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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Various Phenomenon
Date: Wed,  5 Aug 98 21:53:00 GMT


Re: volcanos on Urth.  Nope, they've been only legends for a looong
time in Severian's birth-time.

Re: stars visible during the day.  Right, the =easiest= solution to
this one is that there is little or no atmosphere on Urth--since on
our own Moon the stars are visible around the 28 day clock.  (Of
course, this makes it very hard to breathe.) Blue sky due to
scattering of light in atmosphere.  Downgrade the star and add
odd-yet-not-lethal gases to the atmospheric mix, you can get orangish
skies, maybe greenish.

The more difficult solution is that the Old Sun is putting out energy
in the "dim and red" end of the spectrum, i.e., the "heater"
(ecosphere creator) is not a very good "lantern" (light source).

From a literary/historical perspective, however, the effect of this
mood lighting is very much like those medieval paintings and woodcuts
where the daytime sky is dark (or midnight blue) and has stars.  So
once again we have TBOTNS acting as a literal fulfilment of medieval
traditions--just like the flame-like blades of medieval polearms
spout real fire on Urth; or how all the bells ring by themselves when
the New Sun arrives (due to its gravity and their balance).

There is an interesting (perhaps even "sly") description of Urth
colors within the text.  I don't believe the term "sky blue" is ever
used, but when Severian has some visions, the light is a "celestine"
color not found, it seems, in the natural world around him, a tint we
would glibly call "sky blue."  The same light cast by the Claw; the
same light seen on Yesod.  Maybe the same light used with Inire's
mirrors in the Presence Chamber.  And celestine is a color from
heraldry, like sanguine.

As for "why put a black hole in the Sun?"  No, I don't think it has
anything to do with terraforming Venus, but I can see how you would
mention it after I was just talking about ecospheres.  Myself, I
persist in thinking that the reason is one or more of the following:

1) Tapping energy directly from the Sun for all the usual uses that
civilizations and/or godlings use power for.  (Note how Severian's
use of the Claw, and later =any= available power source, points to
this sort of "energy circuit" scheme.  And if we take Severian's case
as being typical of godlings like Thyme, Typhon, and Abaia, then
we can wonder where they get their various energies from . . . brings
us back to that volcano detail--since natural vulcanism would not
likely end while Earth is still habitable, this =might= point to
another energy source being tapped to the max, feeding some chthonic
deity.  But if the Old Sun is an energy grid hook-up, who or what is
it feeding?  Aside from Abaddon, that is.)  (This engineering
strategy is covered a bit in Martyn Fogg's TERRAFORMING.)

2) Interrupting the natural evolution of the Sun so as to both
lengthen its lifetime and avoid entirely the disasterous giant phase.
(This is obviously very far-looking.)  (This engineering strategy is
covered a bit in Martyn Fogg's TERRAFORMING.)

3) A vengence weapon with no positive applications.  (Launched by
someone other than Typhon, since it messes him up and he doesn't seem
to know what's going on.  Perhaps one of his rebellious children.  If
placed by Yesod for their own reasons, it might be more of a "tire
boot" on the car for the probationary period of 1000 years within
which Urth must evolve or die the slow death.  But if there is a
Yesodic tire boot, this sort of implies that the Old Sun's energy was
already being tapped for the First Empire and would fuel the Second
Empire and so on--that is, as a device to prevent Empire it seems a
bit obsure to merely make farmers work harder as the growing seasons
shorten, rather than break the [hypothetical] solar furnace power
plant circuit that makes Empire possible.  It would be like spreading
an ineffective defoliant over enemy farmlands rather than bombing the
nuclear powerplants that supply energy to the factories cranking
out war machines.)

4) An explanation for why the scientists of mid-20th century could
not find the neutrinos that theory dictated should be pouring out of
the Sun, if it were a natural star and not some sort of artificial


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

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