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From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (whorl) Nessus, geography
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 09:06:44 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

> Concerning Nessus:

> 	I took Nessus as (Bue)Nos Aires in the same way that Cordwainer Smith's
> Meeya Meefla is Miami Fla. But, that was me, not Wolfe. Smith is not a
> major influence on Wolfe, despite appearances. (It seems that they both
> think along the same lines, and that creates the appearance of some
> dependance.)
> 	What I have never done is try to "solve the crossword puzzle" (to use
> Mantis's felicitous analogy) by looking for evidence of the direction of
> flow of the river, whether Urth flipped more than once, etc. If the river
> flows west instead of east, and if we are in South America, then perhaps
> Nessus is Santiago.
> 	Now, one other point: Pas has loaded the cargo of Starcrosser with
> These locals sip mate and are generally (in Viron) a South American
> culture. This would indicate that Typhon's domain is in the Argentine
> not in an Egyptian area. AHA, but the Trivigauntes speak a kind of
> so maybe they and not the Vironese were the local population around
> Typhon's throne. 
> 	So, okay. I give up. Gene has defeated me. Where's my .357 Magnum....?
> 	If Urth flipped only once, then the Alexandria suggestion makes more
> sense; especially since Alexandria is noted for its library. In that
> the Ultanian nod to Borges would just be a nod, and not a Clew!
> 	So then: What do you see as evidence for Alexandria?

Well, I've developed a kind of geography of Urth, or at least of Severian's
major journey, an abbreviated version of which is in mantis's second
addendum to Lexicon Urthus (if you email him, he might send you one in
gratitude for that long and interesting Wolfe interview). I'm supposed to
be writing it up at length, or at least at more length---why don't I finish
doing that and then post it here, so as not to have to defend challenges
piecemeal? The reason I asked about Wolfe (and am relieved at your answer)
is that had he endorsed you, I would have had to abandon it.

Mate  is sorta weak as a clue.

But the quick-and-dirty clues to Alexandria are (1) Holy Katharine (St.
Catherine is the patron of Alexandria); (2) the library; (3) the cluster of
towers in the old launching pad (Matachin, Bear, Witches etc.) which seem
to stand in for the ancient Pharos. Admittedly, the third point is a bit
far-fetched, but not so much when you put in context (I promise to do
context soon---taxes are in the way).

I simply can't accept your etymology for Nessus. For me it refers directly
to the centaur with the poisoned blood, and belongs along with Gyoll and
other references to what mantis (and I too) refers to as the Gnostic view
of Urth, that in its tainted state it is a kind of Hell that must be
saved--by U-No-Who. But this is, of course, because I have a Euro-centric
view of Urth, at least "our" part.

> JBJordan (Hmmm.  What shall I be?  How about Nutria!)

How about Naugahyde? Heh!!

Found both mantis and Nutria really good and interesting on the parallels
between Cordwainer Smith and Wolfe. Which is not only to say I agree with
both, but that I admired their parlance.


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