(urth) Quasi Christ?

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Tue Feb 10 00:15:48 PST 2009

David Stockhoff wrote:
>> First, I'd say that the novel simply must rule out all other sentient
species. In fact, there don't seem to be any other sentient species in the
TBotNS universe---only Powers like the Cumean, Inire, Tzadkiel, etc. (The
Inhumi are different, and look at how closely Wolfe examines their moral
potential, and how he ties it to humans'.)
> We can't speculate on their histories because we don't meet more than one
of them---their societies and histories are closed to us. But for all we
know, every one of their "species" did indeed have some sort of
"unique-intervention" moment. The Increate could have an infinity of sons he
sent off to die horribly, *but we don't need to know about it.* TBotNS is
not really an "interstellar" or galactic SF novel.
> Second, I agree that it would be a basic unfairness to all the other
interstellar races to have the only OTC in the universes land on Earth in 0
AD, and I'm sure this has occurred to Wolfe. *But that's not what TBotNS is
about.* Perhaps the LS/SS novels pay a bit more attention to that problem,
but still in a necessarily anthropocentric manner.<<<

The Urth Cycle is definitely anthropocentric. I don't want to touch off a
debate about alien sentient beings and whether or not they have souls that
need saving, or Original Sin, or the question of dogs going to Heaven and
such. But there are other intelligent beings of a sort in Briah.

This from CITADEL, chapter XXXIV:
"As the flower that comes is like the flower from which it came, so the
universe that comes repeats the one whose ruin was its origin; and this is
as true of its finer features as of its grosser ones: The worlds that arise
are not unlike the worlds that perished, and are peopled by similar races,
though just as the flower evolves from summer to summer, all things advance
by some minute step.

"In a certain divine year (a time truly inconceivable to us, though that
cycle of the universes was but one in an endless succession), a race was
born that was so like to ours that Master Malrubius did not scruple to call
it human. It expanded among the galaxies of its universe even as we are said
to have done in the remote past, when Urth was, for a time, the center, or
at least the home and symbol, of an empire.

"These men encountered many beings on other worlds who had intelligence to
some degree, or at least the potential for intelligence, and from them-that
they might have comrades in the loneliness between the galaxies and allies
among their swarming worlds-they formed beings like themselves."

And the beings thus formed were the Hierogrammates, of course. Still, this
passage seems to me to draw a distinction between humans and all other
natural beings, regardless of intelligence. Humans seem to be the only
natural beings in the universe who matter in the story, which is in keeping
with the Christian idea that Christ was both Man and God. All humans seem to
have originated on Urth. The lower beings from whom the humans formed the
Hierogrammates seem to be on the level of animals on Earth. So I don't think
they need a Savior -- in this story.


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