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From: "Alice K. Turner" 
Subject: Re: (urth) blonds of the Commonwealth
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002 02:35:12 -0400

> Hartshorn wrote:
> >I never really understood this point.   Isn't there somewhere in the
> >where Severian says that it is known that each continent has a pattern
> >humanity, and that if people move from one land to another they will
> >to fit it?
> >
> >If so, how come there are European lloking people in South America (or
> >that matter, North America?)
> Right, the implication being that the Europeanoids have not been living=
> that continent long enough to be genetically altered into looking like =
> red-brown people of Apu-Punchau.  If you can find the quote, iirc Sever=
> gives the number of generations that the transformation requires.
> So, like the blond Argentines today, the Europeanoids have come from
> elsewhere, in their case arriving maybe just a few thousand years befor=
> Severian's time.

Logically, this is ridiculous. Here in New York, when Wombat, Ranjit and =
take the subway (not all together, or not yet), when we look up and down =
car we see profiles that could have come off Mayan tomb reliefs, bright
purple turbans, giggling teenagers with Asian faces and Brooklyn accents,
sheerly Slavic faces. noble Arab features and those that resemble African
carvings, neon hair, every shade of black, brown, yellow and white, and
sometimes the wildest costumes (including those of Orthodox Jews)--and we=
so cool that if an exultant or a character like Ossipago walked in we'd o=
flick an eyelid. The daughter of one of my colleagues is
Italian-Chinese-Irish-something-else-that-I forget. That's the present an=
the sure future, in reality. And that, I think, would be true in the
Commonwealth. Though not among the Ascians, who are satirically presented.
And GW has chosen to take the satire further in the next two series: the
Trivigaunts are not racially satirized, but in terms of feminism, a clich=
of male American humor in fantasy (see -The Land of Oz- 100 years ago). B=
in the SS series, he does racially satirize societies, specifically India=
and Italian. To me not very successfully--a real ho-hum genre feel here--=
feel free to disagree.

So the world of Apu-Punchau represents the far, far past, when tribes are
separated and racially alike. Severian's time sort of mirrors the realiti=
of America, very mixed (blonds quite normal, as they definitely are in
Illinois--first time I ever saw blond construction workers), with some
skiffy exoticism thrown in--Europeanoids needn't come from "elsewhere"
(though in my own schema the whole thing is set in a transposed Europe
anyway). And then Wolfe makes a right (I thought of using left, but it's
definitely right) turn into Vancean satire (lots of separate societies to
make fun of) in the next two series.



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