(urth) Black hole timing, "punishment" etc

thalassocrat at nym.hush.com thalassocrat at nym.hush.com
Tue Jun 10 17:39:56 PDT 2008

Looking back through the scenes in UTONS following Sev's return to 
Urth from Yesod, I do get a strong impression that the sun has 
already been in decline for some time. 

As far as I can see, in Typhon's time Sev never comments that the 
sun seems brighter than in his time, that he can no longer see the 
stars by daylight etc etc etc. 

Obviously, things are at least a little warmer: eg there are 
orchards in places where fruit couldn't grow in his time. But 
overall the "two parts in a thousand" drop seems to have produced a 
situation not hugely different to Sev's time in terms of general 
"look & feel". And I think it is clear that before the drop, the 
situation would still have been pretty unlike ours - this drop in 
our sun's output wouldn't be enough to produce stars by daylight 
etc etc.

So in terms of Typhon's words quoted by Roy, I go for a reading on 
which the astronomers knew that the sun had been in decline for a 
more-or-less lengthy period, and were surprised when it suddenly 
dropped a notch instead of continuing to decline smoothly & 

(I guess that the sudden drop was caused by the Hierogrammates, to 
trigger a cisis, and set the stage for the New Sun "religion" and 
the establishment of the line of Autarchs. From quotes below, it's 
evident that Sev returns to Urth a couple of years after the drop 

There's nothing in this to tell us when the black hole came into 
being, of course, but it does leave open the possibility that it 
was in Apu Panchau's time.

Some of the events upon Sev's return to urth also serve IMO as a 
grim satire on the myth that it had anything to do with 
"punishment" or was a measure taken to curb violent humanity or 

In Typhon's time, the notion that "sky people" have wounded the sun 
as a punishment has general currency, at least amongst the 
villagers Sev meets when returns to Urth from Yesod (UOTNS XXIX):

Villager: "It snowed before the corn was ripe. This is the second 
year .. The sky people are angry with us." 

Sev's response: "The sky people - the Hierodules and Hierachs - do 
not hate us. It is only that they are remote from us, and they fear 
us because of the things we did before, long ago when our race was 

A little later, another villager says: "All our lives we have gone 
to the high places and sent the smoke of offerings to them, yet the 
sky people are angry and send us frost. Men in Nessus say the sun 
grows cold - ... We have gone to the high places as our fathers 
did. We ... burned our best ram before the frost came..."

Sev "tried to tell them how the Hierodules feared us because we had 
spread through the worlds in the ancient times of Urth's glory, 
extinguishing many other races and bringing our wars everywhere."

Some of the villagers nod as if they understand ....

Well, maybe, but if Sev hadn't performed a couple of miracles 
they'd be shooing him away as a lunatic. The notion of "sky people" 
fearing these pre-industrial peasants inhabiting a resource-
depleted world is as absurd as the idea that any kind of justice is 
served by their suffering for the alleged crimes of distant 

If punishment or restraint were intended, why not *before*, 
*during* or *immediately after* the allegedly violent eruption of 
ancient humanity? 

I don't think there's a good argument that these peasants are just 
enduring the after effects of a punishment/restraint delivered long 
before. The old humans were not restrained; they spread through the 
worlds, and they're still there. 

And the only ones who seem to be suffering or restrained are these 
peasants. The simple, consistent, plausible reading is that this is 
just what was intended: keep Urth people down, so that when it's 
time they will be easy to kill off.

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