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Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 11:13:58 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) (TBOTN) Utter speculation

Craig wrote:
>I've been thinking about the Wall of Nessus and
>Baldander's assertion (ch. 35 of Shadow) that the open
>space inside the walls wasn't for Nessus' expansion.
>But something about the sheer size and height of the
>walls made me wonder how far off it would be to
>suggest that Nessus wasn't always a city but that it
>was initially (possibly) one huge space pad. Assuming
>that the walls are circular, then would it be possible
>that what we have is some kind of base for a huge
>cylinder, like...the Whorl?
>Now this would be a rather insane (and, as far as I
>can tell) rather impossible way to build and "launch"
>a ship as big as the Whorl (which seems to be too
>massive to ever be "launched" from a planet).
>Still...why is the wall miles high and spread so far
>around the city?
>If someone can easily disabuse me of this idea, please
>do so since it's captured my easily distracted

Sorry, no diabusing from me!  I'll just spur you on -- you haven't gone far
enough yet!  (Well except for the Whorl lifting off from Urth; I'll agree
that seems unlikely.)

Fact: the Walls pre-date the city.

Fact: the city has been crawling upstream for a long time, so it has
presumably entered the walls and taken up residence like a hermit crab
moving into a found shell.

Fact: the citadel pre-dates the city, and the earliest name we have for it
is the Old Port, iirc.  So it probably was one of the ports from which
people and materials where shuttled up to the Whorl (and that was
relatively late in history -- the city was . . . approaching, but not there
yet?  The necropolis was for the military people based at the Old Port --
it was a military point); it was definitely a dumping ground for old
worthless ships.

As for the why, who knows?  Gene Wolfe might not even know.  It is a Big
Dumb Object that is an Enigma, with echos of the Tower of Babel and skiffy
notions like a failed sky-elevator, or a blast-containment area for ships
with radioactive exhaust, or a simple terrarium-type structure (an early
Trantor-style "world building" module?) that never got its Buckydome roof,
or just a super "particle accelerator."  IIRC it is a feature of the dying
sun fictions (if not even the gothic before it?) to have gigantism like


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