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From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: (urth) Bullets of power? Lead poisoning?
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 21:50:52 

Greene, Carlton wrote:
> Fortunately for Dorcas, they were not of the pyrotechnic variety described
> elsewhere in TBOTNS -- otherwise, her regurgitation of them in Thrax might
> have sent her the way of little Severian -- gone in a flash.

Um, are you referring to the "bullets of power" Baldanders provided for
the lake people? Baldanders told us what they were: "Natrium" - i.e.
sodium metal. _Sword_ contains a pretty good description of what happens
when a slug of sodium about the size of your thumb or more contacts
water: there's a violent explosion, the sodium partially melts and
breaks up, and each piece falls and repeats the cycle until it is spent.
Very sudden and energetic reaction, comparable to a partial stick of
dynamite. Sev's act of jumping into the water to set off the explosion
that ripped the reed boat to shreds was quite realistic, except I don't
see how Sev could have known to do that! I have worked as a chemist in
chemical disposal, so I'm acquainted with the phenomenon. I was told
someone once attempted to dispose of waste sodium by throwing a sealed
drum off a surplus PT boat and then withdrawing to extreme range to
shoot holes in it with a sniper rifle. They almost didn't make it,
running away at wide open throttle!

No, I think these bullets are of the sort the kelau use in their slings.
The firework arbalests used a type of bolt or dart.

> It also raises some rather odd toxicology questions -- could a normal human
> being really walk around for as long as she did with a belly full of lead
> shot without suffering brain damage or, at the very least, a really bad
> tummy ache?

Now THAT's a great question! Gastric juices would surely leach lead, and
Dorcas walked aropund for about 3 months like that? Perhaps her illness
could be interpreted as lead poisoning? It would be pretty rough on a
hypothetical fetus, too.

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

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