(urth) Urth before Earth

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Thu Jul 20 10:34:50 PDT 2006

On 7/20/06, Jeff Wilson <jwilson at io.com> wrote:
> > Earth is definitely in Urth's future. The unique event called
> > the Incarnation happens in the Earth-cycle, and has not yet
> > happened in the Urth-cycle.
> I don't think that is supportable; IIRC, the Pelerines retain the cross
> in their iconography,

I didn't say the Crucifixion hadn't occurred.

> It's also possible that GW changed his mind since publication.
> "G.W." in SHADOW's back matter writes as if not only is Urth the
> same as Earth, but that several buildings today are still standing
> in that era.

An interesting interpretation. The exact quote is:

    "To those who have preceded me in the study of the
    posthistoric world, and particularly to those collectors --
    too numerous to name here -- who have permitted me
    to examine artifacts surviving so many centuries of
    futurity, and most especially to those who have allowed
    me to visit and photograph the era's few extant buildings,
    I am truly grateful."

There's a huge ambiguity in this. On the one hand, he's talking
about "futurity" (and indeed he says earlier that he translated
Severian's book from "a tongue that has not yet achieved
existence"); on the other hand, he talks about surviving
artifacts and buildings from that era in our day. I see two
consistent ways to interpret this.

The first is that some objects move backwards in time and
age in that direction. Certainly I can't disprove this from the
text, but neither do I see any support for it anywhere outside
the works of T.H. White.

The second is that the iterations of Briah are so exact that
things like Kipling, the Crucifixion, and the Civil War all
took place more or less as they did in our world. This in
and of itself doesn't strike me as any more unlikely than
that the universe cycles at all; and indeed, if the purpose
of the iteration is to prepare a world in which the Incarnation
can take place, then it's likely that the next-to-last "draft" would
be quite close to the final work. What does concern me is the
implication that some artifacts and even buildings have
somehow survived the Grand Gnab-Big Bang pair that
connects Severian's iteration to ours: but given that Severian's
ms. does, the rest isn't beyond the pale.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
"Shovels are essential to the fantasy genre.
However, they are primarily used by the authors rather than the
characters." -- Stephen R. Donaldson

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