(urth) The Katharine maid

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Wed Oct 25 21:28:56 PDT 2006

Dan'l wrote:
>An eidolon is an interesting idea, but where does the eidolon
>technology come from?

>From the Hierogrammates. It was on the Ship and it was on the smaller
"craft" B F & O used to reach Apu's time and resurrect Severian in that
tomb. It was on the craft used by Malrubius when he transported Severian to
the ocean, so we know the machinery was around on Urth in Severian's time.

>Are you suggesting that some group of
>Hiero-Foos have been projecting the Katherine-maid into the
>Cathedral all these years?

Eidolons were not mere projections. They were flesh and blood so long as the
machinery used to sustain them was in operation (witness the motley bunch
who fought for Severian against the sailors in the fight after the Trial).
If allowed enough time, they could take on existence independent of the
machinery, as was the case with Severian, twice.

>For what reason?

For the same reason that *someone*, somehow, caused the maid to appear year
after year, in Severian's experience unchanged.

>I offered another suggestion a few days back that meets the
>criteria you lay out. An artificial person, a la Jonas -- I guess we'd
>have to call her a chem? -- might easily enough be built with an
>optionally-detachable head. (Recall that Severian is sure he feels
>the neck sever under his blow.)  Since chem-building technology
>was clearly around in Typhon's (and therefore Ymar's) day, this
>removes any necessity for alien intervention.

The fact is, the Hierodules were interfering at least as far back as Ymar;
after all, he went to Yesod. There is not the least hint in the Urth Cycle
that chems were in existence on Urth in Typhon's time. I honestly don't
think that Wolfe had thought of chems when he wrote NEW SUN. More
retrofitting problems. But my main objection is thematic. There is a strong
suggestion in the text that Catherine is somehow Katharine, and more than a
hint that Severian's mother is somehow connected to the maid. I think that
requires that she be human. When Severian was young he thought that the maid
might be from the witches, but soon realized that "such disrespect would not
be tolerated". Based on that, I don't think the torturers would have allowed
their guild to be mocked by any sort of robot patroness that couldn't even
feel pain.

As a side bonus of this eidolon business, it might also explain how Inire
could be "alive so long beyond the span of his short-lived kind". A series
of eidolons created as needed over the centuries would do it. His mission
was over when Severian went to Yesod, and by all appearances he soon faded
too, so far as I can tell, without a whimper or whisper of his passing.


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