(urth) Tzadkiel's ship

Mark Millman markjmillman at gmail.com
Wed Nov 28 17:14:02 PST 2007

Dear Mr. Wilson:

On Wednesday 28 November 2007, you wrote:

> > earlier, you'd written:
> >
> >> Severian-the-Autarch
> >> might still call such a
> >> picture "a ship" in his
> >> writing of the incident,
> >> but the actions and
> >> thoughts he attributes
> >> to Severian-the-boy
> >> are consistent with
> >> seeing a drawing re-
> >> sembling watercraft
> >> visible nearby or in
> >> books and art availa-
> >> ble to him.
> >
> >
> > But we are given to understand
> > that people of Sev's time don't
> > even distinguish between riverine
> > craft, pelagic craft, and cosmic
> > craft - they are all "ships" to these
> > people, and you might "sail" to
> > Lune as easily as to  Bes Pelargic.
> Then the ship on the tomb could be a picture of any
> thing remotely resembling a non-wheeled vehicle?

No; it's unlikely, for example, that the vehicle in question is a
flyer, as Severian distinguishes those quite clearly from ships.

I suspect that "ship volant" is meant, in this case, to imply that the
ship bears a full spread of sail or something close to it, so it's
also unlikely to be an oared ship, such as the thalamegus (I believe)
that Severian encounters on Gyoll.

Heraldic art, as you're no doubt aware, is not remarkable for its
subtlety.  It seems very likely that the sails are prominently
featured, and in such a way that the result does not resemble a
bottle-brush.  Whether or not they obscure the hull is another
question; but it may not be a relevant one.

Recall also that the torturers' apprentices are relatively well
educated, and that Severian possesses an unusually tenacious memory.
By the time he encounters the tomb, or at least by the time from which
he recounts the memory, he may well have seen, and having seen will
remember, images of spacegoing ships.


Mark Millman

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