(urth) note Re Short Sun blog

Andrew Mason andrew.mason53 at googlemail.com
Thu Sep 30 07:16:15 PDT 2010

Lee Berman wrote:
>>Andrew Mason-  It would be interesting to see Merryn's contribution to this discussion.
> Yes, if Dorcas and the Cumaean are included in the convesation.

Quite so. My point, made less cryptically, is that these matters are
debated withing the story, and they seem there to be treated largely
as philosophical ones.

Personally I have a lot of sympathy with Merryn. Whatever is, is part
of nature. Vampires, for instance, do not exist (we think) in the
world as we have it, but in a world where they did exist they would be
natural beings - the laws of nature would be different.  It is hard to
work out a coherent definition of the supernatural which, on the one
hand, does not reduce to 'inexplicable by _current_ science' (which
would block new scientific discoveries) but which, on the other hand,
draws a meaningful distinction between the natural and the

That said, there does seem to be something distinctive about
Severian's powers. Hierodules, hierogrammates and sea-monsters have
powers which _we_ cannot explain, but can be seen as part of the
nature of the universe they live in. But Severian has powers which no
one else has, so could be called 'supernatural'' in that a general
account of the universe wouldn't include them. This is so, I think,
whether or not he works by turning back time, and whether or not he
works through biological processes - it's still true that what
_starts_ those processes is not part of the ordinary order of nature.

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