Dec 14, 2017

The HORARS of War

16 comments

Once again—and even more strongly, this time, than with "House of Ancestors", which I liked but didn't love—I liked this story a *lot* more than either of you. I think it worked and it cohered. Now, I'm acutely conscious that, unlike both of you, I am *not* a veteran; maybe my lack of experience made the whole thing work better for me. Still, I liked it, and I thought I'd explain briefly why. (FWIW, in the introduction to the UK edition of BEST OF GENE WOLFE (which was reprinted in the New York Review of Science Fiction), Kim Stanley Robinson takes up Wolfe's challenge (in the story note to "A Cabin on the Coast") and lists half a dozen stories he thinks could go into a second best-of volume; he lists this one (and, by the by, "The Changeling", too.)

 

I should say that my reading is, more or less, the same as Marc Aramini's, but I didn't read his until after I had both read the story and heard your podcast, and had myself come up with something similar (in broad outline; not all the details). But on the podcast you sort of buried the lead about Aramini's analysis. He does say that, symbolically, 2910 is both human & HORAR; but he comes down where I do (and where you two don't): that he is, physically, a HORAR.

 

First, Glenn (I think it was) said the epilogue made it clear that 2910 was really a human. I disagree. I think that was, in fact, *more* propaganda. The public would be distressed to think of the HORARs as human — that is to say, as possessing humanity worth caring about. To admit that these articles were written by one (even by one programmed to believe he/it was human) would shake their faith in the HORARs as machines. So they lied and told the public what they told him: he was a journalist.

 

Why is 2910 then writing stories at all, if they are afraid of overly-humanizing the HORARs? Because he was supposed to only do it a little, get the folks interested, keep the budget up, keep up support for the war. The way that people now write breathless articles about how neat drones are. Not to get you to actually *sympathize* with them.

 

What about all the evidence he was human? I think that that's all explained by what Brenner says: he was programed to think he was. Thus he had flashbacks (important for the deception, of himself & the reader). And these caused the alterations of his programming, so he could believe in religion & kill Brenner. (The importance of the thing about the eyes on stalks is, I think, that variations from the basic model go astray. 2910 has gone astray: become *too* human.)

 

But in being human, he sees the others humanity which is there too. They're his friends.

 

Aramini plays up the Pinocchio reference, which definitely fits this. I haven't worked it all out in my head, but I think the religious imagery works too. Aaramini sees 2910's dual nature, HORAR/human, as akin to Christ's as human & divine; I think in fact 2910 is something of a Christ figure — dying for the sins of humanity, in this case, the sin of dehumanization. (Done, ironically, by both the Enemy—who, if they were smart, would have tried to propagandize the HORARs, but forgot they were able to be changed (perhaps)— and the folks at home,

 

I have to admit I saw this story neither about propaganda, nor about what happens when soldiers go home. (I presume the HORARs are scrapped, and that what 2910 thinks is that he'll be evac-ed out, ie to a bigger repair shop to be scrounged for parts, when his (he thinks) humanity will be discovered.) I think it's another one of Wolfe's stories about human is as human thinks: that the presence of feelings and thoughts and a *soul* makes a human. And about the dehumanization of war, using the HORARs as an extreme example.

 

What about the title? The point is that everyone is blind to the obvious pun. They think they're only reading about the HORARS of war; but in fact they, and we, are reading about the horrors of war.

 

Let me close by saying I would never have thought this through without your fabulous podcast making the other case. I'm sad to be caught up — I want more!! Many thanks for all your continued work.

Dec 14, 2017

(PS: I did listen to your episode on "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" too, and loved it (it's long been one of my very favorite Wolfe stories as well), but didn't have much to add.)

Dec 14, 2017

Stephen, you make more than a few excellent points about this story, and I've been really looking forward to them precisely because I felt like I didn't enjoy this story as much as most readers do. First, I'll say that I was harsher on the podcast than I really meant to be, in part because I had seen KSR's assessment of the story and in part because I was interested in seeing something of GW's own wartime experiences here, and so I had really high expectations.

 

I don't disagree that 2910 is a HORAR who thinks he's a human. I think that has to be true if the story is going to be about what it means to be "human" or to possess a soul or to have a relationship with God -- and that's definitely a story that Wolfe likes to tell. But I do think that Wolfe also wants it to be ambiguous, and we get two pieces of evidence that are external to 2910's experience that suggest that he might really be a human: 2910's sergeant comments that 2910 is less physically capable than the other members of his unit; and the epilogue (though I like your explanation for that, and that perhaps cleans up the story for me quite a bit). And I don't know a Wolfe reader who doesn't love these puzzles -- it's a draw for most of us, me included -- but this is a case where I think the puzzle gets in the way of the story's theme rather than highlighting or emphasizing it. This is one case (maybe the only case) where I wish Wolfe had been explicit about his protagonist's identity.

 

That's a very interesting reading of 2910 as a Christ figure. I'll have to give that one some more thought. Something that immediately jumps out to me is 2910's own violence, in particular his murder of Brenner -- this gets in the way a little bit for me. But we are also seeing something similar in Operation Ares where someone who has clear resonances of Christ does not mind doing violence to other people. We haven't talked much about that yet, and may not until we wrap up the novel (with Aramini!), but I think you've found an interesting parallel here, and I suspect we'll revisit this point. So thank you for raising it.

 

I think you are right about the HORARS being scrapped. I never liked Brandon's reading of that passage, and perhaps I should have challenged him about it on the air. But I'll look forward to hearing his defense for it here on the forum instead (which is half the fun).

 

And, gosh, we really just left the pun sitting there without comment, didn't we? We'll get better.

 

You've caught up very fast, especially given that you've been reading along. "Eyebem" will be out next Tuesday, and I think this is one that we both really loved. There are more questions about what it means to be a human and some clear precursors to The Book of the Long Sun. After that is "Sonya, Crane Wessleman, and Kittee," which is one of the rare Wolfe stories with quite a bit of political ideology. I'm eager for your comments on both of them.

Dec 14, 2017

Glenn, it's been enormously fun catching up, reading or rereading (some of both) all these stories & listening. It's been my main leisure time activity for more than a week, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It's going to be hard to go down to a ration of one every two weeks! And while I have no doubt you'll get better — we all do, with practice, in just about everything — I want to reiterate, again, how splendidly I think you're doing so far.

 

You're right that 2910's lack of physical capacity is unexplained by my reading. I had been thinking that perhaps his *thinking* of himself as human hindered him somewhat, either by making him think he had limits that he didn't really have, or making his fear hold him back, etc, but perhaps that's forced.

 

As for the violent Christ figure: I do see your point. On the other hand, Wolfe made a *torturer* (who does his fair share of slaying, too) a Christ figure in his most famous work, so that hardly seems dispositive. My sense (which is weak & could be wrong) is that Wolfe's theological ideas are unusual: he talks in THE CASTLE OF THE OTTER about how the only thing Jesus is specifically said to have made is a whip, how He knew the pain of torturing as well as being tortured, etc. And Wolfe has been emphatic in places about both his defense of the morality of violence (see, e.g., his reaction to 9/11) and, theologically speaking, in his defense of pain. All of which is to say that that aspect fits into a larger pattern, one of which is part of the interesting & unusual nature of Wolfe's work (disagree though I do).

 

Looking forward to both "Eyebem" and "Sonya, Crane Wessleman and Kittee" — neither of which I've read before IMS. (And "Eyebem" is *also* on KSR's list, for whatever that's worth.) Many thanks, again, for your hard work & your podcast & your engagement.

Dec 15, 2017

You have both covered quite a bit in this excellent back and forth on the HORARS of War so I'll just defend my little hill for a moment. For posterity I'll state that I'm rarely willing to die on any of these interpretive hills. I get a lot out of opening up the discourse around these stories. I'm astonished by how much Wolfe is able to pack into his short stories.

 

I suppose my questioning about what happens to HORARS when they are released from duty was rooted in the fact that this is a question that soldiers have had to face since at least the Viet Nam war, but is an American issue that goes as far back as the Civil War. (This is a weak argument for the HORARS being concerned about reintegrating back into society somehow rather than being scrapped, but, as someone who likes to read with a hermeneutic posture, I sometimes bring up what the text brought out of me. Hopefully it has some textual backing).

 

I think it I can build a stronger case around 2910's concerns about the matter. He is anxious to turn in his letter to his counterpart so that he can go home. If he is a HORAR who believes he is a human, then I think the following have to be the case: Either HORARS have this type of concern as part of their being programmed to be "historical" beings rather than "rational" beings, OR 2910 has developed this as part of his being ensouled. Perhaps 2910 is a robot who has been ensouled, and because that is the case he can recognize the weak flickering soul in his other HORARS. Perhaps reading it this way, 2910 is making some king of meaningful sacrifice. The issue is that Wolfe undermines the meaning of all of this by ending the story with the scrap of propaganda, rather than having HORARS in another base tell the story of 2910 while their digging ditches or something of that nature.

 

But the optimist in me thinks that these HORARS will be decommissioned from infantry work and go build cars or something in Detroit when they get home.

 

Sorry for the unfocused ramble. I've had a few crazy days.

Dec 15, 2017

I think we mostly agree, actually. I definitely agree that 2910 has concerns; I would agree with your suggestion that they were part of his being programmed to be human. (The HORARS desire to die rather than surrender—even with the possibility of humane treatment being raised—perhaps speaks to their knowledge of their ultimate fate?) I can't quite imagine people trying to integrate HORARS into society; surely it is partly to avoid things like that they use HORARS at all! And "he can recognize the weak flickering soul in his other HORARS" is a very fine formulation indeed.

 

Personally I experienced the propaganda at the end as bitter irony, but I can definitely see why it would disappoint.

 

Thanks as always for the discussion.

Dec 15, 2017

Stephen, I'm really interested in Wolfe's writing about the morality of violence. Other than the BOTNS essays in Castle of the Otter (which I don't want to reread until after we've covered the text sometime around 2021), where are these works published? I think this might feature heavily in the Operation ARES wrap-up episode we do with Marc in a few weeks.

Dec 15, 2017

Glenn, most of what I was referencing is in The Castle of the Otter. (I should say, I understand, I think, the desire (and the critical ideas behind the desire) to approach the text without influenced by that book... but I think in this case it's misplaced. Most of those essays are pretty peripheral to BotNS.) But, apart from those:

He talks about pain and theodicy in the MIT interview here: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/529431/a-qa-with-gene-wolfe/

His comments about 9/11 were from Lupine Nunccio, which seems to be offline, but you can find them here: https://web.archive.org/web/20041124055445/http://mysite.verizon.net/~vze2tmhh/w_archives/2002_02_01_archive.html

I have a vague sense he's said broader things than this on the morality of violence in interviews, but I'm now thinking I sounded a lot more sure than I should have; my apologies for that. But I think the 9/11 comments are good evidence on the matter.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Dec 15, 2017

No, wait, hold the phone, I *knew* there was more than that. Wolfe's interview with Larry McCaffery, which I first read in Across the Wounded Galaxies, and which I believe is also reprinted in Shadows of the New Sun: Wolfe On Writing/Writers on Wolfe (i.e. not the fictional fettschrift but the previous one with the same title), but which seems to be online here: https://www.depauw.edu/sfs/interviews/wolfe46interview.htm See, in particular, the two answers which begin with the question "Where was it that you knew you were heading when you began The Book of the New Sun?", and also further down when he mentions Harlan Ellison; and yet further down, starting where Wolfe says "Technology is like a punch or a gun".

Dec 16, 2017

Stephen, this is great -- thank you. I think you make a good case for reading The Castle of the Otter anyway.

Aug 7, 2018Edited: Aug 7, 2018

I'm working my way through the podcasts out of sequence a bit. "HORARS of War" is not the best of Wolfe, but even when Gene isn't operating at full throttle, he's still pretty damn good.

 

Not much to add. I'd agree with Marc that 2910 is a hypostatic union, fully man and fully HORRAR, althought physically a HORAR. The Christological analogies are there, as I think everyone agrees.

 

One aspect I have not heard discussed is the change in the HORAR code, which they seem to adhere to as strongly as the Rangers do theirs: as Jesus said, He came to fulfill the Mosaic Law, not to abolish it; but He did certainly modify it. Likewise, 2910 seems to modify the strict code of the HORARs at the end, when he appears to justify to them the killing of the human Brennan, which 2900 seems to accept even to the point of modifying the code, 2910 may be operating less as a Messiah and perhaps more as a serpent, if the HORARs drop their compunctions against killing non-enemy humans, or elect t9 see some humans as the enemy.

Aug 8, 2018

Yes, 2910 is being something of a D&D rules lawyer here, finding a loophole that the rule-makers certainly never intended. While effective, it's a dishonest thing to do and hardly the type of behavior one would expect of a messiah. But Wolfe is prone to use complicated Christ figures in his stories, people who have some attributes of Christ or go through similar experiences, but are clearly flawed (and sometimes downright awful) people, so it may be that Wolfe intended 2910 to play this role.

Oct 2, 2018Edited: Oct 2, 2018

I'm reading Gene's collection "Letters Home" to his family from Korea, and noticed that the KATUSAs (ROK soldiers assigned to the unit) were known to the American soldiers by their numerical designations (as with his Korean bunker-mate, Number 92) - a likely inspiration for the HORARs' numbers.

 

Oct 2, 2018

That's fascinating. I have a copy of Letters Home, but have only ever glanced through it because we have plans to cover it somehow, someday. I'll be very excited to see what else in his fiction has come out of the experiences he shares in those letters.

Oct 2, 2018

@Glenn And of course, both are known by their acronyms - HORARs and KATUSAs. I can easily imagine Wolfe casting about for story ideas one day, remembering his experiences with the KATUSAs, and thinking "What if the army needed to use robots to augment its forces...?"

Oct 3, 2018

@mickjeco Definitely. I wonder if the early draft of that story was even entitled RATUSA?

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  • Damn that was a good story. I last read it in the 1970’s before I went to medical school (I am now an internist and geriatrician). It didn’t make much of an impression on me then, but it sure does now! I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but am looking forward to doing so. I will share my thoughts about the medical aspects of the story. There are some spoilers, so read the story first. Medical schools are adding close reading of literature and patient narratives to their curricula. (1) This would be an excellent source for that. I’ll show how that might be done. Page numbers are from the 1st Orb edition of The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories. Page 80 - ‘a stubble of brown hair threatened to erase the marks of the sutures; with dilated eyes…he paused’ The boy has had head trauma and/or brain surgery. A drug or toxin is likely responsible for both eyes being dilated. A unilateral dilated eye would indicate acute brain damage. Page 86 - ‘his head swaying from side to side as he walked, like the sensor of a mine detector.’ He probably has a visual field defect, possibly related to the brain surgery/trauma. Page 86 - “I set fires to things.” Could the surgery have been a lobotomy to control his behavior? Page 88 - “and cut all the way through my corpus callosum.” Nick’s brain surgery was a corpus callosotomy. (2) This surgery is usually done in patients with difficult to control seizures. The main side effect is problems with speech and alien hand syndrome—control of the non-dominant hand. (3) Nowadays, newer medications and other neurosurgical procedures have mostly supplanted callosotomy. Page 88 - “I only see what is on the right of what I’m looking at, and the other side…only the left.” This is known as a hemianopsia (4) and is a result of the callosotomy. The ‘I’ is the speaking half of Nick—the left side of his brain -or- “left-brain Nick.” Page 89 - “He had uncontrollable seizures.” “Did you?” the girl asked. “I had visions.” We find out the reason for Nick’s callosotomy. He had visual auras before the seizures when he would “see things.” Nick seemed to enjoy these auras and was probably upset when they ended. Page 91 - “there’s something you ought to know about Diane, she gets confused sometimes, we’ve had her to doctors, she’s been in the hospital…try not to get her excited.” Diane has some major Issues. The most likely conditions to cause a 19 year old to be hospitalized would be major depression, a debilitating anxiety disorder like OCD, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Although Diane is skinny, anorexia nervosa is unlikely because the treatment certainly wouldn’t be stranding her on an island with no food! Page 92 - Diane said, “I feel better when it rains.” “That should help you to understand yourself.” Is Dr. Island using cognitive behavioral therapy? (5) Although this is a rather expensive way of doing it! Page 94-95 - “Sickness is…relative” “Diane was not functioning…you were not functioning either.” This is a major motif of the story; illness, specifically mental illness, is defined by society. In our society, a schizophrenic person may take a night job at the post office working alone, then go home to their one bedroom apartment and pull the shades to keep out the world. They would watch TV, eat dinner, go to sleep. They are content and even happy with this routine. They are contributing to society. Are they mentally ill? Page 96 - “We have treatment for disturbed persons…but we have no treatment for disturbing persons.” “Disturbing persons” - people with personality disorders? The best you can do is place limits on people with personality disorders and teach their families/friends how to cope with them. If they become unmanageable, societies tend to place them in prison. Could Dr. Island be a prison? Page 97 - ‘He noticed…that she was looking at him oddly, then realized that his left hand had risen to touch her right breast.’ Alien Hand Syndrome! (3) “Right-brain Nick” is acting inappropriately. Page 98 - “They kept me locked up because I kept burning stuff…I bite people.” Again, “right-brain Nick” is causing all these problems. Page 98 - “Then they stuck me full of Tranquil-C.” That is why Nick’s eyes were dilated. Page 98 - “I still think you’re angry somewhere, deep down.” Taking away Nick’s auras (visions) could be the root of his anger. Perhaps the visions occurred in “right-brain Nick” and that’s why he burns things? Or is "right-brain Nick" just frustrated at his lack of control? Page 101 - “My knees are rough…when I came here they were still smooth…I used to put a certain lotion on them. Because my Dad would feel them…Mum wouldn’t say anything but she would be cross after.” I don’t know Diane’s diagnosis yet, but we have a good idea what may have caused her decompensation. Page 104 - ‘There was no reply. The girl sat staring at the ground in front of her…she did not move when he touched her. “She’s catatonic isn’t she,” he said. “Catatonic schizophrenia.” We now know Diane’s problem; she has schizophrenia. Catatonia is no longer consider a subtype of schizophrenia and is more a part of the symptomatology. (6) Schizophrenia affects young adults and is a chronic condition. Some do well, but many others have major disabilities and suffer from problems with functioning and socializing. It seems that Diane is quite disabled and has a poor prognosis. It is possible that her decompensation was caused by an abusive father. Page 104 - ‘The doctor had been a therapy robot, but a human doctor gave more status. Robots’ patients sat in doorless booths…and talked to something that appeared to be a small, friendly, food freezer.’ I have never heard of Amana being involved in cognitive behavioral therapy. Page 104 - “What is the cause? I mean for her?” “I don’t know.” “And what’s the treatment?” “You are seeing it.” “Will it help her?” “Probably not.” With all their space bending technology, it seems that the prognosis for schizophrenia hasn’t changed much in the Wolfe-ian future. Page 113 - “Your record shows no auditory hallucinations, but haven’t you ever known someone who had them?” “I knew a girl once…she twisted noises.” Auditory hallucinations are very common in schizophrenia. Ambient background noises are screened out by the normal brain. People with schizophrenia are unable to ignore them and experience the noise as voices saying bad things to/about them. The voices could also be internally produced by the brain.(7) Page 115 - “Let Ignacio tell you a story…” After unpacking Ignacio’s tale, it seems that he is a feral child. Unlike other feral children, he was taught language and self-care skills. His only lack was human contact and learning how to interact with others. Feral children have a lot of problems becoming socialized and integrating back into society. They usually aren’t homicidal. (8) Perhaps being a “high-tech” feral made him violent to others. Page 119 - “Did I tell you about the bird, Nicholas?” She had been not-listening again. “What bird?” “I have a bird. Inside…She sits in here. She has tangled a nest in my entrails, where she sits and tears at my breath with her beak. I look healthy to you, don’t I? But inside I’m hollow and rotten and turning brown, dirt and old feathers, oozing away. Her beak will break through soon.” Okaaay, as Nick would say. This dispels any doubts that Diane has schizophrenia. She has a somatic delusion, which, while not as common as paranoid delusions, are frequent in schizophrenia. “Usually the false belief is that the body is somehow diseased, abnormal or changed.” (9) Page 119 - “I have been trying to drink water to drown (the bird.) I think I have swallowed so much, I couldn’t stand up if I tried…” Diane has psychogenic polydipsia, which is common in schizophrenia. They can drink gallons every day—so much so that they disrupt their electrolyte balance and develop very low serum sodium levels. (10) Page 125 - “About 100 years ago, Dr. Harlow experimented with monkey’s who had been raised in complete isolation.” Harry Harlow is a real person who did indeed perform these experiments as Dr. Island has carefully outlined. Harlow was a Professor of Psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. (11) Many of those experiments are now considered an unethical treatment of animals. I suspect that the inspiration for The Island of Dr. Death came about when Wolfe read about Harlow’s research. You might consider Dr. Death to be a 2150 version of Harlow. ================Major Spoilers================== Page 129 - “Nicholas, you are upset now because Diane is dead—” “But you could have saved her!” “—but by dying she made someone else—someone very important—well. Her prognosis was bad; she really only wanted death, and this is the death I chose for her.” This is the death I chose for her. Those words are the core of the story; did Dr. Island have the right to sacrifice an individual for the greater good? In medical ethics, this encapsulates the conflict and tension between the ethical models of deontology and utilitarianism. (12) It seems that Dr. Island is a firm believer in the later. This is why The Death of Dr. Island would be a great source for a close reading of literature. It is a natural jumping-off-point for a spirited discussion of medical ethics. Page 130 - “Nicholas, who was the right side of your body, the left side of your brain, I have forced into catatonia.” Dr Island has essentially killed “left-brain Nick,” the person who has been our view point for the entire story. This is the death Dr. Island has chosen for Nick. Did he have the right to do so? REFERENCES 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4721945/ 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_callosotomy 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_hand_syndrome 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemianopsia 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavioral_therapy 6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia 7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_hallucination 8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusion 10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_polydipsia 11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4778182/
  • My wife and I listened to this episode on the long drive back from a music festival this weekend. The podcast caused great discussion in the car, making the miles go that much faster. Jessica thinks that Wolfe didn't have the new messiah being born to one of Zozz's people because it would have overly complicated and lengthened the story. I agree. It got me to thinking about what Wolfe's inspiration might have been. Then I remembered that National Lampoon had an infamous cover of an alien crucifixion done by Frank Frazetta. The question is, when did it appear? A little research showed that it it was probably on the streets in May 1972. La Befana appeared in the January 1973 issue of Galaxy; probably too soon after the Nat Lamp issue for it to have been an inspiration--unless Frazetta let Wolfe see it before publication. Nah. Here is the National Lampoon cover.
  • Hello, from indecisively sunny Tasmania! This is my first post, so I'd just like to say first and foremost that I am really enjoying the Wolfe podcast, which I started listening to after The Fifth Head of Cerberus enraptured me (It's quickly become one of my favourite books), and which I'm now darting in and out of as I read his Book of Days . Anywho, I can't fully recall the episodes on 'A Story by John V. Marsch', so forgive me if you mentioned it and this is a redundant post. But I was just paging through Jack Vance's Dying Earth , which is a known inspiration for BotNS, and noticed that in the chapter on 'Mazirian the Magician' the title character spends some time trifling with 'Thrang the Ghoul-Bear', and it struck me as intensely likely that this inspired the creature in the aforementioned novella, not just for the name but a particular sentence within the passage he appears. The passage reads thusly, though of course this spoils the Ghoul-Bear in that story, not that he plays a large role: "Thrang's lair was an alcove in the rock, where a fetid pile of grass and skins served him for a couch. He had built a rude pen to cage three women, these wearing many bruises on their bodies and the effects of much horror on their faces. Thrang had taken them from the tribe that dwelt in silk-hung barges along the lake-shore . Now they watched as he struggled to subdue the woman he had just captured. His round gray man's face was contorted and he tore away her jerkin with his human hands. But she held away the great sweating body with an amazing dexterity. Mazirian's eyes narrowed. Magic, Magic! So he stood watching, considering how to destroy Thrang with no harm to the woman. But she spied him over Thrang's shoulder. "See," she panted, "Mazirian as come to kill you." Thrang twisted about. He saw Marizian and came charging on all fours, venting roars of wild passion. Mazirian later wondered if the ghoul had cast some sort of spell, for a strange paralysis strove to bind his brain. Perhaps the spell lay in the sight of Thrang's raging gray-white face, the great arms thrust out to grasp. Mazirian shook off the spell, if such it were, and uttered a spell of his own, and all the valley was lit by streaming darts of fire, lashing in from all directions to split Thrang's blundering body in a thousand places. This was the Excellent Prismatic Spray-many-colored stabbing lines. Thrang was dead almost at once, purple blood flowing from countless holes where the radiant rain had pierced him." I personally think Thrang comfortably shares the same attributes as Wolfe's Ghoul-Bear: huge, thick-limbed, and stinking (sweat rarely smells pleasant). Maybe I'm reading too deeply, but a tribe that dwells in silk-hung barges along a lake shore sounds at least superficially similar to the Marshmen. Further, the specific lake they dwell next to is called 'Sanra Water, the Lake of Dreams', which you could perhaps posit has something in common with the plan to kill Sandwalker and have his soul flow into the sea and out to the stars. I'm no literary buff, but I think there's enough textual evidence to cite a clear connection between the two, especially as Jack Vance so influenced Wolfe's later work. In any event it made me feel very big-brained.

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