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From: raster@highfiber.com (Charles Dye)
Subject: (urth) Old now is Urth, and none may count her days
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 13:14:48 

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

>Even Jove nods.
>Unless someone (Dr. Talos? mantis?) is faking the geological and
>archeological evidence, there's a _lot_ more time than that.
>The only out I see for the geology is that during the era of starflight
>(as described in the "Pandora's Box" story -- remarkably like Cordwainer
>Smith's future, by the way), there was enough power and energy to
>resculpt the entire face of Urth, and someone did.

And the geological changes are trivial compared with the selenographical!
The terraforming of Lune appears to be complete even in Typhon's reign.

>The only out I see for the archeology is that a Trantor-like world-city
>grew and then died before someone started twiddling the geography.
>But I still don't see this happening in two chiliads.

Severian drops numerous hints of an ancient Urth.  Unfortunately, most are
in throwaway lines that are easy to miss, easy to forget, and difficult
to locate again when you want 'em.  (Now where's that reference to
"polychrome sand" again?)

For instance, at the end of chapter 13 of "Sword" Severian mentions the
cessation of plate tectonics.  The physician in chapter 36 of "Urth"
seems to support this:  earthquakes are much less frequent in Typhon's
day than they had been previously, infrequent enough for the commoners
to have largely forgotten them.

Is two millenia long enough for the oceans to cover beaches with
powdered cokebottles?  Maybe, but I don't see it.  Could human beings
degenerate to phosphorescent cave-apes in two thousand years?  (Jonas
and Severian agree that they have not been tampered with.)  Worse,
Jonas suggests that the man-apes predate Typhon.  Stephen Jay Gould,
watch out!  Our equilibrium is about to be punctuated!

Wildest suggestion of antiquity:  Severian's careless hint in chapter 1
that the universe no longer expands.  File this one in the tens-of-
gigayears-to-never range.


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