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From: Matthew Malthouse <matthew.malthouse@guardian.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Shards and gaps
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 01:58:24 +0100

Peter Westlake wrote:
> At 20:41 1998/07/09 GMT, mantis wrote:
> -
> >Likewise we know little about Nessus.  Who is the ruler of this
> >sprawling city?  I'll bet that few have figured out that it is an
> >archon, and that he probably allows each quarter to be run by local
> >people.  But where is the archon's palace, how many are in his court?
> >And what was the Wall built for?
> And why is the area near the wall kept clear? Someone suggests
> it is to allow the city to expand, but Baldanders says it isn't
> for that. Later we learnt that the city was razed, so maybe the
> gaps were bomb sites, cleared by war, but that doesn't explain
> why they are not rebuilt.

Sev tells (is told?) that the Last Inn is in a tree because building so close
is [actively] prohibited. I've interpolated 'actively' there because such land
would be highly prized by wealthy city dwellers, even if population presures
had eased from what they were, and would not have gone undeveloped had some
authority not taken continual measures to keep it clear.

Right now I'm not certain that I can justify one word of what follows but my
impression was the the wall was built to contain the city and it's hinterland,
farms etc. Like the wall enclosing Minas Tirith's nearer farmlands in The Lord
of The Rings.

Ancient Nessus lay to the south of the Citadel and over the milenium spread
north (cf Sevs journey through the deserted southern quarters) engulfing the
citadel until the citadel itself was in the "south" of the populous areas.

If the wall pre-existed this expantion of the urban areas then it would form a
barrier to continuing sprawl upstream.

In Severian's time it is inhabited (cf the cacogens at the gate) and it would
nake sense that any Autarch would wish to keep a clear space around such an
instalation. The killing ground is a basic of defensive architecture.

But why was the wall built? Does it protect the city and it's hinterland or
contain them? There is at least the implication that it ciontains the city and
it's populous, but ref the Ascians having come as far as the wall then its
defensive as well. As a simple wall it is overly large as a ground barrier and
yet vulnerable to sophisticated technologies, especially if airborne.

Now this is unadulterated speculation on my part but is the wall in overall
plan circular? Might it have been the base for some sort of dome (forcefield
rather than physical) either for protection from a deteriorating environment
or maybe even a defense agaist space attack? Just as a last related question:
apart from the changing focus of the civilian city is there any indication
that the Citadel - spaceport - might be in the geometrical centre of the area
enclosed by the wall?


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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