(urth) Seawrack

Lee severiansola at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 22 08:14:09 PST 2013

>Darrell Burgan: The more I think about it, the more confused I 
>Darrell Burgan: the more I think about it, the more confused I am about the role 
>of Seawrack in the Short Sun novels. She is clearly an important character in OBW, 
>but there is little information about her origin, or even how she is involved in the 
>many great arcs of the story.

Regarding her origin, I think there are two conflicting stories presented.
One is that she is a human girl who happened to fall into the water and was 
taken under the wing (so to speak) of the monstrous Mother who nurtured her
and mutated her into a sea being.

I think that story is a lie and a deliberate deception to make her more 
acceptable and appealing to Horn. I think her true origin can be found
between the lines.

Seawrack is a female figure who was budded off from the larger mass of
the giant undersea monster/god called The Mother. This is in parallel to
the female buds we see on the back of Great Scylla in RttW. And probably
also in parallel to the production of undines by Abaia on Urth.

Abaia is conflated with a boat armed with cannon in BotNS and I think the same
thing happens when Horn encounters the all-black pirate ship with its 
female crew. Seawrack loses her arm when Horn shoots and hits the most
prominent female on that boat. I think that "pirate ship" was The Mother.

In mythology, Echidna is the "mother of all monsters" (Typhon is the "father"
but that's a different thread). By some accounts, Echidna is the mother of
the sirens (beautiful but monsters nonetheless). Two of the Whorl goddesses
have the names of sirens, Molpe and Thelxiepeia. On Blue, the Mother's genesis 
of the siren Seawrack (not her real name) establishes her connection to Echidna 
for me.
>I can't escape the feeling that understanding her is somehow key to 
>understanding the Short Sun epic.

Seawrack is a big part of OBW. In the next two books, she is there, but mostly
just as a presence, a memory, a longing. A song that continues to sing in Horn's

I find the explanation of her importance to be autobiographical in nature. Just
as I get the sense that Horn's relationship with Nettle and his children (natural
and inhumi) is meant to reflect something of Wolfe's feelings for his own family,
I think Seawrack serves a similar purpose. What more can be said? Isn't there
someone in your life who was a "Seawrack"? Someone who is still provoking a sense 
of wistful longing?

Here is Gene Wolfe's response when asked about Seawrack by an interviewer from 
Christian Fandom: 

>DJB: What's going on with Seawrack in On Blue's Waters? She almost seems like a rape 
>victim. What does her character's reactions signify?  

>GW: If you can't understand Seawrack, I can't make you understand her.


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