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      CommentAuthormrkvm
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (290.1)
    So, any Gene Wolfe fans around these parts? I've read a few of his works but there's still a ton of stuff I haven't. Curious which of his works people like and why, blah blah blah. Just trying to get a general discussion going.

    I definitely like what I have read (New Sun books, Wizard Knight, and some short stories) but wouldn't consider any of it particularly easy or light reading.
    • CommentAuthorPlakat
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (290.2)
    I started reading The Shadow of the Torturer, but life kind of got in the way and I never really found my way back.
    I liked it, though, but I would probably agree with you that it wasn't very light reading.
    • CommentAuthorSeverin
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (290.3)
    Try Soldier of the Mist. I'm not sure if it's as good as the Book of the New Sun, but I'm enjoying it more than the Wizard Knight.
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      CommentAuthorFractal
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (290.4)
    I made it through The Book Of The New Sun. Wooooosh. Not an easy read, but certainly not a bad read.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (290.5)
    I love almost everything I have read by Gene Wolfe...that said, no he is not usually easy to read.

    I guess my favorite set of books is the New Sun Quatralogy, or whatever they are calling it these days. That particular set of books got me into him as a writer and I go back to it on a regular basis to get grounded in his work. It is a truly literary series of books that places him in a realm nearly unrealized by any science fiction writer short of Phillip K. Dick. The series combines myth, hard science, far future worlds, fantasy and medieval literature in a way that is incredible and breathtaking. It is Post Modern and Medievalist and Science Fiction, I love being able to say that.

    I haven't read everytthing he has written, but I have read a lot of his stuff, and so far no klunkers.
    • CommentAuthorTominator2
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2007
     (290.6)
    I love almost everything I have read by Gene Wolfe...that said, no he is not usually easy to read.
    I agree. He singlehandedly changed the way I read.
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2007
     (290.7)
    I read Shadow & Claw recently. Yesterday, I told a friend of mine (to whom I had loaned Shadow & Claw) that should he feel the need to get me a Christmas present, Sword & Citadel would be a good one. He said he had already got my Christmas present, and that it was, in fact, Sword & Citadel. Sweet.

    I particularly like how Wolfe uses old words that have become obsolete as a kind of new language. I've always liked when authors play with language, such as Burgess in Clockwork Orange. It kind of forces you as a reader to look harder at what you're reading to make sure you understand everything.
    • CommentAuthortulpa
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2007
     (290.8)
    I had read the four part Book of the New Sun almost non stop over the course of a month. It was incredibly satisfying, and it's the type of read that once I got over the hump of being able to appreciate his writing style, I just plowed through it.

    I have yet to read anything else by him. Is Wizard Knight actually good? It's the only one I see in book stores besides Book of the New Sun.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeDec 15th 2007
     (290.9)
    I really enjoyed Wizard Knight, it is very different than the Book of the New Sun, but I thought a great read.

    I am suprised that is all your bookstore has, as he has written a lot of other stuff over the years adn an incredible amount of it is groundbreaking. I particularly recommend The Fifth Head of Cerberus, especially if you are looking for a single novel that tells one good story.
  1.  (290.10)
    I read the 'Book of the New Sun' back in the 80s when it was published. It was a struggle at first, but well worth it. I've read it numerous times since and it gets better ever single time. It's truly great - multi-layered and rich in so many ways.

    I've read the "Long Sun" books and the two "Soldier of..." books - they're great too (but I don't think they reach the level of the 'Book of the New Sun'). I read Wizard Knight and was disappointed.
  2.  (290.11)
    I am a big Gene Wolfe fan. His prose can be very dense and complex, but it is frequently rewarding to read and think through. Much of Wolfe's work is not an "easy read," which is sometimes problematic. But it is a kind of writing that I personally enjoy, where you have to think hard, check back, unpack some things, and reflect on what he is saying. Peace is a very good example of this (one of his less fantasy-oriented books). I have gotten a lot out of his books and they have had some influence on my own writing. A few have fallen flat; I am mostly through the first Wizard Knight book and I neither feel the organic pull of the language nor the curiosity to unpack the language and meanings of the prose. But there is a lot of great stuff out there: I certainly recommend the NewSun books, as well as The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, Free Live Free, and the Soldier books. I have not yet read the Long and Short Sun stuff, nor his most recent short story collections; I often find it hard to read too much Wolfe at a time. But his work is worth exploring!
  3.  (290.12)
    I love Gene Wolfe. I think I've read most of his work (except the story collections). But he's definitely a writer who will make you work. A world of puzzles in every book, and he doesn't always resolve them.

    "Peace" is one I need to go back to, since I didn't quite "get it" - I know there was more going on under the surface I wasn't paying attention to.

    And there's a fun little book with Neil Gaiman - "A Walking Tour of The Shambles" (Little Walks for Sightseers #16)


    I was kinda underwhelmed by Wizard Knight, but it was enjoyable.
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      CommentAuthorOwsler
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
     (290.13)
    New Sun books were amazing, I loved the little touches that suggested the medieval setting wasn't quite so medieval, like the painting. However, my God did it meander. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it makes it hard for me to recall exactly what happened in it. Though I remember the early scenes at the guild, the moment he leaves I'm a little hazy. I love it for its subtelty in laying out a post-apocalyptic world though it'll be a while before I head back for a re-read.
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      CommentAuthorSpider
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
     (290.14)
    "Peace" is one I need to go back to, since I didn't quite "get it" - I know there was more going on under the surface I wasn't paying attention to.

    Hear hear. Peace is one of those you have to re-read to even start grasping the nuances. The first time, you're drawn into the hallucinatoric mirrorland of stories and dreams, the second time you start to piece the fragments and flows of thought together and get a clear picture of what is happening between the stories. And the third time you finally understand which of the stories are stories, and which of the stories are realities presented as such. The first time through, it comes off as a somewhat easy, a bit lighthearted reading, pleasant and cozy. While the image I was left with after the last I read it was dark, brooding and a mystification with, How did he hide that story in the middle of the book? .

    Very Very recommended reading.
    If you want an easy introduction, his short story collections are adorable, some easy and light, others are dense and complex, and all quite enjoyable.
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
     (290.15)
    New Sun books were amazing, I loved the little touches that suggested the medieval setting wasn't quite so medieval, like the painting. However, my God did it meander. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it makes it hard for me to recall exactly what happened in it. Though I remember the early scenes at the guild, the moment he leaves I'm a little hazy. I love it for its subtelty in laying out a post-apocalyptic world though it'll be a while before I head back for a re-read.


    I too love those touches. I also liked the bit about how rats had developed a rudimentary language, suggesting a lot of time had passed since our day. The fact that rich people had flying cars while the poor walk everywhere was also kind of cool. Again, it's like how you said the medieval isn't so medieval.
  4.  (290.16)
    A few other things that showed immense passage of time in 'New Sun" - the scene where Severian climbs down a narrow pathway on a mountain side, passing geological layers of civilizations as he does so - the apparent fact that every mountain peak has been carved into the likeness of a mightly and forgotten ruler from the distant past - the Moon is green and forested - Mankind went to the Stars, got bored and came back. And most of them handled as merely background details, unremarkable and therefore not discussed by the characters.
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      CommentAuthorConojito
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2008
     (290.17)
    I've just finished The Fifth Head Of Cerberus, loved it, got me hunting for more. I'll be splurging on the New Sun books soon, I think.
  5.  (290.18)
    As Brent Wilcox and others have said, the New Sun books are just amazing. They have a baroque architecture and a thick linguistic texture to them. In a sense they do mender, but it is a meandering designed to create atmosphere and depth. The story is encrusted with the burdens of far history, and has lots of great details that you sometimes wish he would explore until you realize that they are not the point of the book. This is not alternative history or even future history, they are flourishes and buttresses to the larger edifice he is creating. He is essentially trying to alter the reader's perspective so that they can connect to these human creatures that are quite alien. It is really an attempt to create a cultural mindset and infuse it into the reader's mind, to get you to shift your own thinking and empathically connect to this world he has created.

    Peace is a different story. It is a true puzzle-box whose solution keeps evolving. I have to get it into my reading queue soon.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2008
     (290.19)
    I feel like the New Sun texts take the medieval writing style and perspective and then project it into a strange baroque future; at the same time we are getting the pulp sensibilities of the early science fiction writers like Robert E. Howard. The amount of world immersion makes the story difficult on some levels to read, but it also is what allows the reader to explore the world alongside Severian. We learn as he learns, and see the world through his experience. In a sense it is a science fiction bildungsroman.

    Anyhow, I feel that the novels are, in general, very difficult to read, from the standpoint of writing style and structure, but that they reward careful reading, and that, when examined as a whole story, the texts themselves are true masterworks in modern storytelling. If all Gene Wolfe had written were the Books of the New Sun he would be gauranteed a place in the history of the genre. It is just sad that he will not be recognized outside the genre as the great fantasist that he is, as these novels deserve to be aken much more seriously than they have been in the past.
  6.  (290.20)
    With luck, though, Wolfe won't become as obscure as the earlier American fantasist he supposedly resembles in many ways - James Branch Cabell (I can't say much about his work, but I generally understand the comparison, as both he and Wolfe wrote subtle, complicated and intertwined series of novels with sometimes obvious and sometimes obscure connections. And both have their own idiosyncratic "archaic" styles.)

    New Sun is really just a piece of the "Sun" story, since Long Sun and Short Sun are related to it and each other, and the combined work is incredibly subtle while being (to me) really compelling to read. I actually find Wolfe to be - on one level - a fast and exciting read, and on another level a deep philosophical puzzle.