(urth) First Exodus theory revised

Gerry Quinn gerryq at indigo.ie
Thu Feb 10 19:04:55 PST 2011

From: "António Pedro Marques" <entonio at gmail.com>
> Gerry Quinn wrote:
> > As for Silk, we are told he is a special snowflake, but it's not exactly
> > clear where his powers lie. There seems to be general agreement that it
> > is something to do with leadership, which makes sense in terms of Tussah
> > wanting such an embryo. Of course, leadership was a characteristic of
> > Typhon too, which makes it harder to answer questions about whether Silk
> > is genetically related to Typhon.

> (How does it make it harder? It's an argument for kinship, a weak one but 
> still one.)

Yes, but if Tussah was motivated to get an embryo with leadership skills to 
drive out the corrupt Ayuntiamento, then great leadership skills are not 
much of a pointer to Typhon, as they might be if they appeared in a random 

> And now I must ask.
> What the hell is the purpose of Tussah.
> I mean, would the story fall apart if that character didn't exist?
> Would Gene Wolfe create such a character if there were no purpose for him?
> I think the answers are 'yes' for the first and 'no' for the second. 
> Ashley's theory points out a possible reason for Tussah's existence - his 
> actions provided the means for Quetzal to get on board the Whorl. I think 
> further debate on just how much of the story really depends on this 
> character we only hear about fragmentarily would be interesting.

He provides some of the backstory for the political situation in Viron, and 
he explains how a special embryo came to be implanted in an ordinary woman. 
He also provides Silk with a claim to the caldeship.

> Silk is 
> *someone-unknown-but-important-enough-to-have-their-offspring-preserved*'s 
> son,

Not really - Mucor's parents are unknown, and I don't think anyone believes 
there are clues to their identity in the text.

As for Typhon, if he wanted a child with Kypris he could have had him born 
on Urth, and it seems the most obvious thing for him to do!

> Silk is blond, people follow Silk. If he's not Typhon's son, why have him 
> be someone unknown's child? There comes a point when one must make a 
> little leap to reach a conclusion - otherwise there's nothing in the text. 
> The text will never explicitly unfold its secrets, or they wouldn't be 
> secrets. And if not to unfold them - and for that, little leaps are 
> needed - then what use is analyzing it?

I can see your point, certainly.  If he had some unique superpower like 
Mucor, there would be no reason to ask the question - the superpower would 
be enough to justify him being an engineered embryo.  The problem is that 
Silk's powers are seemingly not special enough that he needs to be 
engineered, so we ask why couldn't he simply have been the biological 
offspring of his mother.

We would lose Tussah's naming of him as calde - but presumably Wolfe could 
have changed the charter of Viron to make this unnecessary for the 

Now I agree there is a shortage of candidates for his biological parents - 
but that is to be expected, really, of a frozen engineered embryo.

But are Typhon and Kypris good candidates, really?  Typhon's sons and 
daughters by Echidna didn't have superpowers, and Echidna presumably came of 
good stock.  Kypris was Typhon's favourite concubine - a worthy achievement, 
certainly, but it hardly suggests that her children would be especially 
genetically equipped to rule whorls.  Tussah was apparently looking for an 
embryo with special powers, probably of leadership, and he paid a lot for 
Silk.  Would he really consider Typhon's son the ideal candidate?

Of course there is the possibility that the story of Tussah buying the 
embryo was a cover-up and the plan of Typhon was for his son to be born to 
lead the people onto the new whorl(s), with Tussah acting as his agent in 
this scheme.  However, this seems to perish on the rock of timing.  Pas was 
alive and in charge when the Whorl entered the Blue/Green system. He was 
killed shortly afterwards, thirty years before the events of BotLS.  Silk 
was born about a decade later.  But if Pas wanted Silk to lead the 
colonists, he'd have arranged for Silk to have been born around twenty years 
before arrival.  An adult Silk (or Silks) would have been around before 
Pas's death.  So it doesn't really seem to make sense for Silk to be 
somebody special to Typhon, whether his son, his clone, or his favourite 

I don't think the above argument has been posted before - it seems quite 
strong to me.  It could be argued, I suppose, that Echidna had all the adult 
Silks killed when Pas was killed, and none of them were in or near Viron. 
But then there is the problem that Echidna wasn't bothered at all when she 
met Silk while she was possessing Marble.

> Of course, there could be better answers to 'who are Silk's parents?' than 
> Typhon and Kypris, whoever Kypris is. But where are they? Can one say 'the 
> question of Silk's parenthood is unimportant'? (Maybe one can, I'm 
> asking.)

For the moment I see no very good alternative to the theory that he was an 
engineered embryo whose parentage is both unknown and irrelevant.

- Gerry Quinn

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