Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Werewolf Principle

  After reading Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station, the logical next novel to read was The City, but it is about, so I’ve read, the aftermath of World War Two – or written in the aftermath of World War Two.  I decided instead to read The Werewolf Principle, and am at present 61% through it:

Mankind is at a point in the future where it has the means to colonize planets in our galaxy.  It is not to be done as independent investments, as I have surmised, but as world-government enterprises.  The predominate view is that the new planets be terra-formed, which is something I have assumed.  But another group thought it cheaper to change our settlers rather than the planets: change them into beings that could live in the existing environment of a given planet.  Studies in biodiversity had progressed to a point where such a thing was possible.

But it turns out that this was actually accomplished 200 years prior to the events in the novel.  Two androids were loaded with human brains from storage and modified in such a way that they were the equivalent of humans on non-human-friendly planet.  After the androids had been there for a while and had accumulated sufficient data, they returned to the spaceship, dumped their data and were restored to the condition of having just a human brain.  However, it turned out that the alien-nature acquired on the planet could not be utterly erased.  Thus, apparently (from as far as I have read), the androids, at least one of them, Blake, was “frozen” and stored in a capsule, while the main ship or ships traveled on for further investigations, experiments and adventures.

In the novel Blake is unfrozen and seems a normal human to the doctors checking him out, but he starts having blackouts, and there are reports of people seeing a wolf.  Blake is slowly reacquainting himself with who he really is, three personalities.  Blake, the Changer, Quester who became a wolf-like creature from a planet under investigation, and Thinker who is something like a biological computer with human quality understanding (not fully explained by Simak in my view).  The three elements can change from one to the other if they mutually agree which they always do. Things get out of hand when Quester as a sort-of wolf is threatened and fights his way through mobs of people killing many.  And so as one might expect, the humans chase after it, when it is in the wolf-like form, with the twenty-fourth century, or whenever, equivalent of pitchforks.  Good doctors will be trying to save Blake, but at this point that is not assured.  Elaine, the daughter of the Senator who opposed the biodiversity approach to inhabiting new planets, helps Blake escape.

In my currently befuddled state, I rather Identified with Blake.  I haven’t exactly turned into a Wolf but disgusted with the medical decisions and advice I’ve been receiving I undertook a strenuous workout program, day after day, so much work that everything ached, but inasmuch (I learned) as aspirin conflicts with the blood pressure medication (losartan) which is scheduled to be prescribed whenever I have my first meeting with my new doctor, I didn’t take any aspirin or any other pain medication.  I just ached, day after day.  But inasmuch as I have (tomorrow) an appointment with an optometrist in order to get new glasses (although he may try to send me to a specialist) I stopped my exercising two days prior to the appointment – in order to be able to think and speak coherently. 

The wolf is full of explosive energy which I have been, but he doesn’t think too clearly and needs Quester and Blake to figure things out.  That’s the way I have been.  I’ve just today begun thinking clearly.  Quester can enable Changer to change into any sort of creature.  There are little dwarf-like creatures (who came to visit earth from another planet, liked it here and decided to stay – living peacefully here and there in our forests).  I’m expecting Changer to be changed into one of those, but Blake no doubt would not like to remain one of these dwarfs – he’s a bit in love with the Senator’s daughter.

In Philip K Dick’s Do Androids dream of electric sheep, the beautiful android woman is raised not knowing she’s an android, much as Blake doesn’t know he is one.  Humans being in love with androids, and vice versa has been explored in the past.  Clifford D. Simak published The Werewolf Principle in 1967.  Philip K. Dick published his book a year later.  

In the meantime, I am working to determine my best configuration and have sought the pain of workouts in order to escape the hounding medical professionals and their pitchforks.  Looking back over my shoulder I have been at it intensely much as Quester and Changer worked together, but with the diminishment of this work preparatory to the optometrist and on the following day, the dentist, I shall attempt an appropriate disguise and hope to get back to my exercising as soon as possible.  There is still my first meeting with my new primary physician to arrange and another meeting with my oral surgeon, which I shall try to delay, but there are so many – their pitchforks are so very sharp, and Quester cannot figure out a path to something that can escape them, something that doesn’t have a crippled leg.

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