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Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 22:33:34 -0800
From: Dan Rabin 
Subject: (urth) Reasoning about Typhon and Pas

I'm not much bothered by the inconsistencies between the account of 
Typhon in _The Book of the New Sun_ and _The Urth of the New Sun_ as 
opposed to that of Pas in _The Book of the Long Sun_.  I just don't 
think Wolfe is the sort of storyteller to be tightly constrained by a 
story he told about the same character in a book ten years 
previously.  It's Tyhpon's arrogance and megalomania that are 
important, not whether the back-story of the building of the _Whorl_ 
in  _Long Sun_ could be flawlessly fitted into the timeline of the 
stories in the earlier _Sun_ books.

As to why Typhon didn't build a chem body like Lemur and the other 
councilors, I can offer three explanations.  On the real-world plane, 
I could insist that the technologies in the two series are 
differently conceived, and that personality-scanning isn't a 
possibility in Wolfe's earlier books.  Or I could say that having an 
organic monster was important for effect in the earlier books, but 
evil men making themselves into machines was important in the later 

If I wanted to play the game of concocting explanations within the 
secondary world, I could suggest that the adaptation of the 
personality-scanning technique to the construction of chem bodies 
that impersonate the personality's former body is an actual 
innovation of the Lesser Primate family in Viron; perhaps nobody had 
actually thought to merge together the technology of 
personality-scanning with the technology of chem-building, or perhaps 
the prejudice against chems as servants and cannon-fodder was too 
strong for anyone to try.

It's not that I don't enjoy the game--it's just that I think that at 
some point we have to admit that we're talking about works of art by 
an inhabitant of the same world we inhabit, and that that author may 
have chosen to subordinate the consistency of his constructed world 
to his distinct visions of his distinct works.

That being said, I have to admit that, although I understand 
intellectually the assertion that Typhon in _New Sun_ is a cardboard 
character, I personally have always found him fascinating, and have 
long fantasized that Wolfe would write a _Book of Typhon_ (followed 
perhaps by a _Book of Piaton_).  Of course, these books would account 
for their own existence in some wonderful and unforeseen way.  I 
guess we could always put these books on the shelves of the imaginary 
library that has been previously discussed on this mailing list.

   -- Dan Rabin


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