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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) arcologies like mountains
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 09:17:12 -0700

> Oh dear, back to this chestnut.

More of a walnut, I think. A hard nut to crack.

> Let a thousand timelines bloom!)


> But, as far as I am concerned, so is the notion that the 
> "mountains" are natural (especially the single cliff that
> is being referred to here, however obliquely).  

I was not referring to the single cliff; others have mentioned
the mines of Saltus, (which are pretty darn deep down), the
newer mountains ... 

... and perhaps the most important piece of evidence, which 
I didn't cite because I'm not prepared to go and reread the 
whole darn thing right now looking for one sentence: but ... 
somewhere in there it's mentioned that Urth's core has cooled
solid. And that is not going to happen in the next 97K years,
or the next million.

> I'm sure anyone who has read Olaf Stapledon can instantly recall
> the supercities like continental coral reefs that sprout up in
> superscience civilizations -- indeed, they are rather puny compared
> with Asimov's "full metal planet" of Trantor. The concept is rather
> a staple of sf, 

Well, yeah (though it's not a full metal planet; it's a planet
with a full metal jacket ... later, after some of the metal has
been stripmined, people can farm on Trantor). And my own favorite
examples of this, the plastic-coated planet of Bunch's "Moderan"
and the continental cities of Wingrove's "Chung Kuo." Posdef a
known and negotiable trope of the stfnal ecology: I grant that
readily. (Indeed, the Autarch's palace may be an example.)

Still: while I have no textual proof of this, in my first reading
of tSotL, and since, I didn't read the cliff that way at all --
a standard SF trope _did_ enter my mind, but the emblematic
example of the trope was the "apartment mine" in the original
film of PLANET OF THE APES. (Where, granted, it is unlikely that
"millions" of years have passed...)

> and iirc, the brown book says that non-humans built vast cities
> like "banks of cloud" (note scale) and like "skeletons  of
> dragons" (note fossil imagery) on Urth after the zenith of the Empire.

...and? I don't imagine you'll disagree if I say that the stories in 
"Wonders" are _not_, in general, to be taken as historically factual
(in the universe of the discourse). Aside from the blatantly poetic
language, I also expect these descriptions to be, well, exaggerated.

> As for "multiple millions," Wolfe has written, more than once, iirc, that
> it is "perhaps" one million years distant (which I have always taken as an
> outer limit rather than an inner limit, because of the qualifier).  FWIW.

And I have always taken it as typical Lupine vupinity ... "perhaps one 
million years" doesn't actually commit Wolfe to anything.


Bluebird, what do you see? 


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