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From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: (urth) Specula Speculations: Where Hethor Hides His Mirrors
Date: Sat, 03 Jul 1999 14:00:22 

While I haven't fathomed where Hethor came from, nor his real name (and
if it's Kim Lee Soong, why is he never described as resembling a
Xanthoderm, as Agilus and Agia were?), but I don't think it's any great
mystery how and where he came by his mirrors or how he transports them,
once one reads the fourth chapter of UNS. There it is explained that the
"apports" are teleported randomly and spontaneously by the action of the
molecule-thin specula-sails of the Ship. It is not much of a stretch to
suppose that any reasonably intelligent and motivated sailor might
obtain some spare "sailcloth" and teach him/her/itself its use in
deliberately summoning critters.

It is practically stated that Hethor came out of the deeps of the "Age
of Myth" as a career astronaut on forgotten space flights probably on
ships very like the towers of the Citadel. It is reasonable to suppose
that at some point he found himself on The Ship of Tzadkiel, one of the
countless crew members drawn from all of space and time.

There was some speculation, I can't seem to find it in the archives now,
that the "little man with dirty gray hair like Hethor's" who translated
for the leader of the jibers who kidnapped Severian in UNS, actually was
an earlier avatar of Hethor himself. I can't rule that in or out but I
do think that passage signals something important about Hethor: he not
only was at some time in his subjective life present on The Ship, but he
was a jiber!

If you accept that Hethor could have been a jiber, most likely in my
opinion after having served a sailor and getting into trouble, then his 
state of mental health and his experimentation with mirror thaumaturgy
seems to fit right into the picture. Let's see, he got the brig for
stealing sailcloth and apporting dangerous creatures so he joined the
jibers and continued his experimentation; or, he was written up for
something more mundane and learned about sailcloth after he joined the

His mental state probably ties in with a possible explanation for the
apparent fact that such catoptrimancy is not in more widespread
practice: it is exceedingly hazardous and only someone deranged would
dare attempt it on a trial-and-error basis, even if perhaps Hethor had a
competent mentor. The deadly creatures such as notules and corrosive
slugs and salamanders one deals with is just the start of it; one could
accidently apport oneself somewhere unpleasant or summon wild
Urthshattering energies such as stellar cores or black-hole
gravitational fields or hunks of antimatter or even more exotic things.
It is apparent that the Ship is not merely a lightsail propelled craft,
but actually uses the exotic properties of its mirror sails to in effect
teleport itself FTL.

Anyway, it would appear friend Hethor somehow escaped the Ship with a
quantity of specula-sail folded into a compact bundle like a "Space
Blanket" and some knowlege of how to exploit its properties.

Perhaps he learned to access the Corridors of Time, as has been hinted.
He could have returned to his own age for awhile and served on a human
ship again, perhaps at which point his love-doll was stolen. I thought
Peter's suggestion that he murdered his  shipmates for this deed
intriguing, especially the reasoning behind it. Who knows, maybe he got
hold of some alzabo before eating his dead friends? Then, he escapes to 
Nessus and meets Agia.

It seems nearly obvious that Hethor's "mirror" is specula-sailcloth
stolen from the Ship. As such it would pose no conventional problems in
transport or concealment. He might merely need to find privacy and
perhaps a jerry-rigged temporary framework of whatever was handy (such
as trees, the wall of a closet, etc) to support his mirror.

(but unconventional problems: would folded sailcloth not tend to
spontaneously operate in Hethor's pocket? That could be

A better question: once Hethor summons these beasties, how does he
command them and motivate them to obey him? Are the notules and
salamander intelligent enough to comprehend "if you don't do this for
me, you'll never see your home again?"

P.S. Hethor apparently is a square dance leader or talk-radio
afficianado  as well as sailor and catoptrimancer; Father Inire referred
to him as a "caller".<g>

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

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