FIND in
<--prev V203 next-->
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Irritating Loonies and Planet of the Grapes
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 09:20:56 -0800

Hoom. First I should apologize for the Subject line followed 
immediately by "Jeff Wilson, come on down!" It occurred to me only 
after I hit "Send" that, in that context, my pun on "The Irrigation 
of Lune" might be construed as an accusation of looniness against 
the estimable Mr. Wilson. Please understand that I did not intend 
any such thing.


> > First, while there is obviously a serioius loss of technology among the
> > commonality of Urth-humans, resulting in the "medieval"-level
> > it's not at all clear (at least to me) that this comes from ignorance
> > This is a society where people don't see the Sun rise, they see the
> > horizon fall away from it. It seems fairly clear that they have more
> > scientific and technical knowledge than they can actually make use of.

> They may not be completely ignorant, but it is plain that they parrot
> a lot of the lost teaching without really understanding it; they have
> some general idea, but the details are long lost. 

I am not at all sure that they are. The impression I have, from the
explanations given by the run of characters in the books, is quite
the opposite - that the concepts have become so familiar that there
is no need to surround them with technical terminology. For example...

> They know a kind of lightning makes some machines go, but not how
> to construct a circuit.

This could be two ignorant people talking about electricity; or
it could be people for whom electricity is simply part of the
background of life. I strongly suspect that a significant number
of the people on this list would not be able to construct any kind
of useful electrical circuit.

Nor does the use of the word "lightning" seem to me a mark of
ignorance, any more than we are ignorant because we refer to this 
force by a name that implies that our primary source for it is 
rubbing a rod of amber - particularly when you remember that 
tBotNS is a "translation." Wolfe might have feigned the Urthian 
word for electricity to translate as "amber-force" (in much the 
way he uses the faux literalisms in the Soldier books) but I
believe that "lightning" would be the appropriate common term 
for electricity in a culture that can't remember not knowing
about it.

> They know that the Urth rotates, but not that it revolves
> around the sun. 

Not sure of your reference for this.

> They know that some statues are actually some sort of exalted
> taxidermy, but nothing else about it. 

Again, this is expecting too much of someone who isn't a specialist
in the field. Severian has had a very limited education _for his_
culture, and how he describes things will be affected by that.

> It's no stretch to presume that irrigation is a similar
> summarization of terraforming.

With that, actually, I am in complete agreement. It appears that
in arguing with one of your sub-points I have given the impression
that I was in disagreement with your primary point. I am not.
> > This is absolutely true - but I should hasten to add that passing
> > through a spacetime warp (whatever _that_ is) and winding up back at
> > the Ushas-Lune system  years later, doesn't do a thing for

>	not necessary later, it might be earlier

Okay, so  is a negative number. 8*)

> > the Red Sun being visible in the Bluvian sky. And, no, I'm sorry,
> > that one isn't going to go away because of spacewarps, curved space,
> > or any other explanation short of "the author waved his magic wand
> > and made it happen" - which is the act of an incompetent author, 
> > _not_ Gene Wolfe.

> The curvature of space bends the path of light just as it does the
> path of material objects, 

So far so good.

> so the spacewarp =can= explain the Sun being visible as a distant
> star from Urth when looking back along the path that the Whorl took. 

Well, if you are considering there to be a stable/permanent warp in
place, yes, this could work. 

> This same effect shows up in URTH with Yesod and the ship, and to a
> lesser degree with the magic mirrors. This doubling of the Sun is no
> more a mark of incompetence than the doubling of Burgundofara, or
> Severian and Apu Punchau, or the various Tzadkiels are, or the 
> bilocation of the various Gardens.

H'mmm. All of these seem to me to be at the Galactic/"hierodule" 
level of technology. So if you call it the "hierodule's spacewarp,"
as you do, then I can't argue that it wouldn't be possible. However,
I can question its _plausibility_ on the grounds that I have yet
to see one shred of evidence that the hierodules are in any way,
shape, or form involved with the flight of the _Whorl._ What I fear
I anticipate is that the whole argument comes down to something 
like this:

	1. Some of the details of tBotSS can be explained by 
	   hypothesizing that Blue/Green is a far-future or 
	   far-past of Urth/Lune.

"Well, then, how did the _Whorl_ get back to the Urth/Lune system?"

	2. The _Whorl_ can have gotten there only by a spacetime

"Problems with this, where did it come from, blablablah."

	3. The type of warp required could have been produced by
	   the hierodules.

"Well, what evidence do you have that the hierodules are involved?

	4. They're back on Urth, so that must be what happened.

While this is consistent, it is so only in a self-supporting way.
I'm looking for a smoking gun, some concrete evidence for the 
presence of the hierodules. The only thing we've seen so far that
_could_ be such evidence is the apparent apparition of Patera Pike
to Patera Silk in tBotLS, but Wolfe has (if I am not mistaken) 
specifically denied that this was a hierodule-created aquastor.

> If there are a few scientific details separating the hierodule's
> spacewarp from what you would expect from a proper closed timelike
> path in spacetime, I can only point to similar technical
> shortcomings in the description of the function of the magic
> mirrors, the lifting principle of the flyers, and the White
> Fountain's white hole nature, among others. GW doesn't lets science
> get in the way of telling a story.

True. But I don't think he lets the story get in the way of (at
least) plausible science, either - all of these seem to me to
fall under the rubric of a technology that can control gravity,
which means a radical shift from any of our current theories of
how the universe is put together.



<--prev V203 next-->