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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Stephanides, Questor
Date: Tue,  9 Feb 99 19:30:00 GMT

I've finally gotten around to answering the questions of Adam
Stephanides, briefly and lamely.  Since I had promised to post them,
here, before I attempted to answer them, I might as well give you the
whole thing now, after the fact (more fun for you, that way, I

Adam said:

"I'd like to see you expand on the cryptic remark . . . that the real
time of the books is always a decade or so ahead of the apparent time"

Question 1: "You say `Severian must not have a heir, as evidenced by
dialog on Yesod regarding his immediate predecessor's unsexing'
(AE&3, p. 14).  But, at least in the passage I found, the reason the
old Autarch was `unmanned' was so that Severian, who was intended all
along to be the New Sun, will succeed him (V, ch. 21).  This
consideration doesn't apply in regards to possible heirs of Severian,
since Severian's successor, if he were to have one, would be
irrelevant to the Hierogrammates' cosmic plan, which stops with

Question 2: "I remain an agnostic about the existence of Severian1,
as I said on the Urth list.  But if he did exist, and did go to
Yesod, take the test and fail, why did he fail?  We are told that
Severian's `examination' consisted of Tzadkiel's examining the future
and determining that Severian had a good chance of bringing the New
Sun.  Why would Sev1 have been less likely than Sev2 to succeed in
bringing the New Sun?  Sev2's `optimizing' made him more
compassionate, but I don't see why that would have made him more
likely to bring the New Sun; if anything, it would be the reverse.
The only possibility that comes to mind is that Sev1's eidolons
refused to defend him in the battle royal and so he lost, or that
Tzadkiel saw this would happen.  This in turn would imply that our
Severian's battle royal could indeed have stopped the New Sun, and
was not just another torment those lovable Hierogrammates cooked up
for Severian."

To which I said:

     You ask about how I divined this notion that the "real time
of the books is always a decade or so ahead of the apparent
time."  Very briefly: it seems to me that in studying TBOTNS as a
time-travel story, we first sense that the past (in general) is
operating on the situation in a passive way via myths/legends,
and the far-future is operating in an active way via the two time
travelers Green and Ash; but then there is the very active
meddling by O, B, & F, who come from the near-future--from
Severian's court.

     It seems like there is a "horizon" in time, a line beyond
which all meddling is impossible--otherwise, it seems to me, we
would have a situation where either the issue is forever
contested and never resolved, or the timeline splinters into a
separate universe for each and every case (so there is an Ash
universe and a Green Man universe and a universe where Baldanders
becomes autarch . . . and so on, the parallel universe deal).
[Which goes against the grain of my] Defining Abaddon/Briah/Yesod as
subspace/normal space/hyperspace, rather than a Moorcockian
multiverse of alternate Earths [which is closer to the parallel
universe model].

     The horizon, where is it, what is it?  Obviously the key
event is the arrival of the white fountain.  But before that, the
white fountain has to decelerate, or begin deceleration.  And
before =that= it has to accelerate; and before =that= it has to
be born.

     This line of thinking gets very wooly very quickly.

     At a more human-scale, one possible horizon seems to be the
tenth year of Severian's reign, when Severian gets on the Ship
and literally goes over the horizon with regard to the Briatic
universe.  This is also roughly the period that O, B, & F come
from, since they are on the Ship coming to investigate Severian
after (or during, or before?) his Trial.  Again, that whole loop-
the-loop deal: time travel creates an inversion of causality
which in turn causes weird predestination echoes.  But things on
the Ship can only effect the near-past by way of O, B, & F, it
seems to me.  Because the Ship is, in effect, its own contained
universe, it forms a horizon between Briah and Yesod.

     And at some point in URTH Severian is more independent and
less acted upon by others; at some point Severian is triggering
events rather than being raised up by the ripples of events
triggered by others/other selves.  This gives me a sense that
the zero point, the "real now" has passed beyond the horizon.  Or
something like that.  And when he runs up to Ushas, that's where
he stops--the real now.

     In short, there's no real reason why I think what I do!

     As for your "real" questions regarding Severian's heir, and
the existence of Sev1--have you read Peter Wright's essays in
"Foundation" no. 66?  Whether you agree with them or not, they
might help you solidify your own opinions.

     Otherwise and even if, it is another two cans of worms.  In
the first case, it may be that Severian cannot have an heir
because, deep down, while he is capable of destroying the world
in a rage over his "faithless" wife, he would fail to destroy the
world if he had a child alive in it.  That is, a "paternal
instinct" in Severian might trump his "misogynistic impulse."

     In the second case, who is the Severian in Yesod, who takes
the test and triggers the mission of O, B, & F?  If you want to
say, "the same Severian, just in the near future," that is fine.
But we know, as "our" Severian knows, that he has been
guided/manipulated/instructed by time-travelers--that he is not a
"natural" Severian; and thus, or so it seems to me, before "our"
Severian there was a natural Severian (not guided/not manipulat-
ed/not instructed), who is "now" in the future and has a hand in
guiding/manipulating/instructing "our" Severian up-to-
but-not-beyond the "line of division" event of the New Sun.

     I agree with your hypothesis that the battle royal (in
Yesod) is real rather than a sham--but in this I part company
with the mega-conspiracy theory of Peter Wright, which sees all
as a sham (not unlike the religion in Herbert's DUNE).


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

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