(urth) The Apu-Punchau Eclipse
bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 11 20:45:56 PDT 2008
At the beginning of UotNS, while on the Ship deck, Severian specifically notes his weight has been
reduced by 7/8. So Roy's assertion that the Ship is of planetary size is a bit exaggerated but not
by so much. A bit smaller but of similar size to our Moon, and thus surely capable of causing an eclipse.
The lunar eclipse used by Columbus to intimidate the natives on February 29, 1504 is a good mention
by Jeff Wilson. That event could have inspired both Twain and Wolfe. But of course, Severian's is not
that one, being a solar eclipse.
Since I am quite in the minority in attributing the eclipse to Severian himself, I am probably wrong
about it. The Ship's Moon size is evidence by itself. The comment that the big Ship is capable of
getting deeper into the solar system but would pass between eyes and stars seems like it could be
an auctorial clue that the ship caused the eclipse. Believing the assertion that Severian has gone
too far into the past and is powerless at the time of his trial is also evidence against my interpretation.
But I still retain a sense I could be right. Something just seems missing if Severian only twice uses his power
to affect nature in a cataclysmic way. Nobody, certainly not Severian, seems capable of accurately
predicting when, where and how his power will manifest itself from his personal being. He might have his
full powers always. In the afterward, Wolfe notes that a "thoughtful" reader can figure out what caused the
eclipse. Most seem to take him at his literal word and think about the ship. But I always saw that notation
as being a bit sarcastic, meaning that very little thought is needed to figure out what large body could be
used to cause a solar eclipse.
But I am probably wrong on this one ;-).
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