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From: "Talarican" <exultnttalarican@mindspring.com>
Subject: (whorl) Voyage of the Whorl: Assumptions
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2001 11:45:45 

We now know that roughly a thousand years has passed on "the red sun whorl"
since the _Whorl_ was launched (_Green's_, ch 22), although only about 332
years had passed subjectively on the _Whorl_ (_Calde_, ch 5).

This is a strong indication that the _Whorl_ attained relativistic velocity
during its voyage, producing a significant relativistic time dilation. It is
possible, given this information and a few reasonable assumptions about the
flight profile which are consistent with the text, to estimate Blue and
Green's (HRTA "B&G") distance from Urth, and perhaps even guess at the
identity of their sun, as well as elucidate the flight characteristics of
the Whorl and its voyage.

Some observations from the text are used to formulate basic assumptions:

1. The actual trip time experienced by the Cargo seems to have been about
300 years, assuming it arrived in orbit in B&G's system about thirty years
prior to the time in which BLS is set, which event apparently set off this
"war of the gods" as Echidna sought to prevent the Cargo from disembarking
the _Whorl_ (_Lake_, ch. 11, _Return_, ch. 17). Interestingly enough, the
Prolocutor's encyclical in _Calde_ ch. 5 is dated the year 332! What could
be referenced other than the subjective elapsed time since the voyage
commenced? This fits almost too neatly.

2. The best estimate of the elapsed time back on Urth appears to be 1100
years. This is based mainly on the accepted figure for the period between
the zenith of Typhon's reign to Severian's time (*1), reinforced somewhat by
Horn's guesses.

Use of the data in _Green's_ ch. 22 does indeed lead to longer elapsed Urth
times, but it increases the required peak velocity even more
unrealistically. Horn discounted this figure once it was arrived at, saying
the rate of abandonment must have been higher at one time. The explanation
is probably very simple: Typhon's "press gangs" must have depopulated entire
quarters of Nessus in a relatively short period for his colonization

3. _Whorl_ is simply honkin' HUGE, having been formed of the mass of an
entire sizeable asteroid (_Green's_ ch. 25; a Neighbor stated it explicitly)
hollowed by melting and centrifugal force. "Gravity" for the interior is
supplied by centrifugal force. The Cargo do not seem to have noticed any
significant changes in the magnitude or direction of their "gravity"
throughout their remembered history, therefore all accelerations acting upon
the Whorl during its voyage, for thrust, changes of direction, and the like,
must be very slight by comparison with the centrifugal "gravity".

4. As a corollary to the foregoing, the Cargo do not seem to have been at
all aware of when the Whorl arrived in the B&G system thirty years before
the time of BLS; i.e., no inexplicable motions seem to have occurred, nor
were Cargo ordered to strap themselves into crash couches or any such thing.
Therefore accelerations acting on the _Whorl_, from the earliest memories of
the original Cargo to the time of BLS, were so mild they apparently went

The nature of the _Whorl_'s power plant was never explicitly divulged, but
it must be tremendously powerful and provided with an astronomically vast
fuel supply, even if it were antimatter. That fuel must be stored somewhere,
but we're never shown precisely where. We could explore the possibility that
the _Whorl_ is a sort of low-acceleration Bussard Ramjet design, which would
obviate the fuel supply problem nicely. Presumably, enough surplus fuel
could be gathered by a B-R to power that fluorescent-tube-on-steroids and
the other support systems on the _Whorl_. However, as we will see, a Bussard
drive is problematical.

Larry Niven wrote extensively about B-R craft that fly between stars at a
steady one gee acceleration, racking up considerable time dilation. Halfway
to the destination, the craft must "turn over" and decelerate the rest of
the way in order to be at approximate rest with respect to the destination.
Niven's ramships' 1 gee acceleration creates gravity for the passengers (for
whom "down" is toward the stern of the craft).

The _Whorl_ cannot be accelerating at one gee for most of the trip; its
"gravity" is supplied by centrifugal force, therefore it does not generate
enough acceleration to be noticed by the Cargo. Doubtless it is so massive
(the mass of an asteroid) that even inconceivably powerful thrusters can
only nudge it along, like the engines of an oil supertanker. Furthermore, an
object formed of presumably an asteroid softened and hollowed by "glass
blowing" with centrifugal force, might not withstand the stress of high

(*1) The death of Ymar, a contemporary of the end of Typhon's reign, is
supposed to have been about a chiliad prior to Severian's time, per Mantis,
in LU A&E #2, based on a remark made in an article in _Thrust_, regarding
the assassin Sev found in the Second House. It follows that Typhon probably
launched the _Whorl_ roughly a century or so earlier, before the Old Sun
dimmed and the Conciliator appeared.
(and when did Horn ever see ruins one chiliad old before visiting Nessus? He
's seen buildings up to 300 years old, not counting the Neighbors' far older
ruins that are probably more durable than those of humans).


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