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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) TheStarsAtNightAreBig&
Date: Sat,  2 May 98 01:04:00 GMT

Mark Millman,

Sure, the night sky of Urth could be utterly alien to us.  Severian
knows precious little about constellations--alone in the mountains,
he makes up a few: "amphisbaena" and "peryton."  So we can't rely
much upon his sense of canonical signs.  Severian is also bad
with birthdays--after all, he doesn't even know when his own is.

However!  We are told that the Eight "hang forever over the southern
ice" (IV, ch. 25), i.e., they don't rise and set, i.e., they are pole
stars.  This pins the celestial globe a bit.  To have a pole star in
the place it is right now is an odd detail to use if everything in
the sky is supposed to be weird and alien.

Re: zodiac signs.  You are correct in that Swan is the only one
identified as a birth sign.  And, further, none of the other
constellations Severian mentions are zodiac signs for us or him (or
so it seems).  However!  Heh-heh, Hethor mentions Aquarius, Pisces,
and Aries (IV, ch. 4), fwiw, but makes no indication that they are
zodiacal (other than listing them in that order).  (And it may just
be another tenuous link to our own Earth and zodiac, showing Hethor's
great antiquity.)

For time lines, I personally think that a million years in the future
(from 1981 to Severian's Reign) is the outer edge and it is likely to
be much closer than that.  Stars move a lot in even a few thousand
years!  Constellations warp, morph, waddle, and wheedle!

Re: exultants.  Well, Wolfe says that khaibits are clones.  The Old
Autarch says (IIRC) that the exultants are big because of the blood and
stuff they take from their own khaibits ("grown from the body cells
of exultant women so an exchange of blood will prolong the exultants'
youth" [IV, ch. 24]; Ossipago speaking of Baldanders, "Growth has its
disadvantages, though for your species [humans] it is the only method
by which youth can be reinstated" [III, ch. 34]).  As such, it seems
to me, khaibits represent unmodified exultants--further, I believe they
are not stunted by abuse or malnutrition, since their bodies must provide
the royal jelly.  Khaibits are natural; exultants are augmented.

The blind mount tall men of Ascian cavalry as descendents of
exultants (i.e., the equivalant of khaibits) is a very interesting
idea I haven't considered before.  It certainly fits in a communistic
"what to do with the aristocrats after the revolution" sort of way.
Interesting.  Creepy!  (Maybe even the dwarves who ride them represent
the former khaibits?  That is: the khaibits are "ridden" by exultants,
but after the revolution the lowly shall ride upon the high.)  (Then
again, this is all "Warg-rider" stuff as refigured by a man named


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

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