(urth) Thea's Identity

Thomas Bitterman tom at bitterman.net
Thu Apr 18 09:43:53 PDT 2013

On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 6:04 PM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net>wrote:

> So the House Absolute would correspond to 666 Saltimbanque in that (1) it
> is sustained through cloning (2) it represents a dying ruling lineage (3)
> it will never come back. Inire would correspond to (can't remember her
> name---the matriarch[?] of the house).
> It uses cloning and the seraglio to preserve itself as well as to keep the
> gene (hah!) pool from getting too small, much as we might rescue a nearly
> extinct species of big mammal. And you're right that we should carefully
> account for where the Servants come from, because they are the source of
> the next Autarch. If all clones are servants, the best servants are clones.
> The selfish gene doesn't entirely leave the picture, and in fact given the
> vast time scale stays well in the center.
> Thanks Thomas. I like it.

As another bonus, the Autarch is the "self-ruled", or, more colloquially,
"the boss of himself".  Who actually does what the Autarch tells them?  The
servants of the House Absolute, and the army.  If both the servants and the
soldiers are (pretty much) clones, then he is literally just the boss of
himself.  It's the type of joke that feels unfunny in just the right way
for Wolfe to have made it.

But is there a passage indicating the servants are derived from royals?

This would be the sort of thing that would be kept under the tightest wraps
to avoid questions about the succession.

A tougher question is: if cloning technology exists, what is gained by
castrating the previous Autarch?  The stated reason is to remove any doubts
about who will get the throne next - an offspring might contend with
Severian.  But, given cloning (or sperm banks, even) castration would seem
to be ineffective.  In any case, if the next Autarch is always a servant,
why worry about an Autarch's natural-born son (unless they become servants)
- they don't seem to be eligible?

Even "The War Nerd" likes Gene Wolfe:
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