From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) Thoughts on Undines, and other ramblings Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 09:35:04 -0700 Okay, some of this has been replied-to, but I think perhaps less clearly than could be desired (given Andrew's follow-up). Andrew Reeves, then, wrote: > -[Undines] are basically shaped like homo sapiens that never stop=20 > growing and can breathe under water. The undines, as near as can be told, _are_ homo sapiens -- they are more advanced cases of the process to which Baldanders has been=20 subjecting himself. > -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. Well, I presume that by "they" you mean not the undines themselves but their masters, Erebus, Scylla, and Abaia (possibly others?).=20 > -There appears to be at least one on Blue. The Mother appears to be of the same race as, at least, the aquatic Scylla of Urth. (We need a generic name for these creatures ... "space-going water monsters" seems a bit not quite the thing, if you know what I mean. I'll use Scylloids for now. I'm sure one of the clever folk out=20 there will have a better name.) > -They're really into high tech and enslaving humanity (viz. = Baldanders > and the Ascians). They are the brains behind the Ascians. Again, yes, the Scylloids appear to be the brains behind the Group of=20 Seventeen which appears to rule Ascia. It is far less clear what the relationship is between Baldanders and the Scylloids -- he seems to be in a very real sense a self-made man; and the Hieros seem to deal with him peacefully, as I suspect they do not with the Scylloidules. > -They can project their mental presences. I don't see this as at all clear. How do you mean? =20 > 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.=20 Well, she's saved his life on at least one occasion; what do you=20 expect him to do, smite her with Divine Wrath [tm, pat. pending]? > 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. Now, the Narrator doesn't encounter an undine, as I recall,=20 but Scylla-of-Urth. And what possible reason would he have for=20 "severe reservations" (other than fear) in dealing with a being=20 which he, a native of the _Whorl_ transplanted to Blue, perceives=20 as a goddess? That is, he perceives her (correctly, as I think we pretty-much-all agree) as being of the same general kind as the Mother on Blue; and the Mother, he perceives as one of the gods of Blue, of the Vanished People. Absent a direct revelation that there is no God but the Outsider -- and, despite Silk's rapture that contains the line "I know that You are the only god for me," neither Silk, Horn, nor the Narrator ever appears to receive such a revelation -- there is no reason for the Narrator to think of these beings either as false gods or as intrinsically evil; they are, to him, perilous only as gods are, necessarily, perilous to mortals. For Wolfe, if he is drawing "saintly, Christian figures" is, in=20 all cases, drawing "realistic," human and flawed, pictures of such=20 figures -- and, what is more, drawing them as very much the products=20 of their culture and upbringing. Severian ultimately transcends his=20 upbringing as a torturer; Silk at least partially transcends his=20 upbringing as a polytheist. Whether the Narrator transcends anything but himself is unclear to me, at this rather early stage of study. > 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=20 It is not at all clear that Severian's "powers" are _that_ "godlike." I don't recall any examples of him blasting anything with bolts from=20 his fingertips or any such thing. His "powers" seem to be primarily over himself, and secondarily over time. Could he, perhaps, use the=20 latter against Abaia and company? Perhaps, but I'm not at all clear=20 how, given their essentially ageless nature. On the other hand ...=20 > 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. Indeed, possibly the rackings of the Urth in the passage of the New Sun has done for them -- consider, if the depth in which=20 Abaia lay were suddenly raised-up as a continent, what would be the effect on Abaia? His rotting corpse would also provide a great deal of fertilizer ... though it would make the main part of that continent pretty-much uninhabitable for some time. Perhaps, then, there are in fact only a few people left on a few islands, and they have to live there while the corpses of the Scylloids, rather like that of Ymir, provide the new-risen continents with the stuff of life, while these corpses deteriorate, their bones become mountains, and forests and such grow in the new soil. Perhaps: it does seem a rather Lupine approach, now I think about it ... > 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.=20 Maybe ... and maybe not; the Scylloids seem to be very advanced beings indeed. Further, it may not have been as clear at the time of Ymar that = they were a threat as it is by Severian's time. > 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? By the time of Typhon, the culture and technology of Urth is already=20 well-advanced in its decadance and decline. Typhon has access to some FTL transport but not to the technology required to build it.=20 --Blattid --