I had heard vague rumours about the science fiction author Gene Wolfe and heard writers, whom I very much admire, referring to his work this summer at Worldcon. But I didn’t do anything about it until after I joined an online SF writing critique site and stumbled across something interesting when I was made curious about the background of one of the people who had commented on one of my short stories. The site that gained my attention was for Lexicon Urthus, a 440 page book of years of fan analysis of Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series. I was intrigued that such a cult of fans could exist for an SF author I knew so little of.
So I read The Shadow of the Torturer (1980) which is the first novel in The Book of the New Sun. At first I found the language so wild and dense, I was daunted, but like Shakespeare’s rolling prose (and that is no idle comparison) you disarmingly and quickly get to a point where you can’t put the damn book down. Wolfe’s characterization and incredible imagery are stunning. His command of the language and ability to invent or re-use obscure words (and, by the way, make you feel that reaching for a dictionary isn’t really necessary although you’d like to if it wouldn’t be interrupting your reading) is incredible.
There is no question that I will be reading the rest of his books and likely re-reading The Shadow of the Torturer for pure pleasure.
There is enough written about Wolfe and certainly his work that I shouldn’t need to entice anyone to look into his writing. But if you absolutely need a spoiler that will goad you into reading this book then here it is: Wolfe conjures up a duel between two hooded men using alien flowers as weapons, makes it believable and creates an image that is very likely to be burned into your brain forever.
What can I say. Like Paul Linebarger, Octavia Butler and Neal Stephenson, Wolfe is a visionary writer and worth the time of any serious science fiction reader.
If wishes were horses
Golbing Time Dimension
- Using Excel to generate Inserts for SQL Server
- Georgian Manor, hard sells and pyramid schemes
- Newfie Euchre
- Data Obfuscation through Random String replacement in SQL Server
- Cycle Touring on a Budget
- Deciding against Code Collapse in SQL Server Management Studio 2008
- Samuel Strickland describing some of the Kawartha Lakes
- SQL Server 2005 file sizes and filegrowth
Tag! You’re it!2008 age Apocalypse art Atheism bicycling Biology book Canadian Christmas climate change comedy conservation cycling database Disney documentary environment environmental awareness Excel fantasy film game graphic novel Guelph Guelph Festival of Moving Media Guelph International Film Festival haiku hiking history humour Jane Austen long distance love Microsoft Montreal movie music mystery native Nature Neil Gaiman novel Old Growth Forest Oshawa performance philosophy Poem poetry Poetry Month quote recipe relationship review Robert J. Sawyer science science fiction short story silliness silly snow society Space opera speculative fiction Spring SQL SQL Server SQL Server 2005 Stephen King story The Education of Mike Moonblazer touring TV water writing