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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Blackout
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 02:51:20 

    It has been suggested that the blackout on Tzadkiel's ship was caused by
the drain of power occasioned by Sev's attempt to revive the dead steward.
Maybe, but there is another explanation that, I think, has more textual

    Shortly after Sev regains consciousness following the attempt, he
comments that on no other occasion during the two years after he became
Autarch that he even bothered to attempt such revivals did such disastrous
consequences follow. The other times it just didn't work. This time he is
stunned, looses consciousness, and the ship goes dark. It has been suggested
that on Urth he had some power source there to draw on that was not
available on the ship, and that the blackout was caused by a power drain on
the ship's resources when he tried to revive the steward. He failed to
revive the steward, but the attempt did give birth to the Claw of the

    That events in Sev's career on the ship are being manipulated by
Tzadkiel and/or his minions is undoubted. The three hierodules, F,B&O,
insist on talking to Sev in their room so that he will not be in his own
stateroom when it is ransacked. They know it will be ransacked because they
know the future. Knowing the future, they also knew the steward would be
killed. Why didn't they prevent his death? Because it was necessary to the
chain of events that would lead to Sev's blood imbuing the thorn with its
power, giving birth to the Claw, which figures so prominently in the Urth
Cycle, to Sev's career and the plans of the agents of Yesod. There are many
other occasions when events are being manipulated, especially while Sev is
on the ship.

    Another occasion is, obviously, when Tzad revivifies Sev after his death
at the bottom of the airshaft. It has been assumed that Sev died from the
fall, yet Sev notes: "Intellectually, I knew we could fall but slowly in the
ship; I was even half-aware that we fell no faster at the lower levels. And
yet we were falling, air whistling by faster and faster, the side of the
airshaft a dark blur." Clearly, the laws of physics are being violated, or
the "fall" was not a simple fall. He sees his dead, broken body: "He lay
between two great machines, already splattered with some dark lubricant."
Earlier, he had been told by Idas, who had slipped away from a gang of
sailors working to repair the lights: "Something conductive must have fallen
across the terminals of one of the big cells, but no one can find out what
it was. Anyway, the plates burned through. Some cables too, and that
shouldn't have happened." No, and it wouldn't have, in the natural course of
events. The ship's lights came on the instant Sev touched Idas's hand,
allowing him to see the knife in the other hand and thus defend himself.
These are not coincidences.

    After Sev's "trial" and return to Tzad's ship he spends a night in one
of her staterooms feeling sorry for himself, leaves to go in search of
Gunnie, thinks the ship changes itself for him, and suffers another great
fall, seemingly fatal: "My mouth was filled with the dust of death. I sucked
the water eagerly, moving it from cheek to cheek before I swallowed, feeling
the tissues revive." Now there are two Gunnies; the one he knew and her
younger self, Burgundofara. He is concerned because of the experience with
Hildegrin. Gunnie explains that there can be two versions of herself because
the ship operates in eternity, outside of space and time and: "We're between
the suns and the years too, so there can be two Gunnies with no danger to
anybody. Or a dozen." The same, of course, applies to Sev, or anyone, which
is how, I submit, Tzad&Co. effect some of their manipulations of the events
Sev experiences.

    It is my contention that the proximate cause of the blackout was
Sev--inside Sidero--landing, at the terminus of his "fall", atop one of the
"cells" (one of the "two great machines" mentioned above) shorting it out.
Sidero would make a great conductor of electrical current. Whether the
"fall" killed him or he was electrocuted doesn't matter. The ship's crew
couldn't find what caused the short because Sidero left the scene and Sev
was brought back to life and moved to a safer location by Zak and/or Gunnie.
That the events seem out of sequence to Sev--and the reader--is because the
ship moves in and out of time (as Gunnie explains) and there are at least
two Sevs at some point.

    Just how did Sidero come to lose his arm? The text, all too carefully,
doesn't say, but his loyalty to the ship is well established. However it
happened, I submit that events were arranged so that he did lose it, just so
that Sev would climb inside Sidero (not for protection from the winged
being; he died anyway), then "fall" to land on the "cell", to cause the
blackout, which caused the Claw to come into existence. When Sev hears
someone, who turns out to be Sidero, coming up the metal stairs he notes:
"Once there was a clatter, as of a sword or helmet dropped, and another
pause before the faltering footsteps came again. I was descending toward
something that some other fled; there seemed no doubt of that." It is never
mentioned what was dropped or what Sidero fled. Sev describes him as
"terrified" and "trembling". Remember, this is an android. I submit that
what was dropped was the remnant of Sidero's damaged arm and what he fled
was a guilty conscious and, possibly, Tzadkiel's wrath. The guilt was
because he had struck a man--Sev--in anger--the first time this coming event
happened. He damaged his arm in the same "fall" that would kill Sev minutes
later. He is wary of Sev, asking if Sev is loyal to the ship. When Sev
answers: "True to the death, if need be.", the answer is ironical, as it
shortly turns out, but it calms Sidero, who then allows Sev to effect some
repairs. Sidero apparently thinks Sev has forgiven him for what, for Sev,
has yet to happen, or realizes that this is a different version of Sev.
Sidero mentions that the ship sails in and out of time and that he has no
idea how many times men he regards as hazardous to the ship--those who don't
follow orders--have tried to destroy him. In other words, he has human
emotions and sometimes acts on them. Then regrets it. But he is willing to
do whatever his captain--Tzadkiel--wishes, whatever the personal cost, even
if he has to do it twice.

    Sidero, Gunnie, and even Tzadkiel all acknowledge the ships temporal
anomalies. After Sev's "trial" the Tzadkiel who is the ship's captain didn't
even know about Sev's adventures.

    Before you dismiss this out of hand, please reread the sections of
_Urth_ where Sev is on the ship with the above in mind. Many of the parts I
have outlined above have no explanation outside of some similar
interpretation. And remember the final words Tzadkiel had to say to Sev on
the ship:

    "Yours is a race of pawns," Tzadkiel told me. "You move forward only,
unless we move you back to begin the game again. But not all the pieces on
the board are pawns."


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

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