(urth) "been teaching literature for over 35 years"

Jerry Friedman jerry_friedman at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 6 10:48:02 PDT 2013

>The part about volcanoes, mountain building, and subduction, though, is probably based on "I remembered that we rowed across the crater of a volcano. Might it not have been the Cumaean's kettle? Urth's fires were long dead, as Master Malrubius had taught us..." I don't know of anything that contradicts that--is there something?
By the way, Cook has this part backwards.  He writes, "without vulcanism and tectonic plate induction in the ocean, carbon dioxide would not be removed from the atmosphere and recycled into the mantle where it can stay out of the atmosphere and not smother life."  However, subduction and vulcanism return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere after it's been sequestered in calcium carbonate on the sea floor.  Without plate tectonics, the atmosphere would lose all its carbon dioxide in a million years.
If Urth's tectonic activity has in fact stopped, then Wolfe does fail to address the problem of disappearing carbon dioxide--if it was known when he was writing.  On the other hand, despite Severian's speculation that tectonicism might have stopped before the evolution of humanity, the actual stopping time might be much less than a million years before his time.
Of course, Erebus and Abaia might be scouring extracting the CO2 from oceanic calcium carbonate to keep the ecosystem going, and their reason for wanting to enslave humanity might be only that they need humans to help with this process.  Shortsighted of Severian not to go along.
Jerry Friedman

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