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From: "Daniel Fusch" <dfusch@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) C.S. Lewis
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 00:49:08 PDT

>From: akt@attglobal.net
>I would appreciate more on this. I've read these books (not for years,
>true) without conciously picking up these points. And does Wolfe really
>echo them? Typhon, who lives for centuries, is bad. But the Green Man,
>Sev himself, everyone on the starship are not immortal, but are
>long-lived. Tzad is probably immortal (but also supernatural).

I'm interested in this, too. I have only a vague recollection of "Out of the 
Silent Planet," but didn't that novel end with the antagonists being sent 
back to earth so that they would not pollute the peaceful inhabitants of an 
Edenic paradise with vain and self-destructive philosophies?

Incidentally, I remember the same thread appearing in L'Engle's work--A 
Wrinkle in Time--with the difference that the silent planet was there a 
shadowed planet. The similarity was that travelers from earth were viewed 
with suspicion (at first) on the planet neighboring Camazotz, once the 
inhabitants learned of their origin.

But, not to meander--wouldn't the Green Man be an example of redeemed 
humanity, or the Urth equivalent thereof? In the Green Man's time, Urth has 
already been transformed into Ushas, there is a new sun, and the world is 
filled with verdure and life.

As for the state of affairs on Urth, it seems to me that the Autarchs have 
closed the roads, abandoned spaceflight, etc., not to prevent humanity from 
spreading like a plague and infecting the rest of the universe, but rather 
to lock society into an earthbound holding pattern, so that the Autuarchs 
can maintain a status quo until the coming of the New Sun. The alternative, 
from the Autarchs' point of view, would be endless warring, the ceaseless 
rise and collapse of empires, turmoil without end; they have tried every 
system of government available throughout the millenia, but none of these 
have worked. Vodalus' dreams of progress and glory are illusory; from this 
view, conquest of the stars would simply increase the scope of the turmoil 
that is human history.

Therefore, it is necessary to lock everything in place until the New Sun 
comes to make all things new both spiritually and physically.

From the old Autarch's death scene in Citadel:

"I stand...you will stand...for so much that is wrong.... Because all else 
is worse. Until the New Sun comes, we have but a choice of evils. All have 
been tried, and all have failed. Goods in common, the rule of the 
people...everything. You wish for progress? The Ascians have it. They are 
deafened by it, crazed by the death of Nature until they are ready to accept 
Erebus and the rest as gods. We hold humankind stationary...in barbarism. 
The Autarch protects the people from the exultants, and the 
exultants...shelter them from the Autarch. The religious comfort them. We 
have closed the roads to paralyze the social order.... Until the New 

This paralysis allows the Autarchs to keep the society in stasis--and thus 
in peace and order--as they wait for the New Sun. The Autarchs would be 
fatalists, if it were not for their certainty of the coming of the New Sun 
and the rebirth/renewal of Urth.

Meanwhile--I think--some of the Hierodules drop by periodically to help 
guide humanity and prepare everything for the New Sun. I think. I've never 
been entirely clear on the role of the Hierodules in their ministering to 
humanity. But then, I don't know whether Severian was entirely clear on that 
point, either.

The short version of all this is that immortality and the colonization of 
space are sinful only in the sense that they are self-destructive. By 
spreading across the universe, homo sapiens does not harm others so much as 
harm itself, by increasing the political, economical, and social chaos of 
the species. I'm not certain whether Wolfe addresses the issue of 
immortality, but I suspect that if he did his ruling would be that 
immortality is not sinful in of itself, but is inherently perilous and 
detrimental because it extends one's sinful or chaotic condition. Death--as 
long as the world and humanity as a whole is in a decaying state--is not 
necessarily a bad thing; an eternity of decay would be worse. However, I 
have no textual support at hand for this, so this remains mere speculation.

What do you think?

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