(urth) Grand Unified Theory

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Wed Sep 1 05:46:14 PDT 2010


Isn't it a part of your theory that Typhon is a Megatherian, thus an 
amorphous monster from space inhabiting a human body? This would explain 
his lack of attachment to a particular body or planet (though that needs 
little explanation), as well as his powers and, especially, his 
remarkable disdain for Erebus and Abaia as creatures he would enslave. 
He's a megalomaniac, but not far out of proportion to his psychic 
abilities. Or is he?

Cloning is not that hard to do and must be regarded as a skill available 
to Typhon's scientists, but genetics itself can't explain Typhon. Who 
created Typhon, if he is a genetic monster? Did he perform genetic 
modification on himself? If so, where did he come from to rule several 
worlds and gain that power of self-enhancement in the first place?

If he is a sport like the Asimov's Mule (another kind of monster), how 
did a sport suddenly appear with such godlike powers? If Typhon is so 
smart, why does he rely on his scientists so much? How much of his 
technology was available and how much was created by/for him? How was he 
so completely fooled by his officers?

A question parallel to Roy's is, If Typhon can scan himself into Pas, 
why not scan himself into another body?

On a related note, although the backstory of the Whorl has been well 
worked out, I have never entirely grasped how it fits with Severian's 
encounter with Typhon. Why was Typhon, with all his powers, so helpless 
when his slaves fled with his ships? Why couldn't he break out of his 
mountain? What disaster were they fleeing anyway? Did agriculture 
collapse with the darkening of the sun, or was it something else? He 
doesn't mention the Whorl, of course.

This world, the most ancient of all, I made my capital. That was an 
error, because I lingered too long when disaster came. By the time I 
would have escaped, escape was no longer open to me—those to whom I had 
given control of such ships as could reach the stars had fled in them, 
and I was besieged on this mountain.

On 9/1/2010 8:09 AM, Lee Berman wrote:
>> Roy C. Lackey: I've long wondered why, if Typhon could have cloned himself, he didn't do
>> it on Urth to preserve his self-cherished face, rather than go to the absurd length of
>> having his own head cut off and put on another man's body.
> I think Wolfe chose the name "Typhon" because he wanted this character to embody the
> essence of the greek myth, the epitome of all monsters and maybe also to represent
> the last, greatest gasp of a Titan race which had been supplanted on Urth by an
> Olympian race of "gods". Multi-headedness was perhaps the most distinguishing feature
> of mythological Typhon. So the reason for the heads is more allusional than plot-driven.*
> Regarding cloning himself on Urth, I think he surely did. Typhon was snake-like in his
> lower half but part-man, part-dragon in his upper half. This automatically seems to
> draw a connection to the Mandragora. What other purpose to the story could this little guy
> serve? The fact that he shares telepathy and clairvoyance with Typhon leaves little doubt
> of the connection for me.
> Another similarity is that both Typhon and the Mandragora come to life though their bodies
> have been kept for centuries in unmaintained preservative conditions. I'm not sure if their
> re-animation is meant to refer to Severian's power or an element of immortality among the gods.
> I lean toward the latter as Severian's power seems to be reserved for true humans.
> A mandragora is sort of related to the idea of a homunculus. And Dr. Talos is referred to as
> such. There does not seem to be any greek mythological relationship between Typhon and Talos.
> However, in 1958 the RIM-8 Talos missile was replaced by the SAM-N-8 Typhon missle. That's a
> probably a long shot (heh) but perhaps an ex-Cold War soldier like Gene Wolfe was alluding to
> these weapons.
> *What I find more inconsistent is that the two-headedness/grafting of Typhon was supposed to be
> a huge secret on Urth. Piaton's head was going to be cut off later. Yet on the Whorl, Pas being
> two-headed is open and acknowledged. Why did Typhon's philosophy about ruling using his (one)
> face not apply to his uploaded version? I assume it was an auctorial decision to favor
> continuity over plot consistency.  		 	   		
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