gene wolfe's book of the NEWSUN!!!!! reading club

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i'm reading chapter one of shadow of the torturer starting now

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 06:00 (six years ago) Permalink

i could get behind this, if i can find it for kindle

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 17 May 2012 08:20 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm not ready to read them yet. this year though. definitely.

scott seward, Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:49 (six years ago) Permalink

i'd do them over the summer, but i'm not sure i'll get past the first one

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:01 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean the gimmick with them is that they are just a meandering, unreliable narrator a la casanova, right?

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:04 (six years ago) Permalink

I can't find these, actually. I picked up a short story collection.

poxen, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:12 (six years ago) Permalink

remy - nope!

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:22 (six years ago) Permalink

read the first one, kinda stalled on the 2nd one now and taking a break to read a robert b parker novel.
i will be happy to discuss this with you cuz it is... intersting. i think i like it. but somehow i go stalled on the 2nd cuz i felt it was becoming too generic? idk.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:26 (six years ago) Permalink

I'm in for summer, either way

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:27 (six years ago) Permalink

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

mookieproof, Thursday, 17 May 2012 23:42 (six years ago) Permalink

awesome books, I can't commit to a re-read but I'm looking forward to this thread

los blue jeans, Friday, 18 May 2012 00:01 (six years ago) Permalink

i was going to read 'island of doctor death' and then go to this but island of dr death is triggering both the literary-prose and genre-fiction versions of my 'i just can't be bothered' button, and as such has been parked next to the toilet for something like a week

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (six years ago) Permalink

i just noticed this is on the noise board, i forget the noise board exists

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (six years ago) Permalink

pardon my cornell notes

"a thousand ages in they sight / are like an evening gone / short as the watch that ends the night / before the rising-sun" <- is this about god? is it about severian and his photographic memory, ruminating on mortality even though his life seems like a thousand ages to him? is it about the experience of reading this book? is it about the resurrection of the righteous? is it about the long decline of man before the destruction of earth?

it is a paraphrase of psalm 90, which in the king james version goes (SPOILER ALERT RE: URTH OF THE NEW SUN)

" For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up."

"resurrection and death" <- why inverted? especially when the first chapter skips the resurrection entirely and begins in the "and" section. is it normal to go swimming on foggy nights? damn, these kids must have had some crazy goosebumps.

why does severian imagine cutting

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:34 (six years ago) Permalink

haha actually SPOILER ART RE: corridors of time!!!

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (six years ago) Permalink

er SPOILER ALERT

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (six years ago) Permalink

whoops that got "cut off" if you will

why does severian imagine cutting off vodalus' head? does he secretly hate vodalus? is he afraid of one day having to betray vodalus?

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:36 (six years ago) Permalink

http://butdoesitfloat.com/This-was-the-first-time-that-he-had-ever-looked-into-the-labyrinth-of

^^ this is what i imagine nessus looking like

the late great, Saturday, 19 May 2012 21:45 (six years ago) Permalink

wow awesome thread! i am almost done with the last book, so very timely for me. these books are amazing.

bene_gesserit, Saturday, 19 May 2012 23:50 (six years ago) Permalink

I am gonna reread along with this thread.

mick signals, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:54 (six years ago) Permalink

actually i guess the resurrection might refer to the grave robbery

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:58 (six years ago) Permalink

book one just arrived to my kindle.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Sunday, 20 May 2012 01:45 (six years ago) Permalink

or his exile is the resurrection? but that doesn't make sense, resurrection's not like exile.

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 04:55 (six years ago) Permalink

xpost with the scifi fantasy thread - here's wayne barlowe's illustration of an alzabo. i pictured them looking far more canine for some reason, but i love this illustration.
http://lcart1.narod.ru/image/fantasy/wayne_barlowe/gtf/Wayne_Barlowe_Alzabo.jpg
i have a lot i want to talk about but you are all just getting started and i don't want to spoil anything! so i'll wait til you're done to join the discussion.

bene_gesserit, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:49 (six years ago) Permalink

lol i have read this twice and remember remarkably little of it

mookieproof, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:53 (six years ago) Permalink

That thing looks like a fanged rhino crossed with Dumb Donald.

Ian Hunter Is Learning the Game (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 May 2012 00:01 (six years ago) Permalink

I always pictured a large hyena. Are those its eyes in its jowls?

mick signals, Monday, 21 May 2012 02:29 (six years ago) Permalink

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

― mookieproof, Thursday, May 17, 2012 7:42 PM (4 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

might do this and this

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Monday, 21 May 2012 15:06 (six years ago) Permalink

picked this up again as i wanted to take a break from the country music bio i was reading. and

SPOILER

the part where they 34t th34cla and he somehow gets her memories is the kind of stuff i like about this series.

one dis leads to another (ian), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 00:16 (six years ago) Permalink

finished chapters 2 and 3, not sure what to say about them quite yet ... thinking

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:52 (six years ago) Permalink

findin this v hard to get into

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:15 (six years ago) Permalink

why?

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 17:14 (six years ago) Permalink

keep fallin asleep after every paragraph, tbh. it's dense.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:55 (six years ago) Permalink

it is dense. i suggest reading aloud in a foppish voice.

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 03:49 (six years ago) Permalink

^^^ lol.

i find it a bit of a hard read too, because the action moves a lot slower than a lot of what i have been reading lately, and i also fall asleep reading it. but.. i am keeping on. it's a strangely episodic book and i think some of the episodes are more engaging than others tbh.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 24 May 2012 15:29 (six years ago) Permalink

If you can find the audio version, read by Roy Avers for the National Library Service for the Blind, it's a nice version.

Spent the last 5 minutes looking for an old photo I remember, of Roy Avers in his big glasses, but can't find it.

mick signals, Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:50 (six years ago) Permalink

read that as Roy Ayers and got excited.

scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:57 (six years ago) Permalink

you should read this book and get excited

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:58 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm gonna. but not now. i have all three in hardcover.

scott seward, Friday, 25 May 2012 00:18 (six years ago) Permalink

i am on chapter 3 now

remy bean, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:01 (six years ago) Permalink

Everybody Loves the New Sunshine

mick signals, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:22 (six years ago) Permalink

lolllllll

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (six years ago) Permalink

the one thing I completely remember skipping when I read this a long time ago was that lengthy play at the end

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (six years ago) Permalink

ah you missed the whole point of the series then

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 06:03 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm glad i'm learning more about jonas.
it seemed like between the end of book 1 and the beginning of book 2 he became severian's best buddy without much explanation. i guess there is a lot that goes unexplained in these books tho.

one dis leads to another (ian), Friday, 25 May 2012 15:32 (six years ago) Permalink

there is a gap of a few weeks or even a couple months between shadow and claw i think

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:39 (six years ago) Permalink

i do think severian does explain why he likes jonas so much

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:41 (six years ago) Permalink

guys i am reading gene wolfe's wiki and:

After returning to the United States he earned a degree from the University of Houston and became an industrial engineer. He edited the journal Plant Engineering for many years before retiring to write full-time, but his most famous professional engineering achievement is a contribution to the machine used to make Pringles potato chips.[5]

HOLY SHIT!!

bene_gesserit, Monday, 28 May 2012 04:28 (six years ago) Permalink

This thread has made me revisit the series again, finished Shadow of the Torturer a couple of days ago. Much much much better the second read through. Good value for money, these books...

Mercer Finn, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 20:02 (five years ago) Permalink

cool

the late great, Thursday, 4 October 2012 04:17 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

While Baur was the true inventor of the Pringles crisp, according to the patent, Liepa was the inventor of Pringles.[9] Gene Wolfe, a mechanical engineer-author known for science fiction and fantasy novels, developed the machine that cooks them.[10]

Ward Fowler, Monday, 17 December 2012 15:34 (five years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

well, as usual, i'm sorta with it because i'm reading through these (just finished the citadel of the autarch aka BOOK TWO) and at the same time not with it all, because i'm like a year too late for you all.

so far, i think my favorite part may have been the botanical garden chapters in the first book. honestly, i could read an entire tetralogy based on that concept alone - entering different sections of the building, dripping in and out of time and space. i'm hoping that they return there for some reason during the last half of the book of the newsuuuuuuuuuun.

i was really thrown off at the beginning of the second book (citadel) because gene apparently skipped forward a decent amount of time in the narrative without explaining why. suddenly, jonas is tight with him, and dorcas is his sex porpoise. speaking of, major lols at the part where he's like "i love dorcas. she is the best and i love her so much. she is my porpoise. <3" and then literally 2 paragraphs later he's somehow alone with jolenta and he's like "her breasts were like giant melons that i wanted to slurp left and right, i freed her perfect thighs and steamed up the boat in public. 2 hours later we returned to the campsite with melon juice all over us and for some reason dorcas was angry. i love dorcas so much."

i also enjoyed the weird witch/town resurrection thing at the end of book 2, although i didn't really understand what happened. i started to read the part of this thread that dealt with that but quit because i don't want to ruin anything.

anyone else still in the middle of this thing? are you all reading book of the old sun now? "where are they now?"

Z S, Monday, 15 July 2013 04:13 (four years ago) Permalink

keep reading

the late great, Monday, 15 July 2013 05:30 (four years ago) Permalink

i read "urth of the new sun" (book five) and loved it

then i tried the long sun series, found it boring, abandoned it in the middle of book one

the late great, Monday, 15 July 2013 05:31 (four years ago) Permalink

lol me too

mookieproof, Monday, 15 July 2013 05:41 (four years ago) Permalink

keep reading!
i bought urth of the new sun, but i still haven't read it. it is next to my bad in a pile.

i guess i'd just rather listen to canned heat? (ian), Monday, 15 July 2013 17:42 (four years ago) Permalink

i finished a book last night so maybe i will read it... now.

i guess i'd just rather listen to canned heat? (ian), Monday, 15 July 2013 17:44 (four years ago) Permalink

'next to my bad'

;_;

mookieproof, Monday, 15 July 2013 17:50 (four years ago) Permalink

I'm pausing briefly so that I can read Desert Solitaire before my Utah vacation in a couple weeks, but then I will be back in the thick of it. Can't wait!

Z S, Monday, 15 July 2013 17:58 (four years ago) Permalink

it is next to my bad self

i guess i'd just rather listen to canned heat? (ian), Monday, 15 July 2013 18:39 (four years ago) Permalink

urth of the new sun is crammed with so many WTF moments

the late great, Monday, 15 July 2013 18:42 (four years ago) Permalink

you know that bit about sufficiently advanced tech seeming like magic? urth of the new sun pulls off that trick better than any book i've ever read

btw if you really love BoTNS and plan on multiple rereadings I'd highly recommend you pick up "lexicon urthus"

I'm sort of addicted, have done five rereadings and just reread citadel of the autarch again

the late great, Monday, 15 July 2013 18:47 (four years ago) Permalink

I think I'm going to start a religion based on BoTNS, engine summer and delany's triton, i just keep rereading those instead of new books

the late great, Monday, 15 July 2013 18:49 (four years ago) Permalink

I got to echo lamp upthread, i really wish i had found these books as engaging as i find reading late great's summaries and theories of them. Reading them was a grey and flat experience and i cant remember a thing nor even how far i got, two or three books.

But thread makes me want to try again.

dub job deems (darraghmac), Monday, 15 July 2013 21:42 (four years ago) Permalink

The ones i compulsively re-read are the six robin hobb ones, decent thread idea imo

dub job deems (darraghmac), Monday, 15 July 2013 21:43 (four years ago) Permalink

Reading them was a grey and flat experience

i would describe it as morose and dry, but very very funny and genuinely stirring.

the late great, Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:23 (four years ago) Permalink

No doubt that you're gettin something from it i'm not, i wish tbh.

dub job deems (darraghmac), Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:53 (four years ago) Permalink

it's because i read it out loud in a comedy voice

the late great, Tuesday, 16 July 2013 01:19 (four years ago) Permalink

ysi?

dub job deems (darraghmac), Tuesday, 16 July 2013 01:20 (four years ago) Permalink

i'm with darragh but want to believe that the fault lies with me and not the text. i mean, i wouldn't describe them as "flat and dry", but the central character and his quest didn't engage my interest. midway through the second novel, i realized that i was reading only for the islands of strangeness (often quite beguiling). also, i became obsessed to a debilitating degree with researching and documenting the definition & etymology of every single unfamiliar word. stopping was a medical intervention basically.

twerking for obvious reasons (contenderizer), Tuesday, 16 July 2013 02:43 (four years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

just started reading for second time. enjoying clues to things i know about from first time, e.g. talos. also things that seemed mystifying/tangential -- e.g. jungle hut in botanical gardens - now have a relevance. was expecting to have missed stuff but surprised by exactly what. totally missed that the citadel is like a launch site or space port, and the towers are disused rockets, even though it is explicit said, at least of the torturer's tower. of course, i have as many unanswered new questions as i had first time, if not more.

one thing that i really love above these books is how wolfe uses language that 1) creates a setting both familiar and strange, appropriate to a world we know but far distant in time; 2) dislocates the narrative in time, which is obv important thematically

Roberto Spiralli, Friday, 9 August 2013 13:31 (four years ago) Permalink

what are your thoughts on the jungle hut?

the late great, Saturday, 10 August 2013 01:44 (four years ago) Permalink

i think first time i conceived of the jungle room as an exhibit, artificially constructed. now knowing elements that are introduced later, it is clear that they enter a physical space that exists in the past, early 20th c with the prop plane i guess.

one thing i noticed is that the shaman guy talks like someone from severian's present. i don't know if there is anything that suggests whether that is from exposure to visitors or if he is actually from that present. i had looked up his name and it is a general term for a shaman from south africa. with nessus seemingly located in south america, i don't know if this supports the idea that he is from that present arrived from africa (more likely than he'd traveled from 20th c africa). the africa thing could be a total red herring though, the name could just be one of the translation quirks.

probably the big question to answer is why does the woman not see sev and agia. this has me stumped. are the shaman and the guy just 'sensitive' as suggested? something, maybe the vibrations of the hut, made me think it was more that she was not seeing them for some reason. it feels like there is something more significant to it, but i wonder if part of wolfe's genius isn't just suggesting significance where it doesn't really exist.

and overall there is the question of why, why are the botanic gardens there at all. it seems like a big production on part of inire. do these windows serve a practical purpose for him; is there some resource he is accessing? the idea of people getting trapped in the rooms is intriguing and possibly a clue to their purpose. is there a motivation to trap 'sensitive' people. is there specifically a motivation to waylay sev?

anyway, even as i think and type i feel like i am either missing some key elements revealed later that i haven't connected back, or else i am missing the point by thinking in more practical rather than thematic terms.

so, this is just me muddling through. is there an accepted reading of that scene?

Roberto Spiralli, Saturday, 10 August 2013 02:54 (four years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

good questions!

the late great, Sunday, 19 January 2014 03:33 (four years ago) Permalink

at first, wolfe's prose seemed distressingly dense and even somewhat comically pretentious

i actually think severian is supposed to be somewhat comically pretentious

the late great, Sunday, 19 January 2014 03:35 (four years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Almost at the end of a second re-read. Pottering around on the internet I found this, Gene Wolfe on J.R.R. Tolkien: http://www.thenightland.co.uk/MYWEB/wolfemountains.html

Striking especially after reading the final words of the Autarch: "Until the New Sun comes, we have but a choice of evils. All have been tried, and all have failed. Goods in common, the rule of the people... everything. You wish for progress? The Ascians have it. They are deafened by it, crazed by the death of Nature till they are ready to accept Erebus and the rest as gods. We hold humankind stationary... in barbarism. The Autarch protects the people from exultants, and the exultants... shelter them from the Autarch. The religious comfort them. We have closed the roads to paralize the social order... Until the New Sun..."

I'm basically a progressive atheist, and all this stuff rubs me up the wrong way. I love and admire the book a great deal, but am wondering if some of their political / religious content is uncomfortable or troubling for other readers?

Mercer Finn, Sunday, 31 August 2014 14:11 (three years ago) Permalink

i don't mind the words you quote, since they're from a place of great weariness that comes from this ruined palimpsestic world sev+you have been immersed in -- and because there is a sense in some of the scenes w the ascian soldier (iirc?) that the dogmatic ascian language/culture is maybe not as impoverished as it seems to the southerners, even if true communication w them is near-impossible -- and because i do kinda think that our various social utopias require a fundamental change in human conciousness expressed here thru crypto-xtian eschatology (although irl i don't think we'd get to it by waiting around in barbarism) -- but the straightforward feudal nostalgia in that tolkien essay seems p dumb. idk why he thinks other people's wealth was "a spur to ambition" under feudalism, unless he means ambition to go on a crusade. which is what sam does.

anyway i've only read the book once so i am a lil foggy on it, may well be misrepresenting it.

difficult listening hour, Sunday, 31 August 2014 16:18 (three years ago) Permalink

As a child I had been taught a code of conduct: I was to be courteous and considerate, and most courteous and most considerate of those less strong than I -- of girls and women, and of old people especially. Less educated men might hold inferior positions, but that did not mean that they themselves were inferior; they might be (and often would be) wiser, braver, and more honest than I was. They were entitled to respect, and were to be thanked when they befriended me, even in minor matters. Legitimate authority was to be obeyed without shirking and without question. Mere strength (the corrupt coercion Washington calls power and Chicago clout) was to be defied. It might be better to be a slave than to die, but it was better to die than to be a slave who acquiesced in his own slavery. Above all, I was to be honest with everyone. Debts were to be paid, and my word was to be as good as I could make it.

sounds pretty good

the late great, Sunday, 31 August 2014 19:26 (three years ago) Permalink

Does it? Has there ever been a time where "everyone agreed as to what good rule was" and could distinguish between "legitimate authority" and "corrupt coercion"? Very much doubt that was the case in "Christianized barbarian society".

Also, does a desire for progress inevitably lead to the destruction of the planet and Ascian slavery?

Also also, is there something a bit patronizing about his comments on women and the working class?

Mercer Finn, Sunday, 31 August 2014 20:32 (three years ago) Permalink

Might as well have stopped at the second sentence: The king might rule badly, but everyone agreed as to what good rule was.

ORLY.

Whole essay is the worst kind of rose-tinted harking back to the good old days.

ledge, Sunday, 31 August 2014 20:52 (three years ago) Permalink

nah, it's not that bad

the late great, Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:05 (three years ago) Permalink

Best thing in it is that cs Lewis quote which I'd never read.

before you die you see the rink (Jon Lewis), Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:29 (three years ago) Permalink

Did anyone dig The Wizard Knight? I never proceeded to the second half, I just could not get a bead on the thing.

before you die you see the rink (Jon Lewis), Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:31 (three years ago) Permalink

i was so let down by the long sun books that i haven't followed up on anything beyond "5th head of cerberus"

maybe i will give it a shot

the late great, Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:36 (three years ago) Permalink

Yeah the only things I've read that can contend with the new sun are his amazing short stories and novellas. But I've never read the soldier books or a bunch of his standalones.

before you die you see the rink (Jon Lewis), Sunday, 31 August 2014 21:43 (three years ago) Permalink

even if true communication w them is near-impossible

actually iirc at the beginning of "urth of the new sun" severian references making peace with the ascians and living among them for a year

the late great, Sunday, 31 August 2014 22:46 (three years ago) Permalink

actually it is at the end, but i misremembered the quote, he just mentions living among them. i think i filled in the bit about making peace with them. maybe he is referring to the war?

the late great, Monday, 1 September 2014 01:29 (three years ago) Permalink

It was the longest day of my life. If I had been merely awaiting nightfall, I could have wandered in memory, recalling that marvelous evening when I had walked up the Water Way, the tales told in the Pelerines' lazaretto, or the brief holiday that Valeria and I had once enjoyed beside the sea. As it was, I dared not; and whenever I relaxed my guard, I found my mind turned of its own accord to dreadful things. Again I endured my imprisonment in the jungle ziggurat by Vodalus, the year I had spent among the Ascians, my flight from the white wolves in the Secret House; and a thousand similiar terrors, until at last it seemed to me that a demon desired that I surrender my miserable existence to Apu-Punchau, and that the demon was myself.

the late great, Monday, 1 September 2014 01:31 (three years ago) Permalink

Finished it last night, and had to read the Triskele chapter again this morning for the scene in the Atrium of Time. Is the final bit with Valeria when the engines start up and he begins his journey to Yessod?

I'm going to start on Urth of the New Sun later this year (haven't read it before) but giving myself a break to read a bookabout Christianised barbarian society...

Mercer Finn, Monday, 1 September 2014 09:23 (three years ago) Permalink

no he doesn't leave for yesod for 10 years after that

the late great, Monday, 1 September 2014 15:46 (three years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

i'd given the copies i read to a friend but the other day i found four matching hardcovers of this in the kona-side location of the bookstore whose hilo-side dvd shelf ought to be named after me, and bought them all with my gargantuan reservoir of store credit; i am rereading them. i am imo in general a poor first reader and an above-average second one, so this has been revelatory not just in the obvious ways (secrets i know, e.g. the nature of talos/baldanders) but in mundane and embarrassing ones (i much more clearly and perceptively visualize everything that happens; i would attribute this to the strangeness of the world [well worse than strangeness, right--uncanniness] and the various apparatus of alienation and occlusion in the text, except that this happens with everything, elmore leonard, robert jordan, everything). an early reverie of severian's (triggered by the sense that dr. talos has the face of a stuffed fox, that on some simultaneous and "more profound" level of reality dr. talos' face is a dead fox's face hanging on a wall) likens the layers of reality to the archeological layers in urth's much-used soil--i'd forgotten this but it's absolutely central, the concept comes up all the time, both for severian (the hut in the botanical gardens, the house in the fog, the house absolute and the second house, the question of whether it is the autarch or father inire who rules, the concealed natures of basically everyone he meets) and for us (the archaic words that have been "translated" from unknown far-future ones, and the gimmick in general of the book's coming on like the past but being the future). there is a sense particularly that stories--the thanksgiving myth that's also about alien contact (or something? memories vague); the mutated theseus legend; the dying angel who echoes the dying sun ("you have observed the wasting of my blood--do you not observe also that it no longer issues in straining spurtings, but only seeps sluggishly?"); the transmuted xtian theology that's everywhere, encrusted by layers of undocumented future history; even the claim of the prostitute to whom severian loses his virginity to be the chatelaine thecla--accrue layers of meaning+truth like the soil accrues history. my memories of most of the series are bad but halfway into a reread of book one this seems to be right up there with severian's agent of death/agent of resurrection dialectic as structuring idea of the story. i once read a definition of history, i forget where (eliot?) as being (paraphrased) "the simultaneous sense of the presence and remoteness of the past"; something like this is all over BOTNS i think, pervades it thematically/structurally/mechanically in that real daunting modernist way.

still understand people who find it frustrating; it's one of the most picaresque books i've ever read. stuff just keeps happening to this guy, and then he moves on to new stuff; he often feels blown about passively, like a leaf (like the dead leaves he dreams as a child of vivifying, with a thorn); and all the stuff is so weird. i mentioned this to my friend i lent the books to, who just finished 3, and he said "well except every now and then he suddenly murders someone." he acts in odd places. from the very beginning, i suppose.

anyway roberto spiralli has kindly provided a tl;dr of this post upthread:

one thing that i really love above these books is how wolfe uses language that 1) creates a setting both familiar and strange, appropriate to a world we know but far distant in time; 2) dislocates the narrative in time, which is obv important thematically

totes!

playlists of pensive swift (difficult listening hour), Thursday, 6 August 2015 08:43 (two years ago) Permalink

it is dense. i suggest reading aloud in a foppish voice.

― the late great, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:49 PM (3 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

this really does work btw

playlists of pensive swift (difficult listening hour), Thursday, 6 August 2015 08:56 (two years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

i've been rereading these on and off for a few months and i still kind of feel what i felt to begin with -- that they're an impressively constructed exercise in worldbuilding and narrative, but that's all -- but, on the other hand, man they are really good at being that

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:51 (two years ago) Permalink

i'd forgotten most of book four (i remember, broadly speaking, how it ends) and i'm really charmed that as of a third of the way in severian is still sitting around the pelerines' tent with shit-all to do. also, the translation of the ascian's story is pretty virtuoso -- i think he got better at the embedded stories as he went along; the theseus/thesis minotaur/monitor one made me want to throw the book out the window

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:52 (two years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

I'm doing a re-read, and getting close to the end of book 1.
I definitely appreciate and understand wolfe's pacing of the series much better now.
catching a lot of things but still get the feeling i'm missing a lot as well.

hey guys

ian, Tuesday, 24 May 2016 19:05 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I'm almost finished with Claw of the Conciliator, and this is book has it all. I can't believe I almost missed this, I only discovered it because of this thread.

carpet_kaiser, Wednesday, 21 June 2017 18:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Was just trying to talk my wife into reading this the night before last. She loves Wolfe's short fiction but wasn't feeling the newsun last time she tried it

or at night (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 21 June 2017 18:25 (one year ago) Permalink

How far did she get into it? It took me three attempts before I made it past the first 20 pages. It starts off like a boring medieval fantasy story ... then the fun starts. Glad I pushed through.

carpet_kaiser, Wednesday, 21 June 2017 18:28 (one year ago) Permalink


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