Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun......Um....WOW

Well, I had just finished reading (and being disappointed in) Black House when I finally got around to re-reading this series. Sort of. See, I read these back in middle school as part of my whole sci-fi/fantasy fixation back then. While I slogged my way through most of the series back then, I literally had no idea what was going on. Wolfe’s series is quite different than the Piers Anthony/Weis & Hickman schlock I was reading then. Of course, back then I just got frustrated and blamed the books.

So I finally decided to be brave enough to give this (admittedly difficult) series another try. WOW. I am so glad I did. This stuff is just so impressive. On the surface it is a story of Earth (Urth) in the far future where they have forgotten their history. A torturer is tossed out from his guild for showing mercy to a prisoner and begins to explore his strange world. He then goes on many adventures and eventually becomes ruler of his world. None of the above is spoilerish by the way and is all aluded to by the protaganist as he is telling this tale while he is leader.

There is just so much depth and subtlety to the story it is unbelievable. There are so many things I had to read twice or three times to get the true meaning of and there are so many subtle hints as to what is really going on, its crazy. There are many times you will want to grab a dictionary, but try to just go with the narrative. Most of what he is trying to say will become clear. I just love all the hints of what really happened in their past and all the characters.

Imagine figuring out that a character is a cyborg (from the viewpoint of a character who has no idea about technology) or transporters in hidden chambers of collapsed skyscrapers. Or how about an antechamber that people waited generations in, while being served coffee and pastries every day? Crazy, brilliant stuff. Because the narrator often has no idea what is really going on or the meaning of speech he hears, you have to figure out much of the puzzle yourself, but the whole thing is so well written and intricately plotted, that it is a lot of fun. God, if more sci-fi/fantasy was like this, I wouldn’t have written off the genre years ago.

Now I’m afraid of being spoiled, but I’ve heard good things about Le Guin. The Dispossessed and * The Left Hand of Darkness* are next after I finish the last two books of the New Sun series.

New Sun fans- are the other series (e.g. Long Sun) as good? What about Wolfe’s other works? Please, I’d love to hear what some other people think of these books and related works.

I read “Shadow of the Torturer” a long long time ago, and didn’t care for it; perhaps I’ll have to have another go at it, like you did.

“The Left Hand of Darkness” is quite a wonderful book,and you’ll probably like it. “Venus Plus X” by Sturgeon deals with the same themes, but is not nearly so subtle.

I enjoyed New Sun immensely, when I read it some years back. Wolfe has a jaw-dropping ability to bend genre and narrative technique.

I can’t recommend Left Hand of Darkness enough. Amazing book.

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

BoTNS rocked my world. I have reread them several times since my first reading. Few authors can blend such massive erudition and evocative ability with scientific precision and downright mystic charm. I am currently trying to read every scrap Gene Wolfe has ever written.

I was born and raised on Left Hand and The Dispossessed, both of which I would recommend very highly. Curiously, my favorite LeGuin is a minor work she wrote called City of Illusions. The more I think about it, the more similarities I seen between it and BotNS. Check it out.


And Gene Wolfe moves up a few more places on my “to read once I quell my burning rage” list.

Can’t you take some penicillin to clear that up? :smiley:

If you liked Wolfe’s New Sun series, I would strongly recommend one of his first works, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, three interconnected novellas set on an alien planet.

I also enjoyed his Soldier of the Mist, about an amnesiac ancient Greek warrior in the world of mythology. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to find the first volume of the series to date.

LeGuin is superb, one of the finest SF authors, her works infused with a fine understanding of anthropology and sociology. The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness are my favorites, but I would highly recommend any of her works, including the short stories.