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From: Ouroboros <ottofaij@yahoo.com>
Subject: (urth) Fairy Tale logic? Bah!
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 21:15:26 

No, no, no, no. Wolfe does not use "Fairy Tale logic"
in TBOTNS. While Wolfe is not a speculative SF writer
in the tradition of Asimov, Hienlen, or Verne, the New
Sun books and 5HC are quite rooted in technical
scientific theories -- possibly, more so than those
writers. Sure, he presents mythological elements in
these stories. And, granted that Severian's
healing/resurrection powers seem mystical and their
rationalization are the heart of the most difficult
puzzels in the New Sun. But most (possibly all) of the
characters and situations are surely rationalized, and
many are based on solid modern scientific theories.

<<<the two-headed Typhon must be an uncomfortable
arrangement for the Typhon head, which is presumably
situated on one of Piaton's shoulders>>>>> 
This is not the way I visualize Typhon at all. For one
thing, since Severian at first supposed that Piaton
had been grafted on to Typhon, Typhon's head must be
in the natural location. Both Typhon's and Piaton's
heads are connected to Piaton's spine so Typhon's
brain can control the voluntary muscles and Piaton's
the involuntary. The picture here is Piaton's neck
growing out of the base of Typhon's neck like a
strange boil. When Piaton's head is removed it  will
leave only an ugly scar just as Typhon claimed.

Baldanders, Abaia, Erebus
The nature of these "giants" has been explained by
Wolfe. They are men who, seeking immortality, have
used a logical method of continuous growth. Remember
that when our bodies stop growing, we grow old and
die. When our brains stop growing we start loosing
10,000 brain cells a day. Continuous growth equals

Father Inire's Mirrors
Quantum tunneling is the theory behind Father Inire's
mirrors. It is also how Severian brings the New Sun.
And it's the theory behind the "word written in the
sand" analogy in URTH. Finally, since quantum theory
views all matter (and other energy) as waves rather
than only particles, it is behind the many Severians.
Severian exists in all his many incarnations at once,
and only in a relative sense does he exist locally (I
realize I'm treating quantum theory trivially here).

Much of what's going on in TBOTNS was suddenly clear
to me when I read somewhere that Wolfe first got the
idea for New Sun story when he read an article called
"The Creation of Universes Out of Nothing" in Physics
Letters. It allegedly theorized about how the universe
could have been created by quantum tunneling. I have
not been able yet to find this article or any
corroboration that Wolfe was inspired by it. Yet,
after I found out what QT was, the knowledge seemed
indespensible to understanding the books.

The following site gives a good overview of quantum
tunneling for the layman.

Now quantum tunneling of macroscopic objects has not
been observed to my knowledge, but the theory is sound
and many physicists believe it is possible. Far fewer
believe it is feasible for interstellar space travel,
but if it were, it would permit instantaneous rather
than merely faster-than-light travel. So the mirrors
can hardly be called magical in a real sense, and
Father Inire's explanation is NOT gibberish.

Now you skeptics are probably wondering why if it is
so important Wolfe didn't discuss QT in the
appendices. The only answer to that I can give is what
Severian would say: "it is a profound mistake to
believe that we must know such things to be influenced
by them."


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