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From: Ron Hale-Evans <rwhe@apocalypse.org>
Subject: (urth) FAQ (Seeley's piece)
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 17:02:08 

Here is Donn Seeley's article, as promised. Does anyone know him? Can we
get his permission to merge his questions with mantis's? (Thanks, mantis,

Ron H-E

p.s. I believe the Asimov novel referred to is _The Robots of Dawn_ with
its society functioning through holographic communication.

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From: donn@utah-gr.UUCP (Donn Seeley)
Newsgroups: net.sf-lovers
Subject: Re: Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun
Message-ID: <1252@utah-gr.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 84 06:27:52 MST
Date-Received: Fri, 23 Nov 84 06:27:52 MST
References: <639@loral.UUCP> <380@petsd.UUCP>
Organization: CS Dept., University of Utah
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I've been out of town and just recently managed to get caught up with
everything -- otherwise I would have attended to this earlier.
(Perhaps not coincidentally, my trip was to recover my library from
storage, including THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN!) Beware: some spoilers may
lurk in the following discussion...

In the last chapter of THE CITADEL OF THE AUTARCH, Severian says:

	Have I told you all I promised?  I am aware that at various
	places in my narrative I have pledged that this or that should
	be made clear in the knitting up of the story.  I remember them
	all, I am sure, but then I remember so much else.  Before you
	assume that I have cheated you, read again, as I will write

Wolfe is something of a fan of detective fiction (as you might guess
from his story 'The Rubber Bend'), and the last several chapters
consist of the summation which the great detective always makes at the
end of the story.  Of course Wolfe doesn't want to spoil the fun of
finding the answers, so he answers things obliquely, and you have to
read carefully to guess at what particular puzzle is being explained.

I don't like to spoil the fun either, but I will mention some points to
direct your re-reading that stem from things I've noticed or read

 +	Easy one:  Can you draw Severian's family tree?  There are a
	number of red herrings which appear in the course of the books
	but the answer to this is fairly clear by the end of CITADEL.

 +	What is the connection between the gold coin which Vodalus gave
	to Severian, and Dr. Talos?  What relates it to the Sun and to
	the old mausoleum in the necropolis of the Citadel?  Bonus
	question, unrelated: What was the original function of the

 +	What generates the apparitions of Master Malrubius and the dog,
	Triskele?  This should be easy to answer, perhaps more so
	because of the recent Asimov novel.  (There does seem to be a
	curious parallel between Asimov's universe and Wolfe's...)

 +	What really happened in the climactic event of THE CLAW OF THE
	CONCILIATOR?  I don't believe this is stated directly but it is
	relatively straightforward to guess.

 +	What is the basis of the Urthian religion?  Analogies with at
	least two of our religions come to mind.

 +	Who is the Conciliator?  What is Severian's connection to him,
	and to the New Sun?  Who is responsible for this connection?

 +	Finally, why is a rose's thorn as efficacious as the Claw?  If
	you understand this, you understand the core of the books.

You have 30 minutes.  Put your pencil down to indicate when you have
finished.  Start now.

There are lots of fun things to look for besides plot events, of
course.  One is tracing the origins of the stories and legends which
the people of Urth tell.  Another is catching references to Jorge Luis
Borges' works; two places to look are the story of Domnina's encounter
with Father Inire, and 'The Tale of the Student and His Son'.  (There
are others, too...) Another is looking for little clevernesses -- for
example, what book in the set of four which Severian fetches for Thecla
does he NOT describe?  (I wouldn't have noticed this if Wolfe hadn't
mentioned it in an article.)  If you fancy this sort of thing, it helps
to have a copy of THE CASTLE OF THE OTTER and to read 'The Books in THE
BOOK OF THE NEW SUN' in PLAN[E]T ENGINEERING (which also has a map of
the continent on which Nessus is located).

Wolfe started working on THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN in 1975 and the last
volume wasn't published until 1983.  Think of all the effort that went
into it -- it shouldn't be surprising that Wolfe wants the reader to do
some work too.

If all else fails, you can see if the answers are in THE URTH OF THE
NEW SUN when it comes out,

Donn Seeley    University of Utah CS Dept    donn@utah-cs.arpa
40 46' 6"N 111 50' 34"W    (801) 581-5668    decvax!utah-cs!donn
Ron Hale-Evans: rwhe@apocalypse.org  ... <http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/>
Center for Ludic Synergy:        <http://www.ludism.org/>
Kennexions GBG artgame:          <http://kennexions.ludism.org/>
Hexagram-8 I Ching Mailing List: <http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/hex8.html>
Positive Revolution FAQ:         <http://www.ludism.org/posrev/>

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

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