FIND in
<--prev V27 next-->

From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) Jonas datapoints
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 13:44:35 

What did Jonas learn from the nth generation prisoners of the antechamber?
First I will attempt to gather all the points.

Item 0.1: at the end of SHADOW, Jonas begins to tell a tale, presumably to
impress Jolenta (much as the tales are told in the lazaret much later).  It
seems to suggest that he is very wise in archane lore, and/or he is much
older than he looks.  (The tale remains unfinished.)

Item 0.5: From Chapter X, CLAW: "I learned (or rather, I thought I did)
that his father had been a craftsman; that he had been raised by both
parents in what he called the usual way, though it is, in fact, rather
rare; and that his home had been a seacoast town in the south, but that
when he had last visited it he had
found it so much changed that he had no desire to remain."

Comment: Jonas' hometown a place on the coast.

=In the Antechamber=

Item 1: "I couldn't break away from the women who had me, at first.
Afterward, those people couldn't break away from me."

Item 2: "I must escape from here . . . If I don't, I will kill myself or
lose my reason."

Item 3: (details about the group: several old women, a man of about fifty,
another about thirty, three other women, and a flock of children)

Item 4: (the group's questions about river, fashions, and food)

Item 4.5: (that the oldest women are "seventh" generation
prisoners--daughters of seventh generation prisoners)

Item 5: "They are remarkable people in some respects.  Externally they have
been shaped completely by this place where they have spent all their lives.
Yet beneath that are [. . .] Family memories, I suppose you could call
them.  Traditions from the outside world that have been handed down to
them, generation to generation, from the original prisoners from whom they
are descended.  They don't know what some of the words mean any longer, but
they cling to the traditions, to the stories, because those are all they
have; the stories and their names."

Item 6: "The name of the first prisoner . . . was Kimleesoong"

Comment: Jonas learned this from the prisoners and it is significant to
him, but means nothing to Severian.

Item 7: "Kim Lee Soong would have been a very common kind of name when I
was [...] a boy.  A common name in places now sunk under the sea. Have you
ever heard of my ship, Severian?  She was the _Fortunate Cloud_."

Comment: Obviously Jonas did =not= learn this from the prisoners--he is
speaking from past experience.  He is bringing it up to give Severian some
context as to why it is important to him.  The suggestion is that Jonas'
home culture (see Item 0.5) had a lot (perhaps a numerical majority?) of
Asians; and of course, that the first prisoner of this generational group
was Asian (or at least had an Asian name).  As a "time marker," the "sunk
under the sea" bit would seem to indicate a greater interval than "seventh
generation" prisoner (140 years?), or even the age of the antechamber if
beginning with the Age of the Autarch (1000 years).

Item 8: "We must get power to the compressors before the air goes bad . . .
I feel weight!  It must be only the lights."

Item 9: "Jonas was cursing--at least, the tone of his voice told me he was
cursing, though the words came in tongues unknown to me" and later Jonas
begins "talking to himself in a nasal, monosyllabic language I did not

Comment: Jonas curses and mutters in his (presumed) native tongue, which is
a foreign language to Severian.  It may or may not be Asian.

Item 10: the little girl mentions "the navigator" in conversation with

Comment: this is the first indication that at least some ancestors of the
generational prisoners might have been the crew of a starship.  The girl is
talking to Severian, not Jonas.  We aren't sure of the kin-group of the
girl--she might or might not be a member of the same group that was talking
to Jonas.

Item 11: "Do you know what this place is called, Severian?" etc.

Comment: Basically the antechamber is a waiting room where coffee and
danishes are still served twice a day. There is a lot of detail on what
amounts to what we moderns call a drop ceiling; these hints might be toward
a real, specific building we should recognize, or a category of building.
Dentist's office?  Aerospace museum?  Or is the House Absolute in fact
another spaceport ruin?  The "wells" that dot the garden could be 20th
century-style launch silos.

Item 11.5: "Once I read a history.  I don't suppose you know anything about
it.  So many chiliads have elapsed here."

Comment: This is a clear time marker.  Many thousands of years have passed
on Urth since Jonas first departed.

Item 11.7: Nicarete says, "This prison is not supposed to be a prison at
all.  Long ago--I believe before the reign of Ymar--it was the custom for
the Autarch himself to judge anyone accused of a crime committed within the
precincts of the House Absolute . . . Important cases were delt with
quickly, but the offenders in less serious ones were sent here to wait"

Comment: the antechamber has a time marker of one thousand years.

Item 12: "I have to talk to somebody, so it has to be you even though
you'll think I'm a monster when I'm done."

Item 13: "We crashed.  It had been so long, on Urth, that there was no port
when we returned, no dock.  Afterward my hand was gone, and my face.  My
shipmates repaired me as well as they could, but there were no parts
anymore, only biological material."

Item 14:  Speaking of Jolenta, Jonas says "I have never loved before, never
in all the time since our crew scattered."

Comment: So it seems that after the crash, Jonas' crew scattered.  From
where to where?  Who knows--there are seven continents.  But they crashed
upon a caucasian fellow, fwiw, not a xanthoderm.

Item 15:  Regarding the source of biological material, Jonas says "He was
on the ground.  We killed him by accident, coming in.  I needed his eyes
and larynx, and I took some other parts."

Comment: Presumably this is the confession that he supposes will make
Severian think him a monster.  But Jonas' stories are always being
interrupted, so who knows.


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

<--prev V27 next-->