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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Jonas & black beans
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 97 16:43:00 GMT

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

Reply:  Item #3929797 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET00#

Re: Nessus, fwiw I agree with much of what Scott Dalrymple writes.
That is to say, the great strength of alga's map is symbolic.  Having
looked into plate tectonics, I'm afraid the movements required for a
literal rendition are more imaginary than plausible (barring the crutch
of "terraforming" which I myself use far too often <g>); and as Scott
points out so succinctly, landmarks like the Library of Alexandria
(palace of Knossos, etc.) are already gone in our time.  So any
reconstruction is just that--a reconstruction; and as such can happen
anywhere on the globe.

Part of the "problem," such as there is, is that Wolfe is very sneaky
and slippery.  In the interview with James B. Jordan (our Nutria),
Wolfe seems to be pretty clearly saying that Briah is in another
universe than ours, that Urth is not our Earth.  But I'm pretty sure
I can show you other interviews and Wolfe-written articles where
Wolfe says that the Commonwealth is in South America and Ascia is in
North America; and in the appendices to TBOTNS Wolfe alludes to
Earthbound buildings linking Earth to Urth; and in the text the
astronaut on the Moon and missionaries in the jungle garden likewise
link Earth to Urth.

All of this means that in order to make a statement that isn't
too nebulous, an essayist is going to have to focus on some points
and ignore others.  The corollary being that the other readers can
pick up these ignored points to hurl at the essayist.

(Scott: as for Urth "flipped on her axis," I think it was more along
the lines of Urth flipping her magnetic poles, which would serve as a
time benchmark of some sort, since we do know--or profess to
know--that this has happened on Earth, and how often it tends to
happen.  It would be a benchmark if such a hint can be found in the

Now then, here's a wish-list topic of my own:

I want to know the rest of the story that Jonas was telling at the
end of THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER, the tale of a woman who went to
the stars and returned with some black beans.  I'd like any scraps:
motif index references, fairy tales, legends, myths, anything.  (To
me it seems like a cross between the beginning of "Jack and the
Beanstalk" and the ending of CAT'S CRADLE, and/or maybe the Sibyl
offering her volumes of future history to the Roman Emperor.)

I also want the name of the German fairytale about the man who had no


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