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From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (urth) Time
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 98 13:37:54 

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

What a great flurry of new activity! And some new blood as well. Yumbo!

On the illness of the sun:  It is stated in several places that the sun
is being devoured by a black hole.  That much is impossible to argue
with.  The debatable point is whether it's natural causes or murder.  It
seems pretty clear to me that it was done on purpose to weaken Typhon's
empire.  The coincidence is too unlikely otherwise.  Who dunnit?  The
obvious SFnal idea is that it's "the rebels," whomever they might be. 
The unobvious idea is that it's Severian himself, or more generally the
forces of good.  It's pretty clear that the sort of empire Typhon was
ruling is one you don't want as a neighbor, so...

On the mountains:  This may just be me reading things into the text that
aren't there (what! never!), but the mountains are clearly "all" carved
in the shape of people.  And it isn't just autarchs, either.  You could
look it up.

On geography, to CRCulver:  The action of the tetralogy takes place in
South America, and yet there is a great river that flows southwestward
over a plain, and great mountains to the north and east of the plain.
This isn't _our_ South America.  Either lots of time has passed (and
getting serious mountains in that end of SA is going to take a lot of
time -- the plate tectonics are all going the wrong way), or someone has
been fiddling.  On the other hand, the statement that such stuff has
stopped is a pretty strong argument for Deep Time.  Perhaps the same
technology that reshaped the continents froze them as well -- what a
nuisance if you get the continents where you want them and they start
drifting off again!

Tzadkiel and Severian:  Recall that Tzadziel can send slivers of itself
off as independent beings.  Now we have the suggestion that Severian can
do the same.  Perhaps Severian _is_ Tzadziel, in that sense?

Deep Time:  The hardest thing to believe about TBOTNS taking place 50
million years in the future is that _so little_ has changed.  People are
still people, exactly as they are now.  The average species lasts on the
order of three million years.  Even with all sorts of advanced
technology, would 50 million years have changed so little?

Wolfe is a master at making things simultaneously not be what they seem
and giving clues to the truth.  It's perfectly appropriate that it
should seem like millions (or even billions) of years have passed, just
as it seems that we're reading a sword & sorcery story at first.  After
all, one of many things the book is is an homage to _The Dying Earth_,
which is pretty clearly science fantasy.  One of Wolfe's goals was to
make the science fantasy into science fiction.  Vance's book doesn't
make sense as science fiction, so Wolfe spent a great deal of effort to
make sense of it.


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