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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) TBOTSS as fantasy
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 01:57:41 

I don't think SS is fantasy.  Or at least, I suspect it's not meant to
be read that way.

The reason it is problematic is that the narrator makes use of
abilities that are as strange as Severian's and we don't understand
why he has them or what their implications are.  In Severian's case,
we (sort of, at least) grasp the mechanisms (the corridors of time,
etc.).  Also, it's easier to buy an almost apotheosis as SF with
cosmic temporal metaphysics as underpinning than to understand what
appears to be a curiously limited yet amazingly powerful ability
granted by enigmatic people we learn a good deal less about than the

Basically, SS looks like fantasy until we have further understanding
of the role of the Neighbors.  I'm willing to bet that if we can get
that, it will be much easier to "buy" what Silkhorn does (as a use of
the corridors of time, it makes considerable sense).  But I, at least,
don't think I understand much about the Neighbors at all.

The godling seemed vaguely unneeded, and I'm willing to believe that
Wolfe used it as an impressive piece of stage setting (though I'd like
to have some better justification), but the Neighbors are central to
all three books, and I don't think they exist just "to be cool" or
give Silk comic book powers to show us how necrotic Urth really was.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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