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From: "Mark Millman"<Mark_Millman@hmco.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Exultants leaving Urth
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 15:21:04 

Personally, I've always favored the explanation that the exultant families
were genetically engineered as aristocrats and military leaders.  They're
taller so that they will look more impressive to the common run of folk and
can be more easily seen in battle.  Certain passages suggest this, as when
the youthful Severian, talking about the changes Vodalus would make, says
that unlike the exultants, armigers are afraid to fight and to hurt and to
die, and later (I think in Citadel, but I'm not sure), when it's mentioned,
possibly by the old Autarch, that even the exultants don't care to exercise
their power and will avoid it when possible, because they're aware that
they can't do it wisely or well.  A related possibility is that the
exultants were genetically engineered (or evolved over the course of time,
though this seems less likely) as residents of heavy-gravity worlds, and
were chosen as soldiers by invading forces, possibly Typhon, since they had
the advantage of being stronger than ordinary people.  They'd have lost
their strength on Urth, through not having been exposed to the full gravity
of their homeworlds, but might well exchange it for greater size (from not
growing up under the pressure of the greater gravity, assuming they were
designed to reach average human height despite it).  But this is all rank
speculation, though some details (such as Piaton's great strength and
size--remember, we don't know whether Typhon had been unusually tall before
being grafted on to Piaton) might be adduced to support it.

Mark Millman

P.S.  I just read Shirley Jackson's _We Have Always Lived in the Castle_.
Does anyone else think that it strongly resembles _Peace_ in its
preoccupation with history, its depiction of the Blackwoods' house as
ossified and devoted to the preservation of the past, the death-in-life of
the characters, especially through self-imposed limitations, and its
repeated focus on poison?  There are more similarities in its details, but
I don't care to go into them at the moment, so here I've just given a few
of the grander themes the two books seem to me to share.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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