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From: "Alice K. Turner" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Thoughts on Undines, and other ramblings
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 23:22:24 -0400

From newbie Andrew:

First, welcome, and prepare to be attacked at once! (Or slimed, heh heh.)

>I'm quite thrilled to have discovered this group, and as such, I'm going
to air a few more thoughts that have nagged me concerning the main
villains of the Briah universe, the Undines.  First off, I'm trying to
make a list of what we do know about them:

They are *not* the main villains of the Briah universe.

-They are basically shaped like homo sapiens that never stop growing and
can breathe under water.

They are shaped like women. They are taken from German mythology: water
nymphs. The original Undine was created without a soul, married a mortal,
had a baby, gained a soul and its attendant woes. (Andersen took off on t=
in his original "Little Mermaid" story, as I'm sure you'll recognize.) It=
Baldanders that never stops growing; there's no indication that the undin=
don't have a limit, though it's a large one.

-They've been on Urth since around the time of Typhon, and were likely
brought by Scylla (can't remember her human name, and the book's not
handy) or an associate of hers, as related in Jonas's tale.

Not necessarily; they seem to have resources of their own ("swimming betw=
the stars").

-There appears to be at least one on Blue.

The Mother is not an undine, if that's what you're referring to. Nor is
Seawrack. If there is an undine on Blue, I don't recall her, though one
could turn up--see above.

-They're really into high tech and enslaving humanity (viz. Baldanders
and the Ascians).  They are the brains behind the Ascians.

No, no and no. Erebus and Abaia, different entities entirely, perform tho=
functions. There's a hint that the undines are handmaidens or concubines =
them, but it could be myth and I doubt that it could be proved. The undin=
seem mostly hedonistic, with infrequent moments of conscience. Some of th=
(Idas) are clearly in the enemy camp. But Gunnie attacks Sev too!

-They can project their mental presences.

Well, sort of. That also goes back to German myth and the Rhinemaidens (l=
the Greek sirens, carelessly destructive). But so can a lot of other bein=
on Urth.

>All of the above still leave a whole lot of questions.  The first of
these is the rather blas=E9 attitudes of Silkhorn and Severian near the
end of their series when actually meeting a representative of them.
When Severian meets Juturna underwater (if it's not a dream), he
basically gives her a tip of the hat and moves on.  Later, when Silkhorn
projects to Urth, he basically says, "Hey, I really dig Seawrack, tell
me how to find her."  Now, both of these men are Gene Wolfe's attempt to
draw saintly, Christian figures.  I would think that such figures would
have severe reservations about the way they dealt with such beings.  Of
course, Silkhorn doesn't really know the pedigree of our giants, but I
would think that the first thing Severian would do when he realized that
he has Godlike powers would be to try and find Erebus, Abaia et al and
finish them for good so that humankind could begin to climb back from
the level of hunter-gatherers without interference.  But then again,
since the Green Man doesn't indicate that Abaia and Erebus are a problem
(and forms non-Maoist sentences), perhaps someone else has.

Sev's not so saintly. And his powers are limited--he can't go around
blasting Ascian armies like one of Yaweh's apparatchik thugs...er, sorry,
Ratty, avenging angels. And I would imagine they're well protected. It is
definitely an untied thread to the first series though: as water-bound
beings I would think they'd be thrilled with the drowned Ushas.

That also brings to mind the whole question of the Commonwealth's force
projection capability.  By the age of Severian their stuck at a fairly
primitive state, but in the early days of the Autarchy, especially
around the time of Ymar, they probably had the tech level to go after
the giants in the water.  The other question of tech level and undines
is that there seem to be some indication that Urth under Typhon might
have had the capability of superluminal travel, since there's a really
good chance that Scylla went to Blue and brought back the undines.  If
that's the case, why would the Whorl move at sublight speeds?  Or am I
reading to much into the text?

Don't think Scylla did any such thing. Undines however *can* swim through
the universe, and time, a la Brook Madrigot. Human spaceships must obey t=
laws of our universe, however. For some reason, this all makes sense to m=

One final ramble:  By the end of our series, Severian is but one AU from
the source of his power, and is probably going to have a hard time
dying, even of old age.  He may grow really, really bored.

What is an AU?



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