FIND in
<--prev V27 next-->

From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Presence chamber's panels
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 16:21:36 


Two weeks ago Mitchell Bailey wrote:

> >It was at the door to Inire's specula chamber in the Second House that
> >the "crimson teratoid sign" Sev surmised to be of extraterrestrial
> >origin appeared. That seems to be what we're interpreting as radioactive
> >or biohazard warning symbols.

To which you replied:

>  And Jonas seems to interpret those same symbols as some form of writing;
> seems to read the one as saying "Urth," or words to that effect.  FWIW.

    I took "the one" to refer to the "crimson teratoid sign" on the door. My

You have written:

>But beyond that, help me with the logic here--you are saying that:
>A) the symbol doesn't say "Urth" and

    I don't think it does. Why should it? The chamber and the specula are
already on Urth.

>B) teleportation mirrors are not common to the Briatic universe, through
>which Jonas has done more travelling than perhaps any other character, yet

    Again, as I said, there is no hint in the text that teleportation is or
ever was a common means of transportation. I would agree with Mitchell, who
said: "I get the impression that this type teleportation is the exclusive
province of Father Inire and a few of his peers, and was installed by and
for him."

>C) Jonas sees the mirrors and associates them with Urth because it was on
>Urth that he saw them before.
>I find the third statement to be a bit of a stretch--I mean, at that point
>you might as well go whole hog and say "because =these= are the exact
>mirrors he saw before, and he really =does= know exactly where he is now."

    It's possible, but, I agree with you, improbable. Yet we can agree, I
think, that it was either one of the symbols ( the "glyph" on the door, or
one of the "twisted signs" on the panels) or the sight of the panels
themselves that caused Jonas to make his pronouncement about being on Urth.
If the former, and Jonas "read" the symbol to mean "Urth", then his
revelation is pointless; just a confused android rambling on about the
obvious--that he was in fact where he had already known for years he was--on
Urth. If the latter, it leads to the improbable conclusion already
mentioned, that he has seen the same or similar panels on Urth before, but
his pronouncement is equally pointless. Either way, he is stating the
obvious, because it is unarguable, from the text, that he was ever in doubt
about what world he had been wandering for years.

    So what is the point of the scene? Do we dismiss his utterance as the
confused rambling of an android who is out of his head, akin to his earlier
mutterings about the blackout? If so, then none of this matters, and there's
no point in speculating about it. Yet we continue to do so because, I think,
we all sense there is more going on here than meets the eye.

    So here is a wild theory--a fan fiction, if you like.

    When Jonas said "I know where we are." and "On Urth.", that is what Sev
heard and wrote down. Or is it? Or did Jonas say "On Earth", which Sev heard
and wrote down as "On Urth"? How could he tell the difference?

    Consider: Jonas has undeniable knowledge--literary, historical,
mythological and geographical--about what the reader recognizes as our
Earth, but which is lost on Sev. For Sev, Jonas's guarded revelations about
Urth's past belong to the Age of Myth, which is our age, or part of it. Of
all the characters in the Urth Cycle, Jonas is far and away the closest to
our own era, in terms of personal knowledge of our Earth.

     Which brings me back to Jonas's utterance. If he said "On Earth" rather
than "On Urth", it puts an entirely different spin on the scene and saves
him from having made what is otherwise a meaningless statement. Sight of
either the glyphs or the panels causes him to realize that Urth is indeed
Earth; the Earth that he has known in his time travels with the Hierodules,
and where he may even have been manufactured, in lands now sunk beneath the
sea, long ago in the Age of Myth.


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

<--prev V27 next-->