(urth) The Apu-Punchau Eclipse

Dave Tallman davetallman at msn.com
Tue Jun 10 04:43:00 PDT 2008

> Andrew wrote:
> >/I don't think it's a point that can be definitively settled either
> />/way. But given the lack of any other explanation in the narrative,
> />/it just feels right to me that the reason the Ship was close enough
> />/to the sun to cause an eclipse in Apu Panchau's time was because
> />/the Hiero-dudes were inserting a black sun. What else was it doing
> />/there? And to me it's just neat to have the dying of the old sun
> />/commence with the first appearance of the New.
> /
> I have always thought that the Ship really was there to stage the eclipse
> that saved Sev's bacon. The eclipse was not a coincidence. Obviously, it is
> a physical impossibility for any vessel to transport or even come near a
> black hole, so if the Hierogrammates are the ones who put it in the sun, and
> regardless of when it happened, how was the deed done?
I have another possible explanation for the eclipse. The exact 
dimensions of the Ship aren't given, but could it really be large enough 
to shadow the Sun and let the stars be seen like that? It would have to 
be almost as big as the moon. Why couldn't the eclipse be a normal one, 
caused by the moon?

Sev got to that place and time by following Juturna's directions, "That 
way the future, that way the past." (UotNS XLVII). She may have opened 
the corridor of time for him and picked a time when real total eclipse 
was due. That would be a nice nod to the famous time-travel story by 
Mark Twain, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Author's Court." (Another 
hint: when Juturna's face is first seen in SooT II, it is compared to 
the moon.)

> And that brings up the complementary question: If they could put a black
> hole directly in the sun (obviously no black hole traveled through the solar
> system wrecking havoc like the white hole later would), then they could have
> put the white hole directly in the sun, too. But they didn't. Why? Because
> they couldn't, or because they didn't want to? If they could not, that may
> put the blame for the black hole back on Typhon. But if they *chose* to send
> the white fountain by the scenic route (as they chose to send Sev back to
> Typhon's time instead of his own), why?
Perhaps there were legalities that had to be observed. There were dire 
consequences to the New Sun, but if the Hierogrammates were answerable 
to higher authorities they could point to Sev and say: "Here's the 
representative of Urth that requested this. We also sent him back to the 
time when the black hole was placed and gave him the chance to provide a 
warning about what was coming, backed up with miracles to increase his 

The business about the photons taking a long time to reach the surface 
of the Sun is interesting physics but it's never referred to in the 
narrative. It forces the story about the black hole being placed as a 
response to human wrongdoing to be a lie. If Wolfe intended this 
interpretation I think there would be more clues.

More information about the Urth mailing list