(urth) Typhon & the Whorl (was Prior Race On Blue And Green)

gwern0 at gmail.com gwern0 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 19 21:11:40 PST 2007

On 2007.12.18 11:51:47 -0600, Dan <autarch at vippn.com> scribbled 4.3K characters:
> At 05:20 PM 12/17/2007, gwern wrote:
> >Perhaps I missed something (I've not read Long or Short sun as thoroughly
> >as I should have), but why are you assuming the Whorl was launched during
> >the latter days of Typhon's empire? An advanced, complex, long-term, and
> >hence extremely expensive interstellar generation-spaceship is not the
> >sort of project you launch when everything is decaying around you. It's
> >the sort of hubristic project launched just before or during one's prime.
> >
> >--
> >gwern
> Three things: the fact that his mountain monument depicts Typhon with one
> head ("home" and his seat of power built during his prime) while two headed
> Pas depicts Typhon as he appears after the life extension transplant. I'd
> say most rulers are only concerned with their legacy toward the end of
> their reign. Wanting to extend his life shows that's exactly where Typhon
> was at. If the Whorl was built or started at the height of his power, I'm
> sure he would have scanned himself and downloaded into Mainframe
> immediately in case he was assassinated which would subvert the whole point
> of the project. Thus he would have been mono-headed.
> The solar/global cooling disaster ushered in Typhon's decline by severing
> him from his interstellar empire when his appointees absconded with his FTL
> ships (but since his doctors came from other worlds, we know he was grafted
> before this). Due to this the STL colony ship was his only way out but
> without the Conciliator there to heal him there was really no point in him
> going anywhere. So he opted instead just to send a digital copy of himself.
> The way Typhon recounts the events it seems his decline was rapid (within a
> few years). This may have been a large enough window to start and complete
> such a project, but I think it was already complete or nearing completion.
> Typhon may have had little or no interest in it at all until his decline.
> That's why I think he hijacked the Whorl when it was nearing completion or
> perhaps after it was already enroute.

OK, here's another sticking point for me. We both agree Typhon's decline was swift, and so it's unlikely the Whorl was constructed during or after the period where he was stranded on Urth.

It somewhat follows from that that the whorl was not originally intended to be an escape vessel for some form of Typhon. But the Whorl is a STL ship! Why, in a period where there was FTL travel, and extremely capacious FTL travel (the ship Severian travels on in Urth of the New Sun is just absolutely colossal) at that, would they have planned and begun to construct an STL vessel in the first place? Even if the available FTL vessels couldn't carry so much cargo, they might still best STL vessels given that they could make multiple trips.

> The Pas cult always seemed forcibly kludged over the two distinct cultures
> we see in BotLS. It was the instigator of a great deal of death,
> destruction, chaos and waste amongst the cargo and caused a great deal of
> damage to the ship itself due to the pantheon's digital familial
> infighting. Hardly things you'd want on a generational colony ship. This
> indicates to me that this pantheon wasn't part of the Whorls original
> design and smacks of Typhon's influence after the fact.
> Dan

X400 NAVCM F-22 SERT rain RIT Gulf BLACKER clones cryptanalysis
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