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Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 10:41:38 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) Whorl <> Second Empire

Mattew quoted me and wrote:
>>  I, for one, have always assumed it  [Typhon's new capital post
>>would be on Skuld, our Venus terraformed.

I guess I'm just a sucker for Thea's story about Skuld as "the world of the

It does seem to me that Skuld would be the planet in the solar system most
likely to be in relatively good shape (material resources, solar
insolation, etc.).  But this is pure conjecture, based upon what little we
know about the duration of posthistorical resource exploitation (Skuld
could very well be as stripped as Urth is).

I also think that Typhon is offering Severian Urth, not the entire solar
system.  Implying that there will be an autarch of Verthandi and an autarch
of Skuld, etc.  Which brings us to the question: how many of the several
worlds he claims to have controlled were located in the solar system
itself, and how much interstellar reach did he ever have, anyway?

As for the scope of the First Empire, there is talk in the text, iirc, of
the humans leaping from galaxy to galaxy. So if we take this for truth,
then it is an intergalactic empire.

There does seem to be FTL travel, but in that can of worms it seems to me
that one must establish a model of how it works, because it does not seem
to be as simple as a Star Trek warp drive.  I sense that the space ships
(the tenders) are as innocent of acceleration as Le Guin's starships:
theirs are reactionless drives that go from the ground to the sky in the
twinkle of an eye, without crushing the human passengers into goo or
leaving a radioactive crater.  And yet, for all of that, the starship
(which seems to operate under similar if not the same rules) still takes
months of travel before it crosses over into hyperspace.

When they sail out of Briah, is that literally the Grand Gnab they are
seeing, or is it just a visual effect?  If it is real then the ship is
something like a quasar that avoids the monobloc, and travel back to Briah,
at any point in its timeline, becomes problematic.  Or so it seems to me.

A detail which causes no end of arguments is the nature of timeflow in
hyperspace.  I think it flows in a direction opposite to that in Briah, so
that rather than "instantaneous" interstellar travel one gets something
more like "retrogressive" interstellar travel -- you arrive long before you
ever left.  (Some trips could be made to seem Star Trek warp-like by
juggling the ride up to Yesod and the ride down from Yesod: these periods
of pseudoacceleration will always be in Briah (i.e., positive) time, so the
months of the ride up will be mirrored by the months of pseudodeceleration
-- added to the timeflow perceived by the crew, of course, but possibly
close to instantaneous to a viewer outside of the Ship.)  A side effect of
this would mean that the galaxy becomes populated by Earth in the
increasingly deep past, and far travelers who return to Earth will find
themselves in the far past.  But this on the surface contradicts what we
think we know about Jonas, who is presented as a sailor from the past,
washed up on Urth's shores by relativistic effects (yet as I say, these
effects will come into play as the Ship is riding down from Yesod).

I have said too much.



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