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From: "Mark Millman" <Mark_Millman@hmco.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Blackout
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 08:39:41 

On 25 April 1999 at 7:51 am GMT, Roy C. Lackey wrote:

> [snip]
>     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.
> [snip]
>     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.
> [snip]

Surely the "dark lubricant" is actually blood; it would
be typical of Severian to misidentify it.  Since Sidero
is, at least metaphorically (but quite likely, at least in
part, literally) a "man of iron", falling toward an elec-
trical device, perhaps the fall is accelerated by mag-
netic attraction--which both supports Mr. Lackey's
arguments and saves him from having to accuse
Wolfe of violating physical law (in this instance, any-
way).  It could even have been the power drain
caused by the activation of the "great machines",
especially if they were being abused for a purpose
outside their design parameters, that caused the
black-out, without necessarily having to posit that
Severian or Sidero shorted out the devices, bridged
the cells, or what you please.

Mark Millman

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

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