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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Calendars
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 10:01:30 +0100

At 01:05 1999-08-23 -0500, Roy wrote:
>    The Gyoll flows roughly north to south. It's mouth is on the
>southwestern coast of the continent, it's headwaters near Thrax. Yes,
>Severian can't follow directions, but he does get where he's going,
>eventually! Nessus has been creeping upriver for millennia, as the river
>gets too polluted. The Citadel was once north of the city, but in Sev's day
>is on the southern fringes of the living city. Whenever Sev failed to follow
>directions he compensated, after beginning his journey to Thrax, by tending
>to keep traveling north. He went first from Nessus to Saltus, then to Thrax,
>eventually ending up in the jungles of the equatorial zone, always going
>north, following, roughly, the course of the Gyoll upstream. From the
>penultimate paragraph of SHADOW:
>"And surely when I entered this second gate, I began again to walk a new
>road. From that great gate forward, for a long time, it was to lie outside
>the City Imperishable and among the forests and grasslands, mountains and
>jungles of the north."
>    Agia said, on the last page of SHADOW, chapter XIX, "The real jungle is
>dying in the north as the sun cools."
>    Hallvard lived in very cold climes on the southern isles in
>polar-chilled waters. He mentions the growing season being short because of
>the icy wind. As he says in the first paragraph of his story: "...many
>strange things happen in the isles of the south that you northern people
>never dream of."
>    Both Agia and Hallvard can't be wrong about their directions, too. No
>doubt about it: the Commonwealth is in the Southern Hemisphere, in what we
>call South America.

They aren't wrong about North and South, nor is Severian. I don't claim
he gets compass directions wrong, just left and right. As you say, he
doesn't get lost when he's going North; but I challenge you to find a
single instance of his following instructions and not getting lost.
On reflection, I shouldn't have said he can't follow "directions"
because that means both compass directions and instructions, and it
would be hard to think of an ambiguity more likely to cause confusion
in this context than that - sorry! Does it make more sense now?

Hallvard lived in the Caribbean, "South" of Central America. Keep going
"North" and you pass through the jungles, through Ecuador, and on "North"
towards the Antarctic icecap, which *must* extend further than it does now.
The ice at the other pole stretched right down into Britain during the
ice ages, and that was with the Sun at full strength.


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

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