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From: Joel Priddy <jpriddy@saturn.vcu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Urth Ending
Date: Wed, 14 May 97 11:44:55 EDT

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

Just finished a second reading of _Urth_of_the_New_Sun_. I feel
like I slept-walked through it the first time. Especially those
last two chapters. I guess you know you're starting to get
somewhere with a Wolfe book when the ending actually feels like
an ending, not like particularly rude coitus interruptus. So
let's talk about that ending... Maybe this has been well-sewn up
in the Lexicon, but I haven't gotten around to ordering a copy
yet (my girlfriend, the credit card in the family, has said
she'll be placing a big order at Amazon.com in a while). But

---SPOILERS----real big SPOILERS----

Let me just make sure I have the ending right...
  After returning to Ushas from the earliest days of man's
habitation of Urth, Severian finds it seeded by the sailors who'd
fought against him on Yesod (either past versions of the sailors,
or memory-wiped sailors, or the children of the sailors...?). The
seed-humans descendants worship the four survivors we know of
from the flooding of the House Absolute, including Severian, the
Sleeper, who wasn't among them when they landed, but not
including Eata, who may have been (unless he died during
Severian's story, instead of just falling asleep). The people
have built bowers for their gods, and Severian apparently takes
up residence in his bower in order to indulge in his taste for
writing memoirs. Severian has regained access to the Corridors of
Time, and seems to plan on building up his skill at traveling
time, stating that he is but an apprentice where the Green Man is
a Master. He earlier stated that he'd like to go back and visit
the inn at Os, and he may have done so (or is going to be about
to do so after writing his Ushas memoirs) many times, because he
thinks he may have seen several of his face looking in through
the door when the dead man chopped it open (it must have been a
wide hall to contain multiple Severian's, since he wouldn't want
to merge with any of his other selves by coming too close to
  So when we leave second-generation eilodon Severian, it seems
that he's a time-traveler who can visit any point during the life
span of the White Fountain, which reaches back as far as the
earliest days of humans on Urth. He can visit the same place and
time multiple times, as long as he never gets too close to
  This, by the way, would seem to include the time during which
the Whorl was built. Could the White Fountains power reach a
Severian across yet further light years and inside an asteroid?
It seems to have trouble reaching him when the Urth is between
him and it, but not when he's in a totally different level of
reality (the stream between universe). Might Severian eventually
cover the past of Urth and the future of Ushas so thoroughly that
he hops aboard spaceships to tour new sights? I hope not. I
really hope not. As much as I want a stronger link between
New_Sun and Long_Sun, I don't want it to be Severian. He belongs
to the one series, not to the other, IMHO.
  So anyway, before I go back and read the first four books with
the assumption that every character that the narrator doesn't
come into physical contact with is another Severian, does my
summary sound right, or have I missed something important? And
how much does this ending reflect at all on the contents of the
original series? _Urth_ was written well after the first 4, and
wasn't planned when the first 4 were written, right? So would
time-duplicate Severians in the first 4 be retro-fitting, or do
you think Wolfe intended Severian to be a four-dimensional hero
from the beginning? Other than the obvious example of

Of course, another possible ending is that Severian is as bound
by the worship of the people of Ushas as Apu-Panchau was by the
worship of the autocthons, and never leaves his bower, and he
only thought be might have seen his face at the inn. Trapped
little godling Severian spends the rest of his existence being
worshipped by fisher-folk, occasionally having wine with Odillo's

Hmm... this post has become a monster, so I won't even start on
the eclipse of Apu-Panchau. But I'll get back to it.

(gizzard cum cyphlothorax)

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