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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Latitudes
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 10:33:16 +0100

At 00:30 1999-08-24 -0500, Roy C. Lackey wrote:
>SBear wrote:
>>>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.<<
>I realize that your usage of "North" and "South" in what I quoted above is
>intentionally wrong, meant to convey Severian's presumed confusion over left
>and right, and does not reflect upon your own knowledge of geography. I will
>just point out:
>Both polar icecaps will have expanded on Urth in Severian's time, due to the
>failing sun, and both the Northern and Southern Temperate Zones will have
>shrunk in the direction of the tropics.
>The Caribbean is in the tropics, roughly between 10 and 20 degrees north
>latitude, "north" as reckoned both by the compass and the sun. The equator
>crosses Ecuador, and all of the Caribbean Sea and West Indies are north of
>the equator. The jungles you refer to in your scenario would be in Central
>America and the northern part of South America. That well may be so, but the
>jungles also extend to equivalent latitudes south of the equator. The bulk
>of the Commonwealth lies south of these jungles. Lake Diuturna lies at the
>northernmost limits of the Autarch's dominion, and is far north of Nessus.

How far, I wonder? How big do we think the Commonwealth is?
It does seem a bit cramped, I agree.

>To put it in perspective; Kingston, Jamaica (Northern Caribbean) is roughly
>as far north of the equator as La Paz, Bolivia (South America) is south of
>Even if Severian couldn't tell north from south, other characters can. As

No, the only thing I think he has wrong is Left and Right. Compass
directions pose no problem for him. I suggest that "North" means
the opposite in the time of the Commonwealth to what it does today.
I'm sorry I didn't make that clear; my excuse is that I wrote about
this once some time ago, and probably thought I had explained it when
I hadn't. You have to make allowances; I'm only a bear!

>Dorcas told him, repeating what her father had told her about bloodbats,
>"they lived in the north, in the steaming forests at the center of the
>world." (II, XXVIII) Or, having asked the herdsman for directions to Lake
>Diuturna, (II, XXIX) the herdsman told him it was "to the north and the
>west" and that he would have to pass through the stone town: "Try to pass
>through by day, with the sun over the right shoulder by morning and later in
>the left eye." Those directions are absolutely correct for someone traveling
>in a northwesterly direction.

So they are. Of course, I could always claim that this is consistent
with a reversed N and S and a mistaken L and R, and that the herdsman
shares Severian's L-R confusion because he is really himself time
travelling again, but I don't think it would fly ;-)

>Finally, to remove all doubt on this issue, read Hallvard's "humorous" story
>in the "These Are the Jokes" chapter of OTTER, wherein he says: "In winter
>the sun does not shine upon our isle at all. For a time the sky grows light,
>and then we know it is about noon; but the sun himself does not appear."
>Hallvard's home isle is in the far south, close enough to the South Pole to
>be subject to the days-long Antarctic night, far from tropical waters.

That does seem pretty conclusive. Hardly consistent with a cooling
world, though? How come there's any unfrozen water that near the Pole?
You said yourself that the icecaps will have expanded.

>>>I challenge you to find a
>single instance of his following instructions and not getting lost.<<
>Last two pages of SHADOW, chapter V, Rudesind directed him to Ultan. He
>followed directions and found him.
>Chapter V, CLAW, Agia, in the fake "Thecla" note, gave directions to the
>mine, which he found without trouble.
>Chapter XXI, CLAW, the "cowled figure" (Inire) directed him to the grounds
>of the thiasus. He found it without difficulty.


Still, I can still say that he gets lost as often as not,
and suggest that he just can't tell left from right, rather
than having them consistently backwards.


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

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