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Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 09:10:42 -0800 (PST)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) Summa contra Marcus

Is "Marcus" the right case?  Just curious.

--- Dan'l Danehy-Oakes  wrote:
> A summary of objections to the theory that Blue = Urth.
> Others may wish to add any that I've missed.
> I. The cosmographical objection.
> The WHORL, a slower-than-light ship, set out _from_ the 
> Urth system. Barring evidence to the contrary (which has
> not, to the best of my knowledge, been presented), it begins
> in a reference frame more-or-less stationary relative to 
> the Solar system, accelerates away from the Solar system, 
> and eventually brakes to come to relative rest at another
> system. In order for the "other system" to be the Solar 
> system, then, some mechanism must be provided for the motion 
> away from the Solar system to somehow bring the WHORL back
> to the Solar system. Several such mechanisms are certainly
> possible, as: the WHORL hit some kind of "space warp" 
> (which is, I believe, your proposal); the Solar system 
> hit ditto; the WHORL was gone so long that it wandered 
> around the edge of curved spacetime. 
> However, and this is the key here, it is not sufficient 
> for such a mechanism to be offered, or even for it to
> be "plausible." Some _textual_ evidence (direct or 
> indirect) for the mechanism must also be adduced. To 
> say (as you have in effect done) that the space(-time) 
> warp must be present because it fits your theory, is 
> _not_ textual evidence; it is circular logic, using 
> the "Urth=Blue" theory as support for the "space warp"
> theory which was, in turn, created to support the 
> "Urth=Blue" theory. If reasonably unambiguous textual 
> evidence could be adduced for the "space warp" theory, 
> then it would indeed support the "Urth=Blue" theory.
> Likewise, if the "Urth=Blue" theory were supported by
> evidence so strong that it could stand on its own, then
> finding evidence for a mechanism might be problematized.
> But as things stand ... no.
> II. The genetic objection.
> The life forms of Blue/Green are sufficiently different
> from those of Urth that some mechanism must be proposed,
> and evidence given, for the production of one from the
> other. You have proposed _part_ of a mechanism (polyploidy), 
> a mechanism which may, in some cases, produce effects 
> similar to those seen in the life forms of Blue (but which 
> produces nothing vaguely similar to the inhumi). However,
> no mechanism whatsoever has been offered for _why_ Urthian
> animal forms might have become uniformly polyploid, and 
> with such uniform phenotypic effects evidencing in a 
> variety of species.

Stop it!  Polyploidy has nothing to do with extra limbs, as Marc
has agreed.
> III. The chronological objection.
> Related to the above. Assuming that the mechanism for 
> Urth's animalia becoming uniformly polyploid is discovered
> and evidence given for it, you find yourself in a bit of
> a sticky wicket. Either Blue is in Urth's distant past, or
> it is in Ushas's distant future. 
> Now, if it is in Urth's past, the genetic objection becomes 
> redoubled -- a second mechanism must be provided for the 
> return of Urthian life to diploid normality by the era of 
> Severian. But other chronological objections (beginning, 
> but not limited to, the difficulty of placing an era 
> resembling the Blue of SHORT SUN anywhere in Severian's 
> apparent past) make this whole idea so unlikely that, 
> frankly, I dismiss it out of hand.
> So suppose Blue to be the distant future of Ushas. Now, we
> can begin by wondering: why the did Green Man not show the
> "polyploid" characteristics of Bluvian life? Nor, indeed,
> did he resemble the Neighbors, or Bluvian life forms in 
> general, in any interesting way. And, supposing you do 
> successfully overcome this objection -- for example, proposing
> that the Green Man is from even farther in the future, a time
> when the Colonists and the Inhumi have somehow merged into a
> single species (mechanism required, etc.)

Or by assuming the Short Sun books aren't in the Green Man's future
any more than they're in Master Ash's.

> -- then we would
> need to have some plausible sequence of events leading from
> Severian's time, to the Neighbors, to the colonists', to the 
> Green Man's.

The only real problem I see is why humanity either altered itself and
most terrestrial fauna to have doubled limbs, or left Ushas to the
Neighbors and their related alien fauna (depending on whether the
Neighbors are human-descended or not).  But that's a very big problem.
There's also the question of the inhumi would have gotten to Lune,
but heck, there's a question of why anybody brought the alzabos to

> IV. The objection from gravitation
> This has been discussed to death ... but ... it's very hard 
> to produce a plausible argument for Green as a satellite of
> Blue (even an escaped satellite) without producing tidal 
> effects of a scale that dwarf those described by Horn.

As I just mentioned, this all has nothing to with whether Blue is

> 	Similarly, the failure of Horn to describe any real
> difference in weight, trajectory of thrown objects, walking
> gait, etc., between the surfaces of Blue, Green, and the
> Red Sun Whorl, and the "surface" of the WHORL (other than
> the interesting discussion of floater mechanics in LONG SUN),
> stands as strong evidence that the surface gravities of 
> Blue and Green are very similar, and very similar to that of
> Urth, i.e., one G. Nor does the "climbing the tower one-handed"
> business really help; we know that the Narrator is not subject
> to the ordinary laws of physics when astrally travelling 
> (e.g., is, he is capable of creating weapons out of thin air);
> further, that is, as noted in an earlier post, a classic 
> adventure fiction trope.

It's not unreasonable to assume that the gravity of Lune was already
raised as part of the terraforming (although that creates an even
bigger problem in conjunction with Lune's being closer to Urth than
the moon is to the earth).

> Summary of the summary: I admit that you have "dealt with" 
> each of these objections at some level in the past. The problem
> is that in each case, your method of dealing with the objection 
> is to pile another hypothetical on top of the hypothesis already
> in place (i.e., "Blue = Urth"). This might be satisfactory for a
> theory with a really solid textual basis, but for a theory that
> begins fairly shaky, such additional hypotheses are completely 
> unacceptable, because your explanations for the objections must,
> of themselves, be solid enough to _support_ the overall theory.

I agree with this.

Jerry Friedman

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