(urth) Severian's miraculous eclipse

Tony Ellis tonyellis69 at btopenworld.com
Wed Apr 26 15:37:56 PDT 2006

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:

> Say, rather, "earlier." The days of Apu-Punchau are within, say, a 
> geological period or so of Sev's time: close enough that when he's 
> heading north with Dorcas and Jolenta it's still recognizeable as a 
> city (albeit ruined), and not subsumed by geological processes into, 
> say, a mine, or part of a mountain, as the _really_ old cultures (like

> ours) have been in Severian's time.

Actually I think b_sharp is correct here, that Apu-Punchau is from "the
early days of Urth." That is, from our own history. The clincher is that
when Famulimus and co find Severian among these people she says she is
surprised to find him "where men have scarce begun." That statement
alone puts us at the dawn of history.

Even before The Urth of the New Sun came out I always got the impression
that Apu Punchau's town was supposed to originate some time in our own
past. The way Merryn talks about it in Conciliator, it sounds seriously,
major league old.

It also sounds as if it may now exist outside of normal time. The
herdsman tells Severian at some length how spooky this place is, and
particularly that it "bends" your path so that you must always pass
through it. This reminds Severian of the Botanical Gardens, and me too.
In the Urth books, time-travel is regularly linked to movement through

I quite agree that if periods of future history have become geological
strata, then anything as old as an Incan or pre-Incan city should be
long gone. But I think Apu-Punchau's town, or at least his tomb, has
been supernaturally preserved. Severian actually asks "why is his palace
still standing when the rest of the town is only tumbled stones?" so
it's clear something funny is going on.

Needless to say he never gets a straight answer. But "because it
contained the body of a miracle-working, time-travelling demigod" works
for me. 

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