(urth) Problematic element in chronology

Gerry Quinn gerryq at indigo.ie
Wed Jun 1 07:49:00 PDT 2011

From: "David Duffy" <davidD at qimr.edu.au>
> On Tue, 31 May 2011, Gerry Quinn wrote:
>> I think there is a fair amount of text suggesting that the journey took 
>> in the region of 300 years subjective.  I assume the vase was already old 
>> when it was brought aboard.
>> Time dilation factor of 2 or 6, I'm not sure it matters all that much. 
>> The energy needed is equal to the Whorl's mass multiplied by the time 
>> dilation, and in either case is enormous!
> I can't remember what evidence we have that the Whorl travelled at 
> relativistic speeds.  If not, then a trip of 50-70 light years [rough 
> limit of visibility since we don't know the absolute magnitude of the 
> dimmed sun] at 0.1 c...

The only evidence that it travelled at relativistic speeds is the seemingly 
greater passage of time on Urth since the launch.  In BotNS, Severian gives 
the impression that Typhon lived at least 1000 years ago (though it's a bit 
vague, and people of that era are vague about time anyway).  In the Short 
Sun trilogy, Rigoglio also gives us the impression that much longer than 350 
years has passed at Nessus - it feels like up to 2000 years.

I would argue that one possible reading is indeed that only 350 years passed 
on Urth - that is time for a lot of history, and nobody really comes out and 
gives an exact time except maybe Cyriaca says 'chiliads' once.  But on Urth 
maybe they say 'chiliads' like we say 'yonks'.  This would solve a couple of 
physics issues.

I don't really believe the 350 year reading, though, I think Wolfe winged 
the physics and that the red star being visible was a mistake.

I suppose one could even hypothesise that the dream travellers go to the 
future and come back, but there's no obvious reason why that should happen.

- Gerry Quinn

More information about the Urth mailing list