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Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 18:11:37 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) Malrubius and the spirit (was Silk/Malrubius)

>Craig wrote:
>> In an interview, GW mentions a possible connection
>> between Silk and Master Malrubius (I can't locate the
>> interview at the moment). I was wondering if anyone
>> else had determined how/why this connection would be
>> made. Why, for example, would an aquastor (as I recall
>> Malrubius is) Silk be used to communicate with
>> Severian?

Christopher Culver wrote:
>I assume that Severian's incidental visions of Malrubius were actually
>of Silk, but the machine which saves Severian from the Ascians chose to
>create an aquastor of Malrubius because Sev's visions of
>Malrubius-really-Silk had made such an impression on him.

IIRC, without seeing the source text again, my impression was quite
different.  That is, I did not see it as being a case of: astral-Silkhorn
is the aquastor Malrubius that Severian sees at times in TBOTNS; I thought
it was a direct link to the "Malrubius saw an invisible spirit in the
shadows" part of TBOTNS.

Here it is, in fact.  In IV, ch. XXIII, paragraph beginning "Master
Malrubius was, as I realize now, a very sick man before he died."  That
paragraph ends "Master Malrubius suffered real illness, which is to see
death in shadows."

Next: "As he stood at his little table, one felt that he was conscious of
someone standing behind him.  He looked straight to the front, never
turning his head and hardly moving a shoulder, and he spoke as much for
that unknown listener as for us."

Two paragraphs later, he drops a slate pencil.  "He did not stoop to pick
it up,fearful, I think, that in stooping he might glimpse the invisible

This is what I made of the linkage between astral Silkhorn and Malrubius:
that Malrubius had somehow seen astral Silk.

But this is problematic, since in RETURN TO THE WHORL Severian pesters the
astral Silk into seeing his dog (RTTW 396), which confirms that it must be
2 years prior to Severian's Reign; yet Malrubius died years before that
(I've estimated around 10 years before).  We don't have any suggestion that
Silk met Malrubius, nor that he took any trip to Urth that was ten years in
the past (and I'm one of those who argue that Silk's astral projection is
purely across space and not at all across time -- so it is impossible for
Silk to visit Malrubius).

Then Master Gurloes catches Severian with Oreb and asks him what it is and
Severian says it is Master Malrubius's.  Then Silk touches Gurloes and
Gurloes gets spooked (perhaps linking to Gurloes's odd behaviors mentioned
by Severian in TBOTNS).

So this would be the point in the text that directly makes the "Severian
associates Silk with Malrubius" statement.

With this we can see that, before Severian ever saw the Malrubius aquastor,
he saw astral-Silk (dressed like a torturer); and although Severian had
been told by Silk that he was not a spirit of the dead (RTTW 390 and
before), when Gurloes catches Severian with Oreb, Severian basically tells
Gurloes that the spirit of dead Malrubius is there (as a bluff or as a true
belief remains open for debate; but in any case, the look of astral-Silk
must be pretty close to that of Malrubius for the claim to have any effect,
and it does have effect in that it spooks Gurloes).

Christopher Culver's point about the ship-made-aquastor, while it might be
a tad off in the details (Severian had been impressed by a Malrubius ghost
a few times before he met that one -- it wasn't the first time), is
interesting in that it points to the likelihood of different sources for
each Malrubius spirit: the ship-made-aquastor is a "techno-ghost" and the
one who visits Severian sleeping by the campfire, and leaves a warm spot,
is probably a real ghost; etc.  IIRC Sev saw Malrubius at least one time in
the corridors of time.



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