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From: "Dan'l Danehy Oakes" <DDANEHYO@us.oracle.com>
Subject: (urth) Timescale
Date: 11 May 98 11:07:37 

Mr. Malthouse done wrote:

> The age of Urth has, from my very first reason seemed to be
> immense. 

There is no question about this.  (Wolfe has never hidden that
one of his inspirations for this work was Jack Vance's "The
Dying Earth.")  Some members of this list are interested --
perhaps a bit nigglingly -- in just _how_ immense, just how
old Urth is:  or, more properly, in developing some clear
sense of the intervals between at least the four periods
that follow, _probably_ in this order:

o Our time (or equivalent in the universe-cycle of Urth,
  which may precede ours)
o The time of Apu-Punchau (some have argued with some
  coherency that this is actually earlier than "our time")
o The time of Typhon, Ymir, and "the Conciliator"
o Severian's time

Also of possible interest is the time period of the people
in the jungle garden (book 1); also, if "the first Severian"
refers to an actually seperate person, rather than a version
of Severian himself, when he lived.

For myself, I think "immense" is good enough.

> The miners of Saltus have for generations made a living
> (shaft) mining for ancient artifacts.

This, as far as it goes, could happen in a millenium or two --
check out what some modern archaeologists do with ruins only
a couple millenia old.

> Walking down the cliff trail to the forest house Severian
> notes that the fault that lifted the cliff (a league high??)
> has exposed the detritus of man's occupation, he even
> describes some of what he sees I think (floor tiles?)

This, I think, is far more significant; we're clearly talking
about a time when humans have been making ceramics for 
geological ages.

> And finally the "newer" mountain ranges are recognisable as
> such because they are sharp and rugged - in contrast to the
> 'old' mountain that have all be carved into the likeness of
> past Autarchs (rather than being softened from weathering). 

Those are monarchs (or emperors), not Autarchs (Severian only
thinks so as he sees them because he does not know their

> Did Typhon start the fashion, or was he mearly the aprotheosis
> of it?

Since he appears to have been the last of the monarchs, I'd say
he was its apotheosis.  After him, came Ymir the Almost Just,
first Autarch.

> In any case Typhon's coming to Urth (which I believe to be
> long after its decline started) is at least one and possibly
> many geological ages past.

This is where I have to differ with you.  It seems fairly
clear that it hasn't been _too_ many millenia since the
monumental mountains were carved; their detailing is still
clear and sharp.  They'd erode, ya know.

> oh, and had anyone noticed that the sun looked a bit
> tired?

Yes, but before it's time; there is a "worm" eating at its
heart (a black hole).

> In the light of the above I don't see much good to be
> had trying to identify Nessus or other landmarks from our
> Earth, but to nay-say Buenos Aires: Nessus isn't and wasn't
> a coastal city; the plate river isn't big enough; Severian
> turns the wrong way from Trax to reach a battlefront of an
> invader coming from Centram AM. and in relation to the
> Plate/Andes Cen.Am is too far away (or the Andes to close)
> to be the "waist of the world" beyond which the Ascians can
> be driven.

Any identity between Urth-places and Earth-places seems likely 
to be symbolic rather than physical.  Early in the history of 
this list, Agla made a quite interesting mapping of Severian's 
journeys onto (approximately tenth century) Europe, with Nessus 
as Byzantium.  It's in the archives.



|--Dan'l Danehy-Oakes            | Can you believe that the eagle  |
|  Staff Curriculum Developer    |    will fly with the dove?      |
|  Oracle World-Wide Education   | Can you believe in the rose     |
|  email: ddanehyo@us.oracle.com |    in the raised fisted glove?  |
|  phone: 650-506-0793           |        -- John Michael Talbot   |

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

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