Gene Wolfe

Welcome to a fan site dedicated to author Gene Wolfe.

For recent news and rumors see The Lupine Nuncio

Soldier of Sidon
New Soldier Book
Most  recent
Wizard Knight
Start here!
The start
The Lexicon of Urth
Best reference

Links Here

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!

Links Elsewhere

Wolfe's reflections on the life of his friend, John Mayhew appeared in the July 2000 Locus

An 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 essays on 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.

French 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).

The Fifth Head of Cerberus Robert Borski's web page with detailed essays on Wolfe's early novella.

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.

An index of characters from The Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the conciliator. By Geoff Cohen.

Colin Glassey's Wolfe page

A role playing supplement based on the New Sun, for Steve Jackson Games' GURPSŪ. Written by Michael Andre-Driussi. Read more about it here.

The original 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 experimental psychologists.

SF Links

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.

Clark Ashton 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.

Christian Fandom 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.

Mythopoeic society web page, dedicated to the study of the Inklings (Lewis, Tolkien, Barfield, etc) and others.

page of SF book reviews, including some Wolfe books

A link to a clearing house of SF information on the web.

Processional
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

  1. The Shadow of the Torturer
  2. The Claw of The Conciliator
  3. The Sword of the Lictor
  4. 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 implied.

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 what fuligin, tribadists, or dimarchi are?

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

  1. Nightside the Long Sun
  2. Lake of the Long Sun
  3. Calde of the Long Sun
  4. 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

  1. On Blue's Waters
  2. In Green's Jungles
  3. 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.

Short Stories

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!


Recessional
"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 ()

Wolfe Books Available through Amazon

Books for Wolfe fans looking for gifts?