(Japanese cover to Claw of the Conciliator by Yoshitaka Amano.)
I've decided that January 2010 is going to start of with the project I'm calling "New Year of the New Sun." To wit, I'm re-reading The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It is what has, in my adult life, aroused the same fervor that J.R.R. Tolkien got out of the very young Mordicai. If Frank Herbert's Dune had followed through on its promises, maybe it would rank up here-- but that is the only seed that ever came close. I think Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is easily one of the most important works I've ever read, & I dare everybody to give it a read. It takes its cues from Borges, ultimately-- a reviewer once called 2666 a book Borges would write about, rather than a book he'd write-- the Book of the New Sun is the novel that Borges actually would write, but was too scared too. Yeah, I said it! We are talking language so rich you could plant trees in it, that is how loamy his diction is. To wit, I put a dictionary of the words used in my best of the year round-up. Which isn't to say he uses made up words; no! Not a bit of it. Con-lang was Professor Tolkien's game; Gene Wolfe's New Sun is full of words you've never heard of, but they are certainly real. Now-- you don't need a dictionary. A brief familiarity with archaic terminology & some Latin & Greek roots should do you fine, or besides that, context clues should provide. See-- Gene Wolfe can write. He's not here to show off, to toss around $50 words to confuse you. Oh no, Gene & his beloved unreliable narrators are here to show case the Dying Earth. Oh-- there are so many things I want to tell you, spoilers I want to take for granted, but I won't. I've written them & then deleted them. My point is, I'm re-reading them for the first time, & I want everyone to join in with me, so we can talk about it. This is the greatest living writer we are talking about, here. So come on, sign up. I dare you. You can get it in two parts: the first half is Shadow & Claw which consists of Shadow of the Torturer & Claw of the Conciliator. The second half is Sword & Citadel which is comprised of Sword of the Lictor & Citadel of the Autarch. Don't be confused by the fantasy art covers-- these should, absolutely, be thought of as high literature. I'm gonzo for them, & want you to be, too. So who is in? Some of the Kit Marlowe & Co. folks have posted about it, & so have Edbury & Jenny!
Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun' by Gene Wolfe.
Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe.
Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe.
Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe.
Innovation's "Gene Wolfe's THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER" #1
Shadows of the New Sun: Wolfe on Writing / Writers on Wolfe edited by Peter Wright.
Attending Daedalus: Gene Wolfe, Artifice, & the Reader by Peter Wright.
The Book of the Old Sun by John V. Marsch.
Discussion Thread One.
Discussion Thread Two.
Discussion Thread Three.
kromelizard Discusses symbiosis, mind-reversal, & Urth of the New Sun.
aslant gives a feminist reading in her review of Shadow of the Torturer.