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From: "Mark Millman"<Mark_Millman@hmco.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) ExultantsComing2Urth
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 17:22:54 

Hey mantis--

While I personally agree that the exultants, whether they are
systematically (i.e., genetically) taller or individually (i.e.,
royally-jellied) taller, probably have returned from outsystem (and, by the
way, I don't believe they first left for the stars as exultants; I think
that must be a later development), who's to say that the Swan (the only
zodiacal sign mentioned in BotNS, no?) is the same one we see?  Just to
play devil's advocate:  how different will the constellations be after one
or two or fifty million years?  The Swan could well be a New Swan and not
our Cygnus.  The fact that Wolfe, as "translator", chooses to say "Swan"
rather than "Cygnus" may be significant.  And Severian doesn't seem to
think it odd that Thecla mentions the Swan rather than one of our canonical

A side issue in relation to this:  Severian refers to the exultants as
ancient families, while Jonas claims that they are the newest of families.
Does this imply that Jonas actually knows of older surviving families?  (A
side note to the side note:  While the time scales are of course totally
different, in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books, the Hasturs are an
old and powerful family.  It's known, however (at least to the
well-informed), that there are older families than those of the powerful
psis; these, we find out, are families surviving from several of the
original colonists who first landed on Darkover, and who were usurped by
the Hasturs and their allies.)  I'd argue yes; though Jonas almost
certainly has not been traveling in the haunts of power, he has undoubtedly
been much further, geographically, than we've been told.  Perhaps, like
Eata, he's visited the Xanthic Lands.  While we only get to see the
Commonwealth and a sliver of Ascian society, it appears that exultants may
be limited to the Autarch's dominions.  Certainly, if there had been Ascian
exultants, they at least have long since been subsumed, perhaps subverted,
by the Populace (could the blind mounts that Severian faced once have been
exultants?).  But there's no reason to suppose that they exist outside of
the Commonwealth.  They should at first have clustered around the seat of
power (I doubt, if they were Typhon's generals, for example, that he
trusted them out of his sight), and later may have remained where they were
through inertia or a desire to remain near their compatriots.  The book of
exultant lineages that Gurloes shows Severian doesn't seem to imply that
there are any extra-Commonwealth ones; there would surely have been some
intermarriage between nations if exultants were more widely distributed.
But wait!  In UotNS, Severian never mentions seeing any exultants (though I
grant that he doesn't mention an unusual lack of them, either), either in
Typhon's mountain city or in the pre-Citadel port.  These are the haunts of
power.  perhaps the exultant families aren't created, or don't arrive,
until the Commonwealth period has begun, and their "ancientness" is an
artifact of their power and visibility.  Valeria's family, which Severian
suggests is the oldest of which he personally knows, is certainly not an
exulted one.

Well, enough of that.  I'm really more interested in whether anyone has
read most or all of Shirley Jackson's works, and whether there are other
possible influences on Wolfe among them.

Mark Millman

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

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