The Seraph from Its Sepulcher


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Starwater Strains

"The Seraph from Its Sepulcher" is about a lonely missionary on an alien planet. They will be there, just as we will.


An archeologist visits a mission built by aliens on a planet encircling Mirzam. He talks with the lone(?) Catholic priest there.


  • This may be a version of Conrad's story The Secret Sharer, in which a ship captain hides a mysterious "double."
  • The title may be a reference to the story The Seed from the Sepulchre by Clark Ashton Smith.
  • Mirzam, Arabic for "Herald," is a blue-white giant star in the Canis Major constellation; it is also called Beta Canis Majoris. It is about 500 light years from Earth, so it's not surprising that Antony's journey began before Father Joseph Krska was born. It's not clear how Anthony will get a message back to the Homeworld for another person to be sent out in a reasonable time. Perhaps FTL flight and communication have been invented during his journey.
  • Reading may be a nearly-forgotten skill, with most people dependent on "outers" (holographic document readers). Automatic readers (and a consequent loss of reading skills) also appear in The Doctor of Death Island.
  • In the end, the priest experiences "forbidden desire" as a twitching in the shoulder blades. This indicates that the Seraph and the human priest have swapped bodies, because the Seraphs use their wings for nuptial flights. The Seraph was a larva (latin for "ghost") and it drew the priest to its tomb in nightly dreams. It said the priest would soon be free of it, but not completely. The priest will live with the Seraph's body for the rest of his life.
  • There are obvious parallels to the Resurrection and the "Christ lives in me" doctrine.
  • The aliens created a maze which makes access to the mission dangerous. Another dangerous maze appears in A Solar Labyrinth.

Unresolved Questions

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