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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>
Subject: (urth) re: 5H Star Hunt
Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 02:03:47 

mantis wrote:

"Hey, Cerberus-heads!

"Let's find the star of Saint Anne/Saint Croix!  Let's work out the
other planets in the system!"

Frankly, mantis, I believe you did a very nice job of scoping out the more
pertinent details, but I do have a few comments.

"1.  We are told that Marsh aged "20 years Newtonian" in his trip,
suggesting that the star is within 20 lightyears of Sol (since the
ship would seem to be travelling sublight)."

Actually, Marsh "aged" only six months, still being in his early 20s when
he makes planetfall. Twenty years Newtonian have passed, but apparently the
starcrossing travelers are placed in some sort of biostasis, where aging is
much diminished. (Mrs. Blount, in "V.R.T," mentions being "put to sleep.")
She also mentions that the trip from Earth took 21 years, suggesting either
St. Croix - St.Anne are galactically further at this time or improvements
in star-travel propulsion have taken place since her ship left. Mrs. Blount
also tells us, "Both our worlds remained unknown when planets more distant
from Earth had been colonized for decades," hinting at perhaps some sort of
astronomical obscurity or deviation from normal (i.e., in terms of
potentially hospitable worlds) .

"3.  We are told that one local year on St. Anne is 402 days . . . do
we have any hint as to the length of the local day?  (This can be
used to calculate orbital distance for St. A/St. C around their star,
which in turn can give a hint as to stellar class, etc.)"

Apparently, the day is also somewhat longer--at least if we are to trust
Marsh's initial observations. Early on, in his journals (p.140), he cites
the "too-long days and stretched nights" of St. Anne, suggesting they are
lengthier than what he is used to on Earth. Disappointingly, however, Wolfe
never indicates how the extra 37 days of the Annese year are apportioned.
Both Marsh and Number Five utilize the imported Terran calendar, referring
to actual specific months, but not whether these have a few extra days (3
would work, giving us months of 33-35 days) or whether a new month itself
has been invented.

Re: "Shadow Child (with "two bright star eyes")"

Is "Shadow Child" with "two bright star eyes" how it's listed in your
edition of 5TH HEAD? The Scribners edition shows "Shadow Children" and "two
pairs of bright eyes." Also, since Marsh can no longer find them in their
usual place (p.154), might it/they possibly be either paired planets or
moons, rather than stars?

Might not Fomalhaut also refer to the piscine half of Thousand Feelers and
the Fish, with one of the more local nebulae (Eagle, Lagoon, Trifid?)
compising the Thousand Feelers half?

One last possible clue: the gravitational attraction of St. Croix on its
sister planet is powerful enough to produce 15 foot tides. (What this
portends I have no clue--the last time I delved into matters astronomical
we only had 8 planets, though now that Pluto has been declassified, at
least in non-Disney systems...<g>)

Personally, if Wolfe did have an actual star in mind, I'd like to believe
it adhered to one of the etymological conventions he used in FIFTH HEAD.
i.e., religious (St. Anne), French (Port-Mimizon) or lupine (#5=Wolfe).
Given also that there are at least three prominent astronomers named Wolf,
and one actually being French (C.J.E. Wolfe, co-discoverer of Wolf-Rayet
stars), I'd like to cast my vote in favor of 
Wolf 294 (though the Shadow Children supposition might augur a multiple
star system).

Robert Borski

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

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