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From: Joel Priddy <jpriddy@saturn.vcu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Apu's Eclipse
Date: Sun, 18 May 97 16:36:34 EDT

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

Thanks for the pointer towards Peter Carey. I haven't read him,
but there's a copy of Tristan Smith just sitting on the library
shelf, waiting for me. 
BTW, I very much enjoyed History of Hell. Write lots more, okay?

ditto re: the Pastel City. Turns out that the local university
library has a copy. I wonder if my old card will still work?

Okay, I will now proceed to distance myself from any
non-Wolfe-writer threads until I've heard from on-high that it's
permitted on this list. Back to the matters at hand. I thought
I'd do a little thinking-out-loud on the subject of Apu Panchau's


--> Okay, we know that Severian's life is spared by the fact that
the sunrise is delayed one morning when he is held by the
--> During this extended night Severian sees stars from the wrong
season. Stars he'd expect to see for that season where he in his
native time, but this is presumably before the Urth's axis-shift.
--> When the sun does appear, it has already risen a considerable
--> We are told in the afterword that the plausible cause is an
eclipse of some sort, having discounted halting the Urth's
rotation as too drastic, and mass-hypnosis as too pat.
--> Severian has a certain amount of control of time and space
which seems to manifest itself most potently when he feels
himself to be in dire need.
--> Severian has three friends, the Hierodules, who live
backwards through time, and own a spaceship. The Hierodules are
attentive listeners, and have drawn conclusions from Severians
past stories, including the one that led them to find him among
the autocthons.

Two conclusions that seem plausible from this are:
   (1)Severian worked some sorta time-hoodoo, but made a mistake
because the fact of the axis-shift hadn't quite sunk into his
head yet.

  Maybe he took the whole village through time, maybe he just
opened up a passage in the Corridors of Time to looked in on the
night sky of a different era (can other people see into such
openings? Could Severian see the Green Man's passage?)
  Severian may or may not have enough power to accomplish such a
task. He had enough power to get to this point in the past in the
first place, but he seems to be of limited power several decades
later when the villagers again threaten his life. I would
definitely try to confine thoughts on Severian as the source of
the eclipse to things he could have done right at that moment, as
opposed to thinking about what he might go back in time, after
the fact, to set up. For one reason, I think at any later point
Severian would not have made the seasonal-astronomy mistake. For
a second reason, it's a little too "Bill and Ted's Bogus


   (2)The Hierodules ship is highly reflective, so that when they
position it between the village and the sun, it reflects the
night sky from a different angle, thereby showing a different
season's sky.

 Are there any previous descriptions of the Hierodule ship (and
would it necessarily be the same ship they'd have in the remote
past?) or any other evidence that they might have a reflective
ship? Or a ship that could make itself reflective if needed (and
it certainly would be a nice feature on a space craft)? Would
light sails be as reflective as would be needed to produce the
described eclipse? If they were, I think Severian wouldn't have
described them as being fuligin and silver, but as mis-matched
pieces of night sky. But then, maybe that's what he meant (I'd
read it as the sails being fuligin on one side, and silver on the

The thing that gets me about this is: if Wolfe bothers to tease
us with this event in the Afterward, I can't help but feel that
the solution must point towards some other unstated plot point.
Therefore, I find the two above conclusions suspect because
they're so self-contained.

Anyone have any thoughts?


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