I was listening to your Hero as Werewolf episode today and your discussion caused me to have a thought and I wanted to share it with you guys and see what you thought about it. My thought was, what if the story is being told by the masters about the humans? Your discussion reminded me of something that I read a long time ago. It was supposedly an account of an early Christian ritual, written by a Roman (who I think later converted), named Minucius Felix. I was able to find the exact passage. Minucius writes,
"A young baby is covered with flower, the object being to deceive the unwary. It is then served before the person to be admitted into their [i.e. the Christian's] rites. The recruit is urged to inflict blows onto it - they appear to be harmless because of the covering of flour. Thus the baby is killed with wounds that remain unseen and concealed. It is the blood of the infant - I shudder to mention it - it is this blood that they lick with thirsty lips; these are the limbs they distribute eagerly; this is the victim by which they seal their covenant; it is by complicity in this crime that they are pledged to mutual silence; there are their rites, more foul than all sacrileges combined."
The Romans were so mystified by the early Christians, these people that think they eat their God and want the bodies of their slain kinsmen, they just had no idea what was going on with them. And you can see how an outsider who is already probably set against them, could report such a story as the one above.
In the same way I could see the masters writing a story like The Hero as Werewolf about the humans as a propaganda piece against them. As you guys noted, Paul does not come off looking particularly good in the story and the masters are portrayed as being innocent victims. There are so many resonances in the passage above with the story (e.x. Paul pretending to be a baby to deceive the unwary, Paul killing people by breaking their necks, a wound that does not draw blood and can remain concealed, the talk about drinking blood and wanting to drink the blood of people who are diabetic, etc.) it seem to much to be a coincidence. If the story were partly inspired by this passage, or the persecution of the early Christians in general, the name Paul and the biblical allusion at the end of the story would make more sense as well. Looking forward to hearing what people think.
Yes, I think that's quite plausible though I think that genetic modification is what Wolfe has in mind since it's a principal motif of the story and he has already (and will again) have animal-people in his stories. But it's an interesting thought since we have also seen Wolfe deal with the enslavement of homo sapiens and perhaps that's what he had in mind here.
Just read and listened to this (slowly catching up). Question: could the dog-like police officer simply be a "domesticated" homo sapiens, since the werwolves seems to be wild ones? Not necessarily hugely physically or genetically altered.
You're definitely write about the narrative distance in this story, which is kind of uncharacteristic of Wolfe (at least the seven years of his career we've done so far).
I almost felt like if the story had been told from the Masters' perspective, we'd see them thinking of Paul and the other humans like stray dogs.
I agree that there isn't really anything in the text to support that the story is an actual artifact in the same way that Book of the New Sun is. What I meant was it seems to be told from a standpoint that is somewhat removed from the actions of the protagonist and at least neutral towards the masters. Given the current state of the world in the story, I could see someone in the world producing a sort of "cautionary tale" about the humans.
For, how would a master see someone like Paul? I imagine they would see them like a person with disease or disability or something like that. That is to say, they would see the humans as something that cannot help but be and act the way they are since their genes remain unaltered \ unimproved and, therefore, the humans are something to be aware and cautious of, but not to, say, hate or revile because they can't help the way they are.
I imagine the Romans felt similarly about the early Christians. They were this weird new sect, one of a hundred they had seem come and go, and, despite their odd rituals gaining some traction, they don't really pose much of a threat to the empire as a whole. So, what do you do? Nothing really, just feed a few to the lions when they get uppity.
Thus, if you were a master (or a Roman) and wanted to write a story about the humans (or the Christians) I could see you going about it in this way.
Anyway, if this is the parallel being drawn, choosing the name Paul would make sense.
I use this text in class as often as I can, it's one of my favorites.
I can certainly see Wolfe being inspired by this passage (or by reading about this belief in some secondary work he had handy), but I don't see any evidence in the text that this story is an artefact of the world of the story. This is something that Wolfe loves to do, but he always indicates this in some way, and I didn't see anything like that in this story.