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From: James Jordan <jbjordan4@home.com>
Subject: Re: (whorl) It's Mostly the Ending
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 14:29:17 

A few thoughts on some of these issues:
> > Also like
> > Merryn, whose appearence just seems bad-tempered on the author's part..
>Merryn's appearance, which struck me as a case of Asimov's syndrome, had as
>a saving grace the fact that we _didn't_ find out she was Severian's sister,
>which would have been an even worse case of the above.

         I strongly suspect that Merryn appears because so many fans wanted 
her to appear. She's been MUCH discussed over the years. I think that there 
are probably several places in the SS novels that reflect interaction with 
fans/readers. I recall a number of years ago telling Wolfe that Patera 
Bunny (a Presbyterian pastor) mentioned to me that while in a counselling 
situation with a parishioner, he found himself thinking, "What would Silk 
do?" Then I noticed almost exactly this sentence from the Narrator at one 
point in either Blue or Green (I cannot recall where). Someone else here 
also pointed to a place where something he had said to Wolfe seemed to 
appear in the SS narrative. (Sorry, I cannot recall who or what.) At any 
rate, if we did not like Merryn's appearance, we have found the enemy and 
it is us!

>For me, the only
>positive of the Red Sun sections was to get an outsider's view of Urth and
>Severian. To the people from Blue, who are much more like modern Americans
>than the people of Urth, we get a better idea of what a decayed, run-down,
>utterly tired and hopeless place Urth is. That part I liked. Hints that Silk
>is the ghost of Malrubius? Bah. Cilinia/Scylla buried in the Necropolis?
>Bah, again.

         This also struck me as overly coincidental -- though Wolfe has 
pointed out that in real life we encounter strange coincidences more often 
than we might think we would. But perhaps there is some method in this. 
Both Silk and Severian are Sub-messiahs (to coin a term), "Christian 
figures" who are replicating in a very significant way certain central 
aspects of Christ's life and work. Perhaps Wolfe is positing a kind of 
"spiritual attraction" or magnetism between the two, and between their 

>I've gone on record as thinking Jahlee's behavior and fate make sense in the
>terms of the novel. She attacks Nettle out of jealousy the day after Horn
>and Nettle spend the night together. She is killed because she violated her
>agreement with Horn. This makes sense but it's sudden and disappointing in
>its suddenness.

         Maybe. But to me it was fitting, and her death in Nettle's 
forgiving arms was very moving. I think Wolfe wanted us to think about the 
soul of Jahlee. She really is human in every way that really counts. Now 
she dies. Is that really the end of her? Is she just an animal? Or does she 
perhaps "go to heaven" in a way analogous to the other character's 
ascension at the end of the novel?

>I think he ran out of energy or room or ideas or some combination of the
>three. Up to the point where the inhumi attack the wedding, things seemed
>almost on track,

         Long Sun ends apocalyptically. Silk has gone to heaven-mainframe, 
and now returns to an Armageddon in Viron, after which Silk's people go to 
"heaven" (outer space), leaving the Whorl behind. If my guess was right, in 
my post on Revelation 19, Wolfe intends Short Sun to have the same kind of 
referential ending: the Marriage Supper is also a Great Battle. And, it is 
the Last Battle in Revelation. So we move to a kind of final armageddon in 
New Viron, after which once again certain people go to "heaven" (outer 
space) -- which turns out to be the Whorl. But, in the Short Sun series, 
the Whorl functions as heaven in some ways, for it is the place where 
Messiah Silk is, and it is the place from which we get the new seeds for 
"our daily bread."

>There are two major areas where the book as a whole lets us down on, and
>we've beaten them both to death, but I'll say again:
>a) we get the huge buildup on the secret of the inhumi, and it turns out the
>secret doesn't meet the expectations that the narrative builds up for it. We
>were expecting something more than we guessed in the first volume, but that
>was it.

         Granted, that can be a problem for US. But if someone is 
re-reading the trilogy, I'd like to know if the "secret" is something 
anyone other than Horn and then the Narrator knows. I came away thinking, 
"well, everyone knows this secret," but now I doubt it. We learn it early 
on, but only because we see Horn learn it, and figure it out for ourselves. 
By "secret" here I mean that the inhumi become intelligent and ensouled as 
a result of human blood.
         But this brings us back to what the Secret really is. Since Horn 
and the later Narrator don't intend to reveal it, why is it so clearly 
revealed to the reader in the course of the trilogy? I continue to think 
that the "great secret" that Jahlee tells at the end is not THE Secret, 
just "a great secret." One option, discussed here, is that the Secret is 
how the inhumi really get to Blue, which clearly is not by travelling 
through outer space. But that would not seem to fit the "too heavy to bear" 
aspect of the Secret. I suspect that the Secret is ... secreted away in the 
text, and that we in this discussion have not yet ascertained it, or 
ascertained it fully.

>b) the fact that the narrator is Horn in Silk's body has been obvious since
>the first volume, so the climactic revelation that the narrator is Horn in
>Silk's body falls flat.

         Well, you've revised your phrasing, and in terms of that revision, 
it would be a surprise to learn that it is not a living Horn in an "empty" 
Silk body, but that either (a) Horn is really dead and Silk is alive, or 
(b) both are alive in Silk's body.
         And now a question: Has anyone investigated the possibility that 
Seawrack is actually an inhuma? She does seem to be able physically to 
change shape. We've been focussed on the relationship of Seawrack with the 
Mother, but where did Seawrack really come from? I've thought of her as a 
modified human, but maybe she is a modified inhuma. Krait certainly seemed 
to have a negative view of her as a schemer. Is it possible that Seawrack 
shows, in some way, what the inhumi might be like if they were truly 
transformed? Just some questions....

Patera Nutria

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