(urth) The Pelerine (COTA 12)

Andrew Mason andrew.mason53 at googlemail.com
Mon Sep 13 05:13:02 PDT 2010

Jeff Wilson wrote (quoting Lee Berman):
>> In recent discussions we've sorta determined that the Hierogrammates were
>> probably created by
>> humans from Ushas.
> Andrew: Please note that the "we" of this determination consists entirely
> of Lee and the mouse in their pocket. The majority view (of those
> expressing opinions) seems to be that the Hierogrammates and were the
> products of humans of a previous Big Bang/Big Crunch cycle. Meanwhile, the
> humans of Ushas are the conventional descendants of the humans of Urth,
> and their only visible offspring race is that of the Green Man.

That's how I would read it - with the corollary that, if all goes to
plan, future humans from Ushas will at some remote time produce a new
race of Hierogrammates.

But I don't think that's what Cyriaca is talking about. Her story is
neither about the future nor about a previous cycle, but about the
past of her own cycle. I have just looked at her story again, and it
does indeed have curious parallels with that of the Hierogrammates -
both they and the machines are created by humans, and try both to
benefit and to punish them in some way. But I still don't think it can
be the same. The machines are real, and are not the same as
Hierogrammates - Malrubius, recalling Cyriaca, says there is one on
his ship.  And Cyriaca says the outline of her story is common
knowledge, though the details aren't, whereas Malrubius' story is of
course deeply secret.

I do think Cyriaca's story is quite important, by the way, because it
explains why, though the physical distance between our time and
Severian's is enormous, the cultural distance at times seems strangely
small.  The various bits of cultural inheritance haven't been handed
down continuously; they were returned to humans by computers just a
few thousand years before Severian.

Lee Berman wrote:
> I think the question becomes- why did the Hierogrammates give Severian the power to change
> Urth to Ushas?  Are they divine judges above the fray? Or are they taking a hand in their
> own creation? I see evidence for both.

I would say they are taking a hand in the creation of beings _like_
them, and hence in preserving their kind (in a rather abstract sense
of kind; not their biological species). That need not stop them having
other motives as well.

More information about the Urth mailing list