Okay, we know that Severian's life is spared by the fact that the sunrise is delayed one morning when he is held by the autocthons.
During this extended night Severian sees stars from the wrong season. Stars he'd expect to see for that season where he in his native time, but this is presumably before the Urth's axis-shift.
When the sun does appear, it has already risen a considerable distance.
We are told in the afterward that the plausible cause is an eclipse of some sort, having discounted halting the Urth'srotation as too drastic, and mass-hypnosis as too pat.
Severian has a certain amount of control of time and space which seems to manifest itself most potently when he feels himself to be in dire need.
Severian has three friends, the Hierodules, who live backwards through time, and own a spaceship. The Hierodules are attentive listeners, and have drawn conclusions from Severians past stories, including the one that led them to find him among the autocthons.

Two conclusions that seem plausible from this are:

   (1)Severian worked some sorta time-hoodoo, but made a mistake because the fact of the axis-shift hadn't quite sunk into his head yet.

  Maybe he took the whole village through time, maybe he just opened up a passage in the Corridors of Time to looked in on the night sky of a different era (can other people see into such openings? Could Severian see the Green Man's passage?)

  Severian may or may not have enough power to accomplish such a task. He had enough power to get to this point in the past in the first place, but he seems to be of limited power several decades later when the villagers again threaten his life. I would definitely try to confine thoughts on Severian as the source of the eclipse to things he could have done right at that moment, as opposed to thinking about what he might go back in time, after the fact, to set up. For one reason, I think at any later point Severian would not have made the seasonal-astronomy mistake. For a second reason, it's a little too "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey."


   (2)The Hierodules ship is highly reflective, so that when they position it between the village and the sun, it reflects the

night sky from a different angle, thereby showing a different season's sky.

 Are there any previous descriptions of the Hierodule ship (and would it necessarily be the same ship they'd have in the remote past?) or any other evidence that they might have a reflective ship? Or a ship that could make itself reflective if needed (and it certainly would be a nice feature on a space craft)? Would light sails be as reflective as would be needed to produce the described eclipse? If they were, I think Severian wouldn't have described them as being fuligin and silver, but as mis-matched pieces of night sky. But then, maybe that's what he meant (I'd read it as the sails being fuligin on one side, and silver on the other).

The thing that gets me about this is: if Wolfe bothers to tease us with this event in the Afterward, I can't help but feel that the solution must point towards some other unstated plot point. Therefore, I find the two above conclusions suspect because they're so self-contained.

Anyone have any thoughts?


I think your number two is closer. But by "hierodule's ship" you seem to be referring only to the flying saucer timecraft first seen hovering over the tower of Baldanders. My hunch is that it is the other ship that features so prominently at the beginning of URTH.


I think it's much simpler. The ship is large and opaque, and passes between the sun and the stone town for a while at and after sunrise, then leaves. By the time the sun is revealed, stars that are normally obscured by daylight at that season are visible (which is how the townspeople know that the night has been prolonged).

This seems to me to be the explanation that Wolfe hints at:`the passage of some opaque body between the Old Sun and Urth' (_The Urth of the New Sun_, p. 371).

It's interesting that the event is miraculous from the point of view of the townspeople (regular astronomical events have been perturbed) but is explicable in terms of plausible physics (the interposition of the ship). The ship, however, is run by divine beings who are acquainted with Severian's special role, so we're back to miracles again!

I'd assumed it was that vessel too - the stars that are wrong for the season are wrong because they are normally drowned in the glare of the Sun - they wouldn't be visible for another few months in the future or past, except during eclipses.

So, just to plumb the depths of my ingnorance a little further... Why is Tzadkiel's ship causing eclipses? We know that it doesn't usually come any further in-system than the ring of Dis. Is it to make a dramatic statement of the fact that Severian is still under Tzadkiel's protective wing (so to speak)? To illustrate the fact that it, and all it's theological implications, is still a presence in this far-remote past? Or does it refer to some specific or implied plot point I'm missing out on?

Could someone discribe to me why Hildegrin attacked Apu-Punchau. I am not real clear as to his motives for do it. Re: motives for Hildegrin attacking Apu-Punchau. We have to guess. He claims to Severian that they're going to contact Apu-Punchau in order to recruit him for Vodalus et al. But then he seems to attack him, which makes it look as though the plan is really to nip the whole "New Sun" notion in the earliest bud by assassinating Apu-Punchau. Or cutting the helpline link between unaware Severian and Apu-Punchau (this sees Apu-Punchau as an active player on the team against Abaia, Erebus, and Co.).

Hildegrin appears to be surprised to see Severian out in the Stone Town, suggesting that Severian's presence wasn't a required part of the plan.

Hildegrin claims that it is all his idea, and that since he has done three big favors for the Cumaean she is obligated to help him in this quest. The reason why he disappears is that he was grappling with Apu-Puncau when Severian got too close, causing Apu-Punchau to implode and either take Hildegrin with him or propell Hildegrin into the Dawn Age.

When Severian tells Vodalus he has the Claw, this scene might aptly be termed "The Temptation of Vodalus." And Vodalus is tempted, but he says that his masters Abaia and Erebus would think him turned traitor, so he refuses.

Thus: Abaia and Erebus are in the anti-New Sun Entropy Gang (with Erebus being the big winner in the Ragnarok future timeline sweepstakes); Vodalus is their puppet. Hildegrin, learning something of the Big Picture in a Vodalarii upper echelon strategy session or by piecing it together himself, opts to go for the long shot "Terminator"-style sneak attack.

     Apu-Punchau was the Severian of the first "iteration" of Briah, before

the timeline was altered. (See _Citadel_ chapter XXXVIII, paragraph 5). I've never been adept at explaining temporal mechanics, so I hope you can get all you want to know out of the BotNS text itself.

> Apu-Punchau was the Severian of the first "iteration" of Briah, before > the timeline was altered. (See _Citadel_ chapter XXXVIII, paragraph > 5). I've never been adept at explaining temporal mechanics, so I hope > you can get all > you want to know out of the BotNS text itself.

I think Severian must be in error here, because in "our" timeline, near the end of "Urth of the New Sun," he becomes Apu-Punchau. As this hasn't happened to him yet when he writes _Citadel_, he doesn't realize that he too will end up as Apu-Punchau.

Or are you suggesting that the previous incarnation of Severian was Apu-Punchau, version 1, and "our" Severian is Apu-Punchau, version 2?

This suggestion, it seems to me, rests on the idea that the first Apu-Punchau died (for real), because Severian met his ghost in the Stone Town. Except, it wasn't a ghost; the Cumaean reached back through time to a period when Apu-Punchau was alive (or vice versa), just as Severian himself reaches through time (or alternate timelines) to work his resurrections and healing miracles. I think Severian was meeting his own future self, currently living in the past.

Apu-Punchau, in light of the events in URTH, was either:

(1) originally just a legend (i.e., no physical body) until Severian stepped into the role; or

(2) was always the post-deluge Severian.

Severian1 - the Severian of the first iteration of Briah, who gained the Phoenix Throne but did not bring the New Sun to Earth.

Severian2 - the Severian who we know, who gained the Phoenix Throne, *with the help of the Claw*, and did in fact succeed in bringing the New Sun back.

Tzadkiel, or whoever, saw the 'mistakes' of Severian1, and altered the timeline so there would be a Severian 2 who would succeed in saving Urth, although transforming it into Ushas.

Apu-Punchau1 - the Apu-Punchau who Severian2 meets in the Stone Town. Apu-Punchau1 was Severian1, but did not succeed in bringing the New Sun back, and for some reason (Mr. Driussi says it is entropy) is cast back in time.

Apu-Punchau2 - the man who Severian2 eventually becomes after the Urth-to-Ushas thing. He is, in my opinion, the person buried in the Citadel necropolis.

>I think Severian must be in error here, because in "our" timeline, near the end of "Urth of the New Sun," he becomes Apu-Punchau.<

     The name "Apu-Punchau" is so often associated with

Severian1/Apu-Punchau1 that confusion erupts. However, although Severian2 becomes Apu-Punchau2, Apu-Punchau2 and Apu-Punchau1 are not entirely in the same temporal circumstances. They are two different people, i.e. Apu-Punchau1 is *from the first iteration* and coming from the soon-Ragnarok Urth (he did fail), but Apu-Punchau2 is from the second iteration, and coming from Ushas, because he did "succeed."

     Put simply, Severian becomes Apu-Punchau2, a man who appears much the

same as the Apu-Punchau of the Stone Town (Apu-Punchau1) but is not the same. See below for my comments on the Stone Town.

>I think Severian was meeting his own future self, currently living in the past.

     I disaggree. In the Stone Town, I believe Severian2 was meeting himself

of a former iteration of Briah, Apu-Punchau1. Severian2 was NOT meeting the Apu-Punchau which he would become, Apu-Punchau2.

>Severian himself reaches through time (or alternate timelines) to work his resurrections and healing miracles.<

     I don't really know if Severian2 does this, or the Claw does this. I am

not quite sure how the Claw fits into the iterations of Briah, and it will be one of the most carefully scrutinized elements when I begin my rereading. However, I do know that, if Severian2 is correct, then Severian1 did not have the Claw.

I don't think it makes sense to talk about 2 Apu-Punchaus. It's certainly not enough to say that Severian1 was sent back in time "for some reason" and leave it at that! If Severian1 never brought the New Sun, then he neither gained the power to travel back in time nor became a significant player in the cosmic struggle. Why should "entropy", or anything else, take the trouble to cast him back in time? Where is the suggestion in the novels that this happened?

It seems to me that in Severian1's universe, there either was no Apu-Punchau because Severian never went back in time to become him, or, because both the Severian1 timeline and the Severian2 timeline branch off from the same pre-historic trunk, there was but it was the same "Severian2" Apu-Punchau we meet in UOTHS.

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