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Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2003 22:53:28 -0700
From: maa32 
Subject: (urth) Sev's skull and spring constellations

The recent discussion has prompted me to look once again at the end of Urth of 
the New Sun.  I think we can all agree that the skull that Severian finds at 
the bottom of the lake when he goes diving during the flood is the skull of a 
Severian who did in fact drown at the opening scene of the book, where the 
"new" Severian takes up his narrative.  Just as the narrator of Urth of the 
New Sun is different than the narrator of Book of the New Sun, I always 
thought that the narrator of Book of the New Sun was qualitatively different 
than the boy who died in the river.  Thinking about how Severian could be 
drowned and dead, and still revived and not be an eidolon all along, is a bit 
confusing to those (like me) who don't understand the full capabilities of the 
hierodules.  Notice that they definitely, absolutely, have the power to travel 
back in time.

Now I was wondering about the very odd "cross and the Unicorn" constellations 
that appear in the sky when the miracle of Apu-Punchau occurs and the long 
night of Urth heralds in Severian's identity as Sun God.  In the final 
post-script to his series, entitled "The Miracle of Apu-Punchau", Wolfe seems 
to be inviting the reader to come up with a viable large "opaque" object to 
cover the sun so that the long night can happen.  Then he goes on to say that 
the winter constellations that should appear over the stone town are 
inexplicably replaced by spring constellations (the cross and the unicorn, I 
presume).  I know that, at least in Asian mythology, the unicorn symbolizes 
either the birth or the death of a great man.  (the cross is obvious)

Mooncalf recently brought my attention to recent studies on solar sails and 
how they might be contiguous with mirrors.  So, are we to believe that the 
solar sails reflected constellations that were actually on the other side of 
the Urth, or are we to believe that a rift in the universe allowed the 
unexpected constellations to appear?  What else could have come through that 
rift?  Notice that at the very end of the chapter in which the long night 
occurs, Severian says that his shadow falls across the sun and Urth.  He has 
been somewhat wary of calling the world of the past Urth, but I need to read 
the whole thing again more carefully.  Also, remember the science of father 
Inire's mirrors: reflected light that leaves the universe and re-enters at 
another point must create an object to reflect that light at its new location.
 Remember all that weird blue glass on the planet Blue?  The first time I read 
it, it reminded me of the claw of the conciliator.  Especially knowing that 
the material which is actually the claw is a part of a bush.

If we think of the claw as a proto-Severian, or a world within a world, then 
perhaps light that passes through the claw and leaves the universe for 
whatever reason can indeed create something ... larger when it re-enters.

Marc Aramini


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