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From: "Nigel Price" 
Subject: (urth) Blue and Green
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 23:47:40 -0000

Marc wrote:

>>I've already proposed several mechanisms, and
>>Nigel Price has come up with an interesting
>>further interpretation of the star system that
>>is fascinating and may explain the theme of the
>>doubled limbs.

I take GW's comment to Marc very seriously, and believe that it is true, at
least at a symbollic level. Green is, in part, a satire on greedy, warring,
self-destroying Urth/Earth. Here is part of my recent off-list
correspondence with Marc on the subject.

>Hi Marc!
>OK, I've been thinking. Unusual, I know, but
>true nevertheless.
>Thought #1: GW told you that Green is Urth, but
>that doesn't preclude the possibility that Blue is
>My reasoning - or rather, my fragile chain of loose,
>associative, links - goes as follows.
>I always thought that there was a symbollic polarisation
>at the end of Long Sun. If you made it to a lander,
>you could go to Blue or to Green. Blue was good. Green
>was bad.
>As far as I understood, somewhere in the grand, allusive,
>quasi-allegorical scheme of things, this was somehow an
>image of Death and Judgement.
>Now, of course, if it had been any other author playing
>with this sort of complex and symbolic material, this
>would have played out as a clear cut binary split. Blue
>would have been heaven and Green would have been hell.
>Instead, because GW loves hierarchies and because things
>are always resolutely themselves as well as something
>else, Blue is good, but not heaven, not least because of
>the proximity of Green and the infiltration of inhumi
>from Green to Blue. Green is hellish and horrible, but
>not hell itself. Even there on Green, there is the
>possibility of heroism and generosity.
>So Blue is hopeful and has the potential to be an urthly
>paradise, and Green is horrible but possibly redeemable.
>Not Heaven, not Hell, but heavenly and hellish with the
>possibility that each can influence and even move towards
>the state of the other.
>In New Sun and UotNS, we see that there are multiple time
>streams. The research station in the Last House observes
>the various possibilities. Urth can end in cold and
>eternal night, or it can be reborn to new life. Severian
>brings the New Sun and the Urth is purged and becomes
>Ushas, a cleansed and higher, better place.
>But what if, in the light of the observations from the
>Last House, we're supposed to see that Urth, like
>Shrodinger's Cat, both dies and lives, becomes ever more
>desolate and corrupt as well as being renewed and refreshed.
>Ushas and Urth exist side by side, twin planetary
>Now Green is not the Urth of a dead or dying sun, but rather
>the Urth which is given a new sun but is not in the process
>cleansed and renewed. It has physical life in abundance, but
>is morally bankrupt. The life on Green is fecund and vigorous,
>but cannibalistic and corrupt, torturously self-devouring
>like the symbollically significant huge and fearsome trees.
>Blue could be Ushas - Urth flooded, cleansed and renewed.
>The new binary duality is not Urth and Lune, but Ushas and
>Urth. Both are renewed compared to the Urth of the
>Commonwealth, but Green/Urth is only physically, not morally
>or spiritually, renewed.
>Thought #2: Roger Zelazny, a very different sort of author to
>GW, but a master in his own, mercurial way, had a strange way
>of adding depth and interest to his fictional characters and
>worlds. He used to invent a fact or an episode about his hero
>and then *not* include it in the book or story he was writing.
>The fact was carefully worked out and developed, and he
>sometimes even wrote out in full the story about the character
>which he was not going to tell the reader. Zelazny's idea was
>that knowing but not revealing this information would make his
>creations more real and rounded. After all, when do we ever
>know everything about a real person, even someone we know well?
>Now, Zelazny would sometimes drop hints in his stories or make
>unexplained references to the unrevealed episode, but that's as
>far as he would allow himself to go, although once or twice he
>published the "lost" episode as a separate story in its own right.
>My understanding of GW's literary practice hitherto has been
>that although there are gradations of certainty within his
>method, he gives the reader everything they need to know to be
>able to work out the most important mysteries of his stories.
>The answers to minor or tangential concerns may be left less
>defined or even unresolved, but the central matters are
>ultimately determined, though difficult to discern.
>The revelation that Green is Urth leaves me wondering, however,
>whether GW is not borrowing Zelazny's technique and introducing
>elements into his story which only he knows and which are
>impossible for the reader ever to work out by themselves. If
>that is the case, then we would have to suppose either that he
>is being deliberately frustrating, or that such matters as he
>completely hides are of themselves unimportant.
>Does GW really think that it's obvious to the intelligent
>reader that Green is Urth? No one on the list has guessed
>this, and there are some bright sparks out there who are
>devoted and assiduous readers too.
>Marc, you asked:
>>does this mean the man with the limp on top
>>of the tower was Severian?  Is the tower on
>>Green the Matachin Tower?! Has the water
>>drained?  Weird, eh?
>Utterly, utterly weird. The foregoing ruminations not
>withstanding, I am still stunned.
>You commented:
>>I don't know - is Blue Lune, or is it some kind of
>>re-aquafied Mars knocked out of orbit?  I guess its Lune.
>>Weird, huh?  Where did the water come from?!!
>I'd wondered about the Mars option, but dismissed it. On
>consideration, Lune seems all wrong too.
>No, I stick to Blue=Ushas, at least symbolically, if not

More on this anon!


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