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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) Antechamber through the Age
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 16:46:09 

Mitchell A. Bailey wrote:

>My take has been that the House Absolute was reclaimed as a
>residence/command center rather early in the Monarch's Empire, several
>millenia earlier; the painted ceiling could date from a time when that
>part of the antechamber had been an apartment for the monarch or his
>family or an important minister or staffer; the text clearly states that
>several rooms were consolidated as the antechamber grew. Wouldn't you
>think the monarch's retinue would include a good few Doctor

I suppose.  But I'm not clear on your reference points--by "Monarch" of
"Monarch's Empire," are you referring to Typhon, the Man Who Would Be
Monarch of the Second Empire, or some Monarch of the First Empire (Frog,
for instance)?  Because you use the timeframe "several millennia," well,
I'm confused.

>...(I thought Severian saw these in the tunnels of the Citadel, =not= in
>> the House Absolute) and rows of stopped clocks are.
>I saw that too. This was after he returned as Autarch. One of the perks
>of office is that you get a decent flashlight to take with you down into
>the Citadel tunnels. Apprentice Sev was in utter darkness and couldn't
>see the signs or anything else.
>It was at the door to Inire's specula chamber in the Second House that
>the "crimson teratoid sign" Sev surmised to be of extraterrestrial
>origin appeared. That seems to be what we're interpreting as radioactive
>or biohazard warning symbols.

And Jonas seems to interpret those same symbols as some form of writing; he
seems to read the one as saying "Urth," or words to that effect.  FWIW.

>Why is this 'spaceport' underground? Protection against the backblast of
>more primitive chemical thrusters?

I'd say =nuclear= thrusters, myself.  "NERVA to the Moon!"  "All the way
with KIWI!" <g>  Chemical thrusters are so primitive, they are a
non-starter--a literal evolutionary dead-end.

I don't much buy the idea of HA being a spaceport.  OTOH, there is another
port, somewhere in Typhon's time, since Citadel Hill is called Old Port;
and there is some sort of capital city that almost certainly is =not=

I also think "executive bunker" more likely than missile center--the two
are rather exclusive of each other, unless the silos are for anti-missile
missiles, I guess . . .

>> The Navigator.  ... so KLS was imprisoned for
>> trespassing or whatever it was at least 160 years ago (seven generations at
>> 20 years plus one more generation).  If there was only one guy from a
>> starship, then it seems somewhat more likely that he himself was the
>> navigator.  And he was the first prisoner, ...
>Can't be; the antechamber/holding cell used as such, by your own
>chronology in Lexicon Urthus, has to be over a millenium old since it
>seems to predate the autarchs.

I guess I should have been more complete: the "first" prisoner, since KLS
is  designated "first prisoner" by the prisoners themselves.

(And for clarity, I should always distinguish between the physical building
itself (more or less like a cave) and the various hypothetical uses to
which it has been put during the Ages of the Monarch and Autarch.)

("It was a donut shop, then a record store, then a head shop . . .")

(The vincula of Thrax is rumored to have originally been a mausoleum, iirc.)

The Age of the Autarch didn't start off with all the bad stuff hitting the
fan, and then a chiliad of that sticking in place.  Things start off
relatively better than during the time of wars, and gradually the situation
deteriorates.  For example, we know that the roads were closed to civilian
use only in relatively recent times.

So!  There was a period when the antechamber was used as a temporary place,
as per Nicarete's story.  Then, over time, it changed into the situation
that Severian finds: where prisoners are kept for life, over generations,
and exultant rowdies (male and female) torture them for kicks.

Now then: to put all these things together, into something like this--

c. 1100 PS -- Typhon moves his capital-of-many-worlds to somewhere on Urth.
The structure that will become the House Absolute is reopened and used for
one thing or another.

c. 1000 PS -- Antechamber open for business, your host Ymar.  Detainees are
treated to coffee.  Flavor of the year: hazelhut. Cases cleared within a
(Inire arrives and adds Second House to HA.)

(c. 1000-700 PS -- the Yellow and Green Empires end their war?)

(c. 690? PS -- Autarch Maxentius orders execution of Saint Katharine)

(c. 350 PS -- the brown book is published.)

(c. 300 PS -- Autarch Sulpicious on throne; the torturers have a guest at
their feast)

c. 220 PS -- KLS becomes the first lifelong prisoner (by dying, of course;
presumably of old age, after many years in the antechamber).  This is the
point of division; this is the line that separates detainee from
prisoner-for-life. (Yeah, counting =only= from the "seventh" generation
means I =ignored= the group younger than the oldest women!  The children of
the group are something like tenth generation.)

(c. 70 PS -- Autarch Maruthas closes the roads.)

66 PS -- scandal in reign of Autarch Appian; Lomer sent to antechamber
(thus, it is still being used).

?? PS -- Nicarete enters the antechamber voluntarily.

1 PS -- Severian and Jonas are put into the antechamber; the torturers are
widely considered to be only a legend, even in Nessus.

2 SR -- Severian has the antechamber emptied, prisoners forced out at

From a certain standpoint there is not a lot of difference between the
antechamber and the Well of Orchids (oh, hey--=Orchid's= place).  Once the
practice of holding exultants hostage against bad behavior is in place (and
that must have happened relatively early in the Age . . . but wasn't the
Well of Orchids originally the Autarchia's section of the HA?  These aren't
exclusive of each other, of course), then it becomes easier to see the
antechamber as a sort of mirror image (held hostage because of bad
behavior) for those under exultant status.

Or maybe it is all just an ant chamber. <g>


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

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