FIND in
<--prev V10 next-->

From: Matthew Malthouse <matthew.malthouse@guardian.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Timescale
Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 09:08:24 +0100

Dan'l Danehy Oakes wrote:

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

I'll go with that!
> > 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.


Writing that I became doubt stricken: the miners of Saltus plus the Autarch's
silver stash etc and I had the impression that the Saltus mines were deep
shafts but couldn't, and still can't, remember if that were explicit in the
text. It'd make a difference if it were but the implication that _useful_
artifacts could be had from below rock layers sort of confuses me. 

> > Walking down the cliff trail to the forest house Severian

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

Oh Yea! The impact that scene had on first reading still remains.

> > And finally the "newer" mountain ranges are recognisable as

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

Forgive the "Autarchs" I wasn't thinking. The whole thing is subtle and creeps
up on you. Severian's narration talks of the "shoulders" of the mountains in
the way we might use describing the geophysical formation - but then fails to
make a distinction between those and the carved shoulders of Typhon's image
and you wonder what he really meant in using the phrase before. It sort of
grew on me that something odd was going on and then -bang- suddenly my whole
perception of the landscape was radically changed, wonderful!

> 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.

Granted that Typhon's features are still recognisable in the mountain then I'd
agree it wasn't too old, and the latest as he wanted to outdo his
predecessors. Here though, I'm hazy: I think that there's mention of some
being eroded so far that one might not realise they'd ever been shaped. But
right now I don't know if that's textual or just my over active imagination
filling in pieces. Time for a re-read I guess.

> > 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).


> 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.

Thanks, I'll dig it out. I like the idea already though.

And -alga- was kind enough to say:

> Welcome, Matthew,

Thankyou. Seems a nice place to be.

[me say N. not coastal]
> Um, Nessus isn't now but *was* a coastal city. Can't recall off-hand who,
> but one of the "wise" characters (one of the ones we can trust) tells Sev
> that. Which goes along with my own theory that Nessus is a post-Alexandria.
> (Oh, I know, I know, no one wants to hear this. But it's a lovely theory,
> and I can go on and on and......on.)

Sev's journey from the south coast took some days before he saw the first
buildings I thought. The Port of Nessus wasn't (as far as I can recall) a
sea-port. I took that to be a deliberate obfustication along with the nature
of the Citadel "towers".

I quite like Nessus-as-Alexandria but... Oh, you know. :)


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

<--prev V10 next-->