(urth) 17 megatherians

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Thu May 18 18:30:11 PDT 2006

There are theories on why the number 17 might be important as a significant 
and/or evil number to Gene Wolfe in BotNS.  Because Noah's flood happened on 
'February' 17?  Because Gene Wolf was in the 17th company (or some other 
military division) in Korea? These aren't compelling to me.

Since the Ascians, the slaves of Erebus, have often been compared to 
communist/socialist societies (Group of 17, Gang Of Four?), the possibility 
of a 17 member Politburo as inspiration is appealing.  I think there is 
circumstantial evidence to suggest Wolfe is no fan of communism.  But my 
research suggests the  typical politburo membership was 12-15 in the USSR 
and 7 for the equivalent in China. Why pick 17 to be important?

Now, Abaia and Erebus are clearly the primary megatherians.  To me, Abaia 
with his vast bulk and network of agents might invoke the USSR while Erebus 
with billions of slaves who all look alike and quote from a book of stock 
phrases might invoke China. Of course these two nations were the major 
communist powers in the 70's.  Perhaps the other megatherians represent the 
other established communist nations existing in some degree of collaboration 
or servitude to the major two at the time of BotNS's writing.

My list of those nations would be Cuba, E. Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, 
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Mongolia, N. Korea, Viet 
Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. 15.  + 2.

I know this list is an easy target for the sarcohamphi but, well...the 17 
had to come from somewhere and this might be it. Without the New Sun would 
we have had to add the People's Republic of Baldanders? ugh.

Interesting that Wolfe chose to have the Ascians originate from what is 
probably the current USA.


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