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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>
Subject: (urth) Hethor's Slug
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 14:18:45 

Shortly after Severian arrives in Saltus, he's taken to the house of
Barnoch the bandit, the door and single window of which have been sealed
with rough masonry. According to the alcalde who accompanies Severian, this
form of punishment--entombing someone in his or her own house--is
traditional in Saltus. The alcalde then relates a tale about another
miscreant so entombed. "A woman. I've forgotten her name, but we called her
Mother Pyrexia. The stones were put on her, just like what you see here,
for it's largely the same ones doing it, and they did it in the same way."
But when it comes time to unseal the house next year, the alcalde tells
Sev, much to everyone's surprise, they do not find Mother Pyrexia dead.
Explains the alcalde: "A woman sealed in the dark long enough can become
something very strange, just like the strange things you find in rotted
wood, back among the big trees. We're miners, mostly, here in Saltus, and
used to things found underground, but we took to our heels and came back
with torches. It didn't like the light, or the fire either." The alcalde
never claims the creature is actually destroyed--hence I'd like to quibble
with Mother Pyrexia's entry in LEX-URTH ("She had changed into something
very strange when the house was opened, a noctural creature, and was
quickly killed"), arguing that she may well have lived, taking to the woods
about Salthus until Hethor arrives. (He's in the crowd at Morweena's
execution.) Somehow, beastmaster Hethor is able to enlist/compell her aid
and I believe it's the transmogrified Mother Pyrexia who attacks Severian
in the antechamber and underground cell of the Magician's Academy (both
places are dark)--not some giant interstellar slug. 

It might also be possible that Mother Pyrexia's real name is Febronus.
There's a saint by that name, and pyrex means "fever" in Greek the same way
februs does in Latin. 

And lastly, anyone interested in reading my theory about the mandragora
should pick up the latest issue of THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION
(July, 1999 #131), wherein I have an essay entitled, "Thinking about the
Mandragora in Wolfe's CITADEL." Sometimes it's nice having your fan fiction
published professionally, eh? <g>

Robert Borski

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

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