? How much of what we read about happens because someone set it up in precisely this way?

Totally. I just mean I've always been under the impression that we're supposed to perceive this as a character 'flaw' that illustrates the mental gymnastics he goes through, and it was not written with the current cultural discourse in mind, nor is it intended to be a mouth piece for regressive opinions... which is unfortunately all-too-common in a lot of fantasy and scifi.

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










Joan Gordon said something like Wolfe was definitely a "traditionalist" when it came to gender roles, and that Rosemary was too, his views would be considered quaint and sexist by modern standards but I've never perceived him as a blatant misogynist or creep like some sci fi authors.

when Wolfe did write women protagonists they are pretty good, shoutout to Holly and Cassie.

Azram Legion
Jan 23, 2005

Drunken Poet Glory

hell astro course posted:

Totally. I just mean I've always been under the impression that we're supposed to perceive this as a character 'flaw' that illustrates the mental gymnastics he goes through, and it was not written with the current cultural discourse in mind, nor is it intended to be a mouth piece for regressive opinions... which is unfortunately all-too-common in a lot of fantasy and scifi.

Yeah, I agree with this completely. I think a large part of it is that Wolfe wrote so much from the point of view of specific characters, rather than omniscient narrators. If Wolfe himself had gone off on long spiels about women and power and how we torture those we love, I would have probably been too turned off to keep reading. When Severicla does it though? That's just good writing that shows us how warped their view of the world is.

my bony fealty posted:

Joan Gordon said something like Wolfe was definitely a "traditionalist" when it came to gender roles, and that Rosemary was too, his views would be considered quaint and sexist by modern standards but I've never perceived him as a blatant misogynist or creep like some sci fi authors.

when Wolfe did write women protagonists they are pretty good, shoutout to Holly and Cassie.

At the same time, there is no doubt in my mind that this is true. From everything I've read, Wolfe seemed like a "romantic libertarian" - someone who idolized the idea of an independent man (not person, man) taking care of his wife and family, and better left without state interference. He was obviously anti-capitalist in his early writings, but his idea of a replacement - some sort of idealized frontier society with minimal state interference, is the sense I get - always seems naive to me. The sort of ideal society that requires 99% of the world's population to die before there's enough room and resources for everyone to live that way. And, as you say, very clearly built around traditional gender roles.

The good thing about Wolfe though, is that he didn't write to reinforce his faith, his views on relationships, or his ideology. He explored them, he used imagery and themes from them, but he didn't let them dictate the narratives, and he didn't write to reach their conclusions. I mean, people call the Solar Cycle a catholic work, but it is also a work where the savior rapes and kills his way across the land, and where the Eucharist is directly translated into polyploidization and hybridization. We all remember that part of the New Testament where Jesus says "Touch this sentient liana to travel through time!" right?

Amuys
Jan 2, 2017

Muuch Muuch


my bony fealty posted:

IGJ is definitely the best part of Short Sun and yeah when they start travelling to Urth it gets real good.

This Long Sun reread has got me thinking that (gasp) Long Sun is better than New Sun. At the very least it doesn't get anywhere near the attention it deserves. Silk is just a really great character.

This opinion may change once I get to the second half which iirc is kinda bloated and a lot of nothing happens in a lot of pages. But Nightside and Lake are really really good.

It kinda helps that Silk lives in a relatively 'normal' city and actually had social interaction with normal people. The slice-of-life moments where he's bumbling around cooking tomatoes and helping the sibyls were great.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Azram Legion posted:

Speaking of Thecla, I've been listening to the ReReading Wolfe podcast, and one of the things they mentioned was how she is basically named The Claw.

I remember not being 100% onboard when whichever host that was first posed that theory. But every time her name comes up that guy always repeats at least twice, "Thecla. The Claw. Thecla. The Claw." and it's starting to drive me crazy.

Azram Legion posted:

I mean, people call the Solar Cycle a catholic work, but it is also a work where the savior rapes and kills his way across the land, and where the Eucharist is directly translated into polyploidization and hybridization. We all remember that part of the New Testament where Jesus says "Touch this sentient liana to travel through time!" right?

I've always found the Solar Cycle to be an effective Catholic work, if maybe not a good one. I like almost everything in his oeuvre having to do with robots/nonhumans aspiring to be like humans, and that's a pretty clear parallel to how humans should aspire to be like God.

I was gonna flippantly disagree with your second point and make a Moses + Staff = Boner joke but someone proposed the theory that Silk could travel to the Red Sun Whorl because he has a staff made of liana vines because the lianas were the juvenile form of the inhumi and all of a sudden that's starting to make a certain kind of sense.

Neurosis
Jun 10, 2003


Fallen Rib

Hammer Bro. posted:

I was gonna flippantly disagree with your second point and make a Moses + Staff = Boner joke but someone proposed the theory that Silk could travel to the Red Sun Whorl because he has a staff made of liana vines because the lianas were the juvenile form of the inhumi and all of a sudden that's starting to make a certain kind of sense.

I thought we got a perspective on what juvenile inhumi are like from Jahlee, and they were more or less just little reptile-like critters? Or is there a more extensive lifecycle in which what Jahlee showed us can be accommodated? Or was she lying - but I doubt
she was lying in full, since iirc she recounted meeting with Horn on Green, which gave her a connection relevant for the story?

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm well past due for a re-read. I've also gotta pin down where the vine theory came from 'cause it seemed like something that was relatively recent and supplemented the explicitly verbalized information.

At the very least they're raised to our explicit attention frequently.

Also ReReading Wolfe and Marc Aramini have started a bibliography of Wolfe Secondary Sources. I'm usually down for reading about what others have written about Wolfe, but that's a longer list than I was expecting.

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










The Liana thing came from Aramini iirc, it makes a lot of sense when the narrator starts astral projecting independent of any inhumi

I for one kinda buy the whole Aramini theory about the one planet being the other planet, it offers thematic closure to the whole series that nothing else does

Neurosis
Jun 10, 2003


Fallen Rib

my bony fealty posted:

The Liana thing came from Aramini iirc, it makes a lot of sense when the narrator starts astral projecting independent of any inhumi

I for one kinda buy the whole Aramini theory about the one planet being the other planet, it offers thematic closure to the whole series that nothing else does

I didn't buy it at first but the thematic resonances and symbolism piled up until I've started thinking it's probably correct.

Of course, we don't know this is the fate of Ushas - the Severian Silkhorn encounters is different from the one we read, as indicated by some timeline problems with Triskele and a couple of odd things Severian says (eg 'no one would believe this'). So it's probably a different iteration of the universe (I guess that ties in to why it's called the Solar Cycle).

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










Neurosis posted:

I didn't buy it at first but the thematic resonances and symbolism piled up until I've started thinking it's probably correct.

Of course, we don't know this is the fate of Ushas - the Severian Silkhorn encounters is different from the one we read, as indicated by some timeline problems with Triskele and a couple of odd things Severian says (eg 'no one would believe this'). So it's probably a different iteration of the universe (I guess that ties in to why it's called the Solar Cycle).

Yeah I think that's the only interpretation that makes sense, there's too much discrepancy with Severian's age, Triskele, and Merryn being there and I don't think Wolfe would have made that mistake - very convenient to have an explanation of universal cycles that repeat with differences sometimes minor and sometimes major. There also seems to be some suggestion that the universe of New Sun is one where Christ the savior was never sent by God, whereas in Long Sun there's an explicit reference to Allah which implies it's maybe closer to our own, if not the same. But that then opens how Green could be Urth, if Urth wasn't submerged into Ushas in the Long Sun cycle... who knows!

anyhow here's some Wolfe ephemera I got my hands on, the handout from his funeral





I love that particular quote because it's about a third of the way through Citadel so it's like, of course I like stories Severian, I've been reading this one for like a thousand pages you dummy, why would be this far into it if I don't like stories? Which! lends credence to the idea that the purpose of Severian writing the book is some kind of political tract or apologia or even that Severian intends it to be required reading in the Commonwealth despite his stated intention to stash it in Ultan's library, like why else would he expect anyone would read it and not pay attention?

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Chichevache
Feb 16, 2010

One of the funniest posters in GIP.

Just not intentionally.


my bony fealty posted:

Yeah I think that's the only interpretation that makes sense, there's too much discrepancy with Severian's age, Triskele, and Merryn being there and I don't think Wolfe would have made that mistake - very convenient to have an explanation of universal cycles that repeat with differences sometimes minor and sometimes major. There also seems to be some suggestion that the universe of New Sun is one where Christ the savior was never sent by God, whereas in Long Sun there's an explicit reference to Allah which implies it's maybe closer to our own, if not the same. But that then opens how Green could be Urth, if Urth wasn't submerged into Ushas in the Long Sun cycle... who knows!

anyhow here's some Wolfe ephemera I got my hands on, the handout from his funeral





I love that particular quote because it's about a third of the way through Citadel so it's like, of course I like stories Severian, I've been reading this one for like a thousand pages you dummy, why would be this far into it if I don't like stories? Which! lends credence to the idea that the purpose of Severian writing the book is some kind of political tract or apologia or even that Severian intends it to be required reading in the Commonwealth despite his stated intention to stash it in Ultan's library, like why else would he expect anyone would read it and not pay attention?

That's beautiful. Thank you for finding it and sharing it with us.

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