My comments on Peace, from a posting on the Urth email list.
Allusions to Christ in the Book of the New Sun
article by Stephen Palmer.
A great long interview
by James Jordan. Discusses religious themes in Wolfe's work. From 1992.
Another interview by Brendan Baber. From 1994.
Page about Lexicon
Urthus, by Michael Andre-Driussi. A wonderful companion for the New Sun series. Recommended.
A bibliography (incomplete)
My homepage and personal weblog
Picture of Gene Wolfe signing autographs at Worldcon 98
reflections on the life of his friend, John Mayhew appeared in the
July 2000 Locus
essay by Wolfe on Tolkien's significance hosted by Andy Robertson.
Ultan's Library A great site
for "Gene Wolfe Studies". Be sure to check it out!
Urth mailing list for discussions of
all Gene Wolfe works. Archives for
Urth and the defunct Whorl list are available.
The Templeton Gate A site with
Gene Wolfe and other SF luminaries, like Cordwainer Smith.
Crank Magazine's site.
Crank issue 2 published Wolfe's "Empires of Foliage and Flower",
a New Sun-related story formerly available only in a very expensive edition from Cheap
Street. The Best of Crank
is where you can get the story now.
web site about New Sun Has pictures of the French edition covers
(with really weird artwork) and other art (the duel with the averns is pretty neat).
Fifth Head of Cerberus Robert Borski's web page with detailed essays on Wolfe's
Gene Wolfe chat
session Transcript from Sci-Fi Channel.
From 1996. Unmoderated.
Don Maitz's cover art for The Citadel of the Autarch
Covers of the British Editions
Bruce Pennington did the British edition cover art for the New Sun books.
Very different from the Maitz work. Apparently Wolfe referred to Pennington's
cover art for Shadow when Severians recollects his leaving Nessus in Urth.
A picture of Wolfe not as good as the one I used to link to.
David Hartwell's web page.
Gene Wolfe's editor at Tor Books.
index of characters from The Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the conciliator.
By Geoff Cohen.
Colin Glassey's Wolfe page
playing supplement based on the New Sun, for Steve Jackson Games'
GURPSŪ. Written by Michael Andre-Driussi.
Read more about it here.
Pyramid Article from 1993 on GURPS New Sun is available in the
archives of Steve Jackson
Games's Pyramid Magazine. Subscription is required to access the article,
but if you are a gamer it's worth the annual $15US.
The original article can also be read for free in Pyramid sample archives.
Ever read Wolfe's story "When I was
Ming the Merciless" in the out-of-print collection Endangered
Species? I liked it when I did, but wasn't quite sure what Wolfe was
riffing off of, though it seemed to be something. Then I found this
website about the Stanford
Prison Experiment. Yikes! Interesting factoids about those zany
Argentinean writer Jorge Luis
Borges Cited by Wolfe as being quite an influence on him. I rather
enjoyed Labyrinths myself. Read
a bit from a brief interview where Wolfe discusses Borges.
Smith Another Wolfe influence, whose books are sadly hard to find nowadays.
The Gods of
Pegana I've become intrigued by Lord Dunsany,
an Irish author often credited with inventing modern fantasy. Wolfe's
story "The God and his Man" (collected in Endangered Species) is
very reminiscent of Dunsany's Pegana stories.
The Jack Vance Archive.
Jack Vance's Dying Earth series
is said by Wolfe to be part of his inspiration for the New Sun books.
Cordwainer Smith page. Andre-Driussi suggests that some of the
Urth of the New Sun may bear some relation to Smith's Instrumentality of
Mankind. Even if it doesn't (Wolfe apparently has not read Smith) Wolfe
fans will probably also appreciate Smith. James Jordan has an interesting
article about Christian themes in Cordwainer Smith.
www.cordwainersmith.com A fantastic
site for Smith run by one of his daughters.
Home Page One of many things in Wolfe that I find appealing is the Christian
religious component. The Christain fandom site can tell you about things with similar appeal.
society web page, dedicated to the study of the Inklings (Lewis,
Tolkien, Barfield, etc) and others.
of SF book reviews, including
some Wolfe books
link to a clearing house of SF information on the
We believe that we invent symbols. The truth
is that they invent us; we are their creatures,
shaped by their hard, defining edges.
When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin,
an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their
acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life--they are soldiers from that
moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then,
but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced
by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind
of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational
people know that things act of themselves or not at all.
The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe.
The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe is a science fiction writer, and author of
many novels and short stories. I was introduced to him
by James B. Jordan's many references to his works.
One of his best works is the four (or five!) volume
series The Book of the New Sun. The books in the series are
- The Shadow of the Torturer
- The Claw of The Conciliator
- The Sword of the Lictor
- The Citadel of the Autarch
There is also a "sequel" to the four books The Urth of the
New Sun, which is not strictly
necessary to the plot, but explains some things in more detail.
These books are currently available in three trade paperback editions
from Orb, an imprint of Tor
books. The first two novels are collected in Shadow and Claw,
the third and fourth are together in Sword and Citadel. Urth
of the New Sun is takes up the third "volume".
An unwritten sixth book might be
Wolfe's fiction is dense but rewarding, and his use of language is
often stunning. He makes good use of obscure words, not to show off, but to
enhance the grandeur and alienness of his settings. Would you know
The series is set far into the future. Earth's (or Urth's) sun is
dying out. The story is narrated by the main character,
Severian, a journeyman in the
Order of the Seekers of Truth and Penitence (a torturer). The books
chronicle his beginning life as part of his guild, through his exile
and wanderings and meetings with the strange cultures and inhabitants of
the Earth of the very distant future.
Religious and Biblical allusions abound; Severian is portrayed at times
in Christ-like dimensions, but is clearly in need of redemption himself.
His moral struggles are played out in his straightforward narration,
but they lie under the surface of his adventures.
Mysteries abound, and many secrets
are revealed to the careful reader. There are stories within
stories, and even a play within the story. The Book itself
is written by Severian, and a contrivance of the "translator" is to
include appendices explaining the "translator's" work.
Book of the Long Sun, Book of the Short Sun
Wolfe's last completed work was another series of novels set
in the same universe as The Book of the New Sun, but in
a very different environment: a miles-long hollow spaceship transporting
humanity to colonize the stars. The Book of the Long Sun chronicles
the life of Patera Silk, a priest of the gods of Mainframe (programs that
appear in the computer terminal Windows of the vessel) who is contacted
by a forgotten god, the Outsider, who gives him a mission.
The series is now complete with the release of the final book, and is
being reprinted in two omnibus editions
- Nightside the Long Sun
- Lake of the Long Sun
- Calde of the Long Sun
- Exodus from the Long Sun
The Book of the Long Sun has now been added to by Wolfe's new
series, the Book of the Short Sun. The cargo of the Long Sun
Whorl have made it to
Blue, the new colony world. Now Horn, a student of Patera Silk's,
must journey back to the Whorl to find Silk to get his assistance in
overcoming their difficulties. Not the least of which
is the alien and vampiric Inhumi. The books in this series are
- On Blue's Waters
- In Green's Jungles
- Return to the Whorl
The "Soldier" Series
I haven't read everything by Wolfe, but I'm working on it. He is
also acclaimed for another series of books, the Soldier
series. While Severian was cursed with eidetic memory, the Soldier
series is the journal of Latro, a Greek soldier who was cursed by the gods
to have recurrent amnesia every day or so. The books make for interesting
reading, I've heard. They are Soldier of the Mists and
Soldier of Arete, collected together in
Latro in the Mist.
Wolfe recently continued the series with Soldier of Sidon, and there may be another book to come.
Wolfe has done lots of short stories too. One collection, Castle
of Days, also contains essays Wolfe wrote about his writing of
the New Sun series, including a glossary of some of the more obscure terms
in the first book. Those essays were previously published as
Castle of the Otter. (The name came from LOCUS's misrepresenting
the name of the then forthcoming fourth book as "The Castle of the Otter".)
It has just been released in paperback. A delightful short story,
"Westwind", appears in the collection Storeys from the old
Hotel, which is now in trade paperback. Check it out!
"What struck me on the beach--and it struck me
indeed, so that I staggered as at a blow--was that if the Eternal
Principle had rested in that curved thorn I had carried about my neck
across so many leagues, and if it now rested in the new thorn (perhaps the
same thorn) I had only now put there, then it might rest in everything, in
every thorn in every bush, in every drop of water in the sea. The thorn
was a sacred Claw because all thorns were sacred Claws; the sand in my
boots was sacred sand because it came from a beach of sacred sand. The
cenobites treasured up the relics of the sannyasins because the sannyasins
had approached the Pancreator. But everything had approached and even
touched the Pancreator, because everything had dropped from his hand.
Everything was a relic. All the world was a relic. I drew
off my boots, that had traveled with me so far, and threw
them into the waves that I might not walk shod on holy ground"
The Citadel of the Autarch, Gene Wolfe
As I read more I'll add to this page. Feel free to send me interesting bits of
Wolfe lore, as you feel moved.
Comments to: Paul Duggan ()