FIND in
<--prev V28 next-->

From: "Jim Henley" <jlhenley@erols.com>
Subject: RE: (urth) Re:urthquake
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1999 20:35:26 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: urth-errors@lists.best.com [mailto:urth-errors@lists.best.com]On
> Behalf Of Roy C. Lackey
>     I don't know how Wolfe thought to rationalize the quake; my
> only point
> was that it wasn't a natural one, which the text seems to support. The
> effect seems to have been localized. Perhaps Severian acted as a
> lightning
> rod, discharging the energy into the ground, both of the weapon
> and whatever
> supernatural revivifying agency is responsible for the suspension of the
> laws of physics necessary to keep him alive.

I think Roy's right, with a minor possible modification: my impression was
that one of the things the quake did was ensure that the beam _missed_, or
at least caught Sev only glancingly. Regardless, I class the earthquake
with Big Storm on Boat as an environmental effect Sev generates.

>     The attending physician's contention that it was a natural quake and
> that Sev wasn't struck by the energy beam is just the NEW SUN version of
> Doctor Crane's hypothesis about Silk's enlightenment.

I'm now far enough in Long Sun that I do not, as I did when this came up
before, wonder why people keep adducing Frazier...

> Miracles have no rational explanation,
> and Wolfe clearly believes in miracles; you have to to be a
> Christian.

Or they do have a rational explanation but it's not the full explanation -
that is, that the "miracle" consists in the bending of rational processes
to divine purpose, or, to put it another way, the rational explanation is
merely the means used to work the Divine Will.

> Bad science or good, the scientific tidbits in the Urth
> Cycle were
> just a sop thrown to the more ardent purists of the genre who, like us,
> strain at scientific gnats while swallowing religious camels.

And here I must demur. "Just a sop" is a prejudicial way of stating a
viewpoint that is at least arguable and at worst obviously wrong - that is,
we know that Wolfe took great pains to support his saga with a scientific
foundation, and even took great pride in it. He as much as tells us that it
was a major reason for writing the story. Statements from "there's no
'magic' in TBOTNS" point to his description of what he meant by "science
fantasy" indicate just how important the "science fictional" aspects of the
story were to him - I get the impression that it was where a lot of the
_fun_ lay in composing the saga. That and ripping off as much Borges as


 "Just because you won't unlock your door
  that don't mean you don't love me any more"
              -- Steve Earle

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

<--prev V28 next-->