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From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: (urth) The Far Future Theory: Petrification, Forgetfulness and a Cool Urth
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 15:06:37 

Matthew Malthouse wrote:
> Mitchell A. Bailey wrote:
> > Well, the conclusion is inescapable, given this many examples of
> > constellations of our time still recognized by Severian, that Urth's sky
> > as described in BNS is not consistent with the theory that Sev's time
> > lies in a "far future" millions or tens of millions of years hence.
> I've seen this discussed more than once but remain unhappy with the "sooner
> rather than later" conclusion.
> How can this be reconciled with:
>  1: The mining industry of Saltus
>  2: The cliff face Sev decends to Cas' cottage
>  3: The 'sharp' peaks of mountains thrust up after those older ones carved
> inbto the likenesses of Autarchs?
> I can't avoid the conclusion that geological ages have passed since our epoch.
> Yet other thing otherwise (which is presumably the function of others. :))
> Matthew

Thanks, Matthew. I myself have always been a "far future" partisan
too. It pained me to reach that conclusion, believe me! 
I'm glad you mentioned Casdoe's cliff - that seemed to me one of the
more compelling pieces of hard evidence in support of the "far future"
theory. Clearly, petrifaction and the burial of eons of civilization
occured there in the same fashion as today we find strata of mineralized
dinosaur bones. So, too, to a lesser extent, with the mine at Saltus.

I would cite furthermore that practically all of history of our time,
and of millenia to come, are forgotten or are rendered into legend (cf.
the "legend of the Historians" cited by the master curator Ultan, the
tale of the "lost archives" related by Cyriaca). It seems to me that
such a phenomenon would require both passage of much time, and
tremendous social upheavals (occurence of which are implied in the
legends and in Typhon's story). Clearly a Kardishev Level III
civilization rose and fell millenia before Sev's time. 

Typhon's time, although near the decadent end of a decadent empire which
succeeded "the [galactic] empire which was built entirely upon order",
was itself practically forgotten by Sev's time. Or was Sev "inattentive"
when Masters Malrubius and Palaemon covered the reign of Monarch Typhon
in history class?

Note that Jonas, a survivor of much earlier times, clearly remembers
many things we know. Also, the legend of the patroness of the Torturers'
Guild, St. Katherine, is taken faithfully from the story of 4th century
St. Katharine of Alexandria, right down to the name of (Roman) Emperor
Maxentius, her persecutor. I wonder over what issue the guild thought
St. Katherine was martyred, or of what they thought Maxentius was the

Regarding evidence of geologic activity, I would have pointed out that
cooling and solidification of Urth's interior, occurence of which was
strongly implied in the description of the Lake of Birds and elsewhere,
would take billions of years naturally. However, I seem to recall some
old letters in the URTH archives opining that an agressive program of
exploitation of geothermal energy in the distant past (K-level I +?
stage civilization?) might have greatly accelerated this process. Might
be worth exploring the ramifications of this idea.

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

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