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From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (urth) Jonas in the Antechamber
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 09:22:34 

mantis asks:
> ... the
> central mystery seems to me to be: what is so upsetting to Jonas?  It seems
> to be something(s) that the prisoners told him, rather than just an
> upwelling of empathy for their terrible situation.

My take on this, ever since first reading _New Sun_, is that a major part of
Jonas' distress is the realization of how much time has passed on Urth since his
departure. He tells the fairly straightforward story of the _Fortunate Cloud's_
return, remarking that the spaceport wasn't where they expected it to be (bad
info, continental drift, or what?). Then on hearing Severian's tale of the
Magician and his son, he realizes that the story of Theseus has mutated almost
beyond recognition (his remark about the black sails). Then he discovers that
the prisoners may be the descendants of people from his ship or another like it
which crashed generations before (the Kim Lee Soong stuff).  All three of these
shocks have in common the apprehension of long spans of time.

Finally, of course, he fears that he may be imprisoned for a long time, and will
never see Jolenta again.

So, we have a span of tens of thousands of years back to the loss of knowledge
about the spaceport; a span of thousands of years in which the culture of his
age was lost or changed; a span of hundreds of years in which the prisoners have
lost the common culture of humanity; and a span of decades of possible
imprisonment in which Jonas will lose Jolenta.

Last there is the span of seconds in the room of mirrors in which he regains the
stars (or does he?).

     Dave Lebling
     (aka vizcacha)

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

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