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Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 07:27:13 -0500
From: Andrew Reeves 
Subject: Re: (urth) Thoughts on Undines, and other ramblings

"Alice K. Turner" wrote:

> >From newbie Andrew:
> First, welcome, and prepare to be attacked at once! (Or slimed, heh heh=

That's the fun of mailing lists and NG's, is it not?  :)

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

My mistake.  Perhaps I ought to have called them the main villains on Urt=
h, the
folks who are going for the enslavement of mankind.

> -They are basically shaped like homo sapiens that never stop growing an=
> 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 morta=
> had a baby, gained a soul and its attendant woes. (Andersen took off on=
> in his original "Little Mermaid" story, as I'm sure you'll recognize.) =
> Baldanders that never stops growing; there's no indication that the und=
> 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 be=
> the stars").

I'm aware that they have greater capabilities than movement through physi=
space, but there's still some connection between them and Typhon's daught=
er that
I (with very few readings under my belt) cannot quite piece together.  Di=
Jonas's story mention whether the beans will stop growing?

> -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.

Maybe the other is not an Undine per se, but she definitely has some
relationship to Abaia, Erebus, and Typhon's sprat, otherwise Silkhorn wou=
have needed to make the trip to Urth to begin with.

> -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 t=
> functions. There's a hint that the undines are handmaidens or concubine=
s to
> them, but it could be myth and I doubt that it could be proved. The und=
> seem mostly hedonistic, with infrequent moments of conscience. Some of =
> (Idas) are clearly in the enemy camp. But Gunnie attacks Sev too!

My mistake.  How about wording it, "Erebus, Abaia, and their Undine minio=

> >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 Silkhor=
> 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 t=
> 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 tha=
> 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 proble=
> (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, sorr=
> Ratty, avenging angels. And I would imagine they're well protected. It =
> 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 always troubled me as well.  Yeah, I know Sev can't do anything like=
energy bolts, but he really ought to try and do *something*.

> Don't think Scylla did any such thing.

So who *was* the girl in Jonas's story?  And what then were the beans?  I=
always seemed to me to fit neatly in with the rest of the cycle, especial=
after we found out that there's definitlely a relationship between Blue's=
and Erebus and Abaia.

> Undines however *can* swim through
> the universe, and time, a la Brook Madrigot. Human spaceships must obey=
> laws of our universe, however. For some reason, this all makes sense to=

Yabbut, again, Jonas's tale plus events of _Short Sun_ indicate that *som=
is going on between that bratty daughter of Typhon's and the great monste=
rs in
the sea.  What it is, I don't know, but it's there, and *seems* to fit in=
w/ Jonas's tale.

> One final ramble:  By the end of our series, Severian is but one AU fro=
> 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?

Astronomical Unit.  The distance between earth and the sun.


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