From: "Don Doggett"
Subject: (urth) Blue as Ushas - long Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 23:26:36 -0800 Hello all, This subject is probably the most important one to me regarding the Sun Books. It's the reason I found this site and the ultimate reason I decided to join this list. Let me give a little preface before I start in. When I read TBotNS I was literally blown away. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. It was epic, and it was obvious to me that I was missing at least ninety percent of what was going on and that I would have to read it again. But first I decided to read TBotLS. I have to say that it is the only book I have read that forced me to love it. By that I mean that even though I was disappointed by its lack of epic scope, I couldn't and still can't get the characters out of my head. But I was disappointed. What besides Typhon, did this work have to do with Severian's universe? It was a long time before I picked up SS, and I did it mainly because of a need to finish the story. It is easily the most confusing of the three works (to me) but I as I worked my way through it a feeling grew and grew on me that I was in a familiar place. By the end of it all, the only way I felt the books could work was if the Whorl had somehow made it's way back to Urth. To Ushas and the New Sun. But how could I discover if this was the case? The internet, of course. I went to Google, typed in "Blue" and "Ushas" and here I am. In my opinion, Marc Aramini has made very compelling arguments as to why Blue is indeed Ushas. There's no need to reiterate them. But there are some holes in his theory - one big one - which I hope to be able to fill. At the least I hope I can shrink them. So here goes. I'll begin my argument thematically. It hinges on two points and I'll state them succinctly. In the NS, Wolfe makes it clear that there are other colonies of humans out in space. He makes it equally clear that it is Urth that is important to him thematically (see Father Inire's letter). His work is ultimately about us, on Urth (earth). What does a Starcrosser travelling to a random world in a universe full of human expats have to do with us? Nothing. It's just standard (boring) Sci Fi. That was my original problem with LS. Second, what does SS have to do with Severian? Why have Silk astral project to Urth to speak with him? It reeks of a cheap attempt to tie the entire series to the unrelated first volume. Silk meets Severian. Godzilla meets King Kong. Dracula meets the Wolfman. I don't like it and I don't believe it. In short, Blue as Ushas is stronger thematically as it brings both later series back to us. Of course, just because it makes me happy doesn't make it true. Marc's theories, as far as they go, seem sound to me. The theoretical possibility of polyploidy in plant/animal hybrids (hybrids that are alluded to in the very names of the Vironese - male/animal female/plant) lower gravity on Green, even Silkhorn's time travel. All of his points are plausible but there are a few things which he hasn't been able to get around. The first is Silkhorn's description of the red sun as a star in the night sky of Blue. This I think, is Wolfe's dirtiest trick and my solution is simple. Silk is wrong. In both series he makes a cottage industry out of being wrong. For one thing he is never described as looking at the red sun in Blue's sky. He is inside when he is talking to Juganu and he says "Standing on the tiles I will point and you will peer until at last you see a certain dim red star." He never says "I have seen this star." nor is he or anyone else described as seeing this star. It neither proves nor disproves that Blue is not Ushas. The second is when Silkhorn says to Hide that the Neighbors are not made from the same dust as they are - meaning that they are not from the same planet. But why would the author bother to say something like this when it should be obvious. Silkhorn is once again wrong (his most endearing trait, I think) and this is a rhetorical device by the author (Wolfe) to make us think about this supposedly obvious fact. The third (and last objection that I plan to deal with) is the biggest and the hardest to surmount. The Whorl left from Urth in the Age of the Monarch and the only way it could end up in the time of Ushas is for it to travel faster than light. The argument is that there is not any good evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to claim that it did. Not so. I did some very cursory study of faster than light travel and one of the theoretical occurences when something goes ftl is that time stops. This happens on the first page (god, I love Wolfe) on Nightside of the Long Sun. When Silk is enlightened, he is aware that time has stopped. I know that Mr. Wolfe has said in an interview that the enlightenment of Silk is purely miraculous but this is a tricky statement. Silk's miraculous enlightenment is in his awareness, not in the stoppage of time. This, coupled with Maytera Marble's internal clock being off by 3000 years (an otherwise pointless bit of trivia) is enough circumstantial evidence to at least drag the argument into the realm of plausibility. Wow, you say. That's a big bunch of nothin'. Well I have one more thing and believe it or not, it is extratextual evidence that Blue is likely Ushas. It is an entry in Mantis' very fine Lexicon Urthus regarding THE OLD WOMAN WHOSE ROLLING PIN IS THE SUN. Now I haven't read this story so all I can comment on is the entry. I'll quote the relevant parts for those who don't have the book, and those who do can verify I'm not being misleading. The Old Woman Whose Rolling Pin is the Sun - a short tale, told by a man to his grand daughter Becca, explaining the nature of the cosmos: . . . The story makes reference to "our longfather," a culture hero who went to the stars. . . Commentary: Wolfe has a few stories that deal explicitly with the zodiac. . . but this one seems tied to the Urth Cycle by a few points, the most apparent being the name "Skuld" for the planet Venus, another being the reference to Fauna, who appears in a story in the brown book. The "longfather" might be another avatar of the New Sun, or a later name for The Sleeper god of Ushas. The astronomy of the story shows that it is taking place in the northern hemisphere, and that the stars are in the same positions that they are today, so the story is probably set in the Age of Ushas. I don't know about you, but that "longfather" sounds a lot to me like a certain FATHER Silk, aka the LONG Sun, who is fast becoming a culture hero of Blue, and who heads off to the stars at the end of Return to the Whorl. And that my friends, is the most compelling argument I have. Don --