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From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (whorl) Quetzal, Typhon, and cross-links
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 97 09:47:44 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

> From: Jeff Meyers <jeffmeyers@earthlink.net>
> Second, Quetzal does seem to be battling with his own nature.  At
> that's how Horne seems to see it.
> ... The narrative 
> continues with Quetzal's reply: "'I want you to sleep, my son.'  He 
> seemed to suck his gums and reconsidered.  'No, to keep watch.  Can
> stay awake.'" (p. 374).

I think this is exactly correct.  Quetzal has been among humans for so
long that he has begun to care for them.  Many of his actions would be
the same whether he saw himself as a shepherd in the animal husbandry
sense or the religious one.

> Maybe I'm 
> missing something here, but this is not a large group of people that 
> escape.  What?  At the most maybe a hundred (including the Sleepers)?
> would Quetzal have an interest in taking such a small number of people
> his own planet?

Keep in mind that Pas's plan is that the whole population of the Whorl
will ultimately debark at the destination, and he won't take no for an
answer.  Auk's group and Horn's are only the first (enough to mollify
Pas) of many.  In fact, what _is_ the population of the Whorl?  A
million?  Ten million?  Viron seems to be a fair-sized city; it can
support an army of tens of thousands.  So can Trivigaunte; their horde
is seventy(?) thousand.  That would argue for each city being minimally
one or two hundred thousand, and there are lots of cities.  If Quetzal's
goal is fresh blood (debatable, for certain) there's plenty aboard the

> Third,  are we ever really told that Quetzal attacked anyone?  ... 
> Does 
> anyone else in the story qualify as an evil inhumi?  Everything that 
> Quetzal does and says suggests benevolent purposes.

It's certainly plausible, but check Mattak's reaction to Quetzal at the
Calde's dinner party.  He reacts as you would expect a victim to react.
I've seen no evidence of other inhumi aboard the Whorl.

> I have a question: how is it that the departing landers displayed only

> two options to the crew: Blue and Green?  Did Pas program the landers?

My guess is that it's the usual SF trope where you scan the destination
for habitable planets.  Blue and Green are both habitable.  Also, one
would assume that Typhon/Pas picked that star because it had habitable
planets.  Perhaps a probe checked it out.  I don't disagree that there
is a mystery here in regard to the choices.  Certainly we are told very
little about even Blue by Horn.  The inhumi attack when the planets are
close, there are inhumi on Blue (his fear for his son is clearly of
attack by an inhumi), etc.  It _seems_ that Blue was the correct choice,
but with Wolfe, who can tell?
> From: revjack@radix.net (revjack@radix.net)
> Did I read this correctly? Pas is none other that that two-headed
> world-conquring pan-egotist Typhon from the Books of the New Sun? The
> starcrosser "Whorl" was launched in Severian's era? I'm amazed that I
didn't see
> that before.

I think we first learn this in Nightside.  There is a reference to
"two-headed Pas," and then later when we get a description of the
"blasphemous" backdrop in the disused manteion in Orchid's, we get a
description of Pas that is exactly that of Typhon.  Finally, in the
Dramatis Personae in Exodus, Pas's entry says "the stored personality of
a tyrant."  There are, of course, many other clues between.  Kypris's
theophany in (I think) Exodus is particularly revealing.

> From: CoxRathvon@aol.com
> Like RevJack, I had taken note of the name "Typhon," the tyrant who
> himself Pas.  For what it's worth--and I anticipate a divergence of
> on this point--I think it's a bad idea, generally, for authors to
> links between their own novels when those books could exist wholly
> independently.

I have to say that I agree with you.  A much as I respect both works and
Wolfe as an author, it tends to bring you up short.  There are even some
inconsistencies, or at least annoyances when you compare the New Sun
Typhon to the Long Sun Typhon.  For example, in New Sun, Typhon states
that he rules many worlds, Urth being only one, and that he'd be happy
to see Severian as his viceroy on Urth.  The implication is that there
is a many-planet Empire going here, and that Typhon doesn't even spend
most of his time on Urth.  A further implication is that there is some
form of fast travel between worlds, possibly different from the one
described in The Urth of the New Sun; how else does one rule a galactic

We can fudge this if we wish; perhaps the Whorl was the first colony
ship launched, and so on.  (Or perhaps Typhon is lying! No surprise
there.)  The time scales don't even work out too well. According to the
Lexicon Urthus (which I highly recommend), there really isn't that much
time between Typhon's original reign and Severian's; perhaps a thousand
years or so.  I wanted twenty thousand at least!  There aren't enough
autarchs in a thousand years to carve the Andes, and yet Typhon is the
first to do so.

But enough about the New Sun, back to the Long one...

     Dave Lebling

Questions or problems to whorl-owner@lists.best.com

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