(urth) Ship Volant

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Wed Feb 18 12:40:36 PST 2009

Son of Witz wrote:
> Thanks. This is all really helpful.
> Since I always pictured a masted ship, and Tzadkiel's reinforces that
concept, I suppose I'll go with a Ship under full sail, at an upward

That is almost certain to be correct. See the description of the tender that
brought Severian and Burgundofara back to Urth:

"I recall thinking, as I leaned over the railing and watched dots of red and
gold turn to woodlots, and brown smudges to fields of tangled stalks, how
strange we should have looked had there been anyone to watch us, a trim
pinnace-just such a vessel as might have lain alongside some wharf in
Nessus-floating silently down out of the sky." (URTH, chap. XXVIII, 196)

And when the tender rose:

"We turned-as I believe no one could have helped turning-and watched the
tender rise, righting herself as soon as her keel was free of the soil,
bobbing in a gentle swell none but she could feel and lifting like a kite.
We had come to Urth through clouds, as I have said; but the tender found an
opening in them (I cannot but think it was so we might watch her) and rose
through it, higher and higher, until hull and masts were no more than a
pinprick of golden light. At length we saw her blossom to a shining speck,
like the steel that falls from a file; then we knew that her crew had freed
her sails, all of silver metal and each bigger than many an isle, and
sheeted them home, and that we would not see her again." (ibid. 196-197)

> It's interesting to see the different responses. I guess I shouldn't be
surprised to hear that some folks picture a rocket ship.
> Makes it clear to me that while I might try to satisfy the text, it would
be very hard to arrive at some consensus image.<<

It is not likely that the image on the coin (the same as on the mausoleum)
was of a conventional rocket ship. There were no working spacecraft of that
type on Urth. It would be almost impossible to represent the seven-sided
Ship of Tzadkiel on a coin. Remember that both Severian and the Old Autarch
had been shuttled between Urth and the Ship by a tender like the one
described above, and the Old Autarch's face was on the obverse side of the
coin. The flying ship was the symbol he and Severian (and possibly Ymar) had
in common.


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