I've just finished reading this series called "The Book of the New Sun"

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by jorgeva, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. jorgeva

    jorgeva New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    11,977
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia
    by Gene Wolfe.

    I had never heard of the author or the series before, but I picked up one of those in-flight magazines on an airplane and it had a feature of 16 of the best science fiction novels ever. The list went like this:

    The Time Machine--Wells
    The Foundation Trilogy--Asimov
    Childhood's End--Clarke
    The Stars My Destination--Alfred Bester
    Stranger in a Strange Land--Heinlein
    The Man in the High Castle--Dick
    Dune--Herbert
    Dangerous Visions--Harlan Ellison
    The Left Hand of Darkness--Ursula Le Guin
    Dying Inside--Robert Silverberg
    Helliconia Spring--Brian Aldiss
    The Book of the New Sun--Gene Wolfe
    Neuromancer--Gibson
    Hyperion--Simmons

    and then two anthologies.

    Anyway, the little summary for BOTNS read like this: "Being SF's most literary, and in some ways most religious, masterpiece, the multi-part novel by Wolfe feels more like fantasy, with strange and shadowy landscapes, aging and immense buildings, arcane and poetic language. Yet it is science fiction of the highest order, a tale of a young man's progress through an astoninghingly evolved landscape, populated by strange beasts and intricate cultures. Set so far in the future that the sun itself is dim, Wolfe's book requires careful reading, but rewards you on every page. It is currently available oin two volumes: Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel.


    Well, the part about being set super far in the future got me intrigued, so I picked up Shadow and Claw.

    It is really, really good. It is written in first person and unfolds kind of like a mystery, kind of like fantasy, and kind of like an anthropological study on weird, alien (not necessarily in the extraterrestrial sense) shit way in the future. That last bit, to me, is the most intriguing and compelling part. To imagine that at some point in the future there may be cultures who mine the Earth for incredibly ancient artifacts and live among the ruins of far future civilizations, artifacts and ruins that to people in 2005 are still tens of thousands of years in the future. . well, that is enough to draw me in to the series totally.

    Only drawbacks, if you want to call them that, are that it is slow-reading and the vocabulary is sometimes really obscure. Sometimes I had to reread passages 3 or 4 times to feel like I 'got' it. Also, are a lot of very unfamiliar words which will require you to look them up even if you got 800 on the verbal part of your SATs. That is, of course, assuming your dictionary has words like 'dimarche' and 'sabretache'.

    The payback for this difficulty is that the story and effort is really rewarding. It reminds me of when I read The Sound and the Fury for the first time. I felt almost as if I was sleepwalking through the book. A second reading and I realized that it was probably one of the best books I'd ever read at the time (11th grade).

    I am convinced that a re-reading of BOTNS will be even better than the first, always a sign of good literature.
     
  2. Acesn8s

    Acesn8s The Deadman's Hand

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2002
    Messages:
    6,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Allentown PA
    I've been picking at Shadow of the Torturer for a few years now. I'm about 100 pages into it and haven't really been grabbed. I keep shelving the book as something new comes along and then picking it back up and starting over.
     
  3. jorgeva

    jorgeva New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    11,977
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia
    I could see that. It's really dense and you kind of have to be in the mood for it. I got hooked like 20 or 30 pages in when Severian is talking about the torturer's tower and mentions the propulsion chamber and the gun room; also the part where he talks about the warrior with a glass visor, bearing a strange banner (!). It got me thinking about other mysteries and such that might be revealed. I got started on a weekend when I could devote like 8 hours to getting into, so I think that helped.
     
  4. Missile Command Kid

    Missile Command Kid New Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    The series has been sitting on my shelf since the summer. It looks really interesting, but the dense prose has been holding me back too. Maybe I'll get started on it again!
     

Share This Page