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I made the mental equivalent of a typo in my original question to
Guy Steele, thus inadvertantly slandering DEC.
What I meant to inquire about was that the *access functions* give
fatal errors if handed nil, which is a more reasonable behavior (if still
personally annoying). Thus, (ship-name nil) blows up, whereas I would
prefer it to just return nil. I.e., it would be nice if nil were the "null
structure", even though structures aren't (in VaxLisp) implemented as lists.
So, I'll make a corrected version of my original question: would it
be against the CommonLisp standard for an implementor to allow nils to pass
through the automatically-defined access functions, even if structures are
not implemented as lists? (A much less exciting question, I'm afraid.)
Sorry for the confusion. (Blush.)