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From: raster@highfiber.com (Charles Dye)
Subject: (urth) Beans and other pollutants
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 09:11:35 

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

CRCulver@aol.com writes:

>In _Shadow_, chapter XXXV, there is the tale of the woman who brings black
>beans from the stars. This woman threatens to cast them into the sea unless
>she were obeyed. The lords of the time "a hundred times more complete in
>their dominion than [the] Autarch...had her seized and torn to bits."
>This story seems, in my opinion, to show the planting of the black hole in
>the Old Sun. I think that the sea mentioned is not Ocean but rather
>Oroborus(sp?), which is outer space. The lords, I think, are the monarchs,
>because they were more powerful and had a larger empire than those of the
>autarchy. Thus, the black hole was put into the sun because of the tyranny of
>the monarchs.

I had interpreted this as the arrival of Abaia, Erebus, Arioch, and company.
(Like Baldanders, we're told, they grow ....)  Still, perhaps the one is
symbolic of the other?

>There is an alternative interpretation of this story. Jonas mentions that
>this happens before the city was called Nessus, because "the river" was not
>yet poisoned. Perhaps the black beans that the woman brought from the stars
>were simply a device used to poison Gyoll.
>I would like to know the etymology of 'Nessus' and what relation it has to

Nessus, if I recall aright, was a centaur murdered by way of a poisoned
cloak.  (Larry Niven's "Ringworld" includes puppeteers named Nessus and
Chiron.)  As for the poisoning of the river, I don't see anything
terribly mysterious there.  Gyoll is both the sewer and the drinking-
water source for a very large city.  The city climbs the river as the
lower reaches become too polluted to sustain even the most desperately


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