24 April 2015

Gene Wolfe and The Book of the New Sun

There is an interesting (and thankfully succinct) piece on Gene Wolfe in the current issue of The New Yorker.

I vividly recall reading The Book of the New Sun fifteen years ago.  It is probably the most difficult fantasy series I've ever read.  Yet I enjoyed it thoroughly, and am grateful that I worked my way through the five books (the original tetralogy plus The Urth of the New Sun).


  1. I read them one at a time as they were published in the early '80s - before I'd ever read Lovecraft, Smith, Vance, Peake, Moorcock or even LOTR. I loved them, but I hated waiting a year for the next one to appear.

    I reread them a few years later, and many pennies dropped. I can think of few books that repay rereading as much as The Book of the New Sun. As the article says, despite his much-vaunted hyperthymesia, Severian is pretty much the poster boy for unreliable narration. Just because he remembers everything doesn't mean he understands everything - or anything. It's very clever writing.

    Also, the books are full of marvellous set-pieces and ideas that can be mined for gaming purposes: the citadel comprised of ancient spacecraft, the duel with alien flowers as weapons, the alzabo, the undines, Father Inire's mirrors, etc., etc.

    Nice little article. Thanks for the link.

    1. Glad to hear from someone who also appreciates Wolfe's masterpiece!
      I do plan on rereading the Book of the New Sun sometime. There are many other books in my queue before it, however.

    2. Great blog and really appreciate the Gene Wolfe love! I'm re-re-re-reading the series currently. One of my all time favorites!!!

    3. Thanks for the kind words, Randolph!


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).