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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Claw Power in BOTNS
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 09:13:02 

On Thu, 14 May 1998 m.driussi@genie.geis.com wrote:

> (and anybody else following this "how can the white fountain power
> the Claw in BOTNS when it doesn't exist yet, except possibly as much
> as a half dead/half live cat?" investigation),

[Theory about Severian getting power from Urth, Old Sun, etc.]
> Anyway, here is a model that does away with many of the more thorny
> issues in the paradox of the half-dead/half-live white fountain.

While these ideas are tantilizing, I just wanted to go on record as really
liking the time-twisting ideas about Severian being able to use the white
fountain because it will exist in the future.   There's lots of good SF
precedent for that kind of thing -- take this passage from a Greg Egan
story ("Eugene") I read just yesterday [minor spoiler]:

 "You've invented time travel!"

 "No.  Suppose you fed the genetic profile of an embryo into a computer,
 which then constructed a simulation of the appearance of the mature
 organism; no time travel is involved, and yet aspects of a possible
 future are revealed.  In that example, all the machinery to perform the
 extrapolation exists in the present, but the same thing can happen if the
 right equipment--equipment of a more sophisticated kind--exists in the
 potential future.  It may be useful as a mathematical formalism, to
 pretend that the potential future has a tangible reality and is
 influencing the past--just as in geometric optics, it's often convenient
 to prentend that reflections are real objects that exist behind the
 mirrors that create them--but a formalism is all it would be.

 "So because you might invent such a divice, we can see you, and talk to
 you, as if you were speaking to us from the future?"  "Yes."

Probably complete nonsense, but I love it anyway.  (Most of Egan's stuff
has less handwaving than that, btw.  His short-story collection
_Axiomatic_ is quite mind-blowing; it plays with ideas of mind and
consciousness and identity that mix Daniel Dennett, Douglas Hoffsteader,
and Oliver Sacks with quite original stuff of his own).


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

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